Picks and Pans Review: New Spa Food

updated 12/10/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/10/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Edward J. Safdie

Adventurous cooks of all waistlines will find The An of Low-Calorie Cooking (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $35) intriguing. Aptly describing herself as an "eccentric scientist," Food & Wine columnist Sally Schneider has discovered, in her kitchen-cum-laboratory, that slightly charred red onions taste like duck cracklings and that lean pork tenderloin rubbed with a clove-and-pepper mixture tastes like country ham. Schneider favors small portions with big flavors. Her 125 recipes, which often feature odd food combos and uncommon ingredients, are perked up with liberal doses of pepper, chilies, vinegars and nut oils. As with all experiments, some go awry, but her gingerbread, bursting with the taste of fresh ginger, is a blue-ribbon winner.

New Spa Food (Potter, $27.50) features simple dishes that are as American as a New England boiled dinner (here made with chicken breasts). Low in fat and sodium and high in fiber, the 1250-to 1500-calorie, five-day-menu suggestions are easy to mix and match. Safdie's gingerbread, made with whole wheat flour, falls a step behind Schneider's, but it too is dangerously irresistible.

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