I recently received a copy of Chef Susan Irby’s cookbook, Substitute Yourself Skinny. This book does a good job of taking classic, familiar recipes and remaking them into lower calorie versions of themselves.
Before I tell you more about the book I just wanted to tell you my thoughts on fat-free/low-fat/full-fat ingredients. Many of the recipes in this book call for fat-free ingredients, such as milk, yogurt, cream cheese, cottage cheese, etc. I rarely use fat-free ingredients. Substituting fat-free ingredients for full-fat ingredients is a fantastic way to whittle away calories in a dish, but in my experience most fat-free items are tasteless (for me the one exception is fat-free milk – I actually prefer its taste over full-fat milk). Anyway, for most fat-free foods I don’t think their taste is even worth the few calories that they do have, which is why I tend to gravitate towards low-fat items. Either that or I’ll just use a smaller amount of the full-fat version…if an ingredient is really high quality I find that you can use much less and still be satisfied. That’s just my personal preference though. That being said, when a recipe calls for a fat-free ingredient I usually replace it with low-fat instead.
This book contains a nice variety of different recipes, including typical take-out foods (burritos, Buffalo wings, sweet and sour chicken – I’m excited to try this one next!, pizza, eggrolls, etc.), some more elegant recipes (Bavarian Cornish hens, chicken cordon bleu, seafood crepes, etc.), and classic comfort foods (New England clam chowder, chicken a la king, chicken pot pie, lasagna, etc.). There are a few pictures interspersed throughout, and a really nice feature of the book is that nutritional information is listed for every recipe.
A Few Pictures from the Book
The recipe I made first was Gouda Burgers. For this recipe, the Gouda I chose to use was called Cono Dutch Red Wax Gouda, which I had never had before. I was really surprised that the flavor of this cheese reminded me of sharp American cheese. (Actually, its color and the way it melted also reminded me of sharp American.) This type of Gouda was good on the burgers but if I make this dish again I think I will use smoked Gouda instead because I think its smoky flavor would pair well with the earthy flavor of the mushrooms.
I made Gouda Burgers first for two reasons: (1) I had turkey in my freezer waiting to be used, and (2) I absolutely love Gouda. I made a few changes to Susan’s recipe; the main changes were as follows: I slightly increase the amount of meat and omitted the egg whites she used; I added onion instead of garlic for flavor; and instead of salt and pepper I seasoned the burgers with steak seasoning. Mike and I both really enjoyed these burgers. I served them with oven roasted potato chips and a salad and all together it was a wonderful meal.
(Yield: 4 burgers)
4 portabella mushrooms
1 TB olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 small onion, grated
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp steak seasoning
About 2 oz Gouda cheese, shredded (I used Cono Dutch Red Wax Gouda)
Fresh minced parsley (optional, for garnish)
Preheat the broiler. Place the mushrooms on a baking sheet and drizzle both sides with oil. Broil until just tender, about 3-5 minutes per side, then set aside.
In a medium bowl, use your hands to combine the turkey, grated onion, Worcestershire, and steak seasoning; be careful not to over-mix. Shape the meat into 4 patties, then grill or bake the patties until they are no longer pink in the center.
To assemble the burgers, place each burger on top of a mushroom and sprinkle cheese on top of the burgers. Broil until the cheese melts (1-2 minutes). Garnish with fresh minced parsley if desired.
To make oven-roasted potato chips (this is my mom’s recipe): Preheat oven to 425F. Peel and thinly slice (about 1/4-inch thick) as many potatoes as you want, then toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange the potato slices in a single layer on a baking sheet that has been drizzled with a little more olive oil. Roast for about 30 minutes, flipping once (or until golden brown on both sides).