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Big Small Plates Hardcover – August 1, 2006

4.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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The Amazon Book Review
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Big Small Plates, Cindy Pawlcyn, chef at more than a dozen restaurants including Mustards Grill in the Napa Valley, offers 100-plus recipes for her signature small dishes, to be served as hors d'oeuvres, starters, or, when combined, as a meal. Strongly influenced by Mexican, South American, and Asian cooking, these include the tempting likes of Asparagus with Shiitake Spring Rolls, Mussels and Clams with Andouille Sausage in Tangerine Broth, Fried Green Tomatoes with Spicy Rémoulade, and Black Pepper and Garlic Chicken Wings. The book also offers a small selection of sweets, such as Ann's Chocolate Biscuits and Lemon-Buttermilk Pudding Cake with Chantilly Cream and Berries, plus useful tips and menus that help readers match the dishes for various occasions. Readers also learn that any recipe may be increased to serve as a meal centerpiece.

Pawlcyn excels at recipe writing, so readers will have no trouble reproducing the dishes at home; chatty notes also offer comprehensive dish context while providing a sense of Pawlcyn's rather astonishing professional journey that began in 1983 and is still going strong. Her commitment to good food and enjoyment of the cooking process, implicit throughout, should rub off on her readers. With lovely color photos, this is a personal cookbook of the very best and most instructive kind. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

In her newest (after Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook), Pawlcyn explores her love of appetizers and small dishes, emphasizing foods from Spain, Mexico, and Central and South America and including recipes from the her restaurants, past and present. She breaks down chapters into playful categories: "Sticks, Picks, and with Fingers," for example, focuses on foods meant to be eaten by hand, Pawlcyn's admittedly favorite way to eat. Foods served on toast, tortillas or shells appear under "On a Raft," while "Bowls and Spoons" features soups and stews (such as Mussels and Clams with Andouille Sausage in Tangerine Broth). Throughout, Pawlcyn favors seasonal ingredients, be it a recipe for Grilled Radicchio and Scallions with Black Olives or Crispy Fried Rabbit with Dijon-Chervil Sauce. While some dishes, like Pan Roasted Hazelnuts and Chile Garlic Peanuts, are straightforward, others, such as Salt Cod Cakes with Garlic Aioli, require a bit of work. But Pawlcyn is unapologetic: "When it comes to cooking, the little extra you do makes a huge difference, so sweat the details." But the desserts (Baked Peach Crisps, Oranges and Smashed Cherries) are delightfully simple, and the menu suggestions at the end, categorized by season, will inspire any home cook. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; First Printing edition (September 20, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580085237
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580085236
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`Big Small Plates' by northern California restauranteur / chef / cookbook writer, Cindy Pawlcyn, assisted by her restaurant co-owners and co-chefs, brothers Pablo Jacinto and Erasto Jacinto needs just a little explanation on its title and contents. The contradiction in the `Big Small' is explained by substituting `seriously delicious' for `Big' and `appetizers' or `hors `d'ourves' for `Small'. `Plates' obviously doesn't mean crockery, it meats a dish of food.

On reading the introduction, I was looking forward to a book on the Mexican analogues to the Mediterranean `little dishes' or tapas from Spain, `hors'd'ourves' and `amuse bouche' from France, anti-pasto from Italy, and Meze from Greece and Turkey. It turns out that over half of the dishes in this book are from this very same Mediterranean `appetizer central', augmented by a number of dishes from south Asia (India), southeast Asia, (Thailand and Vietnam), and east Asia (China and Japan). When the dust settles, the Mexican dishes are in a distinct minority.

This does not mean this is a weak book! It only means that if your bookshelves are already creaking under the weight of cookbooks from the Mediterranean and the Pacific rim, there may be less new material here than you may expect. On balance, I suggest that no matter how many Italian, French, Spanish, Indian, Thai, Chinese, and Japanese cookbooks you already have, if you do not have a `go to' book on appetizers, this volume may be your answer.

Another thing is that this is definitely a foodie book. There is not even the pretense of `fast' or `easy' or `cheap' cooking here.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Cindy Pawlcyn and her colaberators have done it again. Their latest book is a gem. The recipes are approachable by all and share ingrediants you can find easily even if you don't live in produce rich Napa California. The flavors are as luxurious as Laurie Smiths photos.Cindy and team always manage to pull you in to the culture, the feeling and the way of life that the cooking conveys. Many authors publish books of their recipes but this book takes you on the journey and doesn't dissapoint. The food is great, the recipes are rock solid and you can't go wrong with this one. If you love "Mustard's" or if you were a fan of Miramonte you will love it.
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This book doesn't just give recipes and great pictures, it gave me insight into Cindy, what she's going for, and how a non-professional can cook to impress w/o making yourself crazy. I haven't tried many, but liked what I did. She gives a lot of substitution suggestions in case you either don't have access to some of the less known/available ingredients so you don't feel like you wasted your money. For me, it was well worth the money. Actually met Cindy last year and she is just as sweet, helpful and caring as she seems on TV.
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Format: Hardcover
I was tired of buying "pretty" cookbooks just to find out that the recipes were only average. So I checked this book out at the library and tried it out. The recipes are wonderful. Every single thing I have cooked has been outstanding...way above average. And I am by no means a good cook. Cindy's Back Street kitchen is one of my favorite restaraunts and I am always happy to bring some of their dishes into my home. My mom even went out and bought the recipe book after tasting a few of the meals I made. You won't be disappointed if you buy this book. (Also, it is a beautiful book!)
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A friend, who is a fabulous cook, recommended this book to me. I bought one for myself and one for my daughter. We both have been extremely happy with the recipes. I find that eventhouugh it is tltled "Small Plates" these recipes serve well as dinner entrees. Last night I went to my friends for dinner(the one who recommended the book),she fixed the Lamb Chops and Shrimp Cocktail with avocado. They were absolutely declicous. I would highly recommend this book.
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What's not to love about this book? I'm a fan of Cindy's Napa restaurants and have made at least 10 recipes from this book in just two months and every one has been a winner! Her recipes are just complex enough to make you look like a star in the kitchen without actually working that hard, and some are easy enough to do for weeknight dinners. Most of the ingredients she uses are easily accessible, at least in California, and are bold or surprising enough to make the dish really stand out. This book is truly about an experience of food, from gathering fresh ingredients, to working with bringing the flavors together, and sharing them with friends and family. Love this book!
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By Dawn on January 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am the executive chef for a catering company, and the trend for our menus is to have both fusion food and small plates. This book was great on both counts. It was great just for getting me thinking about our food in new ways.
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The book offers some nice ideas, though some recipes require locating a few items difficult to find in my small town.
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