Hi, I'm Jaden, a professional recipe developer, food columnist and food photographer specializing in fast, fresh and easy recipes for the home cook. Most of my recipes are modern Asian! About meFast, fresh & easy recipes for the home cook.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
from my Tampa Tribune column
I’m sure that a vow to eat healthfully was at the top of most New Year’s resolutions lists. Sigh. It certainly was on mine, but I’ve been doing a lousy job of fulfilling my goal of losing 15 pounds.
I even made it super-easy by limiting myself to just ONE resolution. I typed in my journal that if I could get there by the end of the year, I would pamper myself with a spa day at The Met in Sarasota.
It’s May, and I’m so not there yet. Maybe I need to re-evaluate my prize because, as we all know, a change in behavior is only sustainable with a promise of good loot at the end. The words “losing 15 pounds,” even the thought of a haircut and four-hour massage, is not enticement enough to turn away that decadent swirl of chocolate frosting or the irresistibly curious bacon toffee. Sugar? Butter? Bacon? Cannot resist.
So I’m thinking that my newly revised prize should be grand, like one in which hordes of people are holding me accountable for my success. Hmmm … maybe a massive food/wine/music-filled block party to which you are all invited? You’re welcome to e-mail me ideas as long you’re not selling me diet pills.
But, hey, I did find a nutritious recipe for Potatoes Anna from Cooking Light magazine that I simply love. The super-thin overlapping slices of potatoes are baked in a skillet. The top and bottom layers peel off like crisp potato chips. I’ve seasoned my version with a combination of ground cinnamon and coriander. At 200 calories per serving, I could almost eat, like, the whole thing.
Having a mandoline slicer really helps with cutting the potatoes into thin, even slices. My favorite is one by Pampered Chef for $60. It’s beautifully designed for the clumsy in mind, with a food holder on safety rails and an unexposed blade. You food (and hands) slide effortlessly guided by the safety rails. It also folds up nicely and the 4 blades (crinkle, V-shaped, regular and grating) are stored in a plastic holder that also slides onto the mandolin for storage. The blade is triggered by a spring action – each time your food guide passes over, it triggers the blade to be exposed. Food passes, blade flush. Simply beautiful. Limitations: no blade for cutting shoestring fries and the wide food holder is 3 1/2″ oval shaped and your food has to fit in there.
If you’re the daredevil sort and don’t use the food gripper anyways, then get the Oxo brand. While it has a massive food gripper that keep your knuckles and fingers away from the blade, it does not have safety rails. It does cut nicely and is very sturdy. One time I went slicer-bezerk and slid off the “runway” and, well, you know what happened. BUT – it cuts shoestring fries! And you get to watch a nifty video of Mario pimping out the product. I own both the Pampered Chef and Oxo – and would never give up either one of them.Unless you offered large sums of money. Or an evening with Rocco. Or my very own Darth Vader voice changer mask. I’m easily bribed by evil temptations.
You know those thin, plastic Japanese style mandolines by Benriner? I wouldn’t recommend them unless you are adept at handling juggling knives on a unicycle. Without a stand that holds it erect, you will be balancing the mandoline with one hand at an odd angle and sliding the food back and forth with just a plastic holder doohickey the size of a credit card.
Spend $10 more and get a good quality mandoline.
Cooking Light magazine gave me three gorgeous Cooking Light The Complete Cookbooks to give away! Would you like one? Come over here to enter. The random drawing takes place Saturday (May 10th) morning. It’s got 1,200 recipes with 630 color photographs and a companion DVD.
It is an awesome book, and my copy is littered with Post-it notes of recipes I want to incorporate into my, ahem, healthy lifestyle, like this recipe for Potatoes Anna!
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coriander
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, divided
3 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices (russet or yukon gold)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or chives
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine salt, pepper, cinnamon and coriander. Swirl just 2 tablespoons of butter in a 10-inch cast-iron or ovenproof heavy skillet over medium heat. Arrange a single layer of potato slices, slightly overlapping, in a circular pattern in the pan; sprinkle with 1/4 of the salt and spice mixture. Use a pastry brush and lightly brush 1/2 teaspoon of the melted butter over potatoes. Repeat layers 5 times, ending with butter. Press firmly to pack. Cover and bake 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 25 minutes or until potatoes are golden. You can serve the potatoes in the skillet or loosen edges with a spatula and turn over onto a plate. Sprinkle with parsley or chives.
Makes 8 servings at 208 calories each.
Source: adapted from “Cooking Light Complete Cookbook”