It doesn’t matter what you call it.

July 26, 2008

A few cookbooks of my own

This week, while I was finding new food blogs to be addicted to, I came across a really great one by a blogger with and addiction of her own: cookbooks. The Cookbook Addict is by a New York Lawyer with a cookbook purchasing problem and some really great photography skills (read: food porn central). About every week (though it seems to have slowed down a bit… something about being a lawyer) she cooks a selection of dishes from a cookbook on her shelf and then reviews the book on her blog. Her reviews are honest and fun to read… she has a critical eye, but she’s not a snob.

Reading the blog, I realize quickly that the Cookbook Addict and I have a lot in common. We both love Alice Medrich, learned to look from Mollie Katzen, and have the same fear… the “light” cookbook.

In the Cookbook Addict’s review of Ellie Krieger‘s book The Food You Crave she really hits the nail on the head with her description of Ellie (who has a show by the same name on the Food Network): “To be honest, to me, she looks kind of hungry.  I imagine her to be a hair’s breath away from freaking out and eating everything in sight, as soon as the Food Network TV cameras turn off. ”

I couldn’t agree more. I’ve never cracked Ellie’s book, or even watched her show all the way through, and that’s mostly because when I look at the promos for The Food You Crave I find that the food does not look at all like something I crave. It looks dry, and sterile, and really really soul-less.

Like the Cookbook Addict, who is careful to be fair to Ellie, I don’t want to judge. I’m know that light recipes (no matter who they come from) have a lot to battle against. I do want to eat what I crave, be it steak, or chicken fingers, or cheesecake, and what I crave has a lot to do with how American culture has trained my palette. I like things sweeter and saltier, and above all- fattier. So the light cookbook has the difficult task of  coming up with a way for that to be possible without supersize-ing ourselves.

It’s not for me. It doesn’t matter what you call it and regardless of the reason, what I crave is cheesecake- rich and creamy cheesecake- not a cake made with low fat ricotta that it a little sour, a little watery, or a little starchy.

Now, I’m not going to close myself off here. I often reference the Weight Watcher web page for light recipes (and then immediately edit them to see how far I can push the use of whole milk and real eggs before the point value sky-rockets. Also, the Cookbook Addict’s review of The Food You Crave is not entirely bad, she admits that the deserts (including the kinda watery cheesecake) had merit. The Cookbook Addict also mentions some light cookbooks that she does like… even one by our mutual love Alice Medrich… which I plan to check out. But I think the point for me is clear: “1 head cauliflower, 2 Tb oil, hot oven = yum,” meaning it is nice to just find recipes that are light in their intended form, instead of doctoring perfectly good dishes to exclude and substitute.

To this end, I offer one of my favorite naturally ZERO point side dishes: Balsamic Mushrooms. I made this at some point from a cookbook, but I can’t for the life of me figure out which one. If anyone’s seen it before, let me know.

Balsamic Mushrooms

Balsamic Mushrooms

Balsamic Mushrooms
Serves 2 as a side dish

2 cups cremini mushrooms, measured after cut into half inch chunks
2 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper

Sour Cream for topping

Put the mushrooms in a small sautee pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. You may not believe me (I didn’t when I first read it) but you really don’t need to put any oil on the pan… even if it’s non-stick.  If you cook them slow enough, the mushrooms will not stick and burn.

Once the mushrooms have released their water (you’ll know it when you see it) add the vinegar. Continue to cook until the liquid has reduced to a caramel…  make sure to catch it before the mushrooms go completely dry, you still want a bit of a sauce.

Serve with a small dollop of sour cream. You really don’t need more than a tsp, no matter who you are or what you crave.

Points Analysis:

2 cups mushrooms: 0.5
2 Tbs Balsamic: 0.0
2 tsp sour cream: 0.5

Looks like one point, but when I put the whole recipe in and change the servings to two… it’s a big fat 0.


Total points:



One comment

  1. Hey, thanks for checking out my blog. I really want to try that mango tilapia, it sounds amazing. My 12 week experiment is that I am going to try and follow some of the guidelines Pollan outlined at the end of his book. Less processed food, more fresh, thinking about how I feel i.e. am I really hungry, just really thinking about how I am fueling my body. I just want to be more aware of the food choices I am making and try harder to eat fresh foods. I am going to see if I feel better after 12 weeks, if I can feel a difference. anyway, sorry that was a really long comment!

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