Monday, September 28, 2015

Martha Stewart's Appetizers

My post-its and kitchen have been busy, busy of late! Martha Stewart's Appetizers is the latest volume of recipes to get attention in our house, and for good reason. I'm Cajun. My husband is Italian. Food is a HUGE part of both of our family cultures. Any get together of even just a few people involves food, whether it be an informal afternoon hanging out or a full on cook out or holiday. We both grew up this way and it's not something we plan on changing in our own home.

I tend to call appetizers snacketizers. They're for munching on before the meal is ready. Or they're for snacking on in between actual meals. Snacketizers. And since it's not odd to find us hosting one or two couples on any given weekend, I'm always on the hunt for something to serve up beyond chips and salsa (or, as is usually the case in our house, in addition to chips and salsa). In fact, just a day after Martha Stewart's Appetizers landed on my doorstep we had guests for dinner and I had occasion to try out a few recipes.

As the back of the book claims, "Today's style of entertaining calls for fuss-free party foods that are easy to make and just as delicious as ever." I know that's certainly the case for me. I want something that's going to taste good without taking forever and, ideally, I even want a few things that I can pull together from pantry staples. And that's exactly what I've found in Martha Stewart's Appetizers. Honestly, even on the first day I made two of the recipes without having to hit the grocery store! Spicy-Sweet seasoned popcorn tided me over until dinner and the Radishes with Mixed Herb Butter and Sea Salt made use of some gorgeous radishes I'd already gotten from the farmer's market, chives from my herb garden, and leftover parsley bought for another recipe.

By now, sudden snack attacks and company have allowed me to try even more recipes including homemade Tomatillo Salsa, which was then mixed with cream cheese for a more decadent alternative, Roasted Tomato and Aged Goat Cheese Bruschetta, and an Olive-Caper Tapenade - just to name a few.

The recipes I've mentioned are among the more easy ones - and there are plenty of others that fit that bill. There are also quite a few that require a bit more planning and time for execution, though. Fried Macaroni and Cheese Bites feature homemade mac & cheese, there are three variations of hand pies that include a from-scratch dough recipe in addition to preparing the fillings, and if you decide to serve Ham and Biscuits you'll first have to prep and cook the ham. But even still the recipes that require more time aren't necessarily difficult - the mac & cheese can be prepared beforehand, for example, the dough for the hand pies can be frozen for future use (and comes with info on storing and thawing), and if you're opting for the Ham and Biscuits, you're likely heeding the author's advice and making that your whole spread. Other recipes come with useful tips and paired serving suggestions as well.

The book is broken into chapters for Snacks, Starters, Small Plates, Stylish Bites, and Sips - yes, that's right, there's a chapter on drinks! - and include classics like Stuffed Mushrooms, Blini with Crème Fraîche and Caviar, and even Pigs in a Blanket. Other party staples like Pimento Cheese, Stuffed Mushrooms, and Deviled Eggs are featured in variations or with a nice twist (Hot-Crab and Pimento Cheese Spread). There are quite a few new and unexpected (by me anyway) appetizer suggestions as well - Roasted Polenta Squares with Fontina and Wild Mushrooms, Croque-Monsieur Bites, and Pull Apart Lobster Rolls for example.

As you can see, anyone looking for party hors d'oeuvres or even just interesting afternoon grazing ideas has plenty to choose from. Not only is this a definite keeper in my cookbook collection, it may just have given me an excuse for more parties!

Per Blogging for Books requirements: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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