Stephen Fries: Real food, made easy
It is already the 4th week of January. Are your New Year resolutions coming to fruition? If you are like many, you have good intensions, but without a plan they will be difficult to accomplish. One of my resolutions a few years ago was to cut out processed foods and to read food labels listing the ingredients before putting the item in the shopping cart. I must say, I have been quite good at following this regimen. The more I read about processed food, the more concerned I have become about their effects on health.
There are many of you too, who are trying to do the same. Why would we want to eat food laden with ingredients that sound like they are from a chemistry lab and difficult to pronounce? Out of curiosity, I recently looked at the ingredient list on what looked like a delicious piece of New York style crumb cake at a supermarket bakery. The ingredient list had 27 items on it, the majority unknown to me. When I make crumb cake or if you purchase it from a small local bakery it has about 10 familiar ingredients. Most of the unfamiliar ingredients on the cake’s label at the store were probably necessary to prolong shelf-life.
I subscribe to Lisa Leake’s blog, 100daysofrealfood.com, and became aware of her two books, “100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned and 100 Easy Recipes Your Family Will Love!,”(2014, William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins, $29.99) and “100 Days of Real Food Fast & Fabulous: The Easy and Delicious Way to Cut out Processed Food” (2016, William Morrow and imprint of HarperCollins, $29.99). The books are roadmaps or a “plan.” They reveal how simple it is to think out of the box in the kitchen by replacing unhealthful prepackaged and processed foods with real food.
In the latter book, she incorporates ideas for adults, lunch box food for kids, seasonal meal plans and shopping lists—everything you need for accessible, quick, and real home cooking. Lisa also includes a “Cliff Notes”-style resource section packed with easy guidelines on how to buy real food, supermarket staples (including her Top 10 Shopping Lists by store), and the truth behind more than a dozen grocery store myths. She writes, “Food marketers spend billions of dollars per year trying to convince us to buy their products. Then throw in a crowded Saturday, a cranky toddler, or hunger pangs and it’s just too hard not to fall for the misleading buzzwords out there: Freshly baked! Grass-fed! Multigrain! Vine-ripened!” Doesn’t this sound familiar?
Her handy kitchen tips, such as food prep guides and storage cheat sheets will come in handy. I found the cookbook recipe chart by dietary need helpful in clarifying which of the book’s recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, peanut/tree-nut-free, and freezer friendly. To help you begin to ditch processed food and transition to a real-food lifestyle, check out these recipes. For the recipe for White Chicken Chili please visit http://bit.ly/2Bcnbhe.
Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Cook time: 8 to 10 minutes
Dairy-free (if olive oil is used instead of butter), nut-free
Make the pico de gallo: In a medium bowl, toss all the ingredients.
Prepare the fish: Mix the flour and seasonings on a plate. Dip the fish chunks into the flour to coat on all sides. Transfer to a clean plate.
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the fish and cook until the fish is golden brown on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish). Flip and cook until it is golden brown on the other side and the center is white, flaky, and cooked all the way through, about 7 to 8 minutes total (depending on the thickness). Squeeze the lime on top.
Serve the fish with warm tortillas and freshly made pico de gallo. Serves 4-5.
The headnote says, “this dessert is similar to Bananas Foster. It’s fabulous by itself and even better over vanilla ice cream. Such a tasty real-food treat!”
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Gluten-free, dairy-free (if coconut oil is substituted for the butter), vegetarian, nut-free
In a skillet, combine the butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla and set over medium heat. When it starts bubbling, add the bananas and cook for 30 to 60 seconds, stirring to coat. Serve as is or over vanilla cream. Serves 4-5.
Lisa’s tip: You could try this cooking method with other fruits as well, such as apples, pears, or blueberries!
Recipes from 100 DAYS OF REAL FOOD: FAST & FABULOUS by Lisa Leake. Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Leake. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Send us your requests: Which restaurant recipes or other recipes would you like to have? Which food products are you having difficulty finding? Do you have cooking questions? Send them to me. Contact Stephen Fries, professor and coordinator of the Hospitality Management Programs at Gateway Community College, at email@example.com or Dept. FC, Gateway Community College, 20 Church St., New Haven, 06510. Include your full name, address and phone number. Due to volume, he might not be able to publish every request. For more, go to stephenfries.com.
The Wine Thief Wine Tasting, Jan. 25, 5:30 p.m., Ceviche 181, 181 Orange St., New Haven.203-772-1944, $15. Taste 30 wines from around the world. Light food to be served. Tickets at http://bit.ly/2mN5sI7
Dutch Oven Cooking Class, Jan. 27, 6:30 p.m., Chef’s Emporium, 449 Boston Post Road, Orange, 203-799-2665. $65. One workhorse that belongs on every stove is the Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven pot. It is the perfect everyday pot that can easily go from the stove top to the oven and is excellent for braising, stewing, frying, boiling, baking and just about everything in between. You will see first-hand the versatility this pan has to offer, and you will certainly want to bring one home with you. Bring a bottle of wine or your favorite beverage with you to this class. Menu: braised French onion chicken with Gruyere, Dutch oven herbed potatoes. Tickets at http://bit.ly/2mR4s5s.
Kid’s Mac N’ Cheese Creations, Jan. 28, noon-2:30 p.m., Chef’s Emporium, 449 Boston Post Road, Orange, 203-799-2665. $40. No more Mac N’ Cheese out of a box or frozen! Your child will learn to make a basic roux (the main ingredient in most cream sauces), and freshly-grated cheddar cheese. We will also be roasting a few vegetables, as roasting brings out their nutty sweetness and then each child can incorporate their favorite vegetable into the macaroni and cheese. They will then mix all the ingredients together and then their mac n’ cheese creations will then be placed in the oven to finish baking. Tickets at http://bit.ly/2FUJtI2.
Consiglio’s Cooking Class and Dinner with Master Chef Vincenzo, an instructor at the Villa Maria Cooking School in Ravello, Italy: February 7, 6:30 p.m., Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, 203-865-4489 (reservations required), $100 (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). Menu: Shrimp and Zucchini in a Lemon Mint Sauce, Haddock with Pinenuts, Capers, Cherry Tomatoes and Crunchy Vegetables with Goat Cheese. http://bit.ly/2DNp5I0.
Food & Wine Tasting, Feb. 8, 5:30 p.m., Fletcher Cameron Kitchens, 91 Orange St., New Haven, 203-777-7707. $35. Chef Anne Gallagher, owner of a farm-to-table catering company in Litchfield demonstrates how to make delicious & healthy winter soups. Guests will also enjoy an entertaining and educational guided wine tasting by The Wine Thief. More info and tickets at http://bit.ly/2Dr7dWF.