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Volume 15, Issue 46 ~ November 15 - November 21, 2007

Thyme to Eat?

The Junior League serves up a rich platter of Annapolis-inspired cuisine

reviewed by Carrie Madren

Traditional Thanksgiving fare calls for turkey, stuffing and cranberries, but thumb through Thyme to Entertain, and you may find new traditions to serve at holiday meals. The Junior League of Annapolis’ newest fundraising cookbook is a Martha Stewart version of standard dishes with gourmet twists. It’s a glossy, hardcover, coffee table-style book fanciful enough to display but practical enough for weekday dinners and last-minute potluck ideas.

Each of 13 lavishly prepared menus for Annapolis feast days includes half a dozen recipes ranging from appetizers, main course and side dishes to dessert. Two are dedicated to holiday feasts. In Autumn’s Bounty, you’ll find recipes for Smoky Autumn Salad, Racks of Lamb with Mustard Coating, City Dock Chocolate Martinis and Pumpkin Flan. The Holiday Gathering menu lists Cheddar Almond Strips, Peppercorn Tenderloin and Sesame Noodles with Asparagus.

With a total of 200 recipes — with names like Sophisticated Salmon with Wild Mushroom Risotto, Avocado Bruschetta, Popovers with Strawberry Butter, Cranberry Nut Torte and Hot Mango Brie Cheese — this substantial cookbook offers tastes for varied palates. The choices include drink as well

Racks of Lamb with Mustard Coating

Serves four to five

1⁄2 tsp salt
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
11⁄2 tsp minced fresh rosemary, thyme or oregano
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1⁄4 cup olive oil or peanut oil
2 racks of lamb
1⁄2 cup crustless fresh white bread crumbs
2 Tbs butter, melted

Combine the salt, mustard, rosemary, lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl and mix well. Score the fat on the bottom (bone side) of the lamb lightly with shallow crisscross marks. Spread mixture over the top and sides of the lamb. Wrap the bones with a double layer of foil and place the lamb in a roasting pan. Roast at 500 degrees on the upper middle oven rack for 10 minutes or until seared. Remove the lamb from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Coat the top and sides of the lamb with the bread crumbs and drizzle the butter over the top. Return to the oven and roast for 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 145 degrees for medium-rare. Let the lamb rest for five minutes before carving.

City Dock Chocolate Martini

Serves one

1 oz. half-and-half or heavy cream
1 oz. dark chocolate liqueur
1⁄2 oz. créme de cacao
1⁄2 oz. vodka
Fresh strawberries

Combine the half-and-half, dark chocolate liqueur, créme de cacao and vodka in a cocktail shaker. Top off with ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with strawberries.

as food. Season by season, you’ll learn to greet your holiday guests with mixed drinks like Chocolate Martini, Pomegranate Martini and Cuban Mojito. Seventeen of the recipes are portrayed by food photographer Dean Alexander, who creates larger-than-life images of Mediterranean frittatas and scones to introduce chapters.

I took the book for a test drive in my own kitchen. The Curried Chicken Salad in the Spring is in the Air section was simple, with easy-to-follow directions that gave fresh, unexpected flavors to a standby dish. This chicken salad formula tempered the meat with sweet golden raisins and apple, spiced it up with ginger root and curry and textured it with crunchy celery and smooth mango. I skipped the one-fourth cup of the $7 mango chutney and chopped the onion in 16ths instead of quarters, but the dish retained exotic infusions of flavors and textures.

The recipes offer rich flavors, averaging a dozen ingredients, many of which won’t go easy on the wallet. Ingredients like chutneys, brie or other specialty cheeses, fresh crabmeat, shrimp, oysters and other seafood will stretch shoestring budgets.

More than a cookbook, Thyme to Entertain also gives you a sprinkling of local traditions and seasonal sights, plus entertaining tips and ideas. So this Christmas, you can eat your Coconut, Carmel and Rum Flan and learn from it, too.

Buy this volume for your own collection or as a Christmas gift; your dollars go toward the Junior League’s good causes — such as It’s Elementary, Juvenile Justice, Friends of Foster Care, Children’s Literacy and scholarships.

Thyme to Entertain: $29.95 at local bookstores and online at or 410-573-9235.

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