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Food and Drink

For the pros, it’s easy as pie

Thanksgiving dinner is never over until the pie is served.      If you’re seeking perfection but that final course is out of your comfort zone, turn to the professionals.         There are premium pies to be had in Chesapeake ­Country, and Bay Weekly has found them for you. Here’s what you’ll find at six champion pie bakers, from Prince Frederick to Severn.

Pumpkin Pie 101

Pies baked by professionals can be spectacular. But for Thanksgiving, maybe you want to do your own. Here’s how it’s done by for the Melamud Thanksgiving dinner by writer Bob’s wife Lyn Laviana. Lyn Melamud’s Pumpkin Pie Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen website and vouched for by Bay Weekly’s pieman Bob Melamud Prepare a partially baked 10-inch pie shell. Whisk together in a bowl:

Decorate your pie for the season

Your family tells you your pumpkin pie is the best they’ve ever eaten.     But you ask yourself, is there room for improvement.     When daughter Lauren Dinsick comes back home to Millersville from her high-stress job as a pediatric intensive care nurse in Philadelphia, she’s ready to unwind.     For her, relaxation often involves pie crust.     Lauren enjoys playing with food, and pies are her medium of choice. Generally, she decorates them according to the season.

Libby, McNeill & Libby of ­Morton, Illinois

Would you cook you own pumpkin?     We who do are a minority. Pie makers will guard the locations of their cherry tree the way fishers do honey holes. But when the time comes to bake pumpkin pies, they buy their pumpkin in a can.     “I’ve tried fresh and I didn’t like the texture,” says Lyn Laviana, who bakes the pumpkin pie I wish I did.

The judges’ rule: Don’t overcook — or overwhelm — the oyster

On an ideal October weekend, up to 20,000 people thronged the 50th anniversary St. Mary’s Country fairgrounds for the U.S. Oyster Festival, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Lexington Park. Festival-goers stood in long lines to gobble oysters raw and steamed and — if they were lucky — to sample the inventive recipes competing in the National Oyster Cook-off.

Absorb the culture at Greek Fest

The Greek Festival of Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church hosted by Father Kosmas Karavellas is an annual community tradition. Behind the scenes are generations of Greek traditions. As a former Greek dancer, I can tell you the story.     Months before their costumes are fitted, Greek dance groups fill any unoccupied room in the gilded church with traditional music for weekly practices that run late into the night.

For Rod ‘N’ Reel’s Chef Rudy, Thanksgiving is a piece of cake

From the first-time turkey roaster to the kitchen master, who among us can anticipate cooking the Thanksgiving dinner without a bit of a flutter?     Chef Rudy Volpe can.     The 54-year-old chef looks forward to serving 1,000 to 1,200 hungry eaters at Rod ‘N’ Reel’s Thanksgiving Day Buffet.     For a chef who’s worked 20-plus years in gaming, most recently at Maryland Live!, Rod ‘N’ Reel’s seven-hour buffet is, well, a piece of cake.

A rested bird and a sharp knife are essential

1. Carve out a proper amount of time to cook the turkey. When coordinating your schedule Thanksgiving morning, keep in mind that between taking the turkey out of the oven and carving it, you should allot about 20 minutes. This waiting period is not frivolous. It makes the handling of the hot turkey easier on your hands, and it gives the meat’s juices crucial time to redistribute. 2.  If your turkey is tied, remove the string. Then remove each leg and thigh from the body of the turkey, using your hands to separate and your knife to slice through the meat.

Kudos to Blondie’s Baking Company

We at Bay Weekly were thrilled to celebrate our 22nd birthday last Thursday with an open house in our Annapolis office. The centerpiece of this celebration each year is the cake.     As in recent years, we approached a local baker — this year Cindy Selby, owner and baker extraordinaire of Blondie’s in Prince Frederick. Selby was given creative license with little guidance (we suggested a Bay-oriented theme). What we got was not only beautiful but also delicious: two tiers of confectionary delight, which was enjoyed by all.

Bay Weekly’s annual Dining Guide will make you hungry. Its very words melt in your mouth: Angus burgers, Bananas Foster, Barramundi Caprese, BossMan’s BBQ, bulgogi, Caramel and Coconut cake, Gambas al Ajillo, Hungarian mushroom soup, Littleneck clams and tasso ham, Munster Cheese and Crab Soup, New York-style pizza, Pad Pik Khing, Rockfish Amalfitana, Shipwreck Shrimp, Tikka Masala, Vallarta. From sharp to sweet to savory, it’s all here.