I first heard of The Naked Chef from my boss when I was working in a kitchen. It was in the 90s and my curiosity was peaked. I was a university student in the US and The Food Network was not as cool as it is now plus I didn’t even own a TV! “Is he cooking naked? Who is this guy?” I thought to myself as my boss was demonstrating to me the new way to cook chicken…. a la “the naked chef”. Who would’ve known the naked chef was so much more than a fad and was not going anywhere!
I’ll come clean now and confess I am a Jamie Oliver fan. As a working mum with very little time to spare, his books are the first ones I open when I need a quick and delicious dinner. I have cooked dozens of his recipes and loved them. I adore his no nonsense, down to business, let’s extract the most flavour in the least amount of time approach. It is mine as well. I do not have time for anything else. I am busy! I really appreciate that he thought that quick food can and should be delicious and developed recipes to prove it! That is now my motto.
So when I was asked to review Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook I couldn’t possibly say “no” because it’s Jamie and because it’s Christmas!
As soon as I started leafing through the book I saw the familiar photography style and recipes I knew I wanted to cook immediately. His Christmas cookbook is a comprehensive guide on how to do Christmas stress-free. I get so perplexed when people call Christmas time stressful because to me, it’s all about joy and relaxation, enhanced by delicious food. I do enjoy cooking and that might be why. BUT… even if you don’t like cooking as much as me, Jamie’s Christmas Cookbook can help you navigate through the holiday season.
The book starts with many sensible tips on how to do shopping, delegating and planning ahead, so the Christmas day runs smoothly. It is cleverly broken down into courses that make the big day’s dinner like STARTERS, MAIN EVENT (for meat lovers and vegetarians alike) POATATOES (yes, they get their own chapter), VEGETABLE SIDES, GRAVIES AND SAUCES before it dives into DESSERTS and SWEETS. It even offers a meat-roasting guide as a separate chapter. Having so many helpful tips in one place is a real time saver during a holiday season!
What I also loved about the book is that it gives countless recipes for leftovers as well as post-Christmas recipes such as spicy curries and salads to snap out of the holiday slump.
Another great chapter is dedicated to homemade edible gifts, which I love making. The recipe I am sharing today from Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook is for Chocolate Truffles. I am a massive truffle fan, so I knew I had to give this recipe a go. I will admit the simplicity of the process and the need to set spiced rum on fire before mixing it into truffles might have played a part in tempting me.
The recipe instructions were straightforward and the ingredient list was not long. Before I knew it I had the chocolate mixture ready. The recipe stated to chill the truffle mixture for 2 hours before rolling it into truffles. I did find it a bit soft and difficult to work with after two hours, so I popped it back in the fridge for more chilling and after that it was smooth sailing.
Hands covered in chocolate up to your elbows might be your thing, but it is definitely not mine. I really dislike being messy! Or you might feel the same but the taste of these chocolate truffles lightly flavoured with spiced rum and orange blossom water is well worth the trouble! I am definitely buying myself a pair of latex gloves and more chocolate for another batch or two!
For more from Julia, visit her mouth-watering food blog, Vikalinka.
And for more festive recipes from Jamie, you must make sure to grab his gorgeous Christmas Cookbook!