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Who’s Cooking: Laurie Condon, Melville

Laurie Condon with her version of Chinese sesame

Laurie Condon with her version of Chinese sesame chicken. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Laurie Condon works in media sales. She lives in Melville with her husband and son.

How long have you been cooking?

Since I got married, 12 years. Prior to that I ate out every night.

How did you get into healthy cooking?

I was taking a ton of cooking lessons at Williams-Sonoma, and making fantastic food. And my husband started to gain weight. So he went on the Subway diet, eating sandwiches from Subway. He lost the weight, but he started having stomach issues from all the processed food. We’re really a society where processed food is cheap and easy. It’s easy to get takeout and it’s so bad for you.

I was doing some personal training, and one of my clients gave me a Sakara Life gift card for Christmas, for healthy plant-based meal delivery. I wanted to hate the food, but I loved it. Then I started researching, and figuring out how to cook healthy, because I wanted my husband to eat better food, so he would feel better. Now he’s great.

With my cooking now, I’m middle of the road. I don’t do fat-free. I don’t like the way it tastes. From all these different diet philosophies, I take what I like. I do everything in moderation. I make a lot of salads, but I deep-fry my croutons. I’m busy with work, so I do Blue Apron [meal kit delivery] three nights a week. I like it because there’s a set portion size. And I’ll tweak those meals to suit our palate.

Where do you get your recipe ideas?

If I go to a restaurant and I like something, I come home and replicate it. I make a barbecue chicken salad that was inspired by the one at California Pizza Kitchen. First, I Googled their recipe. Then I modified it to suit our tastes. My chicken chunks are bigger; I leave out the jicama. There’s a salad from Ruth’s Chris Steak House, with corn, Cajun pecans, goat cheese, dried cherries, balsamic vinegar and romaine. I make my own version. I get a lot of my ideas from places I go to. At this point I know how to recreate anything.

Where does this recipe come from?

We like sesame chicken from the Chinese restaurant, but after I eat it I just feel so gross and guilty. I’m sure they deep-fry it at the restaurant. It took a few tries to come up with this alternative. I was trying to figure out how to make it sweet. I scrolled around the internet. For some odd reason, I put these ingredients together and I felt like I hit the jackpot.

SESAME CHICKEN

Condon serves this dish with white rice, and with steamed broccoli that she tosses in a sauce made with beef broth, soy sauce, sesame oil, spicy Szechuan sauce, and teriyaki sauce thickend with a little corn starch.

1 (1-pound) package chicken tenderloins

1⁄4 cup soy sauce

3⁄4 cup flour

1⁄4 cup olive oil

1 (7-ounce) jar Asian Gourmet brand sweet-and-sour sauce

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. In a bowl or zipper-lock bag, combine the chicken and soy sauce. Refrigerate overnight.

2. Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Drain the chicken pieces and then toss them in flour to coat.

3. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium. It is hot enough when a drop of water sizzles when it hits the oil. Saute the chicken, turning occasionally, until cooked through.

4. Stir in the sweet-and-sour sauce, sprinkle with sesame seeds, cover, and cook until the chicken is crispy, about 10 minutes, stirring midway through to make sure the chicken is not burning. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

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