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A year of recipes and success

Every few months - armed with a pair of scissors _ I embark on a daunting task: clipping recipes from piles of glossy cooking magazines. It is one of my attempts to be an organized, resourceful cook, the type who stashes recipes of interest in boxes or binders for future use. Inevitably, however, my effort usually ends up in a jumbled mess of paper.

But Food & Wine makes this chore easier with its annual cookbook that features the best recipes the glossy cooking magazine has published in the past year.

Food & Wine: An Entire Year of Recipes 2004 (American Express Publishing, 2004, $29.95) packs 351 pages of recipes _ many accompanied by handsome photos _ into a well-organized, easy-to-follow collection covering everything from appetizer salads to dessert tarts. The recipes have been culled from the kitchens of some of the most celebrated chefs, including Wolfgang Puck, Jacques Pepin, Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

But the best feature has little to do with celebrity clout. Instead, it's the cleanly organized, color-coded key that designates each recipe as one or all of the following: Fast, Healthy, Make Ahead and Staff Favorite.

By referring to the key, even the most slapdash cook can avoid those terrible moments when _ as guests arrive at the door _ he or she is still blending or chopping. When planning for a recent dinner party, for example, I followed the recipe for the "Make Ahead" lamb-chops dish (which also can be made with pork or chicken).

As promised, the chops, after marinating, needed only to be tossed on the grill.

An added bonus of the cookbook is the taste tests and various tips (health, cooking, shopping and ingredients) sprinkled throughout. Next to a recipe for Lentil Salad With Beets and Carrots, there is a "Lentil Know-How" box detailing the often misunderstood lentils and how to cook them (no soaking).

Under a recipe for a bok-choy soup is a detailed explanation of the Asian relative of cauliflower.

As its title implies, the book also contains an extensive wine glossary and a beverage section listing recipes for such creative drinks as Sangrita (a tomato-based chaser) served in a hollowed-out cucumber.

The 2004 Food & Wine cookbook isn't inexpensive, but it sure beats the clutter of clipping recipes.

Grilled Lamb Chops With Tahini Sauce

{ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves

2 small garlic cloves

10 large mint leaves

cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (divided)

2{ tablespoons olive oil (divided)

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds

\ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Pinch of cinnamon and kosher salt

8 lamb chops, { to } inch thick

1 tablespoon tahini paste mixed with 2 tablespoons hot water

Chopped cilantro for garnish

In a food processor, combine the cilantro with the garlic and mint. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add cup lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, the paprika, black pepper, cumin, turmeric, fennel, cayenne and cinnamon. Stir in salt and process the mixture until a paste forms.

Put the chops in a baking dish, pour the marinade over them and turn to coat. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Grill the chops over medium-high flame for 8 minutes. Transfer to platter.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix tahini and water with the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1{ tablespoons olive oil until smooth. Garnish the chops with some chopped cilantro and serve with the tahini sauce.

Nutritional information per serving: 592 calories; 47g protein; 43g fat; 16g saturated fat; 3g carbohydrate; 1g fiber; 179mg cholesterol; 165mg sodium.

Serves 4.