I'm not a great cook at all, and would like to improve, so I read this thread with interest. I liked the idea of Jamie's Ministry of Food book, so I looked it up on amazon, had a good look and came close to buying it. I thought I'd just check with DH first, as he has a few Jamie Oliver books, and I thought he might have something similar.
I forgot all about it and went off to do something else. I was looking for something different, and guess what I've found on MY OWN bedside table? Yes, the Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food. In my defence, I didn't put it there, DH must have been looking at it and just dumped it there.
netto I find that with a lot of Jamie books. I use them loads to start with then the meals just become part of my normal repertoire. Jamie at home has loads of recipes that I do without even thinking about it any more.
This is not a Jamie Oliver love-in but the simpler books do seem to hit the spot with basic manageable recipes but that use proper ingredients and have a bit of flair. We like Jamie's Dinners here as well.
Also for the OP's BIL or whoever it was, Ministry of Food starts with a list and pictures of utensils and ingredients so he can't fail to know what a wok or box grater is!
First Steps in the Kitchen by Maureen O'Connor. First published in the early 70s when I was given my copy, but still available on Amazon. Basic but very good. Things like Treacle Tart, Rice Pudding, Steak & Kidney pie and Spag Bol . It has probably been updated to include things like Mediterranean CousCous which didn't feature on the radar back then.