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Listening to Jamie

20 September 2013


I THOUGHT my car radio was going to leap out of its casing recently when Jamie Oliver was interviewed on Woman's Hour. I have nothing but warm feelings towards anyone who points out the obvious about nutrition and children's cognitive development, but as he knocked up Singapore noodles, batted Jane Garvey into shape, and carried on pointing out the blindingly simple facts about cooking and well-being to the nation, I joined the great cloud of witnesses who were apparently phoning, emailing, and tweeting with their cheers.

There is nothing much that his excellent new book, Save with Jamie (Michael Joseph, £26; 978-0-7181-5814-9), and TV series will teach to those who know about using up stale bread, but they will like the inventive recipes.

My favourite - one to tuck away for Hallowe'en, perhaps - is Zombie brain. This is a slowly roasted whole celeriac, wrapped in foil, with a knob of butter in its "hair". Rub it with olive oil, salt and pepper, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and 4 crushed garlic cloves, and seal the foil tightly. Roast it for about two hours at 190˚C/375˚F/Gas 5, unwrapping it about ten minutes before the end to baste it regularly. For the rest:


220g (7 oz) pearl barley

1 small onion, peeled and finely


2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely


800g (1½ lb) mushrooms, finely


¼ vegetable stock cube

1 bay leaf

150ml (¼ pt) single cream

1 heaped teaspoon English


extra virgin olive oil


Cook the pearl barley. Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil till soft. Add the mushrooms, and cook for about 20 minutes. Add the stock and bay leaf, and 200ml boiling water. Simmer and reduce, stir in the cream and mustard, and simmer for 5 minutes. Keep it warm until the celeriac is ready. Drain and season the pearl barley. Serve slices of the celeriac on the barley, and garnish with the mushroom sauce and seasonal greens.

Having the oven on for two hours, you'll want to be roasting a squash or two as well, ready to make a variety of different meals. Jamie puts a whole squash in the oven for 1½ hours on 180˚C/350˚F/Gas 4, deseeds it, scoops out the flesh and makes fritters, houmous, rigatoni, and bruschetta. I like the Squash houmous recipe:


1 heaped tablespoon sesame seeds

1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced

1 fresh red chilli, peeled and sliced

½ bunch fresh coriander

1 tin chickpeas (and liquid)

half a roasted squash

½ lemon

extra virgin olive oil


Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan till golden. Add the garlic, chilli, coriander, and chickpeas, and bring to the boil. Drain, and mash with the rest of the ingredients. "Taste. Season to perfection, and serve with warm tortillas."

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