Cookbook Review – Jamie Oliver The Return of the Naked Chef

The Return of the Naked Chef was one of Jamie’s early cookbooks and I’ve owned it for years. I made a few recipes successfully but then started to only cook old favourites from the book. After starting to blog how I get on with new recipes I’ve become much more adventurous in trying new recipes so I returned to this book. Some recipes such as his Salmon with Proscuitto and lentils and spinach had become favourites that I had often cooked over the years. His basic risotto instructions were a revelation and his prawn and pea risotto is so good I’ve resolved to try growing peas again (I was less keen on his garlic risotto).  His style is very chatty which I like.

This would be an excellent cookbook for someone starting to get into more serious adventurous meals and is the book that tempted me to buy many more Jamie Oliver cookbooks.

It is split into the following chapters

  • introduction
  • make life easy
  • potty about herbs
  • morning glory
  • tapas, munchies and snacks
  • simple salads and dressings
  • soups and broths
  • pasta and risotto
  • fish and shellfish
  • meat, poultry and game
  • vegetables
  • bread
  • desserts
  • bevvies
  • stocks, sauces, bits, bob, this, that and the other

I’ve tried the following recipes from this book

  • pan-toasted almonds with a touch of chilli and sea salt
  • pappardelle, spicy sausage meat and mixed wild mushrooms
  • tagliatelle with saffron, seafood and cream
  • farfalle with Savoy cabbage, pancetta, thyme and mozarella
  • risotto – various
  • prawn and pea risotto with basil and mint
  • tray baked cod with runner beans, pancetta and pine nuts
  • roasted slashed fillet of sea bass stuffed with herbs, baked on mushrooms with salsa verde
  • fantastic fish pie
  • salmon fillet wrapped in prosciutto with herby lentils, spinach and yogurt
  • baked jerusalem artichokes breadcrumbs, thyme and lemon
  • mashed veg

And with the exception of the garlic risotto I’d make all of these again and again.

Fish Pie – Jamie Oliver The Return of the Naked Chef

Fish Pie JamieI just did a picture of a serving as one potato topped dish looks much like another. This is billed as Fantastic Fish pie in Jamie Oliver’s book The Return of the Naked Chef. It is very good, the cheese and spinach make this a more unusual fish pie. My boys liked it a lot but fish pie is one their favourite meals. Conor thought on balance he slightly preferred Rachel Allen’s fish pie and Aidan felt the best fish pie he’d ever had was at the Hix fish restaurant in Lyme Regis (my favourite remains the Avoca Cafe fish pie recipe).

This is a bit more faffing about as you have to remove the skin and pin bones from the raw fish, on the plus side the fish is not over cooked.

Quantities below serve 6,  I  doubled up and froze 3 single portions for Jon’s aunt and one 4 portion dish to try and see how well it works cooked fro frozen. As the fish was raw I cooked all of these before cooling and freezing. I made sure there was no egg in the dishes for the freezer. Apparently egg white manages to go both rubbery and watery when frozen and defrosted.


  • 6 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch squares
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 2 large handfuls fresh spinach, trimmed and washed
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, halved and finely chopped
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pint double cream
  • 2 good handfuls grated mature Cheddar or Parmesan
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 heaped teaspoon English mustard
  • 1 large handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 455gr/1 lb haddock or fresh cod fillet, skin removed, pin-boned and sliced into strips
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Nutmeg, optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/gas6.
  2. Put the potatoes into salted boiling water and bring back to a boil for 2 minutes. Carefully add the eggs to the pan and cook for a further 8 minutes until hard boiled, by which time the potatoes should also be cooked. At the same time, steam the spinach in a colander above the pan. This will only take a minute. When the spinach is done, remove from the colander and gently squeeze any excess moisture away. Then drain the potatoes in the colander. Remove the eggs, cool under cold water, then peel and quarter them.  Place to one side. (I did steam the spinach above the egg pan but drew the line at boiling the eggs in with the potatoes)
  3. In a separate pan slowly fry the onion and carrot in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes, then add the double cream, and bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, lemon juice, mustard, and parsley.
  4. Put the spinach, fish and eggs into an appropriately sized earthenware dish and mix together, pouring over the creamy vegetable sauce. The cooked potatoes should be drained and mashed, add a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and a touch of nutmeg, if you like.  Spread on top of the fish. Don’t bother piping it to make it look pretty, it’s a homely hearty thing. Place in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes until the potatoes are golden.

