Dish Do-Over: Flavour and comfort – just a little bit lighter.
On Thursday I attended the launch event for Chef Jo Lusted’s Dish Do-Over. Without any obligation to blog or tweet about it, I was mentally free to enjoy the food being passed around and the company and just be present. I didn’t even take any photos. I arrived a bit early so I was able to exchange hugs and conversation with Jo before she sat down to sign books for two hours. Naturally, Jo and I talked about our dogs. She has two beautiful Dobermans and they’ve met my pretty mutt.
I’ve been a home body lately, but one of the things that drew me to the event – other than wanting to celebrate with Jo – was the guest list on Facebook. I hadn’t been to many events in months so was excited to see that many of my friends from the food community would be there. Amazing how much real life talking happens when I’m not tied to my mobile device. 🙂 The beautiful Ben McNally books hosted the event and it was packed. I was afraid to touch books with food in my hand. In a time when bookstores are closing regularly (RIP, Cookbook Store, but even the big Chapter’s downtown is closing), I really wish Ben McNally the best.
Before I left I bought a copy of Dish Do-Over and had Jo sign it generically (I might give this one away in a contest or as a gift and buy the Kindle version). I did fall in love it with while I read it on the two subway trains that took me home. Being written by someone I know doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll enjoy it, but I enjoy this one a lot. It aligns with my own interests.
The idea of the book: Lightening up comfort food.
Usually I cringe at that concept, and our Jo Lusted addresses that upfront in Dish Do-Over.
Revamping fatty dishes… and keeping them real
I agree with Jo’s statement in the book’s intro that mentions that “non-fat”, “fat-free”, “low-calorie” food is often heavily processed and agree with her frustration that “recipe makeovers” often use ingredients that aren’t healthier, make tiny portion sizes to “hit a mythical calorie count” or employ other methods that she refers to as “deceits”. I get so angry when I open up a magazine to a recipe and find that it includes processed “low cal” ingredients. That’s not real food. This cookbook, Dish Do-Over by Jo Lusted, instructs how to cook real food that’s healthy and delicious. Comfort food. Dishes with processed ingredients and recipes that remove all the fun aren’t comfort. Those recipes are guilt, shame, despair. It’s animosity towards food, not friendship and love and peace. There’s a reason people like the phrase “Everything in moderation.” You do make friends with salad if you truly want to.
And, like Jo, I believe that “no one should ever feel guilty about eating tasty food and enjoying good health” nor does it “have to be difficult or intimidating to cook delicious food”. I’ve ranted about people’s feelings of guilt and shame about food in my blog before. If you enjoy it, stop feeling badly about it. If you know you’re going to feel badly, don’t do it.
My copy is signed “Bake your bacon”, a statement that’s on the cover with instructions in the Getting Started section (page 17). Baking bacon drains fat. We sometimes bake our bacon, and sometimes we cook it in a waffle iron. I think that my man learned that trick from Alton Brown. I can’t give a full review yet because I haven’t made it past page 24 but I can tell you that a few of the items were made and served at the party and that my favourites were the Reuben sandwich which lightens the Russian dressing with non-fat plain Greek yogurt (I’d likely use full fat and “Greek” it myself along with my home made sauerkraut – more on that in a future post) and the chocolate chip cookies made with spelt flour. If you like your cookies pliable, you’ll like these cookies.
Question: What do you call cheese that’s not yours?
Answer: That’s NACHO cheese!
That’s a common joke around here.
Ultimate Nachos is one of the recipes in Dish Do-Over. Other recipes: Sausage Rolls, Mozzarella Sticks, Poutine (that’s one I’m not willing to compromise on – it’s gotta be real curds), Monte Cristo Sandwiches, Cubano-Style Sandwiches, Pub Burgers, Pizza Burgers, Cannelloni (a staple when I was growing up because President’s Choice made a heat and serve version), Fried Chicken, Butter Chicken, Loaded Deep Dish Pizza, and Bacon Double-Cheeseburger Pizza.
And then there’s the dessert section… Whoopie Pies. Multiple varieties of cheesecakes and cookies. Apple pie. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream.
Want to lighten up brunch? Sticky buns, scones, Chocolate Hazelnut Banana French Toast and more. And cocktails. Eggnog. Pina Coladas.
Let me be clear: This is not a fat-free, sugar-free cookbook, and that’s a fantastic thing. There are real sources of fat in this book, and there are recipes that call for real (organic) sugar. Other recipes use healthy honey (honey is antibacterial & has other benefits). There’s butter. There’s meat. However, the fat in some cases is healthy coconut oil and sometimes the meat is lean. In some recipes the amount of meat is reduced and mushrooms or beans added to replace the missing meat. This is realistic compromise. This is REAL FOOD. Whether you’re cooking with less meat, no meat, no sugar, raw, etc., always cook with nourishment in mind and cook with an attitude of infusing love into the dish and respect for your body.
The book is enhanced by beautiful photographs by Mike McColl of Photos with Sauce, who photographed Jo out and about at city markets, farmers’ markets and in kitchens. The photos that accompany the recipes are beautiful, of course.
Dish Do-Over (2014) is published by Collins Canada. “Dish Do-Over” is a trademark under license from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
About Chef Jo Lusted
Voted Toronto’s Hottest Chef 2012, Jo is the co-host and chef of the exciting new reality cooking show, Compete to Eat, for Cottage Life Television. Prior to Compete to Eat, Jo was the Spokesperson, Resident Chef, Contributing Editor, and Advisory Board Member for Clean Eating Magazine and Food Producer on CBC TV show, Steven & Chris, airing on the Live Well Network in the USA.
[Bio taken from Facebook. I voted for her for Hottest Chef.]