Suggested snacks to serve with "travel agents"--those brolly-festooned tropical drinks that instantly transport you to de eye-lind, mahn--include Figs in a Blanket, a gorgeous canvas of fresh fig and Gorgonzola brushed with balsamic and walnut oil, then wrapped in prosciutto; and 'ZA!, mini-English-muffin pizzas with Cambozola and sun-dried tomatoes.
Some recipes require minimal prep or cook time. Spear Ecstasy, asparagus with a lemon-tarragon dip, and the Caprese Skewers--made with cherry tomato, mozzarella, and basil--are simplicity itself. But working with phyllo dough, a key ingredient in Mary's Little Lambs, has driven more than one talented amateur chef to swill down the cooking sherry. And a couple of the recipes could get spendy for your little clambake: the authors launch a preemptive strike at anyone intending to substitute lumpfish in their Eggstravaganza! by calling for high-quality caviar. But perhaps a question posed on the back of the book's dust jacket says it best: "Would Holly Golightly settle for chips and dip?" Maybe Tiffany's is no longer serving breakfast, but armed with Cocktail Food, they'd lay on one heck of a happy hour. --Tony Mason
I may have been only six, but I knew the best thing about my parents' parties was the hors d'oeuvres: cheese puffs, stuffed mushroom caps, pigs nestled doughy blankets. Twenty-six years later, I'm still crazy for finger food, but scallops n' bacon and cheddar pinwheels just won't cut it anymore.
Good thing I found Cocktail Food: 50 finger foods with attitude, the latest offspring from San Francisco caterers Mary Corpening Barber and Sara Corpening Whiteford (with Lori Lyn Narlock), the twin dream team who brought us the best selling and . Smart, stylish bites from big and bold to light and delicate included the cleverly titled Vietnamese Wrapture (ground pork with hoisin, mint, and basil wrapped in rice paper), Sorry, Charlie (spicy tuna tartare on wonton squares), Leaves of Glory (Parmesan-basil aioli on artichoke leaves), and Figs in a Blanket (fresh figs with gorgonzola and prosciutto), a complete rehab of the mini hot dog classic. The recipes were easy enough for this non-chef to follow, the do-ahead suggestions kept me from slaving in the kitchen during my own soir e, and the planning tips how much booze to buy, how to balance flavors and textures transformed me into a hostess even my husband didn't recognize me. Move over, Martha.