cover image Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook

Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook

Jamie Oliver, . . Hyperion, $37.50 (447pp) ISBN 978-1401322335

The seemingly inexhaustible Oliver (The Naked Chef , Happy Days with the Naked Chef , etc.) returns with what may be his best book yet. Aiming to educate readers on cooking basics, Oliver offers more than 175 recipes, which emphasize flavor and freshness over labor-intensive preparation. With a conversational style that favors general guidelines over strict instructions—recipes often call for a “knob of butter,” a “handful of shelled peas” or “a big handful of freshly grated Parmesan”—Oliver's friendly and enthusiastic approach handily deflates new-cook anxiety. Loaded with photos that cover common skills like cleaning and preparing fresh lobster, discerning degrees of doneness in meat and crafting homemade pasta, Oliver's patient explanations leave little room for confusion. His dishes, many of which are updated versions of classics, are impressive and accessible. A simple baked potato is made savory by stuffing it with bacon, anchovies and sage, and a basic risotto becomes extraordinary with the addition of apples, walnuts and Gorgonzola. Empathizing with those strapped for time, he offers four takes on that trusty fallback, chicken breasts, all of which can be prepared in a single baking dish. Loaded with everyday dishes ranging from fried calamari and onion gratin to shortbread cookies, this volume doesn't set any new culinary standards, but it will certainly make an impact on determined newcomers still intimidated by the prospect of preparing a three-course dinner. Profits will be donated to Oliver's Fifteen Foundation, which teaches underprivileged kids worldwide how to cook. (Oct.)