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Martha Stewart's Hors D'Oeuvres Handbook

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Martha Stewart's Hors D'Oeuvres Handbook (Canada, UK)
By Martha Stewart & Susan Spungen
Publisher: Clarkson Potter Publishers
Publication Date: April 1999
ISBN: 0609603108

Martha Stewart is simply over the top.

No one disputes that — not her legions of fans nor her detractors. But if there's one place where being over the top is absolutely appropriate, it's in the making of hors d'oeuvres. Tea sandwiches, canapés, and terrines are meant to dazzle — to be beautiful and absolutely delicious.

They are by nature fussy, but should look simple. They are generally rich, but the flavors have to be clean. Individually, they are meant to tease, but in a large presentation, they are, well, over the top. If ever there were a marriage made in heaven — it's Martha Stewart and hors d'oeuvres.

And, boy, is that evident here! The ideas in Martha Stewart's Hors d'oeuvres Handbook and their presentation are inspired.

A thorough update of Stewart's first hors d'oeuvres book, which came out 15 years ago, this book reflects a more international approach and makes greater use of fresh ingredients. The 300 recipes range from the classic service of caviar and foie gras to simple vegetable combinations and rustic pizzas, from quesadillas and tostones to pot stickers and dumplings, and from little croque monsieurs, tarts, and breadsticks to bisteeya, sushi, and kebabs — the list is almost endless.

The text begins by presenting basic techniques and foundations, then goes on to tackle various types of hors d'oeuvres and hors d'oeuvre components: layered and stacked; wrapped, rolled, filled, folded, and stuffed; tea sandwiches, canapés, and crostini; skewered & threaded; dips, spreads, sauces, relishes, & salsas; fondue, frico, and other cheese preparations; drinks; and two-dozen "classics" (many of which were culled from earlier Stewart books).

The book itself is lovely, filled with stunning color photographs of essentially every hors d'oeuvre in the book. The layout is excellent; very rarely do you have to turn a page to get to the conclusion of a recipe. The book even has two place-marking ribbons — one to mark the photograph and the other to mark the recipe you're working with.

Looking at the photos may convince you that some or all of the recipes are too complicated and fussy. Yet some are very simple, such as deep frying store-bought frozen ravioli and paring them with a simple sauce. If the pastry barquettes are too daunting, the toasted corn cups couldn't be easier. And anyone could prepare the Endive with Goat Cheese, Fig, and Honey-Glazed Pecans.

You can find fault if you look hard enough. For instance, while this may not be a book for complete novices, it is very straightforward. Yet a reference to a vegetable stock with gelatin in one step of a recipe is called vegetable aspic in a subsequent step — and you have to know that or figure it out.

Some of the recipes call for specialized equipment — special tart pans, a pricey French mandoline or a less expensive Japanese version, terrine pans, 680 different types and colors of platters and serving dishes etc., etc. Some of the photos are beautiful enough to make you want to augment your kitchen supplies, but there are many, many recipes that can be prepared with equipment found in most kitchens — sharp knives, a melon baller, vegetable peelers, muffin pans, etc.

Even if this is the only hors d'oeuvre book you ever own, you will never run out of ideas.

Martha Stewart's Hors D'Oeuvres Handbook (Canada, UK)


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