Baked Jerusalem Artichokes, Breadcrumbs Thyme and Lemon – Jamie Oliver The Return of the Naked Chef

Baked Jerusalem artichoke
Jerusalem artichokes are incredibly easy to grow. You just plant out the tubers and keep harvesting them in autumn/winter. Worthwhile throwing some compost on the bed every few years. We have a 1m x 1m bed of them just by the shed and the challenge is to stop them expanding out beyond their bed. They are better steamed, baked or roasted rather than boiled as they turn into a mush when boiled. Jamie Oliver’s recipe below from The Return of the Naked Chef is both easy to make and very tasty. Quantities below serve 6. We froze two portions in tin foil containers for Jon’s aunt as it looked like a dish that would freeze and reheat well.
The only downside of jerusalem artichokes is their tendency to cause wind (flatulence). Unfortunately this affects me more than the rest of the family.
  • 285ml / ½ pint double cream or créme fraiche
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 good handful of fresh Thyme, leaves picked and chopped
  • 3 handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1kg/2lb 3oz Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced as thick as a pencil
  • 2 good handfuls of fresh breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat your oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas7.
  2. In a bowl mix your cream, lemon juice , garlic half the thyme and most of the Parmesan, and season well to taste.
  3. Throw in the sliced Jerusalem artichokes. Mix well and place everything in an ovenproof baking dish.
  4. Mix the breadcrumbs with the rest of the thyme and Parmesan and some salt and pepper.
  5. Sprinkle all the flavoured breadcrumbs over the artichokes and drizzle with a little olive oil.
  6. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes until the artichokes are tender and the breadcrumbs golden.

Roasted Garlic, Thyme and Mascarpone Risotto – Jamie Return of the Naked Chef

Roasted garlic, thyme and mascapone risotto Jamie

This is an unusual risotto recipe from Jamie Oliver’s The Return of the Naked Chef book. It was pleasant but not as great as either Jamie’s prawn and pea risotto or Delia’s mushroom risotto to my mind. I needed to toast the almonds a bit longer. Quantities below serve 6.


• 1 x basic risotto recipe (quantities for 400g risotto rice)
• 2 large heads of garlic, whole and unpeeled
• 1 good handful of fresh thyme, leaves picked
• 155g/5½oz shelled and peeled almonds, lightly crushed, cracked or chopped
• 2 handfuls of coarse fresh breadcrumbs
• olive oil
• 2 heaped tablespoons mascarpone cheese


  1. Roast the whole garlic heads on a dish in the oven at 230°C/450°F/gas 8 for about 30 minutes until soft. Separate the cloves and squeeze out the sweet insides.
  2. Add with the thyme at the start of Stage 3 of the basic risotto recipe.
  3. In a frying pan toast the almonds and breadcrumbs in a little olive oil until crisp and golden. Season with a little salt. Set to one side.
  4. Serve the risotto with a dollop of mascarpone on the top and sprinkle over the toasted almonds and breadcrumbs.

Farfalle with Savoy Cabbage, Pancetta, Thyme, and Mozzarella – Jamie The Return of the Naked Chefs

Another simple and tasty dish from The Return of the Naked Chef. Jon cooked this as I was late back from client meetings. I’d planned to make it and thought I had all the ingredients but it turned out we were out of pine nuts. That was shame as they would have been good in this. However even without the pine nuts this was very pleasant and we will be making it again. One of our boys even asked if he could have left overs cold in his lunchbox for school tomorrow!


  • 10 strips pancetta or lean bacon, thinly sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 good handful thyme, leaves picked from the stem
  • 1/2 large Savoy cabbage (outer leaves removed), quartered, cored, and finely sliced
  • Handful grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound dried farfalle
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil 7 ounces fresh buffalo mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 handfuls pine nuts, lightly toasted


  1. In a pan fry pancetta in a little olive oil until lightly golden. Add garlic and thyme and cook until softened.
  2. Add the Savoy cabbage and Parmesan then stir and put the lid on the pan. Cook for a further 15 minutes, shaking every now and again, while you cook farfalle in salted boiling water until al dente.
  3. When the cabbage is nice and tender, season and loosen with some nice peppery extra-virgin olive oil.
  4. Toss the drained farfalle pasta into the cabbage and at the last minute mix in mozzarella and pine nuts. Serve immediately.

