What you will find in Jamie Oliver’s kitchen
- Published 15.10.17
Quick & Easy Food focuses unapologetically on genius combinations of just five ingredients that work together to deliver an utterly delicious result, giving maximum flavour, with minimum fuss. These are dishes you can get on the table in 30 minutes or less; or that are ridiculously quick to put together with just 10 minutes hands-on time, while the oven or hob then does the rest of the work. I want everyone to enjoy cooking from scratch and, armed with this book, there are no excuses. I’ve made it as simple as possible to cook amazing food, celebrating the joy of five ingredients, any day of the week, whatever the occasion — everything from a quick weeknight supper to a weekend feast with friends.
The concept is straightforward, but behind the scenes it’s the structure, clever planning and spirit of the book — as well as relentless recipe testing — that’s been the key to success. The creation of the recipes has ignited a real sense of excitement in me to wow people with brilliant combinations that are just crying out to be enjoyed. This is about empowerment and getting back to basics. I’m presuming you have a pantry store you can call on, but these lists are often too long, so I’ve kept the pantry for this book super simple at — you guessed it — just five key ingredients.
THE 5-INGREDIENT PANTRY
I’ve kept this to just five ingredients that I consider to be everyday staples. Cooking is simply impossible without these items at your fingertips, and I believe every household should have them in stock. Even though my own pantry is packed full of all sorts of things, it’s these five that you’ll see popping up regularly throughout the book and that you need in order to cook any of the recipes. They aren’t included in each individual ingredients list as I’m presuming that you’ll stock up before you start cooking. The five heroes are olive oil for cooking, extra virgin olive oil for dressing and finishing dishes, red wine vinegar as a good all-rounder when it comes to acidity and balancing marinades, sauces and dressings, and, of course, sea salt and black pepper for seasoning. Get these and you’re away!
I use a lot of condiments in this book, like mango chutney, curry pastes, black bean and teriyaki sauces, miso and pesto. These are items you can find in all supermarkets, of an extraordinary quality, these days. They guarantee flavour and save hours of time in preparation, as well as saving on cupboard space and food waste. For quick and easy meals, these products are brilliant — when shopping just remember, generally you get what you pay for.
Herbs are a gift to any cook, and I use them loads in this book. Instead of buying them, why not grow them yourself in the garden or in a pot on your windowsill? Herbs are the foundation of all cooking, allowing you to add single-minded flavour to a dish, without the need to over-season, which is good for everyone. They’re also packed with all sorts of incredible qualities on the nutritional front — we like that.
MEAT & EGGS
I’ve said it before and I stand by it — there’s no point in eating meat unless the animal was raised well, free to roam, lived in an unstressful environment and it was at optimal health. It makes total sense to me that what we put into our bodies should have lived a good life, to in turn give us goodness. Generally speaking, we should all be striving to eat more plant-based meals that hero veg, beans and pulses, and enjoying better-quality meat, less often. With this in mind, please choose organic, free-range or higher-welfare meat whenever you can, making sure beef or lamb is grass-fed. The same goes for eggs and anything containing egg, such as noodles and pasta — always choose free-range or organic. Please choose organic stock, too.
It’s really important to buy fish at its freshest. It’s obvious, but the minute you buy fish and take it out of the environment it’s stored in, the quality starts to decrease. Buy fish at its best and use it on the same day. If you can’t use it that day, freeze it until you need it, or even buy quality frozen, tinned or jarred fish, which can also be fantastic.
With staple dairy products, like milk, yoghurt and butter, I couldn’t endorse more the trade-up to organic. It is slightly more expensive, but we’re talking about pennies not pounds, so this is a much easier trade-up than meat.
I’ve kept the equipment I’ve used in this book pretty simple — a set of saucepans and non-stick ovenproof frying pans, a griddle and a shallow casserole pan, chopping boards, some sturdy roasting trays and a decent set of knives will see you through. If you want to save time, there are a few kitchen gadgets that will make your life a lot easier — things like a speed-peeler, a box grater and a pestle and mortar are all fantastic for creating great texture and boosting flavour, and a food processor is always a bonus, especially if you’re short on time! Keep your kit in good nick, and your kitchen organised, and you’ll be ready and to go.