Title: Dishing Up Maryland
Author: Lucie L. Snodgrass
Release date: April 2010
Source: Personal collection
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I’ve mentioned before that this is one of my favorite cookbooks. Now that I’ve had the chance to try (and tweak) a range of recipes, I thought I’d share my reasons.
Dishing Up Maryland is a wonderful cookbook that celebrates local food. It calls for unique ingredients that are only in season for a few weeks out of the year, and then it combines them in fresh ways to create creative yet classic dishes.
When I flip through the book to plan my meals each week, I’m reminded of the importance of cooking with local, sustainable food. Although I live in Virginia, often substituting my local produce, meat, and seafood for Maryland’s, I love the inspiration the book provides and its dedication to the history of local culinary traditions.
But Dishing Up Maryland doesn’t just highlight great recipes and good local ingredients.
With glossy pages and gorgeous photographs, the book also profiles the work of farmers, butchers, cheesemakers, watermen, vintners, chefs and other foodie professionals indigenous to the state–and several recipes bear their stamps, like John Shields’ Chesapeake Oyster Stew. It includes sections on many local foodie institutions, including FireFlye Farms, a goat cheese producer in the Allegheny Plateau region; One Straw Farm in Whitehall, one of the first organic farms in the United States; Circle C Oyster Ranch in St. Mary’s County, home to artificial floating oyster reefs; and Volt restaurant, the brainchild of Top Chef contestant Brian Voltaggio.
When I want to make something a little fancier than usual, I flip through this cookbook for inspiration close to home. I usually end up substituting different ingredients as appropriate, making each recipe my own, and I encourage you to do the same.
Among the book’s 150 recipes, my favorites include the crab cakes, sweet potato gratin, crab bisque, and beef stew, among others. The soups and salads are especially good.
I recommend this book to Maryland-area cooks looking to experiment with local traditions and new techniques. There are also “Dishing Up” cookbooks for other states, and I encourage non-Marylanders to check them out.