Recipes: Putting Jamie Oliver's new cookbook, Together, to the test

Three writers test three recipes from Jamie Oliver's new collection, Together, designed to make family cooking doable and fun...

Jamie Oliver from Together by Jamie Oliver is published by Penguin Random House
By Ella Walker, Lisa Salmon, Noreen Barr, PA

JAMIE Oliver is an absolute machine. The celebrity chef – no longer ‘naked’, but very much clothed and still campaigning for us all to cook (stress-free) from scratch at home – is back with a new recipe collection, Together.

While not all five of his children are featured on the cover (three are, we get the sense the teenagers have bowed out this time around), this book is all about feeding the people you love. There are dinner party menus, ideas for big gatherings and celebrations, and nifty get-ahead tips and tricks so you’re not losing your cool as your guests start to appear.

Dedicated to NHS staff, the impact of the pandemic is a thread that Oliver picks up on throughout. And he’s right, it’s very lovely to be able to sit down, chat and scoff our faces together again.

We put three recipes to the test…

Ella Walker tried: Elegant tuna carpaccio

I do not usually attempt anything remotely ‘elegant’ on a weeknight, but having located fresh tuna steaks in Sainsbury’s, I reread the recipe and realised I could prep it on my lunch break, then just throw it (ok, delicately assemble it) all together at dinnertime.

In terms of process, it did feel rather clean and graceful. I emptied the fridge of veggies (runner beans, carrot, pak choi) and sliced them into thin spears, before ‘scrunching’ the lot with miso and rice wine vinegar. Searing the tuna (20 seconds each side in a hot pan) with tongs was suitably chef-like, and super speedy, and I’m glad I made the effort to buy frozen edamame beans. Their texture is so moreish. The trickiest bit was fitting all the elements in the fridge to wait out the afternoon.

I made the fatal error of thinking, ‘Where is the carb?’ upon assembly, and made rice on the side. You absolutely do not need to do that. Oliver has actually designed it as a starter for two people, but it’s a lot. The protein and veg involved really is enough, and the spicy-limey dressing makes the dish zing. My serving style was more ‘tumbled’ than ‘elegant’ but the pink of the tuna was very pleasing on the eye. The only bit I wouldn’t bother with again is toasting the sesame seeds. The tiny little things just stuck together in the pan (causing more washing up) and the toastiness barely registered. I’d just chuck them on straight from the packet instead next time.

Satisfying, fast and really quite beautiful, I just need to invest in a decent platter, and a bigger fridge.

Noreen Barr tried: Fragrant squash curry

Reading through the ingredients for Jamie’s Fragrant Squash Curry, one glared out – two tinned pineapple rings in juice. The last time I knowingly ate pineapple in a curry was reluctantly as a child back in the 1970s. That strangely sweet and chunky, but trendy at the time, experience put me off curries for at least a decade.

Yet Oliver’s recipes generally go down well in our household, so casting aside my doubts, and those of my meat-loving teenage son and nine-year-old daughter who announced it sounded “weird”, I decided to give this veggie curry a try.

Making it was simple. While chunks of squash (no need to peel) were slowly roasting for an hour in the oven, I had plenty of time to dry-fry the onion, garlic, ginger and spices. Soon the pineapple rings and tomatoes were softening and beginning to char – and the smell was surprisingly promising. Once whizzed in the blender with coconut milk, I’d a flavour-packed sauce that thickened up nicely with some chickpeas and finally the caramelised squash.

There was only one hitch. As our local shops had no coriander to use as a garnish, my daughter popped on some oregano to “lift” the final look. Since I had an hour without too much to do, I also knocked up some homemade naan bread. But the star of the meal was the curry, with the pineapple giving a sweet but balanced layer to the – fragrant as advertised – sauce. Every plate was cleared. Everyone (and this doesn’t happen often) wanted to have it again.

Lisa Salmon tried: Chocolate orange crème brulée

Chocolate orange crème brulée sounds decadent, delicious and oh-so-posh. And that surely means it must be tricky to make, right?

Not at all! Jamie Oliver’s crème brulée was super-easy – other crème brulée recipes are baked in the oven in a bain-marie, but there was none of that faffing with Oliver’s little choc pots. It was as simple as melting chocolate into cream and milk, whipping egg yolks, sugar and orange zest together, combining the two mixtures, heating and whipping some more, and putting it in the fridge to set before caramelising sugar on the top to serve. Simple!

The hardest part was separating the four eggs, which I miraculously managed to do without any egg casualties. I had no idea how long to whip the egg yolks for – the recipe says till they’re pale and fluffy, but after whipping for ages my mixture was pale and definitely not my idea of fluffy. But it still worked (phew!).

