Tag Archives: Jamie Oliver


I ask Nadia over. Our plan: to make a video of cooking kedgeree, then scoff it convivially.

We assemble the ingredients, position Nadia at the cooker and I film the three-minute video on my iPhone without a script.

I like it fast and real, like my food.

According to Wikipedia, kedgeree ‘consists of cooked, flaked fish (sometimes smoked haddock), boiled rice, parsley, hard-boiled eggs, curry powder, butter or cream and occasionally sultanas’.

We use Organico Nerone (black) rice, into which, once cooked, we stir 1 tsp curry powder, quartered organic hard-boiled eggs, chopped dates, Fish4Ever peppered mackerel then lemon juice + chopped parsley.

We concoct curry powder with ground spices. Recipe for future ref: 4 tsp coriander + 2 tsp turmeric + 2 tsp chilli + 1 tsp ginger + 1 tsp mustard seed + 2 tsp cinnamon + 8 single cloves. We only use 1 tsp of this mix in the kedgeree. Would be wrong to overpower the rest of the ingredients…

No sultanas but miraculously I have dates, softening in water. We decide 8 cut-up small ones are fine. No butter because the fish is canned in plenty of organic sunflower oil. (I hope this encourages you to experiment when cooking).

Before Nadia arrives, I hard-boil eggs.  Note to self: try 3 next time.

I boil the rice.

250 g Organico Nerone rice simmers for 40 mins in 800 ml water. A whole grain, cook black rice as if brown rice: 1 cup of rice for 2 of water.

Listen, sometimes cooking is guess-work. Jamie Oliver uses 170g of long-grain rice for his kedgeree recipe but give no quantities of water. Water has to cover the rice generously because rice swells.

Amounts-wise, I’m a bit hit-and-miss. (Gad, how I hate reading posts like this when desperately seeking a recipe. Sorry). How do you cook your rice?

STOP PRESS: After saying on Twitter that I could not find a classic kedgeree recipe online, chef James McIntosh blogged this one! Fresh!

I was dying to try Organico Nerone rice. Known as ‘forbidden rice’, it did not disappoint. Dramatically black, the cooked grains are fragrant, dense and vibrant.

A speciality grain, it is grown only in parts of the Po valley. Charles Redfern, Organico’s founder and MD, is rightly proud of his artisan suppliers – Organico Nerone rice is cultivated and packed by the Picco family, growing it since 1878.

Organico Nerone rice recently won two stars in the 2012 Great Taste Awards. “Two stars = faultless” according to the Great Taste Awards.

Declaring interests, Organico and its sister company Fish4Ever are clients. I only promote what is Winkle-tastic real food. And I did the video just-for-the-love-of-it.

Fish4Ever, the world’s first sustainable canned fish brand, is store-cupboard convenience with a conscience. In organic world, everything is connected. Fish4Ever’s eco-practices include supporting local day boats, artisan fishing and local canning, and 100% organic land ingredients. The result? Quality fish. It’s a virtuous circle.

Here’s me eating it. Yup, I overcooked the rice a bit. And still, utterly delicious.

Black rice kedgeree served with grated carrots

And here it is, served the next day.

Jamie Oliver – good food in 15 minutes?

Ah, I like Jamie Oliver. I have interviewed him, and I do think he is the Real Thing.

So Jamie has won the 2010 TED prize. Of course it is a bit annoying when high-earning celebrities win $100,000 prizes – I can think of equally worthy but cash-starved causes.

On the other hand, the TED prize is prestigious, international and sends a powerful message:  healthy food for children matters.

Jamie says: “Good food can be made in 15 minutes.”

I like the principle but my mind has gone blank.

Thinks: omelette / ciabatta…? (But I don’t like wheat or too many eggs).

I am currently enamoured of casseroles:

Cooked brown rice or pearl barley in a casserole with (tinned/homecooked) haricot beans, sliced raw onions and cut-up-small raw squash. Add fiery seasoning such as chilli, and/or mango chutney (or any other chutney lingering, neglected, at back of fridge) and cook in the oven with lid on, gas mark 5 for 40 minutes.

That’s dead-quick and no last-minute cooking-stress before eating.

