Book Review: Jamie Cooks Italy – Jamie Oliver

I’ve written before about my need for restraint when it comes to buying recipe books, as space restrictions require I prudently only purchase books that I am sure I will not only enjoy, but actually use!

The criteria has become even stricter as my book shelf reaches maximum capacity, I have to very carefully consider all purchases. In December, after said “careful consideration”, and upon a couple of trusty recommendations,  I bought myself 3 recipes  books, ( Merry Christmas, to me, from me ) Donna Hay’s Modern Baking, which I already reviewed, Food 52 Genius Desserts, and Jamie Olivers’ Jamie Cooks Italy.

I absolutely love this book! and with the bonus of the accompanying television series, which I think is fabulous, makes this one of my all time favourite recipe book. I know its a bold claim, but this book ticks so many boxes for me. I have a very personal relationship with Italians, and Italian food. My oldest school friend is Italian, and growing up it was the most wonderous thing for my insecure, angst filled teenage self to spend a weekend at her house, where her Dad lovingly welcomed anybody and everybody ( regardless of age) with a Grappa, it was a house filled with lively activity, and her Mom would frequently scold her Dad to be quiet only to be met with the most wonderful reframe, ” where there is noise, there is life.”
There was always a reason to be making something delicious, and it was food so unlike my own home ( cottage pie with gemsquash and peas)
I now make frequent trips to the retirement village where they now live, desperate to learn the secrets to many of their much loved recipes. My own precious “Nonna” with a notebook crammed fill of recipes, handwritten, in beautiful loopy script, on ageing paper, a treasure trove of memories.
Which brings me back to Jamie’s book; one of my absolute best things about a recipe books is when the author gives an intro, or background to a particular recipe. Well, this book has that and more, not only do we have an intro from Jamie for each recipe, written in his friendly conversational manner, but the Nonnas too ! Beautiful stories of everyday women cooking for their families, often with little more than a handful of basic ingredients. Traditional and non traditional skills, slow cooking, old flavours, classic combinations, and even some interesting and unusual combinations ( horseradish and pasta ?  who would have thought..)
The Nonnas add so character and warmth to each chapter and episode. I have no regrets buying this book, and it’s hardly been on the crammed book shelf since I got it.
I’ve made variations of many of the pasta recipes, and salads since December, and as it gets cooler I’m looking forward making the hearty winter dishes.

Here are a couple of the recipes I made recently. I had a bucketful of homegrown tomatoes that I roasted, pureed and bottled. I used them as the base sauce for the Gnudi. The ricotta was rich, so I served it with a fresh crunchy side salad, using the recipe on page 82 for Matera Salad, with rocket, mint, apple, crunchy veg, and a orange & chilli dressing. I left off the burrata as I had enough cheese with the Ricotta and Parmesan.

I know! I never thought would ever say those words ” too much cheese”

Anyway, here’s to a wonderful book, SALUTE Jamie, and GRAZIE! to all the Nonnas.

BON APPETITO !

GNUDI
with ricotta, homemade tomato sauce and sprouting broccoli

 

AuthorTaryne JakobiCategorySalads, Light MealsDifficultyBeginner

Yields1 Serving
Prep Time45 minsCook Time-15 minTotal Time1 hr
 1 kg quality ricotta
 100 g Parmesan cheese, grated, and extra for serving
 1 kg fine semolina, for dusting
 800 ml homemade tomato passata, or Hero Tomato Sauce ( pg 372)
 200 g sprouting broccoli
Preparation
1

Drain the ricotta and place in a large bowl with a pinch of sea salt & a good grinding of black pepper, and grate in the Parmesan cheese.
Beat together until combined, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Cover a large tray with semolina, then shape the ricotta mixture into balls, approx. 4 cm.
roll the balls in the semolina until well coated.
You should get 48 balls.
Mine were not even, and next time I will use a small ice cream scoop, but I really don't think it matters.
Leave the balls in the semolina, and cover, and refrigerate for at least * hours in the fridge. I left mine overnight. Don't skip this step, as the semolina will dehydrate the ricotta forming a stronger outer layer, which prevents the ricotta breaking up when cooked.
Make your tomato sauce in preparation. I used a homemade passata I had made with my own tomatoes, you could use store bought passata or the recipe for Hero Tomato Sauce, on page 372.

To Cook
2

Wash and trim the broccoli , and cut in half lengthwise.
Pour the tomato passata into a casserole dish
Preheat the oven to 180oC
Bring 3 litres of water to a boil with a large pinch of salt, and reduce to a simmer.
Remove the gnudi from the semolina, and dust off
Cook the gnudi, 3 - 4 at a time, don't over-crowd the pot or they will bash against each other and break up
Cook for 3 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and place in the tomato casserole dish
When all the gnudi are cooked, arrange the broccoli over and top with more grated Parmesan, and a grinding of black pepper.
Bake for 20 minutes until the tomato sauce is bubbling and the cheese is golden and brown.
Serve hot with a crispy rocket and fennel salad or the orange salad.

Ingredients

 1 kg quality ricotta
 100 g Parmesan cheese, grated, and extra for serving
 1 kg fine semolina, for dusting
 800 ml homemade tomato passata, or Hero Tomato Sauce ( pg 372)
 200 g sprouting broccoli

Directions

Preparation
1

Drain the ricotta and place in a large bowl with a pinch of sea salt & a good grinding of black pepper, and grate in the Parmesan cheese.
Beat together until combined, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Cover a large tray with semolina, then shape the ricotta mixture into balls, approx. 4 cm.
roll the balls in the semolina until well coated.
You should get 48 balls.
Mine were not even, and next time I will use a small ice cream scoop, but I really don't think it matters.
Leave the balls in the semolina, and cover, and refrigerate for at least * hours in the fridge. I left mine overnight. Don't skip this step, as the semolina will dehydrate the ricotta forming a stronger outer layer, which prevents the ricotta breaking up when cooked.
Make your tomato sauce in preparation. I used a homemade passata I had made with my own tomatoes, you could use store bought passata or the recipe for Hero Tomato Sauce, on page 372.

To Cook
2

Wash and trim the broccoli , and cut in half lengthwise.
Pour the tomato passata into a casserole dish
Preheat the oven to 180oC
Bring 3 litres of water to a boil with a large pinch of salt, and reduce to a simmer.
Remove the gnudi from the semolina, and dust off
Cook the gnudi, 3 - 4 at a time, don't over-crowd the pot or they will bash against each other and break up
Cook for 3 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and place in the tomato casserole dish
When all the gnudi are cooked, arrange the broccoli over and top with more grated Parmesan, and a grinding of black pepper.
Bake for 20 minutes until the tomato sauce is bubbling and the cheese is golden and brown.
Serve hot with a crispy rocket and fennel salad or the orange salad.

GNUDI – with ricotta, homemade tomato pasta & sprouting broccoli

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