Book reviews by Mobilism's Book Review team
Sep 30th, 2018, 11:44 am


TITLE: Jamie Cooks Italy
AUTHOR: Jamie Oliver
GENRE: Non-Fiction, Festive & Seasonal Dishes, Cookbooks
PUBLISHED: August 9, 2018
RATING: ★★★★★

PURCHASE LINKS: Amazon iBookStore

Review: Jamie Oliver is back at it again! Back at what he does the best, cook! This time he is back to Italy again to learn from the best of the best, the Italian Nonnas (Grandmothers). Can’t fault with the man’s logic, after all my Grandma was the best cook in my family. This is Italian cooking, which is more accessible and achievable; family dishes, best versions of classic recipes, it is a celebration of Italian heritage that comes from its people. This new book is Jamie's 21st cookbook so he has been definitely doing something right.

The recipes in Jamie Cooks Italy are based on the culinary adventures of Jamie Oliver and his long-time mentor Gennaro Contaldo as the pair visit eight of Italy’s regions – from Puglia to Tuscany and Rome – beginning with the lush Aeolian Islands, north of Sicily. It’s a book that follows his TV show of the same name, which happens to be an utter delight to watch.

Jamie Oliver learns a thing or two from Italy’s Nonnas and gets scolded a lot of times by them about rolling the dough too hard or shaping pizza dough incorrectly. Imagine! The cookbook is very well illustrated, which in my opinion always inspires me to cook. It’s not just the original recipes from the Nonnas but also Jamie's spin on the original dishes. Each recipe includes nutritional info along the bottom.

The book contains 140 vintage authentic recipes, which are divided into chapters on Antipasti, Salad, Soup, Meat, Pasta, Fish, Rice & Dumplings, Bread & Pastry, Sides, Desserts and all the Basics you need. I like the Basics chapter a lot, it includes many basic pantry skills info that a home cook can develop and make their own sauces and doughs from scratch. For example, Royal Pasta Dough, Hero Tomato Sauce, Garlic Aioli, Simple Pestos & Preserved Tomatoes to name a few.

There are many classic recipes in the book but one of my favorite go-to recipes is the Cacio e Pepe, which is utterly simple and delight to make always.

Using just four ingredients that work together to create an epic combination, this is a classic, humble and simple Roman pasta. It’s recently become one of the most trendy pasta plates to order on the London and New York restaurant scenes, and while some chefs like to make it slightly silky, the classic is a little drier in texture, like mine – you can adjust it to your own preference. Finely cracking black peppercorns yourself is non-negotiable if you want to get this dish right, as is investing in a suitably tangy pecorino. Don’t be fooled by the minimal ingredients – there’s real subtlety in the detail, and that’s what makes it so special.


300g dried spaghetti
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
80g good pecorino cheese
1 knob of unsalted butter

Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions. As it cooks, briefly toast the peppercorns in a dry frying pan, then crack and pound in a pestle and mortar until nice and fine. Pass through a sieve, discarding anything left behind. Grate the pecorino as super-finely as you can – this helps it melt in an even way, without it clumping together, which can happen if it’s grated too coarsely or if it’s added while the pan is too hot.

When the pasta’s cooked, place the frying pan back over the lowest heat, sprinkle in most of the pepper and add the butter. Once melted, use tongs to drag the pasta straight into the frying pan, letting some starchy cooking water go with it. Take the pan off the heat, sprinkle over three-quarters of the cheese, then leave to sit – without stirring – for 1 minute. Now, without using tongs or a wooden spoon, simply toss it all together, then divide and serve, finishing with the last bit of pecorino and pepper. Delicious served with a green salad and some cold white wine – happy days!

I know a lot of people sometimes feel Jamie Oliver is overrated but he does do fabulous campaign work and brings attention to many food-related issues and creates a lot of awareness - and also, at the end of the day, his recipes work. His recipes use a lot of simple ingredients and non-fussy steps/instructions to follow. If you love Italian food, as I do, then this new cookbook is a must-have for your library.
Sep 30th, 2018, 11:44 am