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Read All About It : From once-obscure Asian cuisines to classic French to the lastest grain craze, the variety of cookbooks available for gift giving swells as Christmas approaches. To help cull the best from the rest, The Times' Food Staff has reviewed the year's most intriguing cookbooks. : Capital Classics: Recipes From the Junior League of Washington (Thomasson-Grant: $24.95, 160 pages, illustrated).

December 17, 1989|BARBARA HANSEN

It would seem that the nation's Junior Leagues are competing to see which can produce the handsomest cookbook. This is a distinguished entry, boasting heavy, glossy paper and photographs of Washington D.C. structures and gardens. Some of the photographs are by Fred J. Maroon, who illustrated the impressive Jean-Louis Palladin cookbook.

This is a pleasing collection of recipes, and the list of 13 "final testers" indicates that the reader is not being exposed to nice sounding but untried recipes that may lead to disaster.

The food reflects the region--four versions of crab cakes, for example--in addition to international foods and such popular American dishes as fajitas. The desserts sound wonderful. Highlights are an apple pie with pecan crumb topping, a whipped cream pound cake and Vermont apple cobbler made with gingersnap crumbs.

CREAM OF BRIE SOUP

(From "Capital Classics: Recipes From the Junior League of Washington")

1/2 cup chopped yellow onion

1/2 cup sliced celery

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

2 cups milk

2 cups chicken stock

3/4 pound Brie cheese, rind removed

Salt, pepper

Chopped chives

In stock pot, saute onion and celery in butter until tender and transparent. Stir in flour and cook until mixture bubbles. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in milk and chicken stock. Return to heat.

Return to heat. Stir until soup thickens. Cube cheese. Add to stock pot and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, garnished with chopped chives. Makes 6 servings.

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