Dishes reflect Maryland's culinary diversity


February 26, 2003|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

Who could imagine that a cookbook published by a group of nutritionists would have such fat- and calorie-laden recipes as Smith Island Cake (with a whole box of powdered sugar) or Eastern Shore Oyster Fritters fried in oil?

But the members of the Maryland Dietetic Association, who produced Explore the Tastes of Maryland From the Mountains to the Sea (Favorite Recipes Press, 2002, $19.95) explain in the book's introduction their philosophy: "All foods can fit."

So this book of nearly 200 recipes focuses on the many flavors of Maryland cuisine without too much concern for fat and calories.

The book is organized into chapters for "Appetizers and Beverages"; "Soups, Salads and Breads"; "Entrees"; "Seafood"; "Vegetables and Side Dishes"; "Desserts"; and "Children's Favorites." And while the title emphasizes the state's geographic diversity, the authors also chose recipes reflecting the state's ethnic diversity as well.

Where else but in a cookbook featuring Maryland cuisine would you find recipes for both Chicken Hyderabad Style (a specialty from India) and Eastern Shore Muskrat? Of course, there are many crab dishes, but there are also recipes for Mexican Turkey Loaf and Oriental-Style Chicken Stew.

Glossy pictures introduce each chapter, although otherwise there are no photographs of the dishes. While nutritional information is given for each recipe (except the muskrat), at times the instructions aren't as precise as they could be. For example, the Smith Island Cake recipe did not specify whether to cook the icing on low, medium or high. In the same recipe, the instructions said to bake the cake layers for seven minutes, but they took at least twice that long in my oven.

The recipe for Eastern Shore fritters was more successful, although the recipe said the batter would be thick and mine wasn't.

Despite these small quibbles, this is a nice collection of Maryland culinary history. The book can be ordered from the Maryland Dietetic Association at or from the Cookbook Marketplace at 800-269-6839.

Eastern Shore Oyster Fritters

Makes 18 fritters

1 pint shucked Maryland standard oysters

1 cup baking mix, such as Jiffy's

2 tablespoons cornmeal

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup evaporated milk

3/4 cup vegetable oil

Drain the oysters, reserving the liquor. Combine the baking mix, cornmeal, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Stir in the evaporated milk. Fold in the oysters; the batter will be thick.

Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet. Drop the batter by tablespoons into the hot oil; each fritter should contain 2 oysters. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes or until brown on 1 side; turn carefully. Fry until brown; drain. If the consistency of the batter becomes too thick on standing, thin with some of the reserved oyster liquor.

Nutritional information: 138 calories; 3 grams protein; 9 grams carbohydrate; 10 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat); 14 milligrams cholesterol; 1 gram fiber; 254 milligrams sodium

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