Best of the season for a favorite aunt


Honoring a lady who knows how to cook -- and give company a warm welcome


Sunday Gourmet

October 26, 2003|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Tribune Media Services

The aunt for whom I am named has been an inveterate hostess for more than 50 years. As a youngster, I loved to visit her home, where the dining table was routinely set with fresh flowers and pressed linens, and there was always a mouth-watering spread of delectable food. What I remember best, though, is how warm and gracious my aunt was. Never anxious or stressed, she planned her meals carefully so she would have plenty of time to talk to everyone while entertaining.

Next week this charming woman, now an octogenarian, is coming with her daughter to my house for a few days. I want to be as welcoming to my aunt as she was to me.

For our first meal, I've chosen a menu of simple dishes so that I will be able to visit my family and not have to spend hours in the kitchen.

To begin, there will be small, make-ahead blue-cheese souffles. A main course of mustard-coated pork tenderloins roasted with a melange of root vegetables will follow, and a dark chocolate almond torte, which can be baked in advance, will end our meal.

Since the first and last courses can be prepared earlier, I'll use my time to assemble the delicious but uncomplicated main course. Sliced and arranged on a serving platter with an array of colorful vegetables as a garnish, the tenderloins make an attractive autumn entree that will leave you with many free moments to enjoy your guests.

Roasted Pork Tenderloins With a Melange of Root Vegetables

Serves 4

8 medium ( 1/2 pound) shallots

3/4 pound medium carrots

1 pound small (1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter) red potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

two 12- to 14-ounce pork tenderloins, trimmed of excess fat

1 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 medium cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary plus a few sprigs for garnish, optional

Peel shallots, then halve lengthwise. Peel carrots and cut on the diagonal into 2-inch-long pieces. Quarter potatoes.

In a large, heavy flameproof roasting pan or a large, ovenproof saute pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat until hot. Add shallots, carrots and potatoes and saute, stirring 5 minutes. Remove from heat and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Remove vegetables to a side dish and set aside.

Pat pork tenderloins dry. Combine 1 teaspoon each salt, pepper and dried crushed rosemary and rub on all sides of each tenderloin. Return the pan to medium high heat and add remaining oil. When very hot, brown the meat on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove pan from heat. In a small bowl, whisk together mustard and garlic and brush over top and sides of pork in the roasting pan. Return vegetables to pan, scattering them around the meat.

Transfer pan to center rack of 350-degree oven. Stir vegetables every 5 to 8 minutes. Roast pork until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees, about 25 minutes; then remove to a serving platter and cover loosely with foil. Continue to roast vegetables until lightly browned and tender when pierced with a knife, 10 minutes more or longer. Remove pan from oven. Season vegetables with salt and pepper, if needed.

Cut pork tenderloins into 1/2 inch slices, then arrange vegetables around pork on platter. Sprinkle vegetables with chopped rosemary and garnish with rosemary sprigs, if desired.

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