potluck impressions

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My Slices of Heaven

Oh, the irony. Here I’ve been playing nice with the South Beach Diet since last Friday: no sugar, no fruit, no carbs, no starch, no hooch, no sex; and wouldn’t you know, I had already RSVP’d "HELLS YES!" to an invitation to an Austin Food Blogger’s Potluck. Despite working as a food critic, being employed at Zagat, and writing a memoir with a chapter titled, Are You There God, It’s Me, Pound Cake?–and another memoir with a chapter titled, The Oral Sex South Beach Diet–I’m not exactly a food blogger. So, naturally, I jumped at the chance to attend. These are my kinda people!

Like me, each of them considers their food. Deeply. They contemplate. When first tasting a dish, they enjoy spending their time trying to determine each of the ingredients. It’s like a fun puzzle, except Curious George doesn’t go with the Man In The Yellow Hat to the hospital for an X-RAY this time. You swallow the puzzle pieces and spend the night discussing them. Curiosity is rewarded among foodies. The people I’ve met so far are the type to, mid-bite, already begin to plan their next meal, discussing the latest food "destinations," and how what they’ve just nibbled might be improved. "You think if I added cinnamon to those blueberries, they’d intensify? It needs more of a pop than lemon juice can deliver on its own." Holy sugarsnaps, yes!

Oh, fudge-sickle, no. I’m in "Phase 1" of the South Beach Diet! It’ll be fine. It will. I’m sure they’ll make us wear name tags. I’ll write on mine, "CARBS ARE MY ENEMY. YOU WILL BE TOO IF YOU OFFER ME ANY." Now then, I need to bring a dish tonight that feeds 6 people (even though many more will be attending). It must dazzle and surprise. I was planning on making petite mincemeat purses, with a low-fat buttermilk chive dressing. But being in phase one, I can only eat the contents of the purse, not the purse itself. Story of my life, really.

"Complex flavor profiles?" Eh, I’d prefer to work on my own profile thanks. Any foodie potluck suggestions? You know, that I can actually eat?

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  1. Oh, what a love hate relationship I have with South Beach… It’s the only thing that helped me get rid of my baby weight but I think the hardest part is “snacky” foods. No bread, no crackers. I become obsessed with food, it’s all I think about… I must admit I didn’t cut out alcohol altogether.
    What about something Indian and intensely flavorful? http://malluspice.blogspot.com/2008/03/chicken-malai-tikka.html maybe with a fresh mint chutney?
    Maybe a lobster salad/roll with lettuce, like a real Thai spring roll?
    This looks good too

    Good luck!

  2. Did you see Ruhlman’s post on Shrimp Mousseline today? How about some homemade seafood sausage?

  3. What are the limitation, specifically? vegetables? no sugar, as in not a pinch when making a stir fry?

  4. This was a hit at a potluck with all kinds of eaters — Green Beans and Roasted Red Onions. It’s South Beach friendly and really good. It’s on Epicurious.com http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Green-Beans-and-Roasted-Red-Onions-230471

    Roasting the red onions is an incredible flavor booster.

    Good luck with your lifestyle change. I was successful with the Atkins diet for several years. I found that adding *any* more bread or pasta or rice after you’ve acheived your goal makes the whole thing go tumbling down again. If you can refrain from the pasta, rice, bread, sweets foods, you’ll be amazed at your weight loss and ability to keep it off.

  5. What about “Slow Cooker Grass Fed Beef in Pomegranate Sauce”? It sounds decadent and slow-cooker recipes seem to really bring on the “potluck” feel. Here’s the recipe from one of my favorite online food bloggers:

    If you don’t like that one, she has a bunch more that you should check out.

    Also, I tried to post the other day about your fitness journal but my comment got lost when the page refreshed with an error. I wanted to just say “BRAVO” for coming up with an innovative way to keep yourself interested in this journey. It inspired me to do more writing down of the experiences of trying to rid myself of the muffintop and 40 extra pounds before I go down the baby road. I was going to recommend to you, if you’re interested, that you try the book “The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person”. (http://www.amazon.com/Beck-Diet-Solution-Train-Person/dp/0848731735) She’s a cognitive therapist that puts you through a 6 week program to really change the way you THINK about eating, exercising and yourself as opposed to just telling you to eat less and workout more. I know that I’m all up in my head about my weight, food and body issues. This is trying to help me to methodically address things and give myself cue cards to deal with things when I run into triggers. It seems like something that you might like (if you can find the time in your crazy days!).

    Again, bravo on the journey and let us know how the hot yoga worked out!!! :)

  6. As someone who loves making appetizers and has done low-carb/Atkins/South Beach more times than I can count, my favorites usually involve some of the following:

    Vegetable Dip (esp. wasabi dip)
    Deviled Eggs (making like 4 or 5 varieties, using things that will make them pop – again, wasabi, curry, scallions, parsley, pimiento, etc)
    Mini-quiches w/o the crust
    Satays with peanut dipping sauce
    Wraps using lettuce instead of tortillas
    Chicken wings (baked)
    Little stuffed peppers with goat cheese & herbs
    Toasted spiced nuts

    Lots of options! In general, stealing veggies from the vegetable tray to eat with the salsa/dips/spreads that you’d otherwise use crackers is a great cheat. Good luck!