Caramelising the sugar topping under the grill (like most people, I didn’t have a blow-torch) was nerve-wracking, because I didn’t know how long to do it for and was paranoid about burning it. I probably didn’t grill it for long enough in the end, but thankfully it did go hard (ish) after it cooled a little. The finished brulées tasted smooth, rich, and very sweet, with just the right hint of orange – definitely decadent, delicious, and dead easy.

Together by Jamie Oliver is published by Penguin Random House © Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited (2021 Together), priced £26. Photography by David Loftus. Available now. Below are three recipes to try at home...

Jamie Oliver’s fragrant squash curry with chickpeas, ginger, spices and coconut milk

(Serves 6 + 2 leftover portions)

1 butternut squash (1.2kg)

Olive oil

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

4cm piece of ginger

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon medium curry powder

300g ripe cherry tomatoes

2 tinned pineapple rings in juice

1 x 400ml tin of light coconut milk

1 x 400g tin of chickpeas

Optional: 2 sprigs of coriander, to serve

GET AHEAD: You can make this on the day, if you prefer. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Scrub the squash (there’s no need to peel it), carefully halve it lengthways and deseed, then chop into 2cm chunks. Place in a roasting tray, toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, then roast for 1 hour, or until soft and caramelised.

Meanwhile, peel and roughly chop the onion, peel the garlic and ginger, and dry fry in a non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat with the coriander and fenugreek seeds and the curry powder, stirring until lightly charred all over. Add the tomatoes and pineapple rings (reserving the juice), and cook for 10 minutes to soften and char, stirring regularly.

Tip it all into a blender, add the coconut milk and blitz until very smooth. Return to the pan, tip in the chickpeas, juice and all, and simmer gently until the sauce is thickened. Stir in the roasted squash, then season the curry to perfection, tasting and tweaking, and loosening with the reserved pineapple juice. Cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.

TO SERVE: Preheat the oven to 150ºC. Place the covered pan of curry in the oven until hot through – about 1 hour. Nice with picked coriander leaves.

Jamie Oliver’s elegant tuna carpaccio, miso veg, chilli and lime dressing and sesame

(Serve 2)

1 tablespoon quinoa

1 tablespoon frozen edamame beans

100g crunchy veg, such as cucumber, sugar snap peas, mangetout, carrots

2 level teaspoons white miso paste

2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

1 fresh chilli

1cm piece of ginger

1 lime

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons low-salt soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

1 x 200g super-fresh chunky tuna steak, from sustainable sources

Optional: 2 sprigs of shiso, mint or basil

GET AHEAD: You can prep all this on the day, if you prefer.

Cook the quinoa in plenty of water according to the packet instructions, adding the edamame for the last 2 minutes, then drain and cool.

Take a little time to prep your crunchy veg – it’s nice to have a mixture, so use up any veg from the fridge – and finely slice everything as delicately as you can – a speed-peeler can be helpful here.

Muddle the miso into the rice vinegar, then scrunch with the prepped veg, quinoa and edamame – the flavours will develop and deepen overnight.

To make a dressing, deseed and finely chop the chilli and place in a clean jam jar. Peel and finely grate in the ginger, squeeze in the lime juice, then add the sesame oil and soy and pop the lid on. Toast the sesame seeds in a non-stick frying pan on a high heat until lightly golden, tossing regularly, then remove. Now, sear the tuna for just 20 seconds on each side and edge, turning with tongs, then leave to cool. Cover and refrigerate the veg and tuna overnight.

TO SERVE: If you’ve prepped ahead, get everything out of the fridge 15 minutes before serving. Slice the tuna as finely as you can and arrange around a sharing platter. Pile the dressed veg in the centre, shake up the dressing and spoon over the tuna, then finish with the herb leaves (if using), and toasted sesame seeds.

Jamie Oliver’s chocolate orange crème brulée

(Serves 2 + 2 leftover puds)

100ml double cream

300ml semi-skimmed milk

100g dark chocolate (70%)

4 large free-range eggs

80g golden caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

1 orange

Seasonal berries, to serve

GET AHEAD: Pour the cream and milk into a non-stick pan, snap in the chocolate, and place on a medium-low heat until the chocolate has melted, whisking regularly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly while you separate the eggs.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the yolks (freeze the whites to make meringues another day) with the sugar and the finely grated orange zest until pale and fluffy. Now, whisking constantly, gradually pour in the chocolate mixture until combined. Return to the pan and place over a low heat, then very gently bring to a simmer, whisking constantly for about 10 minutes, or until you have a custard-like consistency.

Divide between four small heatproof cups or two sharing bowls, then cool, cover and leave to set in the fridge overnight.

TO SERVE: Sprinkle a little sugar over two of the puds, then melt it under a hot grill or using a blowtorch. Serve with orange segments, berries or cherries. The two extra puds will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge, if you can wait that long.

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