Light. What does that mean exactly? And was my mother trying to tell me something? Has my cooking become overly rich? Has she been leaving my home feeling bloated and ill? Is she on a diet?
Louis Osteen isn't really about light, but I finally settled on his preserved duck and lentil salad as the lightest option in Charleston Cuisine. First I "preserved" the poultry which meant marinating two duck legs overnight in an elaborate spice mixture, then simmering them in peanut oil for an hour and a half. This is duck confit and if it doesn't sound very light, rest assured: two duck legs, even if simmered in oil, constitute decidedly light fare for a party of six.
After the duck was preserved, I cooked lentils, chopped a lot of vegetables (turnip, tomato, mushroom, carrot, etc.), shredded and crisped the duck meat, and tossed it all together with a vinaigrette.
That was it. Everyone got two shreds of the excellent, salty duck, several lentils and a few vegetables. I noticed people cleaned their plates. My mother kept reaching for the cheese platter that I put together at the last minute after I realized how very light this dinner actually was.
For dessert: Osteen's lemon-mint ice cream. Mint + lemon = refreshing = light. Correct? No cookies because they are not light. It was wonderful ice cream, and even after a bowl of it I felt energetic and light and kind of skinny!
But just before the party broke up, I took a group portrait and I thought everyone else looked a little hungry and heavy-hearted. No, I didn't tell them to pose like that for laughs.