I'VE just returned from a lengthy trip to the USA and seem to have brought back a matching pair of love handles as excess baggage.
One really has to try hard to eat healthy food in North America; everything is super-sized (including an awful lot of bottoms).
It was difficult finding fresh fruit or vegies. I don't think I saw (let alone ate) broccoli the whole time I was away.
So it's back to a regime of fresh steamed veg and a small helping of protein, which is my usual fare these days.
Cooking in parchment (which is the literal translation of the French term "en papillote") is an ideal way to cook chicken, meat or seafood if you are trying to watch your fat intake.
The protein (whatever you choose) is sealed inside a parchment or foil pouch, along with herbs, seasonings and even vegetables if you like.
A minimal quantity of liquid (usually wine, stock or water) is included and the whole package sealed well so the steam is contained.
The package traditionally is transferred unopened to each diner's plate.
Today's recipe, salmon en papillote, is an easy introduction to the method.
You can vary this recipe by using a firm white fish, such as swordfish, rather than the salmon.
You can also toss some julienned vegies into the parcel before sealing it; I would suggest carrots and snow peas to start.
Experiment with seasonings. A little soy, coriander, grated fresh ginger and garlic would give a light and zingy Asian flavour to the fish.
Salmon in foil
2 tsp mixed peppercorns (pink, white and black)
juice of 1 lemon
drizzle of olive oil
4 pieces Atlantic salmon
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 large sprigs fresh tarragon
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Combine pepper- corns, lemon juice and oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
Cut four rectangles of foil or cooking parchment 30cm x 60cm.
Place foil or parchment on two baking trays. Lay each fish fillet in the centre of each.
Sprinkle each with a quarter of the peppercorn mixture and season with a little salt. Place sprig of tarragon on the top of each piece.
Fold sides of foil or parchment over, forming a tent. Pleat edges well to hold shape and seal the parcel.
Slide baking sheets into oven and bake at 200°C for 15-20 minutes, swapping position of trays on shelves halfway through cooking.
Using a spatula, transfer each packet to a heated plate and serve with steamed baby potatoes and vegetables.