I thought I would be most interested in the Spanish, French and Swedish chapters but I've actually made dishes from Morocco and Greece. I really enjoyed the TV series and getting a feel for the different areas he visted. I kept pausing the Stockholm episode as I'd only recently visited myself, shouting "oooo, we went there!" several times!
The photography is really beautiful in the book and there is an image for each recipe. Hurrah! You get a real sense of the different areas the recipes are from and there are nice photos from Jamie's travels, as much a travel guide as a cookery book. Well, as long as you're into food tourism! What I especially like are the photos of the essential ingredients from each country/area at the end of each chapter. Alas it wasn't crayfish season when we were in Sweden.
The first recipe I made was from the Moroccan chapter, Chicken, Olive and Preserved Lemon Tagine. We bought some preserved lemons in France last Easter, wanting to try a tagine for ages but they've only just been taken out of the cupboard. It was well worth the wait. I'm not mad keen on raisins or dried apricots in savoury dishes and I don't eat lamb so tagines have never been very high on my favourites list. This recipe seemed perfect. The only thing I left out was the fennel. It seems like I'm very picky with my food - I'm really not! But that's what's great about cooking, you make things for your taste and if you don't like a particular ingredient - just leave it out.
The spice rub was very simple to make ahead of time and added a great amount of flavour. It cooked for about an hour and a half. I don't have a tagine but in a large saute pan was fine. Instead of using a whole chicken I used chicken thighs as I was only making it for 2 people. I served it with bulgar wheat and cooked this in the dish itself so none of the lovely juices were wasted. The lemon was really nice, not as overpowering as I thought it would be. I probably put too many olives in there so I would put fewer in next time, but there will definitely be a next time. Gorgeous. There is also a recipe to make your own preserved lemons so will have a go at some point. To try the tagine yourself find it here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/article7088864.ece
The next was from Greece, the Mighty Meat Stifado. Another slow cooker after marinading the meat. It's mighty meat as it's a mixture of pork and beef, though I didn't actually see the point of having both meats so I'll choose one or the other next time I make it. I cooked it for 2 1/2 hours but the beef didn't melt quite as much I wanted but the pork was lovely. I used crimson raisins and they soaked up so much of the sauce they became full grapes again! I did say I wasn't a fan of raisins in savoury food but actually they did go really well with meat and added a delicious sweetness. The spices were really subtle but again added to the sweetness of the dish, and you can never go far wrong with red wine and chopped tomatoes in a stew! Had it with ciabatta the first day and had the leftovers the following day with mash. As with most stews it was nicer the next day so a great on to make at the weekend and leave for Monday or Tuesday. Yum.
So pretty good results from those 2 recipes. I hope it's a book I will return to quite regularly. I don't fancy the look of all the recipes, I doubt I'll ever make pickled herring, but the courgette gratin, souvlaki (made with something other than lamb) and all the tapas recipes look scrummy. I'm glad I own it. On a final note here is Jake the cat eyeing up my ostrich steak with Nigel Slater's winter roots and lemon roast. Needless to say he did get a bit of the meat! It was the first time I'd tried ostrich and did like it but it was surprisingly quite a strong game-like flavour. I was expecting a lighter flavour for some reason. Probably because most things inevitably taste like chicken, or so people say! It did cook well though and was quite juicy despite it being a lean meat. But what I was most impressed by was Nigel Slater's roast recipe from his last TV series. Roasted potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes with lemon. Sticky and fluffy and very tasty. We also had it the next day with some pan-fried fish. Here is the recipe to try out: