L2C Challenge – Jamie Oliver 7 Ways – BOOK REVIEW!

Jamie Oliver is such an entertaining chef to watch on television; somehow, he makes cooking look so simple and fun. When I purchased his latest cookbook, I hoped that it would provide the same energy and inspiration but, while it was great, I’m not sure I would keep watching if the “7 Ways” book was a television show…

In this book, the chapters are divided by commonly used ingredients (referred to as “hero ingredients”) – such as chicken breast, avocado, broccoli, salmon, etc. – and then each chapter provides 7 recipes using the “hero ingredient”; in other words, each chapter provides 7 ways of cooking with a specific ingredient.

The concept of the book is great; I didn’t have to filter through every page to find something I liked. Instead, if I knew we were having chicken for dinner, I just looked up the chapters that listed chicken. I think most people would enjoy this layout and I particularly appreciated that each recipe includes an image of every ingredient within that recipe (it helped to figure out what I was looking for when I went grocery shopping).

The flip side is that there are obviously popular ingredients that I don’t like – such as mushrooms and sweet potatoes. Since it is unlikely that someone would enjoy every single one of the 18 hero ingredients, there will probably be whole chapters within this book that won’t appeal to you.

Every recipe that I made from this book exceeded expectations in terms of simplicity, flavour and taste. Each week, I even received a thumbs up from both Paolo and Theo – my two toughest critics.

So why would I not watch “7 Ways” if it was a television series instead of a cookbook? Honestly, for me, the book lacked enticement. While the recipes ended up being delicious, I was never enthused about making them. When I was earmarking recipes for the previous two cookbooks in this challenge, I was getting hungry just looking through the books but I didn’t get hungry with Jamie’s 7 Ways. It felt practical but mundane. Does it meet its purpose? Yes – it provides easy and delicious recipes throughout. Would I reach for this cookbook again? Probably not – this one will likely be filed on the top (somewhat out of reach) shelf for me.

Next Month’s L2C Challenge Cookbook:

Something about the summer months has me craving fresh big salads more than any other time of year. So this month, I am going to try to step up my lettuce game by learning how to make some of Mandy’s amazing gourmet salads!

The Mandy’s cookbook is based on the actual “Mandy’s” salad bars that originated in my hometown of Montreal, Quebec. It was established by two sisters back in 2004 and has grown to over 8 stylish locations across Montreal and they now sell come very cute merchandise – including some colourful large bowls that I will be putting to good use next month!

L2C Challenge – Jamie Oliver 7 Ways – Crispy Salmon Tacos

This week – CRISPY SALMON TACOS (p. 96)

Since Jamie’s book is divided by ingredient, I thought it appropriate to venture out of the chicken chapter and try (for the very first time!) to make fish. I figured that anything in a tortilla with mangoes and avocados would be delicious; so, even if I screw up the fish, the other flavours could still make it taste great!

Ingredients –

  • Salmon fillets (skin on, scaled, pin-boned)
  • Tortillas
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Mango
  • Avocado
  • Scallions
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Limes

Difficulty level –

In true Jamie fashion, this recipe is very simple and something that even the most novice of cooks (like me!) can make. My only difficulty was removing the skin from the salmon – you have to cut it very thinly and I over cut in some sections.

Things I Googled While Making this Recipe –

Nothing! I am getting ssooo good at cooking! Or maybe it’s the fact that the instructions were straight forward. Either way, Google was not consulted in the making of this recipe.

Alterations to Recipe –

Jamie suggests toasting the tortillas directly over the flame of a gas range but, since we don’t have a gas range in our rental home, I just heated them in the microwave. They weren’t “toasty” but still worked well.

Verdict

I made fish and it tasted GREAT! The combination of sweetness from the mango and the tangy taste of the cajun spice paired perfectly; plus, the texture from the avocado and the crispy salmon skin makes this a perfect dish that I would never have known or thought to make.

Definitely a “make again” dish.

L2C Challenge – Jamie Oliver 7 Ways – Crispy Golden Chicken

This week – CRISPY GOLDEN CHICKEN (p. 74)

So clearly, I have a type… it’s called chicken! I chose to play it safe this week and stayed in the poultry chapter. This one looked appetizing since it combines bacon, avocado and some hot sauce!

Ingredients –

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Bacon
  • Avocado
  • Plain yogurt
  • Lemon
  • Flour
  • Sourdough breadcrumbs
  • Hot sauce

Difficulty level –

This was another simple recipe but I still managed to make some mistakes… The instructions required the chicken to be flattened but my rolling pin is still packed away (home building life!), so I thought pressing really hard with the bottom of a pan would do the trick. It didn’t work and the chicken took a lot longer to cook (because it was so thick) – the exterior ended up being slightly more burnt than crisp but somehow it wasn’t dry!

Things I Googled While Making this Recipe –

  • Difference between regular and sourdough breadcrumbs? I couldn’t find a difference…

Alterations to Recipe –

I had regular breadcrumbs at home and just used those.

Verdict –

DELICIOUS! All of the ingredients used were regular staples in our home but I had never mixed them together before. Mixing the bacon crumbs and avocado paste gave it a fresh and creamy texture. The hot chill sauce was the perfect topping!

Would I make it again? Yes but only once I get my rolling pin back!

Even without the rolling pin, I’m pretty sure I nailed this one!

L2C Challenge – Jamie Oliver 7 Ways – My Kinda Butter Chicken

This week – MY KINDA BUTTER CHICKEN (p. 68)

I’ve been craving Indian food for a while and the thought of filling my home with the smell of fragrant spices was enough to persuade me to try this one!

Ingredients –

  • Skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • Mixed-color chilies
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Plain yogurt
  • Garlic
  • Garam masala
  • Ginger
  • Cashew butter

Difficulty level –

The recipe itself is not difficult. The instructions are straightforward and the ingredients are simple enough that they are easily accessible. The only “difficult” part is some of the expressions that Jamie uses in his instructions (I’m assuming it’s the British background) forced me to read, and re-read, the steps to try to decipher what he meant.

Things I Googled While Making this Recipe –

  • What is gnarly chicken?
    • I always thought of the word “gnarly” as being an adjective that means bad so I was a little confused when Jamie writes to “remove the gnarly chicken from the pan” but, according to Google, “gnarly” can also mean good And apparently it also refers to something that is knotted or twisted and since I had to score the chicken and turn it over a few times, maybe that’s what Jamie meant… I still don’t know.

Alterations to Recipe –

The recipe called for mixed-colour chilies and cherry tomatoes – I couldn’t find either so I just used green chilies and red cherry tomatoes.

Verdict –

I was surprised at how moist and tender the chicken was given how long I had it cooking in the pan – not burnt at all (despite appearances…). I followed the instructions perfectly so I am not sure why I didn’t have any excess sauce like in the cookbook image but the chicken still turned out delicious. Definitely not the typical “butter chicken” flavour I’ve come to expect and, unfortunately, no dipping sauce leftover for my naan bread. So while the chicken tasted great, this is likely one of those recipes that I will not be making again.