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Racing to the Table A Culinary Tour of Sporting America
by Margaret Guthrie
from Eclipse Press, 190 pages

If you have ever dined on crab cakes at Pimlico, burgoo at Keeneland, or gumbo at the Fair Grounds and wished you could have that same food at home, here is your chance. Racing to the Table is the eighth cookbook by Margaret Guthrie and brings together her lifelong loves of horse racing and cooking. Each chapter explores a different region of the country, giving historical and cultural information interwoven with recipes from the area tracks and horsepeople and lots of photographs.

While people expecting a straight cookbook may be disappointed to only find about 90 recipes included, racing fans will enjoy the rest of the text that connects the recipes together. Included are South Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, Kentucky, Mid-Atlantic, New York, Illinois, and Southern California. The recipes vary from simple to quite complex, with something for any cooking skill level to tackle. I tested a few of them, and I can say they all gave excellent results. One recipe included that I had been looking for was the Pimlico Crab Cakes. Now I just have to find decent crab up here in Canada to make them! I was a bit disappointed not to find the Fair Grounds bread pudding recipe included, although they did have an excellent one from Calder.

The local and historical information is presented in an entertaining manner, but may be a bit too basic for more advanced racing fans. However, the way it is interwoven into the food culture of the area does give it a unique perspective. Particularly interesting is when she brings in recipes from local horsepeople, adding a touch of home cooking among the gourmet recipes from some of the tracks.

Since it is nearly Thanksgiving, here is a sample recipe for McMahon Pumpkin Pie which was contributed by Anne McMahon of McMahon Thoroughbreds in Saratoga. I tested this one and found it delicious.

First grow or buy a pie pumpkin. Slice it in half, scoop out the seeds, and place the halves on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until fork tender. Let the pumpkin cool to room temperature, scoop out the soft insides, and measure into the blender or the bowl of a food processor. For 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin:

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups whole milk (or half & half)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or in a blender. Blend together until smooth and thick. You may want to decrease the amount of milk or light cream slightly as this filling is generous. Pour the mixture into an unbaked pie shell. Bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean.

Margaret Guthrie said when asked about putting the book together: "The people who contributed recipes to this book share with me a love of good food and a love of and admiration for Thoroughbred horses. Testing the recipes was fun too, but meeting the people involved was the best!"

If you like to cook and want to replicate your favorite race track food at home, this is the book for you. It would also make a great gift from a racing fan to someone who they are trying to get interested in the sport, especially if that person loves to cook. Guys, if your wife or girlfriend doesn't understand your passion for racing, try giving her a copy of this book.

Racing to the Table has a cover price of $24.95 and is available from Amazon.com for $17.47.

Rating:     4/5

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