In his latest book, "Controlling Your Fat Tooth," fat food warrior Joe Piscatella estimates that the average American family prepares only about 12 dishes over and over again. Here are some standard recipes from the Piscatella kitchen prepared by the researcher's wife, Bernie. Mrs. Piscatella does not totally exclude frying or salad dressings from her repertoire, but recommends canola or olive oil -- if you must use oil -- to lubricate salads or cook foods.
Potatoes with mushrooms and tomatoes
1/3 cup beef consomme
2 tablespoons dry white wine (Frascati is good)
2 teaspoons chervil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 pounds tiny red potatoes, cooked and halved
1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, cooked and sliced or 1 8-ounce can mushroom stems and pieces, drained
1 large tomato, diced
In a small bowl, combine consomme, white wine, chervil, parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour over potatoes while potatoes are still warm. Arrange in a low salad bowl. Toss with mushrooms and tomatoes. Thoroughly drain excess marinade. Serve hot or cold. Each of the 8 servings will have about have 2 grams of fat and a total of about 100 calories.
Sole with shrimp, crab and mushrooms
1 cup homemade chicken broth or canned broth
1/2 cup dry vermouth
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 pound sole fillets
1 teaspoon finely chopped leek, white part only
1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot
3 tablespoons cold water
1/4 pound cooked shrimp meat
1/4 pound cooked crab meat
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a skillet, combine chicken broth, vermouth and lemon juice, and bring to a boil. Add salt and white pepper. Place sole in the liquid; cover and poach 4-5 minutes or until fish is barely cooked. Remove sole from stock and drain on paper towels. Transfer stock to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and !B simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes to reduce to 1 cup.
In the same skillet, heat olive oil. Add leeks and mushrooms and saute 2-4 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.
Bring fish stock back to boiling. Dissolve arrowroot in cold water and gradually add to fish stock. Cook and stir until stock begins to thicken. Add shrimp meat, crab meat, leek, mushrooms and half the cheese. Arrange sole in oven-proof baking dish. Pour sauce over sole. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Broil 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted. (This formula will run 6 grams of fat per serving, or one-tenth a male daily allowance. Servings run 261 calories.)
( Cheddar cheese bread Makes 1 loaf or 20 slices.
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/8 cup diced, low-fat Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons cornmeal
Dissolve yeast in water and set aside. In a mixing bowl combine sugar, salt, olive oil and flours; add dissolved yeast. Knead dough by hand or by machine until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Knead in a cheese and cumin. Shape into a round loaf; flatten slightly and dust with cornmeal. Bake on a nonstick baking sheet at 375 degrees 30 to 35 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped. (You may shortcut this recipe by using a 'heart-healthy" loaf of frozen bread dough but read labels to make sure it is made with a safe oil, not with shortening, lard, palm oil or coconut oil.) (Two grams of fat per slice.)
Ladyfingers, so useful for chilled desserts, are hard to find in their natural state, minus gooey fillings. They only have a trace of fat per finger, however, contrary to impressions. Here's the Piscatella version:
Makes 3 dozen.
3 whole eggs, separated
2 egg whites
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup all purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 teaspoon tub-style safflower margarine
1 teaspoon cornmeal
In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites to soft peaks; gradually beat in 1/3 cup of the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored. Whisk in vanilla. Fold into egg whites. (Because the recipe makes so many ladyfingers, the amount of cholesterol-bearing egg yolk is each one will be relatively tiny.)
In a flour sifter, combine remaining 1/3 cup sugar with flour. Sift into egg mixture and carefully fold. Grease ladyfinger pans or small muffin tins with margarine. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Spoon batter into pans until each section or cup is about 2/3 full.
Bake in a 375 degree oven about 12 minutes or until nicely browned on outside. Cool on racks. If desired, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.
Best bets and bad bets
Here are some "bests" (and a few worsts) from Joe Piscatella's fat tooth diet canon:
*Your best breakfast: Basic unsugared whole grains with skim milk and fresh fruit. (Take it easy on the granola, for there are fats are in the oil and calories in the honey.)
*Your best cooking methods: Any method that eliminates fat lubricants that absorb, such as dry roasting, frying in no-stick pans, poaching, stir-frying in minimal oils, etc. (The worst method: deep frying in oil or lard.)
*Your best meat substitute: Any beans, peas or lentils. ("They are a rich source of protein and fiber yet contain no more calories than red meat and none of meat's cholesterol or saturated fat," the author reports.)
*Your best real meat: USDA select grade is the leanest, if you can find it, followed by choice and prime. Loin rounds and flank steak are among the lean beefs. Loin or leg cuts are leanest with veals, pork and lamb. Serve roasts and meat cuts with mountains of freshly steamed, unbuttered vegetables and you can cut the fat percentage for the overall meal well below the 30 percent mark.
*Your best poultry method: Remove all skin from poultry -- that's where the fat is -- and poach, stir-fry or fry dry in a stick-proof pan.