Tagliatelle with saffron, seafood and cream – Jamie Oliver the return of the naked chef


We found some squid and scallops at the bottom of the freezer so Tagliatelle with saffron, seafood and cream from The Return of the Naked Chef was the obvious dish to make. This was amazingly quick to cook and very nice. Also very adaptable, we used chilli oil to add a slight kick but it was very subtle, you could add finely chopped shallots, chopped chillis, use sherry instead of wine and vary the seafood mix. I used squid, scallops and prawns. Mussels would be great but I couldn’t buy any today.

I served with Samphire sauted in butter


  • A good pinch saffron
  • 1 glass white wine
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large clove of garlic finely chopped
  • 500g fresh tagliatelle
  • 700g mixed seafood
  • 1/2 pint double cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A bunch flat parsley, chopped


  1. Soak the saffron in the white wine.
  2. Add a little oil and the garlic to a frying pan, and cook until softened.
  3. Add the seafood, shake the pan around, and add the white wine and saffron mixture.
  4. Bring to a boil and cook until the shellfish opens, discard any shellfish that remain closed.
  5. Then, lay the rest of the seafood, parsley, and the cream on top.
  6. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes and season to taste.
  7. Cook the tagliatelle in salted, boiling water until al dente. Drain and add to the fish, serve scattered with some of the leftover parsley and an extra drizzle of olive oil.

Salmon fillet wrapped in prosciutto with herby lentils – Jamie Oliver The Return of the Naked Chef

I think I’ve mentioned before I like Jamie Oliver’s style of cooking. I tried a couple of his recipe books before seeing him on television and for some reason I didn’t see him on tv for many years, not even in the Sainburys ads (recently I found out the mother of one of Conor’s school friends also liked his recipes so signed him to Sainsburys). Unlike Nigella he thinks about the vegetables and making them an integral part of the meal. I got his book The Return of the Naked Chef years ago and cooked a few things from it although I still have a number of recipes to try. From memory everything has been enjoyable but this is the recipe that we liked so much we can make it without the cookbook now. The prosciutto keeps the salmon moist and its salty taste complements the taste of the salmon and cuts through the oiliness of the fish beautifully, (it looks better if you leave a bit of the salmon exposed top and bottom of the prosciutto). I could eat the herby lentils and spinach quite happily as a meal on its own and sometimes do when the rest of the family are eating shepherds pie as I hate mashed potato. The yogurt seems like an odd addition on dinner but it absolutely works here.

The quantities here serve 4 (adults), and it takes about 1/2 hour to cook. Whilst our boys are great at trying different food getting them to like lentils and spinach has a way to go yet, so if you’re doing this as a family meal you may want to halve the spinach and lentils quantities and include some other vegetables. You don’t really need extra carbohydrates in this meal but if you have people with large appetites a small baked potato or plain boiled rice works well.


175g/6oz lentils
  • 4 x 225g/8oz salmon fillets, skinned and pin-boned
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices of prosciutto
  • olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 large handfuls of spinach, chopped
  • 2 good handfuls of mixed herbs (flat leaf parsley, basil, mint), chopped
  • 200ml/7fl oz natural yoghurt


  1. Preheat oven to 220c/425f/Gas 7
  2. Put the lentils into a pan, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender.
  3. Season the salmon fillets with a little pepper before wrapping them in the prosciutto slices. Leave some of the flesh exposed.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for around 10 minutes until the prosciutto is golden. Feel free to cook the salmon for less time if you prefer your salmon pinker.
  5. Drain away most of the water from the lentils, and season carefully with salt, pepper, lemon juice and 4 good lugs of olive oil.
  6. Just before serving, stir the herbs and spinach into the lentils on a high heat, until wilted. 
Place onto plates with the salmon and finish with a drizzle of lightly seasoned yoghurt.

Mushroom Risotto, Spinach Salad and Lemon Cheesecake – Jamie’s 30 minute Meals

I was watching Jamie’s 30 minute meals whilst ironing last Sunday when Aidan (13 yrs) wandered in and got interested. He decided he’d try cooking the menu shown on the tv from Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals that evening. Now I must admit to being skeptical about a mushroom risotto plus salad plus dessert in 30 minutes given risotto usually needs constant attention and is best cooked slowly but overall the taste of Jamie’s 30 minute menus have ben worth the effort.

