Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Ideal Complement

I've still been dining out a lot lately as I had some good friends come visit last weekend. A double treat, great conversation over some great meals. I took them to a Thai restaurant here in Rapperswil that I'd been eyeing as it purportedly has a Michelin. Plus I was charmed that the waiter decidedly gave me a German menu and yet was sensitive to bring English menus to my friends (I'll excuse the fact that in mine rice was 1 franc more...isn't that the reverse of how it's usually done ??).

Of course it's always challenging to avoid sugar, gluten, and refined food when dining out. Although less so in Switzerland than back home, there are still bowls of white rice and bread rolled out even if it has little to do with the meal. At the meal above, my coconut milk soup still came with a possibly larger plate of rice. Moreover, we are so used to this that we're often convinced that these complement the dish. The other day I had to insist three times that I didn't want Kartoffeln (potatoes) with my 15 franc salmon filet :) In fact for our digestion, it's best not to combine heavy proteins (steak, pork, etc.) with starches (cereals, breads, pasta). Read here to find out why.

Still, as planes flew off and I went back to my full time cooking :) I realized it is important to eat a diverse range of foods. Also concentrated foods may realistically leave the plate a bit..well..empty looking. One way to circumvent this as you make the transition is to focus on taste, savour your food - and add another complementary element, namely, the sauce.

Almond-Avocado Pesto
I made a great avocado dressing with my bean salad. This thicker version is a true pesto, and went well with a lunch of seared scallops and roasted green beans.

1 ripe avocado
2 T olive oil
2 T plain yogurt
2 bunches fresh basil
1 T gran padano (or parmesan, pecorino)
1 T ground almonds
1/2 t salt
1 t lemon juice

  • Cut the avocado lengthwise, discard skin and pit, and add to food processor.

  • Add all other ingredients and pulse until smooth and creamy.

  • Serve accompanying poultry, seafood (as pictured above) or combine with plain yogurt to create a pesto sauce for rice or buckwheat noodle pasta.

Balsamic Mustard Dressing
I made some almond and flax crusted turkey breast recently, paired with a fresh cole slaw salad. I decided it needed something more, and used an organic mustard as a base for this dressing. Try the different tastes and textures to come up with something you like.

  • 1.5 T yellow mustard seed

  • 1 T dry ground mustard

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 2-3 T water

  • salt and black pepper

  • ground coriander

  • ground cumin

  • cinnamon

  • stevia

  • 2- 3 T blanc battu (or greek yogurt)

  • Simmer all ingredients (except the yogurt/blanc battu) for roughly 15 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, salt, pepper, coriander and cumin as you go.

  • Remove from heat and let cool a bit. Add the blanc battu/yogurt to desired consistency. Also add more pepper if you'd like, and a teaspoon of parsley.

  • Refrigerate or eat at room temperature, drizzled over lean meats or as a dressing for vegetables.

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