If you have been following More Than Burnt Toast you will know I have started a weekly feature to highlight Canadian Chefs. Through your TV networks, or perhaps on other blogs, or even just right here on More Than Burnt Toast you may have heard of some of our Canadian chefs. For those of you who haven't, I hope you will find it interesting to see what our chefs are up to, a little about their history and how they came to love what they do. For the next few months I will be featuring one of our Canadian chefs each week. As the seventh installment in my Canadian Chef series I introduce you to:
Janet and Greta Podleski
The television series Eat, Shrink and be Merry comes to our airwaves courtesy of Janet and Greta Podleski, the wacky, pun-loving creators of the extremely successful recipe books Looneyspoons, Crazy Plates and Now Eat, Shrink and be Merry. In each episode of the television show Eat, Shrink and Be Merry, the sisters visit a chef famous for their classic dish and attempt to recreate a healthier version. The two sisters energy and friendliness come across to make this a popular television show with foodies.
Janet lives in Ottawa, Ontario and Greta in Waterloo. Janet is older, by 11 months, and the nutritionist of the two. Greta is the cook. Theoretically they are not in the category of Canadian chefs but they are certainly in the category of Canadian success stories!!
A decade ago Janet and Greta Podleski gave up their successful "day jobs" and dreamed up a project based on a line of healthy and hilarious cookbooks. According to their web site, "Greta, having just moved into her sister's basement, had been treating Janet to a daily dose of her culinary skills, spoiling her sis with hearty suppers that were gobbled right up. And to Janet's surprise, the meals, which were anything but rabbit food, were not only filling and delicious, but also healthy, nutritious and capable of shrinking the waistline. These recipes, thought Janet, needed to be shared with hungry mouths beyond just their own."
Looneyspoons: Low-Fat Food Made Fun, the pair's first cookbook, was not easy to convince publishers of it's marketabilty. After 14-months of cooking, researching and writing the cookbook was rejected time and time again and their manuscript returned.
"It was kind of like the Kevin Costner Field of Dreams movie when he hears that voice, 'If you build it, they will come,'" says Greta. "We just knew we had to keep going no matter what obstacles we faced."
The sisters teamed up with David Chilton to form their own publishing company and get Looneyspoons on the shelves. The rest, which includes selling roughly 850,000 copies of the book to date in Canada, as well as the publication of Crazy Plates: Low-Fat Food So Good, You'll Swear It's Bad For You! and the newer Eat, Shrink & Be Merry, is healthy-eating history.
In 2002, Janet studied at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition to become a registered nutritionist, and with her brain bursting with all the latest on nutrition, came to realize a lot had changed since Looneyspoons was first introduced to the public. A focus on low-fat had since been replaced with an awareness of good and bad fats and carbs, and such areas as weight loss, metabolism, cholesterol and heart disease had experienced drastic advancements.
Shocklate Cheesecake with Brownie Crust, Smackaroni and Cheese, and The Better Butter Chicken and many, many more .....
To highlight their recipes I chose their version of a salmon burger. We chose to serve it naked and "bun-less but it would be equally delicious served in the bun with the homemade, light tartar sauce. On the site I also found a recipe for a potato salad that suited our needs yesterday as well. They added bacon and made this into a hot potato salad, which I am sure is delicious. L'il Burnt Toast and I opted to add fresh garden peas at the end of the steaming cycle of the potatoes, omit the bacon and add finely diced red onion in the end with the carrots to serve a room temperature potato salad rather than a warm one. Both versions are exceptional.
It is so much fun to cook with L'il Burnt Toast and we needed to keep our menu light considering what we had for dessert....but that is another post for another day!!!
1-1/2 lbs (680 g) boneless, skinless salmon fillet, cut into chunks
1 cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs (see tip below)
1/2 cup crumbled light feta cheese (2 oz)
1/4 cup finely minced shallots or red onions
1 T honey mustard
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 T minced fresh dill
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place salmon chunks in a food processor. Pulse on and off until salmon is chopped into very small pieces. (If you don’t have a food processor, use a very sharp knife and mince the salmon by hand.) Transfer salmon to a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well using your hands.
Form mixture into 6 patties, about 3/4 inch thick. Place patties on a large plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour. (Chilling will help the patties hold their shape while cooking.)
Spray a large, non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add patties and cook for about 4 minutes per side, until salmon is cooked through. Be careful not to overcook the patties, and be gentle when flipping them so they don’t fall apart. If you don’t have a high-quality (unscratched!) non-stick pan, you might want to cook the patties in a tablespoon or two of olive oil.
If desired, serve patties on small, whole wheat hamburger buns with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, and honey mustard, or top them with a spoon of low-fat tartar sauce (see recipe below) and serve with a salad.
Makes 6 servings
Note: Fresh bread crumbs are simple to make. Just break up a slice of bread (preferably whole wheat) into several smaller pieces and place in a food processor or mini chopper. Pulse on and off a few times to create fluffy soft crumbs. An average slice of bread will make about 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs. Dry, store-bought bread crumbs are more compact (and drier, of course!), so if a recipe calls for fresh crumbs and you’d rather use dry, cut the amount in half.
To make low-fat tartar sauce for this and other yummy fish dishes, mix together 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise, 1 T minced fresh dill, 1 T sweet pickle relish, and 2 tsp each prepared horseradish and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Refrigerate until ready to use.
**The Greater Tater Salad**
3 lbs (1.36 kg) mini thin-skinned white potatoes
4 slices reduced-salt bacon, chopped small (omit if you like)
1 cup diced yellow onions
1 tsp minced garlic
2/3 cup finely diced carrots
2/3 cup finely diced celery
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp minced fresh dill (or parsley)
2 green onions, finely chopped (with white parts)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Wash potatoes (don’t peel) and slice into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange in steamer basket and steam for about 15 minutes or until tender. Let cool to room temperature.
While potatoes are steaming, whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside until ready to use.
Cook chopped bacon slowly in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until it just begins to crisp. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are tender. Add carrots and celery. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 3 more minutes. Pour warm bacon and vegetables over potatoes in a large bowl. Pour dressing over potatoes and toss gently to coat. Add dill, green onions and black pepper and mix again.
May be served immediately but tastes best when left to stand for an hour or two for potatoes to absorb dressing.
Makes about 10 cups salad.
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