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Favortie "small bites" cookbooks?

 
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 3:37 pm    Post subject: Favortie "small bites" cookbooks? Reply with quote

I'm working on a project dealing with the whole small plates phenonenon, and can use some input.

Whether you call it small plates, first courses, appetizers, or starters, what are your favorite books on this topic? Anything from tapas to dim sum would be grist for this mill.

I'd like to know not only which are your favorities, but why you like them. And, if possible, who the publisher is.

Thanks.
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 456
Location: california

PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KYH...I may be going out on a limb here because small plates are not my favorite way of dining (I know, I am perhaps the only person on earth who doesn't love this style), but I think I've got a couple good cookbook recommendations for you. See if you can find the following:

"Cesar: Recipes from a Tapas Bar", by Olivier Said, Maggie Pond, and James Mellgren. Ten Speed Press, 2003. -- Cesar is a highly regarded, wildly popular tapas bar just a few doors from Berkeley's Chez Panisse restaurant and was started by CP alums (a second was recently opened near my home). In the Bay Area, it was one of the first small plates restaurants and is still highly regarded. The food is traditional Spanish tapas, the flavors strong and robust. The cookbook is very popular.

AND

"From Tapas to Meze: Small Plates from the Mediterranean", by Joanne Weir. Ten Speed Press, 2004 -- an extensively revised second edition. I recommend this book because I think that Joanne Weir has one of the best palates for bright, strong, delicious flavors. Her cookbooks are some of my most-worn and her recipes always work. She loves this kind of food. I'm sure her cookbook is a good example of some of the best of it.

Hope this gives you a good start.
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Georgia,

I've heard of the Recipes From a Tapas Bar, but have not seen it.

As to the other, well, From Tapas To Meze is one of the most dog-eared books in my collection. I make something from it at least once a week, often more frequently than that.

But this is exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for. Hopefully, more people will chime in.
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 456
Location: california

PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aha! Yet another example of GMTA (Great Minds Think Alike...) Sorry I couldn't come up with more for you, but as I said, this isn't really my venue...she said as she prepared to head for the kitchen to prepare
tortilla espanol for her supper.

If I think of any other books or resources that might help, I'll add my additional two cents. Good luck with your project.

(See...wasn't I right about Joanne Weir?)
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Joanne Weir is always good, but is at her best in From Tapas to Meze IMO.

Apparently, that opinion is widely shared. When the original came out, no less a celebrity than Julia Child called it one of her 12 favorite cookbooks. I just filed a review of the revised edition, which will be posted soon at the ChefTalk site. Probably within a week or so.
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Georgia, can you explain why you dislike eating small amounts of many things? (Just curious!) I love the idea. I remember the first time I heard the phrase "tasting dinner" and realized what that meant you could do in a restaurant!
KYHeirloomer, I have only 2 books limited to appetizer-like recipes. One is called "Appetizers", it is a Sunset Magazine cookbook published by Lane Publishing Co. (Menlo Park, CA)--in 1984. The other, *also 1984*, is "Martha Stewart's Hors d'Oeuvres" Clarkson N. Potter Publishers (New York). I think she has a new one, same subject.
The Sunset one is arranged by type of food--raw bites, dips & spreads, baked, soups, etc. The Martha one is arranged by type of party -- Christmas cocktails, Seafood at the beach, etc. The pictures in both are of course very impressive (appetizing!)
I wonder which recipes are still being printed in the new cookbooks for pre-dinner/with drinks foods.
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Ginger,

I believe Martha's new one is called Appetisers rather than Hors d'Oeuvres--probably because nobody can spell hor d'oeuvres. Very Happy It actually came out last year, IIRC. Martha's newest from Clarkson Potter is Martha Stewart's Wedding Cakes.

The Sunset book sounds very interesting. I wonder if it's still in print? Will have to check into that.
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 456
Location: california

PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

GP...I have to admit that I am very inconsistent on this subject. For example, I adore all kinds of Asian cuisine that is shared--have no objection whatsoever to sharing communal Thai, Chinese, or Indian dishes. I also like a good cocktail party and the bite-sized foods typically served there. But if I have my choice when dining out, I don't choose "small plates". We have some excellent restaurants in this area that serve this way, and when I've eaten at them, I have (generally) liked the food. The problem is, if I DO like the food, I don't have enough of it. 2 bites here, 2 bites there. 2 prawns. 1 rib of something. Not satisfying. And no, I'm not a huge eater --- I possess a healthy appetite, but I'm not a glutton.

