Dr. Gourmet Newsletter: December 8, 2008

Chef Tim Says....

Timothy S. Harlan, M.D.There's been an expression in medicine called the "French Paradox" for some time now. This is based on the concept that the French eat many high fat, rich foods, yet have lower rates of heart disease. The same "paradox" can be extended to other Mediterranean countries, but I don't believe that there's any puzzle at all.

For instance, there's a pastry or bakery shop on almost every corner in Spain. These do have a lot of delicious and often very rich delicacies. A typical breakfast of espresso with milk (cafe con leche) and a croissant seems decadent. Yet the typical breakfast on the run in the U.S. - of a Starbucks 500+ calorie coffee drink and an oversized muffin or bagel - can easily be well over 500 more calories than that "rich" croissant and a coffee. (Interestingly, there are now a lot of Starbucks in Spain: 35 in Madrid.) Breakfast in Spain

Featured Recipe

Fish Cakes (Pantry Meal)

These fish cakes are super simple and you can use almost any white fish. I have labeled them a Pantry Meal because everything in the recipe are items that are staples in the kitchen. You can use frozen fish filets to make this, or it's perfect for using up those little bits that are left over after trimming fish. (I put those leftover bits in the freezer for later.) The frozen fish only takes about a half hour to thaw and makes great fish cakes.

Fish Cakes

This recipe is safe for Coumadin (warfarin) users and has no specific GERD triggers. It is low in sodium and lactose-free. Those who are gluten sensitive should use gluten-free bread crumbs.

Bread Crumbs

This simple ingredient has so many different types. It is important to read a recipe carefully and choose the correct breadcrumbs because they are important to the recipe's final texture. The two main types of breadcrumbs are dry breadcrumbs and fresh breadcrumbs. Dry breadcrumbs usually make for a finer, crisp texture while fresh have a moist crumbly consistency.

I don't like to use stale bread to make dry breadcrumbs and prefer to use bread that has been dried in the oven. This is due to the fact that stale bread makes for stale tasting breadcrumbs. When making dry bread crumbs you can either toast the bread or not � each way has a different flavor. Toast bread in the oven at about 300�F turning a few times until it is evenly browned. I let them cool on racks before processing in a food processor or blender, as the slight moisture that remains will make dry breadcrumbs moist.

If you don't want a toasted flavor, then simply dry the bread in the oven set on warm (this is 175�F on most ovens). Let them cool and then grind.

Fresh (sometimes called moist) breadcrumbs are just that � made with fresh bread. I find that the food processor makes better fresh breadcrumbs than using a blender.

Certainly you can use any type of bread to make your breadcrumbs � whole wheat, French, sourdough, rye, or even cinnamon raisin. Keep in mind that breads vary widely in the amount of fat and calories. I have not found a pre-made breadcrumb at the grocery store worth using.

Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy life!

Timothy S. Harlan, M.D.
Dr. Gourmet

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