FAT AND CALORIES don't appear to be a major concern of the makers of specialty foods -- at least that's the impression one got last week walking the miles of aisles at the annual summer International Fancy Food and Confection Show in New York.
As usual, there were salsas, jellies and mustards galore, and, of course, chocolate in all flavors, sizes and shapes from mushrooms to pumpkins to city maps, including a chocolate map of Washington, D.C. (At least if you get lost using that map you could take out your frustration by having a bite.) Upscale hot chocolate mixes also seemed to be among the ballyhooed hopefuls, along with liqueur-filled cakes and fruit-flavored butters.
One hot new trend: bite-sized cookies. Consumers like them because they think they can eat less, but food-industry experts say the truth of the matter is that they eat more, making manufacturers like them as well.
That's not to say that there were no products touting their healthful benefits. Popeye's lovely girlfriend was busy promoting her namesake olive oil while a few handfuls of the 800 booths featured light snacks, salad dressings -- even light shortbread (with no cholesterol).
Then there was Aqua Libra, described by its makers as the "champagne for the healthy" -- a mixture of passion fruit and apple juices to which herbal extracts, ginseng and a dash of tarragon have been added.
DINNER TONIGHT VEAL CHOPS WITH HERB BUTTER (4 servings)
Bright summer herbs and sweet butter form the sauce for these loin veal chops. Pair the veal with mixed vegetables, such as a combination of steamed green beans, lima beans, diced tomatoes and saute'ed onions.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
4 3/4-inch thick loin veal chops, about 1 pound
About 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, spread out on a dinner plate
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Heat the oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over moderately high heat. Dust the veal chops on both sides with the flour, add to the skillet, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes; turn over, and cook for 4 minutes longer, or until cooked through. Season the chops with salt and pepper; keep warm.
Reduce the heat to low, add the marjoram and thyme, and cook for 15 seconds; off the heat, stir in the parsley and vinegar. Whisk in the cold butter, a tablespoon at a time. Place each chop on a warm plate, spoon over some of the herb sauce, and serve immediately.
Per serving: 375 calories, 32 gm protein, 7 gm carbohydrates, 23 gm fat, 9 gm saturated fat, 127 mg cholesterol, 93 mg sodium. -- Lisa Yockelson
ASSISTANT ICE CREAM TASTERS' jobs don't come up that often. Now, Edy's Grand Ice Cream is seeking 25 such experts to spend a day gobbling down potential additions to its 1991 menu. To apply, explain in 150 words or less why you think you'd make a good taster and deserve a free ride to Los Angeles, plus two night's lodging, in September. Send entries (which must be received by Aug. 17) or inquiries to Ice Cream Taster, Edy's Grand Ice Cream, P.O. Box 1188, Lafayette, Calif. 94549-1188.
THE HIT PARADE of seafood is topped by tuna. In 1989, Americans ate a record amount of seafood -- 15.9 pounds per capita -- and almost a half pound more tuna per capita than they did in 1988. The continuing success of fish farming has pushed catfish into the No. 5 slot, and the popularity of surimi (imitation crab meat) has bolstered the consumption of Alaskan pollack. Here's the top 10:
1) Tuna 3.9 pounds per capita, 2) shrimp 2.3, 3) cod 1.7, 4) Alaska pollock 1.4, 5) catfish .7, 6) clams .61, 7) flounder/sole .57, 8) salmon .5, 9) scallops .33, 10) crab meat .29.
TO DO Friday and Saturday: "The Flavor of India: An Exotic Culinary Adventure," two-day lecture series by cooking teacher/author Julie Sahni, tastings and luncheon, sponsored by Smithsonian Resident Associate program, Friday 7-9:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., $85 for SRA members, $125 for nonmembers, call 357-3030 for reservations and information.
SaturdaySTART NOTE: July 21. END NOTE: Lisa Yockelson, author of "Country Cookies: An Old-Fashioned Collection," signing books and demonstrating recipes, Williams-Sonoma/Mazza Gallerie, 1 p.m. Wednesday: Reception for members and potential members of the the American Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF), Hay-Adams Hotel, $15 at door ($10 if check to AIWF-National Capital Area Chapter is received by Monday at 4390 Lorcom La., #308, Arlington, Va. 22207), call 866-7438 for reservations and information.
SO YOUR PICNIC won't become a panic, keep in mind these hot weather food safety tips, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
You can take any food on a picnic so long as it is packed in an insulated cooler with ice or other cold sources.
Aside from commercial blue plastic gels, those cold sources can include water frozen in containers to form ice blocks, boxed frozen juices (used later at the picnic as icy cold drinks), ice cubes, cold fruit and frozen food such as hamburgers and hot dogs that will thaw en route or before grilling.
Cooked foods such as fried chicken are OK to pack so long as they will be served and eaten within two hours; otherwise buy the chicken well in advance, chill it thoroughly and pack it in the cooler to eat cold.
Don't partially heat meat or poultry for further cooking at the picnic. If it's been fully cooked and cooled quickly, it's OK to reheat it at the picnic site. And if you're barbecuing in the backyard, precooking or parboiling is fine; just do it right before grilling.
Use your cooler and your common sense as a guide to the safety of leftover picnic food. Ice remaining in the cooler is a good sign that the food may be safe. If the outing lasted four to five hours and if the food wasn't out of the cooler very long during serving, chances are that the leftovers are still wholesome. If you have any doubts, don't take a chance.
FALL COOKING CLASSES will be listed Aug. 29 in the Food section. For inclusion in the annual list, information must be received by Aug. 13, only by mail (Cooking Classes, Food Section, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Specify in 100 words or less the nature of courses offered (French or Indian, participation or demonstration, etc.), total years of operation, costs, location, starting dates and times. Include an address and telephone number for inquiries.