A world of taste from home kitchen

April 30, 1995|By Patsy Jamieson | Patsy Jamieson,Eating Well magazine United Feature Syndicate

Food and travel are inseparable for me. Whether it is a trip to the mountains for skiing or to the Mediterranean for some sunshine, I find no better source of culinary inspiration. Back home, I like to fill the kitchen with the aroma of dishes discovered on the road. Recipes for spaetzle from the Swiss Alps, fennel-scented pork roast from Italy and hearty lentil soup from Turkey are some of the culinary souvenirs I hope you will enjoy too.

Pork Tenderloin With Fennel

A garlicky fennel-seed crust and a delicate sauce enriched with pureed fresh fennel are two of the best things that could happen to pork.

Serves 6

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 pork tenderloins, 3/4 pound each, trimmed of fat and membrane

1 1/2 cups chopped fennel bulb, plus fronds for garnish

1 small onion, chopped

1 1/4 cups defatted reduced-sodium chicken stock

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon reduced-fat sour cream (optional)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Mash garlic, fennel seeds and 1/2 teaspoon salt together on a cutting board with the flat side of a large knife. Place in a small bowl; stir in pepper and 1/2 tablespoon of the oil.

Rub the fennel-seed mixture evenly over tenderloins, pressing it into the crevices. Fold the thin tails underneath and secure with butcher's string or a toothpick.

Heat a large oven-proof skillet (cast iron is perfect) over medium-high heat. Add the tenderloins and cook until lightly browned on one side, about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn the tenderloins over, transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for about 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature registers 150 degrees.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Add fennel and onions and cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree. Return to the saucepan and keep warm.

When the pork is ready, transfer it to a carving board, cover loosely and keep warm. Place the skillet (do not wipe it) over medium-high heat. Pour in wine and bring to a boil, stirring. Boil until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add to the fennel sauce, along with sour cream, if using. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove the string or toothpick from tenderloins and carve into 1/2 -inch-thick slices. Spoon the sauce onto plates and fan pork slices over top. Garnish with a few fennel fronds.

Per serving: 192 calories; 26 grams protein; 7 grams fat; 5 grams carbohydrate; 476 milligrams sodium; 80 milligrams cholesterol.

Parsley and Lemon Spaetzle

Although a gadget called a spaetzle maker works best, you can press the dough through the holes in a colander.

Serves 4

2 cups all-purpose white flour

grated zest of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

3/4 to 1 cup low-fat milk

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 large egg white, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

freshly ground black pepper

Fill a large pot two-thirds full with lightly salted water and bring to a boil.

Combine flour, lemon zest, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. In a large measuring cup, whisk together 3/4 cup of the milk, egg and egg white. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in enough of the egg mixture, stirring with a whisk or fork, to make a smooth batter. (It will resemble thick pancake batter. Add more milk if necessary.)

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the butter turns a light nutty brown, 30 to 60 seconds. Immediately remove from the heat, stir in lemon juice and set aside.

Lightly oil a spaetzle maker or a colander or coat with nonstick cooking spray. Place the spaetzle maker over the boiling water. Scrape one-third of the batter into the spaetzle maker and force it through the holes. Boil the spaetzle until they float to the top, 1 to 2 minutes. Then, with a slotted spoon, scoop them out of the water and place in the skillet with the lemon butter. Repeat with the remaining batter. (Spaetzle can be made ahead; lift the dumplings from the boiling water and drop them into a large bowl of cold water. Drain and refrigerate, then reheat in the skillet at serving time.)

Add parsley and toss the spaetzle in the lemon butter over medium heat until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Per serving: 297 calories; 10 grams protein; 5 grams fat; 51 grams carbohydrate; 391 milligrams sodium; 63 milligrams cholesterol.

Red Lentil Soup

In Turkey, my gracious host told me that even in the hottest weather, Turkish families always begin a meal with hot soup. A drizzle of sizzling spiced olive oil, a hallmark of Turkish soups, gives this lentil and bulgur soup a final flourish.

Makes about 8 cups.

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