March 12th, 2012
Last Wednesday the swashbuckling Captain Ross Poldark swept into town. Well actually it was Robin Ellis, star of the BBC series Poldark who held court to a swarm of adoring aficionados of the Masterpiece Theatre classic. It seems the elegant British actor still has the same draw with the ladies. “Downton Abbey can’t hold a candle to Poldark,” quipped one starry-eyed fan.
But we were there for a book signing, weren’t we? A polite query on the coveted invitation asked guests to consider preparing a dish from Ellis’s new Mediterranean style cookbook, Delicious Dishes for Diabetics – Eating Well with Type 2 Diabetes. Recipe cards would be forwarded. That was all the prompting needed to get an astonishing array of delectable low-carb, no sugar dishes for the gourmet potluck.
Ellis told the assembled foodistas that he had discovered he had Type 2 diabetes, prompting him to compile and share his collection of favorite go-to recipes, including treasured ones from his notable friends. A cold cucumber soup from Donald Douglas, his former nemesis Captain McNeil from the series and now a neighbor, is included in the bespoke book.
Fellow Brit actor, Catherine Flye, glowing from her recent nomination for a Helen Hayes Outstanding Supporting Actress award, was there to cheer on her compatriot. “It was lovely to see him this side of the pond. I loved his book. It’s simple, direct and easy to follow. It’s like cookery from the heart.”
The posh get-together, organized by noted local dietician and nutritionist, Katherine Tallmadge, also featured a cooking demo by Janis McLean, Executive Chef of Cleveland Park’s Bistrot Le Zinc. Many of the recipes have been adapted from (and graciously credited to) notable cookbook authors like Marcella Hazan or Jaime Oliver, two of Ellis’s favorite chefs. Charming illustrations by Hope James of the Ellis’s laidback life in Southwest France, a place where we’d all like to cook, fill the pages of this evocative cookbook.
And now please excuse me while I watch the new Poldark double DVD set while “Charlotte’s Chicken Tagine” simmers happily in the pot.
Charlotte’s Chicken Tagine
1 large chicken – jointed in 8-10 pieces
3 onions – peeled and quartered
2 medium fennel bulbs – outer leaves cut off, cored and quartered
6 cloves of garlic chopped
1 tsp. each turmeric, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and ground ginger
1 tsp. saffron threads
Salt and pepper
1 cup vegetable stock
Handful of green olives
1 preserved lemon – rind only, cut in strips
2 tsp. chopped cilantro or parsley
– Put the chicken pieces in a casserole, or tagine, if you have one.
– Pack in the onions and fennel pieces.
– Sprinkle over the garlic and spices. Season with salt and pepper. – Pour over the stock and drizzle over some olive oil.
– Bring to a very gentle simmer. Carefully turn over the contents in the liquid. Cover and cook for one hour, basting occasionally. The chicken pieces should be sumptuously meltingly collapsed when ready.
– Add the olives and lemon rind and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes more.
– Add the cilantro or parsley just before serving with a steaming plate of basmati rice.
From Delicious Dishes for Diabetics by Robin Ellis (Skyhorse Publishing)