Burning Questions

The eliminated chef has no regrets about his final dish.

Apr 27, 2011

The peanut slaw is heavenly and the serpentine lines that are created around the nation when we serve it, speak alone for the popularity of this classic comforting dish. Made without the classic mayo that most will add into a slaw. It is fat free but for the wonderful little fat that comes from the American peanuts I throw into my slaw. Other than that, it has only the magic of spices, herbs and citrus. It is all about flavor, texture, and peanuts. How can life be any better?

The tomato sauce I gave my client with the burger is my very famous tomato chutney. The late-great Sheila Lukins (Author of Silver Palate cookbook and food editor of Parade Magazine) called it the Better-Than-Ketchup-Tomato-Chutney, and anyone who takes a lick is instantly addicted. I had hoped my client would allow the flavors of the chutney to seduce her, to flirt with her tastebuds and to become new friends.

The yogurt sauce was simple, soothing, cooling, flirtatious and also healthful -- all at once, I recall one of the judges calling it delicious and special or some such.

Certainly my choice of whole wheat pita pockets was made for the ease of my client in eating the dish. I would enjoy the burger without any bread. That is how tasty the patty is by itself. But the pita pocket makes it easy to hold and transport as food one can eat on the move. Some can criticize me for not making the pita myself, but to them I give the challenge of making so many parts of a dish in such a short time, whilst helping others. If they can do it within all the constraints I had - I salute to them and will learn to do more each minute I live. But most of all, I wanted my client to learn how to make the burger, but indulge herself by buying the pita. I would never want someone to struggle around health and wellness with unnecessary fuss that keeps them afraid to do what is right.

The burgers are easy to make. Can be made in a Cuisinart. Prepared in advance. Frozen and stored for future use. Each time you crave something tasty and indulgent, pull one out, cook and savor. This is the kind of simple cooking that makes for long lasting change to remain sustainable and not just be a trend or fad. I felt I was not just acting on TV, but that this was reality TV. I had a burden to help make change happen, if I could inspire it as such. And so, I shared a recipe that could be easily duplicated by my client or anyone else watching the show.

These were the factors and principles guiding me in making a tough choice, that I had hoped would be a choice that would please, heal and keep healthy the person indulging in it.