I suppose balanced meals have their place in life, but given my druthers I'd live on appetizers. I am a shameless sucker for little mouthfuls of wonderful things that leave you craving just one more bite. Spreading, dipping, dunking, popping--I love it all. I've stashed quite a number of appetizer recipes in my personal Project Foodie Recipe Box, but few outshine the brilliant creativity found in Bite by Bite by renowned caterer Peter Callahan.
Anyone can tear open a bag of crispy salty things or pop the plastic lid on a tub of overly-processed goop. This isn't what I'm talking about. Let's show some taste, here, Foodies; especially on New Year's Eve. By my standards, an appetizer needs to look as good as it tastes--let's just call it "appetizing." And if there is a sense of whimsy involved in its presentation, all the better. Callahan nails it every time.The author excels at condensing familiar foods into chic little morsels: tiny Lobster Rolls; well-seasoned balls of ground beef topped with a towering nest of lightly sauced angel hair (for his riff on Spaghetti and Meatballs); Twice-Baked Stuffed Potatoes; and Mac and Cheese Canapés nestled in diminutive Parmesan cups. Before sliders became ubiquitous, Callahan was charming celebrities and common folk alike with his mini Cheeseburgers and Frites.
For appetizers that may be less familiar, how about crispy edible spoons topped with a dollop of caviar and a dab of crème fraîche? Or Mango-Shrimp Lollipops; and Grape Leaf Cigarettes rolled around an herbed rice mixture dotted with Kalamata olives and feta?
The book also contains ingenious cocktail recipes and sample menus for everything from a Dog Party to a Post-Wedding Brunch. On the sweeter side, drool over baby Baked Alaskas; Caramel Lady Apples with Chocolate Ganache Cores; and little Limoncello Popsicles.
Admittedly much of this is labor-intensive, but definitely inspirational for special occasions….and certain to delight guests on New Year's Eve…or any other day of the year. Now that's what I'm talking about.
Recipes to try: 1 viewable recipe from "Bite By Bite".
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.