cover image The French Culinary Institute's Salute to Healthy Cooking

The French Culinary Institute's Salute to Healthy Cooking

Jacques Pepin, Alain Sailhac, N. Y. French Culinary Institute. Rodale Press, $30 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-87596-440-9

Culinary authority doesn't come much higher than these four chefs associated with the New York school founded in 1984, who offer 150 seasonally arranged recipes offered in three-course menus for health-conscious home cooks. In general, their collective approach calls for less saturated fat, less meat and more fruits and vegetables. Key techniques include cooking in nonstick pans with a minimum of fat (11/2 pounds of meat are sauteed in one teaspoon of olive oil for Lamb Stew with Glazed Turnips and Pearl Onions, serving four); making use of vegetable essences--water in which a flavoring agent is simmered for 45 minutes and then often reduced (Breast of Chicken with Fennel essence); using nonfat dairy products (Low-Fat Caramel Cream made with 1% milk). Large flavors also disguise the decrease of fat in such dishes as Baked Cod with Tomatoes, Capers and Turmeric on Sauteed Spinach and Roasted Chicken with Grapefruit and Pink Peppercorn Sauce. Sauces are another focus, as with the almost fat-free Spinach and Watercress Sauce, with chicken stock thickened with potato. Phyllo dough replaces the traditional pate brisee (e.g., Apricot Tart). When Basic Pastry is a necessity, the solution is one made with a tablespoon of canola oil and 1/4 cup of low-fat cottage cheese. These are generally easily rendered recipes that retain a French air even though calories and fat grams are listed. Photos by Maria Robledo.(Sept.)