Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Thanksgiving with Rocco DiSpirito

When a particularly nasty sinus infection sidelined me for hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, I settled in for a holiday weekend of working on a cookbook while a more modest turkey roasted for my family of 3. The book was Rocco DiSpirito's Now Eat This, his sixth book, to be published by Ballantine in 2010.

DiSpirito is a "celebrity chef" based on reality shows and network TV appearances, but he is also a real chef. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA, to foodies) and won a James Beard Award for his cookbook Flavor (the photo is from that book's cover). He's also what some might describe as rakishly handsome with his naturally curly hair and brilliant smile, and a bit of a bad boy.

About 5 years ago he decided he needed to get fit. He started working out and eating lighter. In the book's introduction, he discusses his triathlon endeavors and how his early goal was to "simply finish the race without stretchers being involved."

This is a man who is used to succeeding at just about everything, just as he does with the 150 recipes in Now Eat This, filled with traditionally high-fat dishes that he overhauled, everything from Mac and Cheese and Beef Wellington to his mama's Spaghetti and Meatballs. There are also appetizers (Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Sauce), soups (Lobster Bisque), salads (Nicoise Salad), and desserts (Triple Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies). There's even a chapter on sauces that's particularly helpful and includes, like all the other recipes that are low in calories but high in flavor, marinara sauce, salad dressings, and so on. He artfully hides things like black beans in his brownie recipe to ramp up the fiber and texture while keeping each serving under 350 calories.

My only doubt--and I haven't tried the recipe yet--is his cauliflower puree as a stand-in for mashed potatoes. Cauliflower as mash could be passable in his Shepherd's Pie recipe, but I'm reserving judgement for it as a stand-alone side dish.

Regardless, consider adding this to your cookbook library. DiSpirito creates some very yummy slimmed-down dishes without getting too exotic with his ingredients. Not a bad way to spend a holiday.


A Wanderer's Mind said...

I'm not a big fan of his, but I do collect cookbooks of all types. Thank you for sharing this, I'll be sure to look into it.

Amanda said...

I love any cookbook that gives high fat foods a healthy make over:) I will have to check it out!