Bringing method to play gives tasty food without the fat


October 14, 1992|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,Staff Writer

It was those last 3 inches that did it -- the ones Steven Raichlen noticed padding his waist. A French-trained chef, cooking teacher, columnist and author, Mr. Raichlen knew exactly what put on the pounds, and exactly what he had to do to get rid of them.

"I had to give up a paradigm that I've had all my life," Mr. Raichlen said: "That to make food taste good, you add fat." He had, after all, trained under chefs to whom butter and cream were culinary lifeblood; but he began to experiment with ways to eliminate fat and keep flavor.

The result -- besides his restoration to a trim appearance -- is a new cookbook, "Steven Raichlen's High-Flavor Low-Fat Cooking," (Camden House Publishing, 1992, $18.95). There are more than 200 recipes for appetizers, soups, salads, breads, pasta, poultry, desserts and beverages, among others. There are also chapters on "Seasonings and Marinades," and "Sauces and Condiments."

"For me, there are really two things coming together," Mr. Raichlen said during a recent trip to Baltimore. Although he was born in Japan, he grew up in Baltimore and still has relatives here. "One is the burgeoning of health-consciousness and the other is the increasing interest in ethnic cuisines."

By concentrating on low-fat cooking methods -- smoking, grilling, stir-frying -- and tasty mixtures of spices, he was able to keep flavor in his dishes while reducing the fat. "I really made an attempt to introduce people to a whole new arsenal of ingredients and flavors," he said, "to make food that's sophisticated and satisfying."

Mr. Raichlen will be demonstrating his cooking methods at Baltimore's International Culinary College at 6 p.m. Oct. 28. The eventis sponsored by Diversions, a local "excursions" coordinator. For information and reservations, call (410) 486-3604.

Mr. Raichlen will also be discussing his recipes and signing copies of his book at a number of local bookstores. On Oct. 24, he will be at Kitchen Bazaar in Towson Town Center from noon until 2 p.m.; the same day he will be at Kitchen Bazaar in the Columbia Mall from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. On Oct. 29, he will be at Books for Cooks at Harborplace from noon until 1 p.m.

Here is one of Mr. Raichlen's recipes, based on the rural French dish of potatoes and cheese simmered in veal stock. Mr. Raichlen uses onions instead of cheese and only a tiny bit of olive oil. He notes, "You can make this dish with a variety of root vegetables, including yams and sweet potatoes. It's a great party dish."

Baker's-style potatoes

Serves four.

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 onions, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

4 large potatoes (about 2 pounds)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-3 cups chicken or veal stock (approximately)

1/4 cup bread crumbs

Heat the broiler. Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch nonstick frying pan with a metal (not plastic) handle. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes, or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut into 1/4 -inch slices. Stir the potatoes into the onions and season with salt and pepper. Add enough stock to cover the potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until soft. Flatten potatoes with a fork and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Place the pan under the broiler. Broil for 1 minute, or until the top is crusty and golden brown.

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