No Salt, No Fat    

August 4 1998
Chosen again
Maybe not such a bad idea

The task of the day:

Nutritional Cooking

Today our chef was from the St. Andrew's Cafe here at the CIA, which specializes in healthy cooking (as defined by the USDA) at a high-end level. This means less than 30% fat, 60% complex carbs, and the rest protein. It also means less than 300 mg of salt in a four course meal, and under 1000 calories.

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Today's menu:

  • Seafood Minestrone Soup
  • Green Bean Salad
  • Grilled Quail with Procutto
  • Polenta
  • Swiss Chard

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Not a whole lot to say about today. We pretty much rocked. Once again, done pretty far ahead of time. The quail were excellent. The Polenta was a bit to dry, but not bad. We had to make two batches because I wasn't paying attention and overcooked it in the oven. I prefer to make stuff like this on top of the stove (where you can't forget about it), but was "following directions." Screw that, I'm cooking my own way from here on out!

We got to plate single servings today, which was a nice change from the last two days of piling stuff onto a platter. We did a nice presentation of Soup, Salad, and Main Course. In fact, the entree looked so nice, the Chef stole our presentation plate for his own lunch. Score!

The Quail are worth cooking again, they were very simple and came out with an excellent flavor. We marinated them in onions, garlic, and sherry wine vinegar, wrapped each with a strip of procutto (a mild ham-like item), marked them on the grill, and then finished them in the oven at the last minute. Russell will like them, they taste like bacon.

The sauce for the quail was a fairly standard wine reduction sauce, with veal stock. Once again, not many changes here. We thickened it with cornstarch instead of a roux, but other than that, it was a fairly basic sauce. Had a nice flavor. We resisted pulling out the glace today, we'll probably use it tomorrow or the next day.

The dressing for the salad was a reduced fat vinegarette. This is another neat idea. The result is tasty, lower in fat, and actually easier to make than normal vinegarette. One takes a stock (in this case, vegetable stock) and thickens it with cornstarch until it's the thickness you want in the final product. You then use this to replace two-thirds of the oil in a normal vinegarette (normally 3X oil, 1X vinegar, now 1X oil, 1X vinegar, 2X thickened stock). Less oily (obviously), more flavor (from whatever is in the stock), and as an added bonus, it stays emulsified way easier because of the starch. Joe Bob says, check it out.

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I received a ton of mail today. About a dozen postcards, two letters, and a package-o-fun from Carol. I think I'm staying up tonight reading. Whee!

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Copyright 1998 Tom Dowdy