Sep 23, 2011

IHCC Cheerio, Mate: Jamie Oliver Wrap Up

This is I Heart Cooking Clubs' last week with Jamie Oliver.  Next week launches six months with a new chef: Tessa Kiros.

Six months ago, I started flirting with Jamie Oliver.  Giving him a pinky toe test.  Reserved.  Not too much.

He surprised me with the first recipe: Garlic, Thyme, & Anchovy Baked Potatoes.  And again with 1-Minute Berry Ice Cream.

I decided we could spend more time together.  See where things went.  He brought me gifts--a chickpea salad and a chorizo omelet.

About halfway through this relationship, Jamie Oliver and I stopped seeing eye to eye.  We bickered in the kitchen.  Sometimes he wanted too much.  Baby carrots with their tops intact.  Unsalted crackers.  Sometimes I wanted too much.  Recipes that are more precise than "full whack." 

In some cases, I resented him for wasted ingredients and dishes I didn't waste my time posting about.  Maybe he resented me for refusing to trust him when I didn't puree chorizo.  I tried to make it up by staying with him another week and another and another.  He'd make it up to me with Stir Fried Corn or Homemade Granola.  Then he'd end up right back in the doghouse again.  Ours was what you'd call a roller coaster relationship. 

There were several valleys.  (But there were peaks too.)  If I had to give a grade: 76-78%.

This week I made Crunchy Garlic Chicken. 

Before getting to it, here are some of my fond memories.

My best time in the kitchen with JO was this Sweet Cherry Tomato & Sausage Bake.  I love the jammy roasted tomatoes and roasting the sausage is delicious too.  I found that we preferred using brats and doubling the herbs and garlic.  I've made it several times and look forward to next summer's cherry tomatoes.

Next would be Chicken and Leek Stroganoff.  While The Boy didn't care for it, I was smitten.  Definitely a high point.

Finishing off my top three would be this Potato and Chorizo (Andouille) Omelet w/ a Kinda Parsley Salad.  This was tasty and beautiful.  The salad on top was such a nice touch.

Runners up would be...

Summer Chickpea Salad.  I did have to alter this one based on personal taste, but it's a nice little salad packed with flavor.

Sweet Runner Bean Stew.  While I only made the bean part of this fish recipe, I was happy with it.

Banana-Berry Stuffed French Toast.  My first time with stuffed French toast.  This was easy, fun, and family-approved.

The Crunchy Garlic Chicken this week...
Chosen because it was family-friendly.  The breading--lemon zest, garlic, parsley, and crackers smelled like a winner.  I had very high hopes.  In the end, it was okay--not great.  The family wasn't terribly impressed either.

One last thing.  I have to tell you about what else is on this plate.  Baked Sweet Potato Fries w/ Spicy Chipotle Dipping Sauce.  The recipe is from my friend Wendy @ Around My Family Table.  I make it as often as I can.  I love the seasoning on these fries and I double love the sauce.  The Boy wigs out over sweet potato fries (regular fries too).  But I make these anyway because The Husband and I can't get enough.  Here's the recipe.

Crunchy Garlic Chicken
from (click for printable)

2 skinless chicken breast fillets (about 8 ounces each)
3 cloves of garlic
2 lemons
15 Saltine crackers (preferably unsalted tops)
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
8 sprigs of fresh Italian parsley
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg plus one egg white
Lemon wedges, for serving

To prepare your chicken

Cut each chicken breast into 2 equal pieces. Put a square of plastic wrap over each one and bash a few times with the bottom of a pan until they are more or less the same thickness.

Peel the garlic and zest the lemons. Put your crackers into a food processor with the oil, garlic, parsley sprigs, lemon zest, and the salt and pepper. Whiz until the mixture is very fine, then pour these crumbs onto a plate. (If using a blender, leave out the oil and chop the parsley roughly and the garlic finely. Add the garlic and parsley after the crackers are pretty much blitzed and mix in the oil once you’ve dumped the mixture onto a plate.)

Sprinkle the flour on to a second plate. Crack the egg into a small bowl, add the white, and beat with a fork. Lightly score the underside of the chicken breasts. Dip the chicken into the flour until both sides are completely coated, then dip into the egg and finally into the flavored crumbs. Push the crumbs on to the chicken breasts so they stick – you want the meat to be totally coated.

To cook your chicken

Preheat your oven to its highest temperature (475°F). Place your chicken on a nonstick sheet pan. Cook for 10 minutes, flip the chicken and cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through, golden and crisp (no trace of pink at the center of the thickest part). You can check by making a small cut in a piece or two.

To serve your chicken

Either serve the chicken breasts whole, or cut them into strips and pile them on a plate. Beautiful and simple served with lemon wedges for squeezing over the top.


  1. Oh, Michelle. You are too cute. "Full whack" - Jamie has so man funny phrases like that. I feel the same way about Jamie. I have mixed feelings about some of the dishes and there were some that failed and were never posted. This crunchy garlic chicken was one of them. It was pretty dry and while it was okay, it wasn't great. The breading on your chicken looks great though. Mine not so much. It kinda fell off when baking. Loved your roundup of favorites. I can see how the sausage and cherry tomato bake would be a favorite. It looks right up my alley.

  2. As with so many relationships, there were some good times and some bad times. That full whack business might have been unforgivable on this end as well...but then again...Jamie is just so darn cute...

  3. Nice retrospective! I'm glad you had more good times than bad.
    Looking forward to our new featured cook at IHCC!

  4. Great post! I have to hand it to you, you are a SAINT! I could never spend six months cooking someone else's recipes that I didn't absolutely love! lol Besides, my family would divorce me if I cooked anything but Cajun or Creole, 99% of the time. :)

  5. I can totally understand your thoughts about Jamie. Unfortunately I didn't get to participate much over the last 6 months, but for the most past I'm a big JO fan. I would have to say though that I hardly ever actually follow one of this recipes directly - I tend to use his recipes more as inspiration to come up with my own creations, which is where I think his real genius lies. Really looking forward to cooking with Tessa Kiros.
    Sue xo

  6. Aaahhhh, Jamie....sigh. I'll take the bad w/ the good anytime ;) This garlic chicken is actually something that's been on my list for ages, but I never got around to making. Glad to know that I wasn't missing was would potentially be my favorite dish! Fun wrap-up.

  7. Fun post and great recap. I'm glad you still had more successes that not. Hopefully your relationship with Tessa will be a very positive one.

  8. I have to admit that I decided there would be more about JO that I wouldn't care for than I would like so I've never headed in his direction.

    That being said, next time you make the Chicken and Leek Stroganoff, please invite me over. I'll eat The Boy's share, ok?

  9. Thanks for an entertaining post. It came at just the right time.

    I also enjoyed the recap. The dishes certainly look great.

    I always enjoy your blog.

  10. I have had my moments with Jamie over the last 6 months,but it has challenged me and all my culinary skills. Fortunately most of the recipes I made came out just fine,thank heavens.I loved your recap in this post and the Sweet Runner Bean Stew looks delish.

  11. Love your round-up of favorites. I only got to three Jamie recipes during this season of IHCC and luckily loved them all. Hoping I can try more Tessa recipes.

    That banana berry french toast sounds just perfect for a family breakfast, will have to give that one a try, it looks delicious :)


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