Comfort Food Fix

Somedays only macaroni and cheese or creamy clam chowder will sooth the troubled soul.  Everyone has a favorite comfort food, and Ellie Krieger’s Comfort Food Fix has the recipes to make those artery clogging selections healthier for you.

Using her tools as nutritionist and popular host of the Food Network’s “Healthy Appetite” show, Krieger sticks to natural ingredients and simple strategies.  With nine chapters, from “Breakfast, Brunch, and Bakery” to “Desserts” – my two favorite topics, Krieger includes snacks, salads, and vegetarian dishes, as well as the routine meat, poultry, and seafood.

Not as many pictures are included as most cookbooks, but each recipe includes a footnote with a “before” and “after” count of calories, fat, sodium, and fiber; the “before” assumes you are using the worst – cream, butter, white flour, etc.; the “after” count identifies the dish with Krieger’s substitutes. Her mushroom, onion, and Gruyère Quiche with oat crust falls from 530 calories with 22 grams of saturated fat to 290 calories with only 7 grams of saturated fat.  The substitutions include old-fashioned rolled oats, low-fat buttermilk, olive oil, egg whites to supplement whole eggs, and lots of herbs.

If banana bread is your downfall, Krieger’s recipe reduces 500 calories with 12 grams of fat a slice to 300 calories with only 1.5 grams of fat.  Her secret? More bananas and non-fat yogurt in the mix.

Any cookbook that includes chocolate always get my vote, and Krieger comes through with dark chocolate pretzel clusters – only 110 calories (not that it matters when it comes to chocolate), and her index includes 8 chocolate recipes, including cookies, cupcakes, and pudding.

Krieger cautions in her “15 Fix Factors” that portion size does make a difference, but she still uses “a bit of butter” just like Julia Child, and her easy to follow recipes may be the catalyst to keeping some of those New Year’s resolutions.  I plan to use one of my Christmas gift cards to buy a copy, now that the book is due back to the library.

Anthony Bourdain

A chef who likes to think – or at least think about thinking.  In Kate Murphy’s New York Times interview of Anthony Bourdain, author of No Reservations and famous chef, traveler, food and people critic, Bourdain admits to reading Sarah Bakewell’s How to Live: Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer.  Bourdain’s comment on his reading:

“Montaigne’s essays {are} presented in a casual and contemporary way that reminds you why he is still relevant after nearly 500 years.  I got a tattoo because of that book…”

You can enjoy the book without getting a tattoo (“I suspend judgment”) or becoming an irritable cook.  Michel de Montaigne would suggest…

“No one is exempt from speaking nonsense – the only misfortune is to do it solemnly.”

Read my review of Bakewell’s book – here                                                                                       

Bourdain has a collection of essays too – reviewed here  

Barefoot Contessa – How Easy Is That?

I’m always suspicious of skinny chefs.  How great to see Ina Garten, who looks like she eats what she cooks, as she appears on the cover of her new book, with a doubled scarf to hide her chins and holding a tray of gooey whipped cream topped parfaits – smiling.

Everything is easy – easy ingredients (no glace de viande here), easy shortcuts (canned stock but there is a recipe for making your own), easy techinques (why stand over a stove making French toast when you can bake it), and easy (road-tested) recipes.

With no table of contents and sloppy organization, the book starts with French toast bread pudding and morphs into watermelon mojitos.  Garten provides 68 tips for making life easier – with large pictures – 17 sprinkled throughout, with the remaining tacked on at the end of the book – nothing earth shattering (have bowl of lemons and limes handy).

So why bother?  The pictures of food are wonderful – mouth-watering, full-page spreads – and Ina Garten is a good cook (Food Network star).  Added bonus – the recipes really are easy.

garlic-roasted cauliflower

My faves:  garlic-roasted cauliflower and every single dessert.  (The garlic cancels out the sugar, of course).

Recipes from the Book