Diabetic Chef Cover
The Diabetic Chef By: Franklin Becker, foreword by: Suzanne Rostler, M.S., R.D. 177 Pages - Black and White - Hardcover
Ballantine Books $23.95US

Reviewed for Good Cooking by Donna F. Budnitz, December 2005

Franklin Becker's cookbook, The Diabetic Chef, demonstrates that living with Type 2 Diabetes (or with someone who has the disease) does not prevent anyone from continuing to eat well and being able to enjoy a full array of tasty dishes including salads, soups, main entrees, and (everyone's favorite) desserts. This is a deliciously delightful cookbook that gives the reader (diabetic or not) the necessary information to make positive lifestyle changes without sacrificing good taste. The Foreword to the book discusses and answers basic questions and concerns surrounding food, nutrition, and diabetes. After reading it, one is left with a clear understanding of the issues involved and a feeling that this has been achieved in a constructive and non-condescending manner.

The book includes advice regarding necessary equipment needed in the kitchen as well as appropriate cooking techniques. It also includes a discussion of necessary basic ingredients such as herbs and spices. The beauty of the book is that this information is also incorporated into the recipes found in the book. This allows the reader to use what they have learned and be able to purchase and prepare, with confidence, items that they may be otherwise unfamiliar with or unsure of trying.

The recipes in the book are creative, simple, and elegant. They are designed for the cook who wants to prepare and present good healthy food, but who, at the same time, does not want to give up taste, flavor, or variety. Examples of some of the recipes that were tried (with positive - and tasty - results) include:

Roasted Chicken with Lemon-Sultana Compote and Roasted Peppers

Sultanas are sweet yellow raisins that are difficult to find outside of a few gourmet retailers and online sources. However, golden raisins are readily available in supermarkets and make an acceptable substitute.

1 lemon
One 4-pound chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly milled white pepper
1 thyme sprig
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Roasted Peppers
2 red bell peppers
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chiffonade

Lemon-Sultana Compote
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons sultana raisins, or 2 tablespoons golden raisins 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons parsley
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1. For the chicken, prick the lemon several times with a fork. Season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper and stuff with the lemon, thyme, and garlic. Truss the chicken, brush the outside with approximately 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place on top of a roasting rack over a baking sheet and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 450F Place the red peppers on a baking sheet in the oven and roast, turning occasionally, until the outsides are charred, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Lower the heat to 350F and roast the chicken until the skin is golden brown, approximately 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 300F and continue cooking until the juices run clear, approximately 30 minutes longer. (An instant-read thermometer can also be inserted into the chicken to check for doneness.)

4. While the chicken is roasting, finish preparing the red peppers by peeling off the charred skin and discarding. Cut open the red peppers lengthwise and remove the seeds, ends, and white insides. Wipe the flesh clean with a paper towel and cut into julienne. Combine the roasted peppers with the garlic, shallots, and parsley, and set aside.

5. To prepare the Lemon-Sultana Compote, combine the lemon zest, sultanas, and olive oil in a saucepan. Heat everything on low until the sultanas plump up, about 2 minutes. Add the parsley, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Add more vinegar if necessary, then set aside.

6. Remove the chicken from the oven when finished, allow it to cool slightly, and separate the meat from the carcass with a knife.

7. Serve the chicken on a plate alongside the roasted peppers, with the compote spooned on top of the chicken.
Variation: The roasted chicken will also go great with the String Beans with Garlic and Almonds (page 134) in place of the Lemon-Sultana Compote.

Marinated Mushroom Antipasto

These mushrooms are a good accompaniment to almost any entree. Alternatively, they can be served as an appetizer in the summer, either by themselves or with other cold vegetables including the Three-Bean Salad with Ginger-Lemon Vinaigrette (page 33). One advantage to this dish is that it can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups white button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1 cup crimini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered (see note)
Kosher salt
Freshly milled black pepper
2 tablespoons chiffonade flat-leaf parsley

1. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and red pepper to make a vinaigrette. Toss the mushrooms with half of the vinaigrette and set aside for 2 hours in the refrigerator to marinate.

2. Preheat the oven to 450
E Transfer the mushrooms to a sheet pan and roast in the oven until browned, approximately 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and allow them to cool to room temperature.

3. Toss the roasted mushrooms together with the remaining vinaigrette, season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the parsley just before serving.

Note: Crimini mushrooms are darker and have an earthier flavor than button mushrooms, but in appearance they are almost the same. If you are unable to find criminis, it is fine to use a total of 3 cups of button mushrooms for this recipe.

Warm Baked Apple with Golden Raisins and Walnuts

Serve these luscious baked apples with a little vanilla frozen yogurt or sugar free vanilla ice cream for a healthful dessert that tastes downright sinful. Apple pie a la mode, anyone?

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 Rome Beauty apples

1. In a bowl, mix the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg with the raisins, nuts, and honey. Add approximately 3 tablespoons of water and the butter.

2. Slice the apples in half lengthwise. Core and place the halves in muffin tins with the cut side up. Use tins that are large enough to accommodate the apples comfortably without allowing too much room for expansion.

3. Fill the scooped-out center of each apple half with the raisin-nut mixture. Cover the apples very loosely with aluminum foil and bake in a 300F oven for 25 minutes.

4. Remove the foil and return the apples to the oven for an additional 10 minutes, until they begin to brown. Allow them to cool slightly before serving.

Note: Apples and other fruIt'such as pears and avocados will begin to discolor very soon after they are cut and exposed to the air. To prevent this from happening, do not slice the apples until they are ready to be stuffed, and then immediately place them in the oven to cook.

Variation: I like to use sweet, juicy Rome Beauty apples for this recipe because they hold their shape well when baked, but Granny Smith or Macintosh apples will also do quite nicely.