Martha Stewart's Hors D'oeuvres Handbook by Martha Stewart
In the early aughts my parents hosted an annual "Third of July" party and nearly everything we made came from this book. What else could happen when an anarchist and a socialist, burdened by the expectations of their generation and faced with the realities of capitalism and family and the creeping understanding that they may not have been as special as they once imagined, grow up? I'll tell you: asparagus wrapped in phyllo dough and baked until crispy, tiny pizzas with wild mushrooms and fontina, grapes hollowed out and stuffed with goat cheese and chopped pistachios, fresh fava bean and pecorino crostini, spiced mixed nuts, puff pastry bread sticks, savory biscotti with orange and olives, and boooooooze.
Many of these recipes require having two obedient children who'll willingly labor over ridiculous tasks like molding fresh goat cheese using cheesecloth to achieve "a beautiful imprint" or hollowing out cherry tomatoes and then artfully filling them with haricots verts, or pitting pounds and pounds of cherries to infuse 100-proof vodka. (That last recipe isn't Martha's, it's my mother's. Highly recommended.)
But most of these recipes you can actually make yourself in a reasonable amount of time without too much money or planning, and with the killer payoffs of
1. Throwing a party, which is a joy
2. Impressing your friends, which is good for self-esteem
3. Helping people have fun, which is satisfying in the deepest way.
We should all throw more parties. That is the ethos of this book. Throw more parties, and do so in style—do it like Martha: she gets knocked down, she picks herself up, she serves an hors d'oeuvre. Because isn't that the story of life?
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