Rozanne Gold is back again, with another 3- ingredient cookbook, only this time it’s   “Healthy 1-2-3” which is proclaimed to be the ultimate three ingredient fat-free, low fat- low calorie cookbook.

Rozanne Gold is considered one of the most prominent figures in the world of food today. She was First Chef to New York City Mayor Ed Koch when she was only 23 years old. When this cookbook was first published in 2001, Rozanne was Chef-Director of the Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Company, best known for creating Manhattan’s Magical Windows on the World and Rainbow Room restaurants.

Rozanne was named one of America’s Top 5 Enlightened chefs by COOKING LIGHT magazine. She is also a three-time winner of the prestigious James Beard Award.

You may remember Rozanne from an earlier blog post of mine, on the trend of cookbook recipes with few and fewer ingredients. Rozanne is also the author of “LITTLE MEALS”, RECIPES 1-2-3”, “1-2-3- MENU COOKBOOK and ENTERTAINING 1-2-3” She has written a monthly column on entertaining for Bon Appétit magazine and has been a regular on television programs.  And, after I posted a review on RECIPES 1-2-3 I discovered that Rozanne has a blog on WordPress, when she read my article and re-posted it on her blog. That’s the best validation that I, a mostly unknown home cook can get, when a published cookbook author gives you a nod and acknowledgement.

When reading a cookbook (and yes, cookbook collectors do read cookbooks like other more normal avid readers read novels) I like to read “between the lines” –or, more accurately “between the recipes” to learn about the author and what prompted their book. Most of us know that cookbook recipes containing only 3, 4 or 5 ingredients (and I’ve even seen a two ingredient cookbook as well as one for 7 ingredients) are enjoying a great deal of popularity. This is understandable, given our busy lifestyles. Although my own children have all grown up and left home, I remember only too well the days of rushing home from work, tossing a load of towels into the washer, starting dinner and supervising homework. We want to put interesting healthy meals on the table but who has the time to spend hours preparing dinner?  And, although after my sons moved out and there were only two of us, I still cooked dinner every night. I’ve always believed it’s a most important meal, when the family sits down to enjoy a meal together and talk about their day at school or work.

Although you wouldn’t imagine it from the glamorous cover photo of Rozanne Gold, she writes, “As a kid, I morphed from a fat teenager into a plump adult. I hated my body and bemoaned my fate, for I was built exactly like my father (a professional fullback, no less) rather than like my svelte and glamorous mother…” (I could relate—oh, boy, how I could relate. I was a chunky teenager, unlike my blonde-and-blue eyed skinny older sister or my beautiful always on the thin side mother—I battled my weight for many years, until I became a Weight Watcher in my early 40s).

Rozanne says she loved being home alone to raid the freezer, eating as much as she could and rearranging the rest so no one would notice. Rozanne writes “In those days, I straightened my hair, parted it down the middle to cover most of my face, wore big glasses to hide the rest, and quietly wished I were dead…”

After a trip to Europe when she was 19, Rozanne decided she wanted to be a professional chef. A few years later, after battling anorexia, at the age of 23 she became the first official chef to the Mayor of New York.

After what she describes as a whirlwind year with the Mayor, Rozanne found herself in the “demanding field of restaurant consulting, working in the world’s finest restaurants. “Glamorous, perhaps,” she laments, “But I again succumbed to the ruinous temptation of being around food all the time…”

Life for Rozanne changed when she became the culinary director of the Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Company, where she was consulting chef to New York’s magical Rainbow Room which the company owned and operated from 1985 to 1999.  One of her responsibilities, she explains, was to develop “Evergreen”, a low-calorie, low-fat dining concept for members of the Rockefeller Center Club who needed to eat smarter. “In Evergreen,” explains Rozanne, we succeeded in reversing health foods bad image by applying French techniques to a handful of superlative ingredients and cooking them perfectly. The result was a healthful, sophisticated cuisine marked by daring simplicity.”  Rozanne began to lose weight.

“I also discovered,” she says, “that hidden in the world of food and wine and all its pleasures was the concept of restraint. From Joe and his partners I learned to grasp the essence of a dish, to slowly savor small amounts of anything that was offered, and to demand the best of everything.

It was about this time that Rozanne began to write cookbooks about her new and simpler style. The first was “Little Meals” followed by “RECIPES 1-2-3”,

And now, Rozanne is as svelte as her mother.

“HEALTHY 1-2-3” offers, in addition to recipes, nutritional counseling from Helen Kimmel, a master of science-registered dietitian who has collaborated with Rozanne on three earlier books.

And what recipes! You will find a wide assortment from which to choose, beginning with soups (Chilled Spring Pea Soup, Broccoli Soup with Fresh Basil Butter, Thick Fennel Soup with Spinach Pastina, Yellow Split Pea and Smoked Salmon Bisque and Sweet Potato-Rutabaga with Bacon Crisps) and ending with an array of fruits and desserts designed to tempt even the most demanding, pickiest palate. The problem will be not which one to try but which one to try first. Choose from Fresh Blueberries and Blueberry Compote, Lemon ‘Custard’, Raspberry Honey Fool, P:ineapple Shingles with Caramel, Pistachio Dust, Strawberry-Ginger Sorbet, Macerated Berries and  Ginger Chips or Cider-Poached Apples…just for openers. This is a small sampling of the dessert recipes you can serve – without guilt.

Generously sandwiched in-between, you will find a tempting array of first courses, vegetables and side-dishes from which to select. Think: Layered Flounder and Smoked Salmon, Sauteed Cod with Asparagus Veloute (I love asparagus), Bay Steamed Halibut with Lemon Oil, or how about Brined Pork Loin with Orange-Chipotle jus, Potted Leeks and Corned Beef in Riesling, Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Mustard and Rosemary, or Rib-eye Roast, Gravlax-style in which the beef is cured overnight in dill, sugar, salt and pepper, a Nordic preparation usually reserved for salmon and then roasted. There is a fine, ample chapter devoted to vegetables and side dishes, ranging from Steamed Asparagus with Wasabi Butter, Comfit of Carrots and Lemon, to Scalloped Cheese Potatoes or Rozanne’s favorite Sweet Potatoes (sure to become my favorite, too!)

One of the added bonuses to the mouth-watering recipes offered in “HEALTHY 1-2-3” is a section called “Restoratives” which I think you will love as much as I. Imagine” Mixed Berry Shrub, Watermelon Splash, Chamomile Tea with Lavender, Strawberry-Basil Elixir….and more.

Extra special treats include such yummies as Chocolate Mousse Sponge, and Cocoa Meringues (yes, you can have treats such as these and still “be on a diet”).

As an added bonus, the publishers advise, “Because all of the dishes are low in fat and/or calories, “HEALTHY 1-2-3” can promote weight loss or maintenance. If weight isn’t an issue, they suggest “simply take advantage of all the latest research on the inherent and healthful benefits of fresh, natural ingredients…”

“HEALTHY 1-2-3” FROM Stewart Tabori & Chang is wonderfully illustrated. Photographs of this fantastic cookbook are the creation of Anita Calero, whose work has appeared in many magazines, including TOWN & COUNTRY, and MARTHA STEWART LIVING. And we all understand the importance of good photographs—what’s the first thing you say when you look at a recipe with an accompanying photograph? “That looks good!” we exclaim.  And if each recipe only has three ingredients, what’s not to like – or try?

“HEALTHY 1-2-3” was first published in 2001.  I found it listed on new for $10.85, pre-owned starting at one cent, and a collectible copy for $25.00.  If you look it up on Amazon you will find some of Rozanne’s other 3-ingredient cookbooks listed.

–Review by Sandra Lee Smith




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