Our first hiccup was my food processor has given up so I have to chop the dried mushrooms, onions etc by hand so that took extra time. And great as Aidan is in the kitchen this was more ambitious than he’d ever made so I was coaching him through making the meal. We took at least an hr ! But it was very enjoyable cooking with Aidan and he learnt a lot so both of us were happy to spend the time. One of the areas he was not so sure on was identifying herbs so we spent a bit of time in the garden looking at the different herbs.

The spinach salad was nice but I felt too much dressing and I couldn’t work out the benefit of effectively soaking the pine kernels in the dressing before tossing. Next time I would make less dressing, toss the salad then sprinkle the toasted pine kernals on top (and much as we all like pine kernels and it pains me to say it you really could have got away with half the quantity of pine kernels. Family opinion was divided on the merits of adding the cucumber.

The cheesecake was really nice. I’ll get Aidan to make the cheesecake desserts a few other times. I think they could end up being very quick to make up. Perhaps using mascarpone next time. Not sure how many raspberries we used we picked what was available in the garden. One of the good things about this dessert is you could improvise with quite a few ingredients. I liked the individual servings.

Mushroom Risotto 


  • 1 large white onion, halved and peeled
  • 1 stick celery
  • 15g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 1/2 a glass of white wine
  • 1 vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 litre boiling water or stock (we used Marigold swiss bouillon)
  • 500g mixed mushrooms, wiped clean and torn (we used a mixture of chestnut, shiitake and portebello mushrooms)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • a small bunch of thyme, leaves picked
  • a large knob of butter
  • 40g Parmesan, grated
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • small bunch of flat-leaf


  1. Put the onion, celery and dried porcini into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Heat a large saucepan on medium and add a good lug of olive oil. Scrape in the processed mixture and cook for a few minutes.
  3. Throw in the chopped rosemary and rice; stir well for a minute. Pour in the white wine and crumble in the stock cube. Stir until the wine is absorbed and then season.
  4. Add a couple of ladles of the stock or water and stir in well. You need to then keep coming back to the risotto every minute for about 16-18 minutes – stirring in a bit more stock each time. Add half the mushrooms after a couple of minutes.
  5. Heat the grill.
  6. Heat a large ovenproof frying pan and add a couple of good lugs of olive oil, the remaining mushrooms, garlic, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Stir for a second, add half the thyme and take off the heat. Add the remaining thyme to the rice.
  7. Put frying pan of mushrooms under the grill to crisp up, turn the grill off when they are golden and crispy.
  8. When the rice is al dente stir in the butter and most of the Parmesan, add lemon juice and taste for seasoning.
  9. Stir in half the parsley and throw the rest over the grilled mushrooms.
  10. Put the risotto onto a serving bowl and spoon some grilled mushrooms over the top with some extra Parmesan.`

Spinach Salad


  • 100g pinenuts, (50g is sufficient)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 200g baby spinach, sliced roughly into 1cm thick strips
  • 3 large sprigs of fresh mint, leaves picked
  • 5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, halved and sliced on an angle about 1cm thick


  1. Toast the pine nuts in a dry non stick pan
  2. Put balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper into a large salad bowl and add the pine nuts (I’d add them later next time).
  3. Add the spinach, mint leaves, sun-dried tomatoes and cucumber. Don’t toss until the last minute.
  4. If you haven’t used the pine nuts sprinkle this on top.

Quick Cheesecake


  • 50g butter
  • 50g blanched hazelnuts
  • 8 gingernut biscuits
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 heaped teaspoons good quality lemon curd
  • Approx 150g raspberries
  • 250g light or low fat  cream cheese, marscapone cheese or crème fraiche
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract
  • A splash of milk
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar
  • Good quality dark chocolate for grating ( approx 70% cocoa solids


  1. Place 4 tumblers for these cheesecakes into the freezer.
  2. Put the butter into a medium frying pan on a high heat. Wrap the hazelnuts and biscuits in a clean tea towel (we used a plastic food bag) and quickly bash with a rolling pin.
  3. Turn the heat off under the melted butter, tip in the bashed nuts and biscuits and stir. Finely grate in the lemon zest and mix well.
  4. Take the tumblers out of the freezer and divide the mixture between them, gently patting it down until firm.
  5. Put 1 heaped teaspoon (or two) of lemon curd into each tumbler and top with a few raspberries.
  6. Spoon the cream cheese, marscapone or crème fraiche into a bowl and add the vanilla paste or extract and a splash of milk. Stir, then ass the icing sugar and another splash of milk and mix really well until it looks soft and silky smooth. Divide between the tumblers.
  7. Scrape over a few gratings of dark chocolate and set aside until you are ready to serve.

