|Photo courtesy of Grant Cochrane / Freedigitalphotos.net|
I will admit it: I’m a little bit obsessed with Jamie Oliver. His cook books are really good, inspiring, and they use a lot of the ingredients I have in my cupboard.
Okay, well, I may have just about every spice and herb known to man, so it might be a tad easier for me to have these things lying around, but you get my point.
Jamie’s recipes are fairly easy to make and I really love the way he set out the “30 Minute Meals” cookbook, where instead of single recipes he has combined the recipes of multiple dishes. For me the standout feature is that he has intermingled the methods of these recipes, telling you exactly when to do what in the process of making the whole meal, so that everything is ready on time. I don’t always use his combinations but I can tell you when I made his Mustard Chicken with Dauphine Potatoes it was a real hit with my guests.
I’ve also seen Jamie cooking on TV in his “15 Minute Meals” TV show as well as “Jamie’s Great Britain” and a couple of his other TV shows. They are all very interesting and I learn plenty of things about cooking and flavour combinations, but there are a few observations I have made from reading Jamie’s cookbooks and watching his TV shows.
My observations include:
He uses lemon in everything (and I mean everything!), especially in dressings but also in desserts, as decoration on the side of the plate, with bean and vegetable based meals, with protein meals, with rice and with potatoes. It’s all got lemon in it!
To make a meal look really amazing when he presents it to the camera at the end of the show he will always add something green to make the other colours stand out. Usually its green herbs such as parsley, but he’ll use watercress or spinach, asparagus or something else along these lines too. Try it. It really works to make the meal look good, don’t you think?
|My chicken casserole looks much better with some green on top.|
Everything is ‘gorgeous’. There are gorgeous little flowers, gorgeous flavours, gorgeous meals, gorgeous textures, gorgeous tastes and just about everything else. It’s all simply gorgeous!
He uses his fingers to dress his salads. While I agree that using your hands is an essential part of cooking, I’m not sure I want to dress the salad with my hands. Have you ever tried to get oil off your fingers? It takes ages!
His knife skills are incredible! Everything he makes has been chopped to perfection, whether its finely diced, chunks, or anything else in between, it’s done in seconds with such control and precision. Personally, I’m jealous. But I can recognise skill when I see it. So hats off to you Mr Oliver.
His use of kitchen machines is wide and varied, often in a way that really makes use of the machine, but in ways I never thought of. For instance, in one of Jamie’s recipes he makes the fresh salad dressing by pureeing everything in the food processer, then leaves the dressing in the bottom, changes to the slicer attachment and slices the vegetables on top. He then tips the whole thing out and the fresh dressing pours itself all over the vegetables, essentially dressing the salad by itself. Genius if you ask me!
The technique he uses to stuff a chicken breast is clever and really works. Jamie makes an angled cut into the back of the fattest part of the chicken breast, which he then stuffs with the ingredients he’s using. He then uses the thinner part of the chicken breast and the tenderloin bit to cover the stuffed part while he then sears or bakes the whole breast.
A drizzle of oil is never a drizzle of oil. I’m sure if you added it up, it would be a quarter of a cup easily, perhaps more. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because after all, Jamie is cooking from scratch which means his original ingredients don’t usually have the added fat already in them like the processed foods do. However, I do think there is a line between an okay amount of oil, and too much. The decision is yours really as when you follow his recipe you can adjust the amount you like depending on your tastes or diet preferences.
If you haven’t tried any of Jamie’s recipes, I would suggest hiring one of his cookbooks from the library and trying one out for yourself. In my opinion, he does more interesting things with chicken than anyone else, and for someone who doesn’t eat red meat, that’s a really important part of my culinary repertoire.
And Mum, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for “30 Minute Meals” for Christmas. I have used it so many times, especially when last minute guests are coming over. However, I still need Jamie’s “15 Minute Meals” ($35 at Dymocks on special this week)…