1 - When thickening a sauce or gravy, mash the xanthan or guar gum (they used flour of course) into a tablespoon of butter with the back of a fork. Once you add it to your hot liquid, the thickener is incorporated as the butter melts, so no lumps - and everything tastes better with butter! :)  That was something Giada said she learned from a chef in France...whatever she was making that day, she said that the butter would make it "glisten". I haven't had that effect, but it really is a wonderful tip that I use all the time now!

2 - Rachel made a very simple type of salsa or chutney that I made to serve with our roasted duck a couple of weeks ago. The duck is quite rich, so the combination of bite and sweet was a perfect complement to the meat. I cut up 3 slices of bacon into small bits, then fried it and drained off most of the fat for later use. Then I added a finely diced red onion and cooked it until soft. Then a can of crushed pineapple (yes, carby, but more on that in a minute) and mixed it with the onion until it was heated through. Seasoned with just a touch of cinnamon, added back in the crispy bacon at the last minute. Just a couple of spoonfuls over the meat, added on each person's plate, really made all the difference. I'd imagine it would be excellent with pork or other poultry also.

Here's my note for using crushed pineapple: There were 80g of carbs for the entire can, which is of course a lot. But if you drain off the liquid, which contains part of the sugars (even if it isn't added syrup, it still absorbs some of the sugar from the fruit - if you don't believe me, taste it *G*), and rinse the fruit in a colander. I don't know how much that reduces the carb count, but obviously it does remove some. Even adding the 14g for the onion, the amount I added to my plate was easily 1/10th or less of the entire recipe. Definitely not worth wringing my hands over :).


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