Maybe it's because Tony Whitmore spends so...

Maybe it's because Tony Whitmore spends so much time near the ocean--as a junior lifeguard instructor for Los Angeles County--that he seems so calm, both inside the kitchen and outside. Whatever the reason, he is possessed of a natural confidence that characterizes his easygoing approach to cooking and eating.

"I'll try anything," he says. "I have a fairly wide range of tastes and enjoy every type of cooking from fancy to holiday things to outdoor cooking. But I admit that I prefer to cook for a lot of people; I like to work on a grandiose scale.

"If I were giving a dinner party, for example, and could do anything I wanted to, it would be fun to do a great Creole meal--I have a wonderful gumbo recipe--for a big group. I'd hold the party at my family's house in Ceres, a town near Modesto that was founded by my great-grandfather. There would be a Dixieland jazz band for entertainment, and one of my specialties, cherry cream pie, for dessert."

That's not really such a far-fetched fantasy, but more down-to-earth is the Zucchini-Corn Pudding shown at left. Like Whitmore, it's versatile; serve it as an entree with a crisp green salad or as a side dish with grilled chicken. TONY WHITMORE'S ZUCCHINI-CORN PUDDING

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons salad oil

1 medium onion, minced

1/2 green pepper, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 pound zucchini, cooked and chopped fine

1 cup cooked fresh or canned whole kernel corn

Salt, pepper

1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese

3 eggs, separated

Heat butter and salad oil in skillet. Add onion, green pepper and garlic, and saute until tender. Add zucchini and corn and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool. Add cheese and well-beaten egg yolks. Mix gently. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour mixture into greased casserole set in a pan of hot water (about 1 1/2 inches). Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for about one hour. Makes 6 servings.

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