Jamie Oliver's first book based on his television series (no, the title does not refer to the chef but instead to his philosophy) is a fine entry in the cookbook market for those who prefer their meals on the plain but flavorful side. Oliver excels in simplicity. His stripped down recipes are easy to follow and don't require a lot of imagination to guess how they will taste. For example, his six recipes for salad dressings fit on two pages; the recipe titles describe exactly what one gets. While Oliver supplies a few recipes that I'll never try (Ravioli of Borage, Stinging Nettles, Marjoram, and Fresh Ricotta) and a few gourmet dishes (Spicy Squash, Basil, and Ricotta Tortellini with Crispy Herbs), most dishes will be familiar to those who dine out at mid-priced restaurants. The emphasis is heavily, though not exclusively, on pasta and Italian flavors. (For ambitious cooks, Oliver supplies clear instructions on how to made pasta at home.) Meat recipes are often plain, without sauces or exotic ingredients; you'll find roast chicken, slow-cooked lamb shanks, and pork chops with thyme, lemon, and pesto. The fish and seafood dishes tend to use off-beat (for Americans) ingredients such as sardines, whole trout, and skate wings, although pan-seared tuna, a staple in restaurants nowadays, makes an appearance. Desserts are uninspired.
The strength of this cookbook is the no-nonsense style and the color plates that accompany the recipes. I recommend this for beginning cooks and those who have simple tastes and are looking for something new. Gourmet cooks, particularly those with a lot of cookbooks, are likely to find themselves bored with the selections.