Fork in the Road

People seeking to restrict their intake of fats who fear they must give up good food will find a friend in Paul Prudhomme. Claiming that much of what is called healthy food “looks and tastes like twigs,” Prudhomme offers cooking methods that sometimes incorporate fruit juices, low-fat dairy products, and artificial sweeteners, and use no oils in the cooking process. He explains the different methods thoroughly, and the cooking times given in the recipes are uncannily accurate.

Many of the dishes are heavily spiced, and the dry-spice mixture used consists of kitchen standards such as black, red, and white pepper, basil, dry mustard, and thyme. Prudhomme also stresses the use of homemade stocks, and gives tips for creating various stocks, and for effectively defatting meat broths.

Prudhomme’s Magic Brightening method resembles shabu-shabu, an Asian technique of cooking cut-up meats and vegetables in a simmering broth. This brings out the flavor and color of foods without sacrificing nutritional value.

Poultry recipes are numerous. The Spicy Turkey Loaf makes an excellent, interesting alternative to ground beef and holds up well for sandwiches. Turkey cutlets in Onion Custard makes use of a “creamy mixture” of low-fat dairy products and is delicious, but time-consuming to prepare.

Seafood is also featured, with many Louisiana classics, such as Shrimp Orleans, redesigned for the low-fat methods. The Oven-Fried Catfish is simple to prepare and delicious; the dry spice coating eliminates the strong, sometimes “muddy” flavor of the fish, leaving a firm texture and wonderful taste.

There are also recipes for vegetarian meals, salads, low-calorie snacks, and desserts. Each recipe contains useful nutritional information, per serving, on calorie, protein, fat, and carbohydrate content, as well as giving the percentage of calories from fat. Included are color photographs and an index.