(Actually, a couple friends of ours had a fine restaurant in Berkeley that served pretty generous small plates and I came away perfectly happy...but the owners of the building wanted the space for themselves, so bye-bye generous small plates restaurant...)

So, there's my quirky approach. I do know that I'm in the minority. Anybody else out there share my opinion?
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 4:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, Georgia, I have the oppostie problem. Most small plates places I'm familiar with serve portions that are too large.

The theory is that a small plate is smaller than an entree, but larger than an appetiser. At least that's how they justify the high prices. But American restaurants are far too generous with appetizers in the first place.

All an appetizer should do is whet the appetite, it should prepare the mouth for the meal to follow. But as served in most restaurants, they are, essentially, a la carte entrees.

This leads to such oxymoronic phrases as "Big Small Plates," the title of Cindy Pawlcyn's book on the subject. Essentially the recipes come from her various restaurants. Those I've tried have been wonderful, so far as taste. But many of the servings are way too big, IMO, such as 18 sea scallops to serve 6 people.

I don't know about other folks, but for me, three scallops does a little more than titulate the tastebuds.
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
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Location: california

PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 4:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No wonder diners get confused about small plates. Restaurants and chefs can't seem to agree either. But I don't think that typical American restaurant Appetizers (which may or may not be offered as the First Course...sometimes they are pre-First Course) are the same as "small plates" restaurants. And, yes, I agree with you that many so-called appetizers are too generously portioned for the average diner. I frequently skip that course for fear of not being able to finish the entree.

However, here's the scenario to which I object: my husband and I go into a restaurant and order 3/4/5 things to share, often at prices in the $10-12-15 range. What we are served are small plates indeed and small food, too! Truly...3 or 4 riblets of something, 4 prawns, 4 tiny meatballs. We finish and I'm still hungry. And annoyed. Add in my glass of wine ($10-12) + gratuity, and we are talking a fairly substantial sum for a casual meal to boot.

Then I come home, stuff my face and my tummy with ice cream and feel much better Laughing
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 456
Location: california

PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 5:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, I just reread my last post and realize that it sounds as though my objections to small plates are primarily economic. That is, not enough bang for my buck, and that is not the case -- or, at least, it's not the whole case. I even understand how this kind of food preparation is necessarily pretty costly...The ingredients and the amount of work involved in preparing them are equal to serving full-sized entrees, etc.

More than anything, I think I just am disappointed when I discover a dish that I really like and I can have no more than a taste. "Always leave them wanting more" works in some instances but, for me, this isn't one of them.
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Georgia, you might be interested in my review of From Tapas To Meze. If so, you can find it at http://www.cheftalk.com/content/display.cfm?bookid=177&type=book

On the general subject, I just received information from Interlink Publishing about their latest book, Mezze Modern, which looks kind of interesting. It's sub-line is: Over 90 delicious appetizers from Greece, Lebanon, and Turkey. Definately one to order, I think.
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 456
Location: california

PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 3:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nicely done, KYH. Hits all the important points and certainly telegraphs your enthusiasm for the book and for the food subject contained therein. Several years ago, I was in a position to have some semi-regular contact with Joanne Weir. She is a wonderful teacher as well as being a terrific cook. And, as we've noted earlier, her cookbooks are really exceptional for their ease, their brilliant flavors, and the fact that they "work". They are staples in my kitchen. Good fortune to you in your reviewing efforts, etc.
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the kind words, Georgia.

Getting back to the subject of small plates restaurants, I'm wondering if there isn't a difference in serving styles involved.

Some places have, for lack of a better word, samples plates, in which you get a cross-section of tastes. Sort of an upscale poo-poo platter, or a mini-version of a chef's tasting menu.

Others are more designed to serve groups, and you order individual plates that can serve X number. Let's say 6. Everyone in the group orders a different plate, which you then share.

And there are still others in which everything is a la carte, and you order from a menu (or service bar). But each item you order is just a small (or not so small) bite. Most newer dim sum joints fit this category.

So, unless all the places you've tried fit the first category, I don't understand the problem. If you like a particular dish, in the 2nd and 3rd type places, you just order more of it.

Or am I missing something?
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