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New Year's resolution food needn't be tasteless

You know those packages that say, “Do not open until Christmas”? If you tend to avoid resolutions until the actual first of the year, then eat, drink and be merry tonight, and save this column for tomorrow.

It’s New Year’s resolution time again, and I’m making the same one I make every year (sigh), to lose those extra pounds. And how I would love to implement my resolve at, say, the world-renowned Golden Door spa, pampered in the epitome of luxury with world-class chefs lavishing me with nutritious, satisfying, and glorious meals.

Ain’t gonna happen.

With the tight economy affecting travel plans, more and more Americans are choosing a staycation instead of a vacation – you know, donning bathing suit, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat for a luxurious loll in the backyard.

I’m spending my staycation at home with the help of the new “Golden Door Cooks at Home” cookbook (Clarkson Potter, $40) by executive chef Dean Rucker with food writer Marah Stets.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Golden Door with resort spas in Escondido, California, as well as throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.

“It used to be that the term ‘spa food’ evoked images of unadorned dishes without flavor or flair, created to contain as few calories and as little fat as possible without regard for how enjoyable it was to actually eat them,” writes chef Rucker.

No longer. The emphasis now is on a healthy diet and portion control. “And this is made far easier when the food is both delicious and filling,” he says.

Chicken and Scallion Potstickers with Chili Lime Sauce. Pan Roasted Lobster with Basil Potato Puree. Moroccan Spice-Rubbed Lamb Loin with Chickpeas, Feta, and Olives. Warm Flourless Chocolate Cake with Orange Sauce.

Spa food? Hardly.

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Thu, 12/31/2009 - 5:15pm.

Shiitake Mushroom Matzoh Balls

1/4 cup melted chicken fat or vegetable oil
4 scallions, white and half the green part, thinly sliced
3 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, finely chopped (1 to 1½ cups)
1 envelope matzoh ball mix, such as Manischewitz
1/2 cup matzoh meal
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Kosher (coarse) salt
Dash of white pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder (see Note)
2 tablespoons club soda, chicken broth, or water

1. Heat the chicken fat in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the scallions and mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

2. Combine the matzoh ball mix with the matzoh meal in a medium-size bowl. Add the eggs and mix well. Stir in the mushroom mixture, parsley, 2 teaspoons salt, the white pepper, and the baking powder. Add the club soda and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and lightly salt it.

4. Form the mixture into balls that are a little larger than a marble, wetting your hands if necessary to keep them from sticking. Drop the balls into the boiling water and cook, covered, at a slow, steady boil (not a hard boil) until tender, 30 minutes (depending on the size of the balls).

5. Carefully remove the matzoh balls with a slotted spoon, and serve in soup.

Makes 24 to 30 golf-ball-size balls

Notes: For Passover use kosher-for-Passover baking powder, or if unavailable, it may be omitted. You will find that after cooking these matzoh balls, the cooking liquid is so flavorful, it is almost a soup in itself, particularly if you have used chicken fat. I use this broth instead of water in soups and stews and for cooking rice.

Fragrant Carrot Soup with Indian Spices

from Divine Kosher Cuisine by Risé Routenberg and Barbara Wasser
Yield: 12 servings

1/2 cup olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 quarts vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro, mint leaves or nondairy sour cream for garnish

  1. Heat oil in soup pot and sauté onions until soft but not browned. Add sugar and spices and cook 1 minute.
  2. Add carrots, potatoes and broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat and
    simmer 30 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add salt and pepper.
    Cool and puree.
  3. Serve soup hot or at room temperature and garnish.

Hint: For a lower fat version, reduce oil to 1/3 cup.

Lillian Bart's Chicken Soup

from The Orange County Register
September 6, 2007

Yield: About 6 quarts

8-10 pounds carrots, trimmed, peeled
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into fourths
1 green bell pepper, cored and seeded, cut into fourths
3-4 large onions, peeled, halved
1 large bunch celery, washed, separated
3 large parsnips, trimmed, peeled
1 large bunch parsley
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large turnip, peeled and cut into fourths
1 piece flanken, about 3/4 pound; see cook's notes
4-5 kosher roasting chickens, cleaned and cut into fourths, divided use
Bottled water
2-3 large bunches fresh dill
Optional: 2 kosher chickens, cut into fourths

For serving: matzo balls, lukshen (thin noodles) or mandlen (soup nuts)

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Fri, 09/14/2007 - 2:20pm.
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