Prawn and Pea Risotto – Jamie The Return of the Naked Chef

I first made this a few years ago when we first got Jamie’s  The Return of the Naked Chef cookbook but I haven’t cooked it in years. Ideally it should be made it with fresh peas which means the season for making it is quite short, (although it could be made with frozen peas). It is a perfect summer evening dinner as it tastes fresh. My elder son was due back from CCF camp this evening and I wanted something flavoursome for him after over a week of military rations and it wanted something that wouldn’t take too long to cook. It was the first time he’d had this risotto and he loved it. Unusually it is a risotto you could cook for people who are lactose intolerant (probably best using olive oil instead of butter to cook the peas). I must cook this sometime for Michele. For most other risotto’s use the basic risotto ingredients and instructions below, add extra ingredients to flavour the risotto and 100g grated parmesan cheese to the rice when it has cooked.

Prawn and Pea Risotto Ingredients

  • 3 good handfuls peas, podded, (keep pods on one side)
  • 1 cup stock or 1 cup water
  • 1 basic risotto, recipe, (see recipe)
  • 1 lb. raw prawn, peeled
  • 1 handful basil, chopped
  • 1/2 handful mint, chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Basic Risotto ingredients

  • 2 pt stock, chicken, fish, or, vegetable, as appropriate
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 shallot or 2 medium onion, finely, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely, chopped
  • 1/2 head celery, finely, chopped
  • 400g/14 oz arborio rice
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 wine glasses dry white vermouth, (dry Martini or Nouilly Prat) or dry white wine
  • 70g/2 1/2 oz butter

Risotto Instructions

  1. Heat stock. In a separate pan heat the olive oil, add the shallots or onion, garlic and celery and slowly fry for about 3 minutes.
  2. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice, season with salt and pepper and turn up the heat.
  3. The rice will now begin to fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent having absorbed all the flavours from the vegetables.
  4. Add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring – it will smell fantastic as it sizzles around the rice. Any harsh alcohol flavours will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence.
  5. Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a highish simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside.
  6. Keep adding ladles of stock, stirring and allowing each ladle of liquid to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes.
  7. Taste the rice – is it cooked? Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Don’t forget to carefully check the seasoning.
  8. Remove from the heat

Prawn and Pea Risotto Instructions

  1. Pod the peas (The pods can be placed in the stock after the peas are podded to infuse their fantastic delicate flavour. Use this stock as part of the stock/water for the risotto).
  2. Melt the butter in a pan add about 100ml stock. Cook half the peas until tender and mash
  3. When the basic risotto has been made add the prawns, raw peas and cooked peas and simmer for 2 minute as prawns take no time to cook.

Pappardelle, spicy sausage meat and mixed wild mushrooms – Jamie Oliver The Return of the Naked Chef

We used to use The Return of the Naked Chef cookbook a lot when we bought it originally. But I haven’t used it much lately and I hadn’t tried this recipe before. I couldn’t get wild mushrooms so used a combination of chestnut mushrooms and oyster mushrooms, I also used some porcini olive oil that I had in the cupboard. For sausages I used a full pack of Waitrose 6 British chorizo pork sausages which was 400g. This was about the right amount of sausage meat, so I’ve adjusted the quantities as Jamie had specified 225g. I didn’t have any pappardelle pasta so i used rigatoni.

This took about 10 -15 minutes to cook and was very tasty. A good weekday dinner.


  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • 400g of the best spicy sausage you can find, meat removed from skin
  • olive oil
  • 2 good handfuls of fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • 1-2 small dried red chilies, crumbled, to taste
  • 400g/14oz mixed wild mushrooms (girolles, chanterelles, ceps or blewits, oyster and shitake), torn
  • fresh pappardelle: 1 x pasta recipe (page 98)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 good knobs of butter
  • 1 handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1 handful of grated parmesan cheese


  1. Fry the onion, garlic and sausage meat in a little olive oil until lightly golden.
  2. Add the thyme, chilies and mushrooms.
  3. Cook the pappardelle in salted boiling water until al dente. Reserve a little cooking water.
  4. Remove the sauce from the heat, season to taste and loosen with 3 knobs of butter and a little cooking water from the pasta.
  5. Toss the drained pasta with the mushrooms and serve sprinkled with lots of parsley and some grated parmesan.