Generally the New year is a terrible time to be planning making changes and setting goals, it is too dark, too dull and generally slightly too bleak. Come late March the days are appreciably longer, you can feel that spring has stirred and for us, at least, it feels the right time to make some changes, and plans, which includes some dietary changes.
Written by three-Michelin-starred chef Michel Guérard, Eat Well and Stay Slim is the essential guide to French Cuisine Minceur, and contains over 140 recipes with all the main course recipes containing 240 calories or less. Half of the book is about Michel Guérard’s tyle of healthy cooking, and the marriage of taste and enjoyment, essential to French cuisine with a healthy eating plan. The “Essential Cuisine Minceur Tool Kit” with the building blocks of low calorie, but flavour filled stocks, sauces and coulis provides you with the building blocks, for making your own gourmet low calorie meals.
Recipes are attainable, but do require some thinking about and prepping ahead; although a competent cook would be able to simplify most of them to fit in with a busy life style. We love the look of dishes such as the terrine of carrots with orange and cumin (105 calories), langoustines with a grapfruit and potato salad (155 Calories), Thai flavoured wing of skate with Chinese cabbage (235 calories – with a cooking time of 30mins).
Puddings are given the same minceur treatment, most are fruit filled and clever use of egg whites, gelling agents and alternative sugars keeps the calorie counts and the GI of each dish low. Poached pears with Fragrant Jelly and Lemon Mousse weighs in as low as 155 Calories and a Pineapple Lime Meringue has less than 225 Calories.
Bright, enticing photographs focussing on the food accompany most of the recipes.
If like us you love food, and have tried and failed at the 5:2 diet, due to boredom, hunger or lack of will power, this is the only resource you need to inspire and get you back on track. I predict Eat Well and Stay Slim will become my most used cookbook this year.
- 24 small pieces of peeled potato 1½–2in, turned, if wished, into the shape of fat cloves of garlic 4–5cm
- 2 small sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 300 g white button mushrooms 11oz, wiped and thinly sliced
- about 3 tsp olive oil
- 12 small onions
- 150 ml chicken stock ¾ US cup, either homemade or from a cube
- 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp cornflour cornstarch, mixed with a little water
- 4 pieces of brill 3½oz, skin removed, each about 100g
- salt and pepper
- 4 wedges of lemon
- 4 circles of parchment paper or greaseproof paper 16in, about 40cm in diameter
Put the potatoes, together with one of the sprigs of thyme and one of the bay leaves, in a large saucepan filled with about 1.5 litres (6½ US cups) of lightly salted water. Bring the water to the boil, adjust the heat to maintain a brisk simmer and cook the potatoes for about 15 minutes or until just cooked. Strain; discard the herbs and set aside the potatoes in a warm place.
Using a non-stick frying pan (skillet), sauté the mushrooms lightly in about 1 teaspoon of the olive oil; set aside.
Simmer the onions in lightly salted water for about 10 minutes or until just tender; drain and set aside in a warm place.
Bring the chicken stock to the boil along with the lemon juice and the remaining sprig of thyme and the bay leaf. Remove it from the heat, discard the herbs and gradually stir in the cornflour (cornstarch) mixed with water. Adjust the seasoning and keep this stock warm, preferably in a bain-marie.
In a non-stick frying pan (skillet), heat another teaspoon of the oil and colour the pieces of brill on one side only; season.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F, gas mark 4). Spread out the circles of parchment paper on a flat work surface and brush them with the remaining teaspoon of the olive oil. Leaving half of each circle free, put a little bed of mushrooms towards the centre of the other half. Put a piece of the brill on top of each, with its coloured side uppermost.
Distribute the potatoes and onions around the brill. Divide 2 tablespoons of the reserved chicken stock between each parchment circle. To close each parcel and make a leakproof seal, bring together the edges of the paper and fold them over twice to make a narrow seam all along the edge, like an apple turnover.
Transfer these little parcels – papillotes – to a lipped baking sheet and put the sheet in the oven. Cook for 8–10 minutes.
Have ready 4 warm serving plates. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the papillotes to the plates. Divide the wedges of lemon between the plates. Serve the papillotes closed so that guests can have the surprise of opening them at the table. Serve the remaining flavoured stock in a sauce boat and offer it separately.
You can replace the brill with halibut, salmon or striped bass if you prefer.
Recipe extracted from Eat Well and Stay Slim: The Essential Cuisine Minceur by Michel Guérard. Published by Francis Lincoln.