- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Nothing pleases me more than discovering that a young person is interested in cooking. My grown son, whose only passion while growing up seemed to be sports, now calls me regularly for culinary advice when giving a party, and several of my husband’s college students have become assistants at our house when we entertain. They come to help me in the kitchen but then confess they love getting free cooking lessons while earning extra spending money.

At a small dinner we hosted for the 30-something daughter of good friends, I was surprised when the guest of honor told us she was taking cooking classes.

Here was a woman whose career in the Parisian fashion world was so consuming that she had few free hours on any given day.

But a spark had been lit, and now this aspiring gourmet was anxious to watch me prepare the evening’s meal and to solicit advice about cooking solo for her pals.

It was a hot night, so for our first course, I assembled plates of icy cold cantaloupe and watermelon wedges, garnished with paper-thin shavings of prosciutto and sprigs of mint. For the main course, I rubbed pork tenderloin slices with curry powder, coarse salt and cayenne pepper and quickly sauteed them.

In the same pan used for the meat, I combined sliced apricots, apricot jam and red wine vinegar and stirred until the fruit became glazed.

The pork, topped with the glistening apricots, was served with a chilled curried mayonnaise (an easily made combo of store-bought mayo, curry powder and apricot jam) and with blanched green beans and peas. My local bakery provided strawberry tarts for our dessert.

As I gave our young guest the recipes, I explained that this simple summer menu would be ideal for a beginner.

No cooking was needed for the refreshing melon opener.

The pork and apricot dish took about 20 minutes to assemble and cook, and the vegetables required only a few minutes in a pot of boiling water. Buying dessert had eliminated fussing over a finale.

Cleaning up after our dinner, I thought about how much I enjoy entertaining and how my pleasure is doubled when I get a chance to share this passion with a new generation.

Pork tenderloin steaks with glazed apricots and curry mayo

CURRY MAYO:

2/3 cup regular or reduced-fat mayonnaise (but not nonfat mayonnaise)

1 teaspoon curry powder

2 tablespoons apricot preserves or jam

PORK AND GLAZED APRICOTS:

2 14- to 16-ounce pork tenderloins, trimmed of all excess fat

1 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon curry powder

teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 to 5 (about 8 ounces) ripe but not soft apricots

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra if needed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra if needed

2 tablespoons apricot jam or preserves

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped chives, optional

For the curry mayo, whisk together mayonnaise, curry powder and apricot preserves in a small bowl. (Curry mayo can be prepared a day ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before using.)

For the pork, cut each tenderloin into 1-inch-thick slices. (The tenderloins will gradually taper into a thin tail; cut off tails and save for another use, such as a stir-fry.)

You should get 5 or 6 one-inch slices from each fillet. Place a pork slice on a work surface; cover with plastic wrap; and with a meat pounder or rolling pin, pound a few times until about -inch thick. Repeat with remaining slices.

Pat meat dry with paper towels. Mix together salt, curry powder and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Then rub pork slices on both sides with the seasoning.

Halve apricots lengthwise, and remove pits. Cut each half into 3 wedges; set aside.

Heat oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add pork slices in a single layer. Cook until golden brown on bottom, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook until browned on other side, 4 to 5 minutes more.

If you can’t get all the pork slices into one pan, cook a batch, then remove and cover with foil. Use equal amounts of additional butter and oil and continue until all pork has been cooked.

Add apricot wedges, apricot jam and vinegar to same skillet. Cook, stirring, until jam has melted and glazed the apricots, a minute or more.

Arrange pork on a serving plate. Spoon any pan juices and apricots on top of pork. Garnish each slice with a dollop of curry mayo. If desired, sprinkle with chives. Pass remaining curry mayo separately.

Makes 4 to 5 servings.

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