Sunday, May 11, 2014

Frittering away the evening

I am approaching Week 6 on the Low-FODMAP Diet and I must say it has been successful overall. I've had setbacks, but as it says in the book I've been reading, this is normal. "Life happens" and you eat things accidentally, or out of habit and forgetfulness, and have a setback. You get the bloating, the gas, the diarrhea or the constipation, the cramping, the whatever, and you don't feel so good. And it reminds you, like when you fall, to get back on your feet and continue. More than anything, you want to feel good again.

It has been such an enormous relief to now have the tools with which to take back control of my health. I felt so out of control, and for me, that is a very difficult thing. I don't like feeling helpless and weak and don't want life to just blow me around like a leaf in the wind. I can honestly say that this way of eating has changed me, and to those two doctors in Australia who created it, I will be eternally grateful. 

I'm not done yet. I'm to now start adding things in again and test the results. This may take several more weeks of patient experimentation.

I'm sorry to report that my sourdough experiment failed. Nothing happened to my starter. It just sat there, staring at me. I found myself talking to it (I know!) encouraging it: "come on, you can do it...". Crazy. Finally after about 10 days (hey, I gave it a chance, didn't I?) I tossed the lot down the sink. Dejected, I haven't started a new batch yet. My friend Ken, who is anxiously awaiting some starter from me when this takes off, encouraged me to try again. So I will. Sometime this week.

In the meantime, I had a menu to plan for the upcoming week, and decided that I wanted something I hadn't had in while. I don't eat fried food very much at all. Don't care for it usually, but sometimes I get a hankering for vegetable fritters. As I paged through one of my vegetarian cookbooks to find some inspiration, I found vegetable fritters with tzatziki. If you know me, you'll know that I ADORE tzatziki. And I already had everything I needed on hand, including some homemade lactose-free plain yogurt. I just needed some vegetables and some oil to fry them in.

After my visit to the market, I got started.

Vegetable Fritters with Tzatziki

The dip:
1/2 cucumber, coarsely grated
1 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint (optional)
1 garlic clove, crushed
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the fritters:
1 large eggplant, peeled and thickly sliced
2 zucchinis, thickly sliced
1 egg, beaten
4 Tbsp all-purpose flour (to be gluten free, I used tapioca flour but I think rice flour would work just as well)
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
salt and pepper

For the dip, mix the cucumber through salt and pepper together in a bowl and set aside.

Layer the eggplant and zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Leave for 30 minutes. The salt will pull out the bitterness in these veggies. Rinse in cold water, then pat dry very well.

Beat the egg in one bowl. Put the flour and remaining seasonings into another bowl. Dip the vegetables first into the egg, then into the seasoned flour and set aside.

Heat about an inch of oil in a deep frying pan until quite hot, then fry the vegetables a few at a time until they are golden and crisp. 

Drain and keep warm while you fry the remainder. Serve warm on a platter with a bowl of the tzatziki dip lightly sprinkled with paprika.

I served these as a first course before we had prosciutto-wrapped chicken for the main course. This is a super-simple recipe. You can get very fancy with this dish and add a sage leaf or rosemary twig before wrapping, you can make a slit in the chicken and stuff it with fontina cheese before sealing it back up and wrapping in the prosciutto, you can stuff it with spinach and feta before wrapping...........the possibilities are endless. But this is a simple, fast, straight-forward dish that takes less effort and still tastes great.

Prosciutto-wrapped chicken

Chicken breasts (1 per person)
Prosciutto slices (1-2 per breast, depending on the size of the chicken)
Ground sage
Garlic powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rinse and pat dry your chicken breasts.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and rub 1/4 tsp ground sage and a bit of garlic powder on to both sides.
Wrap each chicken breast with a slice or two of prosciutto. Place on an oiled baking sheet, and bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 40 minutes or until done. Allow to sit 5-10 minutes before serving, to allow the juices to be reabsorbed into the chicken so they stay juicy.

I like to drizzle a little bit of balsamic glaze around my chicken breast on the plate for a little sweetness. Prosciutto-wrapped chicken is also delicious with roasted asparagus or roasted potatoes with rosemary. Either way, everything is excellent with a glass of French Rhone wine.


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