low carb 1 - 2 - 3 by Rozanne Gold with Helen Kimmel 

294 pages; Brown, orange on  white, No photographs or sketches.  Heavy paperback

Rodale, NY NY, 2005

Reviewed by Chef John J. Vyhnanek


The Review---

Eating healthy is a no-brainer. One way to achieve this is to carefully look at what you eat and when you eat it. The “talk of the town" the past several years has been low-carb this and low carb that, but mostly as in the sense of a fad diet and weight reduction. You want to give this approach a try but you don’t know where to start, what book to buy to explain the basics, what cookbook to buy to get some recipes and what book to buy to plan some menus! If this were only a simpler feat to accomplish you would have stayed with it, right?

Now there is one book that does it all: "Low carb 1-2-3" by Rozanne Gold with Helen Kimmel, M.S., R.D. This isn’t just another cook book on the subject and here is why. There are 225 recipes classified as low carb, in fact they are broken down into low carb, very low carb and indulgent low carb categories. Yes, you will have to cook but the kicker to this book is very simple. All 225 recipes have only 3 ingredients! Yes, all 225 recipes have only 3 ingredients! And not so surprising from an author who has been a 3-time winner of the James Beard Award is the fact that the recipes are quite appealing indeed.

When I first picked up the book I was impressed with the cover: soothing greens, a splash of orange and very nice raised lettering of the title in white with a black border. It set the stage for what I believe to be one of the premises of the book: the cooking will be very easy, somewhat simple (not a hundred ingredients to hide the flavor of what you are eating) and quite creative.

The first chapter explains the basics, the last chapter the menu planning, and the chapters in between the recipes. On page 48 I found a great sounding snack: Smoked Pecans. Pecans were sautéed in butter with smoked paprika, then finished in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes. They were drained on paper towels and allowed to cool to room temperature before putting them into a jar with a tight fitting lid. The next day my friend Mike paid a visit and they were gone in 10 seconds. He ate them all and raved about the taste. So did I, but I only got to eat 3!

Next I had to try the Newspaper wrapped fillet of beef on page 126. It’s a whole beef tenderloin seasoned with garlic and thyme, then rolled in parchment and newspapers. This was an interesting method of cooking: first the meat was traditionally roasted at a very high heat; after a 30 minute stint at 450 degrees, it was removed, quickly rolled in parchment and then newspapers and allowed to sit and finish cooking. The recipes say to let it sit from no less than 30 minutes or up to 2 hours and it will be still warm and perfectly done. I let mine sit for 1 ½ hours, unrolled it and it was warm and a perfect medium-rare to medium pink color. Salt and pepper on the slices was the only additional seasoning that was needed.

If you remember some of your basic science courses in school, you will know that sugar is the villain when it comes to carbohydrates; simply put it isn’t allowed. So I was curious to see what desserts would be like. As I suspected there were many fruit based desserts, sugar was replaced with granulated sugar substitute and there were no cake/pie-like flour-based sweets. If you know anything about reducing your carb intake, you know there can’t be. What there was were great sounding items like Spiced Mangoes with Coconut, Italian Zabaglione and Chocolate-Tahini Cups.

The use of fresh quality products is what makes the difference in cooking, whether in a restaurant or at home. As a general rule of thumb Good Cooking always recommends that you buy the freshest and best quality items you can afford.

Author Rozanne Gold

Smoked Pecans

These nuts are always offered in my house; they seem to disappear magically from the nut bowl. 

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces (2 cups) large pecan halves
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (see "The 1-2-3 Pantry" on page 12) 

Preheat the oven to 250°F.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the pecans, 1'/2 teaspoons of the paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, and a generous grinding of black pepper. Cook, stirring well, until the pecans are coated, about 1 minute.

Transfer the pecans to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once. (Do not let the pecans get too dark, or they will taste bitter.) Toss them with a little more of the remaining smoked paprika, to taste. Remove the pecans from the oven, transfer them to paper towels to drain, and let them cool to room temperature before serving. Store in a tightly covered tin or jar. 

Serves 16 (about 8 pecans per serving)

Very Low Carb
Carbs that Count 1 gram

CTC .79
Total Carbs 2.15
Fiber 1.36
Total Fat 11.83
Sat Fat 1.77
Protein 1.50
Calories 112

Newspaper-Wrapped Fillet of Beef

New York catering maven Joneen Sorlin discovered that if you wrap a cooked fillet of beef in numerous layers of newspaper, it will stay warm for the better part of the day-and probably taste better for it. An herbal-garlic rub perfumes the meat.

1 whole fillet of beef (51/2 pounds), trimmed of fat and tendons and tied with kitchen string
1 bulb garlic
1 bunch fresh thyme or rosemary

Let the beef sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 500°F.

Finely mince the garlic and place it in a bowl. Finely mince the thyme or rosemary to get 2 tablespoons and mix together with the garlic. Add 1 tablespoon coarse salt and 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper and mix. Rub this mixture all over the beef.

Place the beef in a rimmed baking sheet or shallow roasting pan. Set the pan in the center of the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 450°F. Roast for 30 minutes, but no longer.

Remove the fillet and wrap it snugly in a sheet of parchment paper. Stack 10 sheets of newspaper on the counter and place the parchment-wrapped fillet on top of the pile of newspapers. Wrap all layers of the newspaper around the fillet, tucking it tightly underneath. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. (Whenever you decide to unwrap the beef, it will still be warm and perfectly done.) Salt the outside of the meat, slice as desired, and serve.

Serves 12

Very Low Carb
Carbs that Count 1 gram

CTC .81
Total Carbs .92
Fiber .11
Total Fat 16.27
Sat Fat 6.00
Protein 39.45
Calories 318

Chocolate-Tahini Cups

These superb little candies will become your signature offering after dinner. You need to buy little 1 " paper liners, generally used for candy (they look like tiny muffin liners), at any specialty baking or party store. Use a great dark chocolate, such as Scharffen Berger, from California, which is available in many specialty food shops and good supermarkets.

¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
¼ cup granulated sugar substitute
8 ounces good-quality 70% bittersweet chocolate

Stir the tahini and its oil together in the jar, in case it has separated. In a medium bowl, place the tahini and stir until smooth.

In a small bowl, stir the sugar substitute in 2 teaspoons water until dissolved. Stir this mixture into the tahini and mix thoroughly.

Coarsely chop the chocolate and put in the top of a double boiler. Set the top over simmering water, making sure the bottom of the double boiler doesn't touch the water. Pour all but 1 tablespoon of the sweetened tahini into the top of the double boiler with the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the tahini has been thoroughly incorporated. Remove from the heat.

Spoon the chocolate mixture into twenty-four 1 " fluted paper candy cups. Let cool for 5 minutes. To decorate the candies, dip the tip of a toothpick into the remaining tablespoon of sweetened tahini and swirl it into the tops of the candies. Refrigerate until set. Store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.

Makes 24 (data is per candy)

Nutritionist’s note: Most low-carb chocolates on the market are filled with sugar alcohols that can wreak havoc on your stomach. These chocolate cups have nothing but great taste.

Low Carb
Carbs that Count 6.5 gram
CTC 6.57
Total Carbs 6.88
Fiber .31
Total Fat 7.27
Sat Fat 3.69
Protein 1.54
Calories 99

© '2005 by Good Cooking, Inc.