But 15 minutes, it ain’t.

What good food would you cook in 15 minutes?

Jamie Oliver – the real thing

I once sat in a room with Jamie Oliver for two and a half hours as he gave five interviews on the trot to the Scottish media. Whether explaining his passion for organic food to a reporter, or pacing the small room in-between bouts, Jamie seemed comfortably himself.

It was 2004, and Jamie hinted his next step was to do something with school meals. I escorted him through the university building where the Soil Association was holding its annual conference (stop press: our next conference is in Bristol this coming November). As he passed the book stall, Jamie bought twenty pounds worth of books on organic farming. We shook hands and I have to report – this guy is for real. He exudes natural warmth and spontaneity.

Now he is on television teaching Rotherham how to cook. And I love him.

The TV show tonight could not have packed-in more touching scenes. Julie used to live on crisps and chocolate – now she cooks healthy fresh dinners. The miner who found food teaches fellow miners how to stir-fry. Stereotypes fall away. So-called feckless single mothers and ‘real’ men, the stuff of tabloid headlines, absorb Jamie’s lessons – eager to learn, brimming with untapped talents.

Jamie takes his inspiration from the wartime Ministry of Food – Marguerite Patten reminds Jamie “the Ministry never lectured…cooking has to be pleasurable.” Wise advice but pity we have to wait for a disaster to get people changing their behaviour.

Such as the obesity crisis that Jamie graphically illustrates when he drops by the hospital to see Julie’s scan (and the baby she might call after him). There is a hoist and equipment that costs £60,000 to help care for extremely obese people. Clinically-fat people who do not need to suffer if – as the NHS medics insist – they had learnt to cook from scratch from the start.

Jamie gets a thousand people together in one go for a mass cook-in. He is working on the theory of passing it on. If I learn a recipe and pass it on to five people then – do the maths. I marvel at the cheffy dishes he chooses for people who have never cooked before: flattening chicken breasts pressed with parma ham.  His chief ingredients are chilli, ginger and garlic to get everything tasty – top tips to pass on.

His Rotherham experiment is part of revolution, with cooks as guerilla fighters in the war against junk food.

[I changed ‘part of’ from ‘beginning of’ following Sarah Beattie‘s comment because she‘s right: there’s unseen work going on, which is precariously-funded.]

My recipe: I put flat mushrooms with slivered garlic under a grill, brushed them with olive oil top and bottom so they would not burn. When they had softened, I added a slice or two of camembert cheese that took five minutes to melt. I piled the mushrooms on wholemeal toast and served them with grated carrots and mustard leaves snipped from my potted salad plants.

I hope Jamie would be proud of me.

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The Delia effect

Small bowl of salad (green leaves, carrots and purple radish sprouts)

When Delia spoke to the masses and decreed the poor can eat battery-farmed chickens, did their sales rise?

The “Delia effect” describes the unprecedented sale of certain ingredients after being recommended by TV cook Delia Smith. Her influence is so vast that “Delia” has entered the dictionary.

I am pleased to report that sales for free-range poultry have soared.

This follows the high-profile campaign on TV’s Channel 4 by two other famous cooks, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver. They called for higher standards of chicken welfare for all concerned, chickens and their eaters alike.

Sales of free-range poultry rose by 35 per cent in January (compared with January 2007) while sales of standard indoor birds fell by 7 per cent, according to market research company TNS. In response, Tesco doubled its order for higher-welfare chickens.

I mentioned what Delia said to my hairdresser.

Sharp intake of breath. “How can it ever be alright to eat a battery-farmed chicken?” she said.

Listen, she is an apprentice hairdresser so it was gratifying to hear being short of cash does not mean skimping on food quality.

Of course, you have to be a bit canny and cook from scratch. But that’s how most people in the world eat, and why so-called peasant food (such as pasta dishes, stews, curries) tastes so good.

Today’s picture is of a salad made by Chloe, with organic leaves, grated carrots and sprouting radish, that accompanied brown rice and lentils with fried onions, mushrooms and egg, that her dad Mike made. (PS the vase may be corporate but the beans were organic).

This princely meal that cost us about £1.50 each. I rest my case.