Dining car daysKeeping meals on track is...


Dining car days

Keeping meals on track is no problem for Penn State instructor James Porterfield, who traveled thousands of miles on America's railroads researching his book "Dining by Rail: The History and Recipes of America's Golden Age of Railroad Cuisine" (St. Martin's Press, 1993, $35).

The book combines railroad history and other lore -- such as the story of the evolution of the dining car -- with more than 300 recipes from the great railroads of the 20th century. Among the recipes are nearly a dozen from Baltimore & Ohio dining cars -- including Maryland crab cakes. The recipes, which emphasize fresh regional foods and use minimal cookware, are generally fast and easy to make.

There are also more than 150 illustrations, many of them from collector's archives, about railroad dining.

L The book is out now; check your local book store for a copy.

The trouble with many "low-fat" recipes is that fat, besides adding great taste, contributes to the moistness and texture of food as well. Those qualities are especially important in baked goods -- dry, crumbly, flat-tasting cookies or muffins are no treat.

But there is a substitute for butter, shortening and oils: applesauce.

"What works about applesauce as a substitute for fat is that it contributes moisture," said noted New York pastry chef and cookbook author Nick Malgieri, who was in Baltimore recently to promote a series of new low-fat baked goods recipes from Mott's U.S.A. "When the batter bakes, it doesn't dry out as it would if the fat were not replaced."

The resulting sweets don't necessarily taste like applesauce. "It gives you baked goods that are a lot more like you'd expect to taste," he said. "They're not sort of good, or only good as a last resort. They taste good as they are."

It takes a certain finesse to make a recipe work without fat, Mr. Malgieri said; simply substituting applesauce for oil in your favorite recipe probably wouldn't work. But Mott's has developed applesauce versions of some of the country's most popular sweet snacks, such as oatmeal cookies and blueberry muffins, and some new favorites -- apricot carrot bread and applesauce currant spice squares. There's something for everyone to love.

All the recipes use Mott's "natural," or no-sugar-added applesauce. "These things are easy. They're made with good ingredients," Mr. Malgieri said. "There're no preservatives. It's just stuff people have at home."

For a copy of a pamphlet with six recipes, call Mott's toll-free line at (800) 225-3548.

Here's a sample recipe from the pamphlet:

Apricot carrot bread

Serves 12.

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 whole egg, beaten

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup applesauce

1/2 cup carrots, finely shredded

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/3 cup dried apricots, snipped to small bits

confectioner's sugar icing (recipe below)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-by-4-by-2-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine beaten egg, sugar, applesauce, carrots, and vegetable oil. Add all at once to dry ingredients; stir until just moistened. (Batter will be thick.) Fold in apricots.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool. Wrap loaf and store overnight before serving.

Confectioner's sugar icing

1/2 cup sifted confectioner's sugar

2 teaspoons apple juice

In small bowl, combine sugar and apple juice (you may substitute water). Icing should be of drizzling consistency. Just before serving bread, drizzle loaf with icing.

Old El Paso is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its founding in New Mexico as a family business canning beans and chilies. Old El Paso, now located in Texas, claims to be the world's largest canner of green chilies, as well as producing more than 80 Southwestern-style food items ranging from refried beans to mini taco shells to seasonings, to canned sauces to frozen entrees. New for 1993 are fat-free refried beans and white corn taco shells and soft tacos.

Old El Paso is also offering a colorful recipe booklet, "Fiesta of Flavors," with more than 50 recipes for appetizers, entrees, breakfasts and dessert. For a copy, send $2.50 plus 75 cents postage and handling to Fiesta of Flavors, P.O. Box 7898, Clinton, Iowa 52736.

Cooking with fruit is the first subject of the Baltimore International Culinary College's how-to-cook television series, which premieres at 5:44 tonight as part of Maryland Public Television's spring fund drive. Chef instructors from the college will demonstrate how to choose fruit and prepare appetizers, entrees and desserts. The series is filmed in the college's demonstration theater at 206 Water St. Each program will feature a number of chefs demonstrating a variety of ways to use particular foods. The college expects to begin a regular 13-week series of "Chefs, Cuisines and You" in the fall.

Tidbits welcomes interesting nuggets of food news -- new products, food-related news events, local cookbooks, mail-order finds, openings and closings of restaurants and food shops.

Please send press releases to Tidbits, Attn.: Karol V. Menzie, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.


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