  7. I always found Phase 1 a pain in the arse, but kept along trucking. It’s a good diet. Except for the fact I can’t really look at Canadian Bacon ever again.

  8. I’m on phase one right now, and just made a really good shrimp dish last night. Toss olive oil, salt, pepper, minced garlic, with heirloom tomatoes cut into 8ths. Roast the mixture in a baking for 20 mins at 450. Then add a bunch of shelled, de-veined shrimp, with a bunch of chopped fresh parsley, lemon juice, and a liberal amount of fat-free feta, and stick it back in the oven for 10 mins or until the shrimp is cooked. (this is even easier with pre-cooked frozen, shelled shrimp.) It is so good, and so easy.

  9. Consider Asian flavor profiles.

    Many require a bit of brown sugar or honey to balance the soy sauce, but you can adapt as needed. If you could have sugar (or could find an alternative), I would highly recommend a “slaw” I’ve been inhaling the past few weeks–cabbage through the mandolin, julienne-cut carrots, basil (or mint) and cilantro, with a dressing of 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 sugar, tsp garlic chili paste, and a bit of water.

    Also good, from Ming Tsai’s Blue Ginger cookbook: a marinade for salmon or halibut–soy sauce, tons of grated ginger, orange juice/zest, and some brown sugar. It makes the fish taste like candy.

    I’m not familiar with the South Beach diet, but perhaps there’s some kind of sweetening substitute you can use? Can you play around with unsweetened nut-butters and sesame oil–with garlic, ginger, and vinegar (Chinese black, rice vinegar, etc.)?

  10. have you tried sweet potato cups? you peel and slice the sweet potato into 1 and 1/2 inche slices. melon ball out the middle, drizzle with oil. pop them in the oven for about 30 min at 450 degrees. remove and fill each cup with a fabulous cheese of some kind. pop back in for some melting. remove, let cool. always a party hit at my house. so simple but they always vanish.

  11. Zucchini and yellow squash gratin. It’s delicious, rustic, and works with almost anything. Plus it’s flexible to what you’d like to add.

    There are recipes all over the place, but the ones I’ve made up on the fly were the best. I caramelize a large amount of onions, add garlic, several handfuls of chopped ruddy tomatoes and fresh herbs, and cook it all down to a gorgeous winey dark red jam. Set it aside, and in a cast iron skillet gently heat some olive oil. Layer thinly sliced rounds of zucchini and yellow squash – like a Thomas Keller ratatouille. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, spread with the tomato and onion mix, and do another layer. Spread more of the tomato onion jam. 35 minutes at 400. When you get off of Phase 1 …make a bread crumb, parmigiana and herb topping for some crunch.

    I make this regardless of whether I’m on the SBD. It’s really the most picturesque in a cast iron skillet, although you could use a tart pan, or something similar, and top it with sliced tomatoes and it would be gorgeous. Heck, you could add a phyllo crust, a regular crust (mixed with cheese). You could add feta. It’s all up for personalization.

  12. Tai,

    You’ve got to post a picture of your recipe.. It sounds soo good!

  13. Kalyn’s Kitchen is devoted to South Beach recipes – you can search for Phase 1 recipes specifically…and by ingredient if you are having a particular craving.
    Have a blast at that potluck – how the eff do I get an invite?! Sounds fabu.
    Love the writing, fyi.

  14. No fruit? In July? That’s got to be the most unnatural thing I can think of!

  15. What about just doing some prosciutto wrapped figs with blue cheese? Central Market has great fresh figs right now.

  16. I know this sounds pedestrian, but I’d go with a smoked salmon, goat or feta cheese mini crustless quiches. Throw in some capers and/or fresh dill and you’re done. (I always do caramelized onions, too, but that may not be as SB-friendly.)

    With the right ingredients (I recommend Pure Luck @ WF or CM), it’s an excellent flavor profile, and it can be as complex as you want.

    Just toss everything into muffin pans and use the 3 eggs to 1 c of heavy cream ratio. No carbs, except with veggies.

    After all, doesn’t everything taste better in a cheese-filled egg custard?

  17. Hi, I applaud your blog for informing people, very interesting article, keep up it coming :)

  18. Hi, I applaud your blog for informing people, very interesting article, keep up it coming :)

  19. Thanks for that. I moved away from Greece when I was really young, and I really want to rediscover my heritage. I’ve been trying out a lot of random greek recipes, and the best I’ve found yet is these greek recipes – they totally remind me of my childhood. I dont remember much of it except for the lovely smells and tasty food on every street corner.

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