Recipe from the book: Puff Pastry Pizza Squares with Balsamic Duxelles
Great Bar Food at Home
I admit that the title of this book "Great Bar Food" seemed oxymoronic to me.  When I think of bar food I think of stale chips, watery salsa, lukewarm mystery meatballs, and pigs-in-blankets.  That's how old I am and how downscale the bars I once went to were.  If you had the same reaction I did, just chalk it up to age (and bad taste in bars) and buy this book.  Apparently we've been missing something fun for years.
This book could just as easily had "appetizers" in the title, but it would lose part of its charm.  Yes, many of the recipes work well as preludes to a dinner party.  But the hook here is that, with the right selections, you could have a relaxing evening of drinks and bites without breaking a sweat.  Heyhoe writes in the beginning of the book that she wanted the "bold, robust flavors" found in the small bites served at the bars she enjoyed, but easy enough to prepare at home in advance or in advance enough to heat and serve when guests arrive.  No jumping up to tend to a moussaka that's not browning or asparagus that's rapidly going limp.  Just serve the drinks, put out a stack of small plates and cocktail napkins, and enjoy your company.
The book is divided into three sections, each of which is suited to cocktails, wine, or beer.  These are far from being hard and fast divisions they are simply suggestions of what might pair well in terms of atmosphere as well as taste.  For instance, I found that the "Chà¨vre-Stuffed Cornbread Kisses," a completely addictive hors d'oeuvre found in the "Cocktail" section, is true bliss when served with a good Sauvignon Blanc. The more specific details in the first chapterâ€”like complementing bitter tannins with the bitterness in grilled foods or the oils in fatty foods or serving sweet drinks with bites that are salty and/or spicyâ€”might be more helpful.
There are a few recipes that seem run-of-the-mill.  Do we really need another recipe for Gougà¨res?  Or caviar and cream cheese (or almost anything) on toast points?  And the "Cognac Shrimp Wrapped in Bacon" on the cover is nothing special except for the Cognac marinade which actually gives an off-taste to the shrimp and bacon.  However, once you start cooking through the book, it's a genuine party after that.  Heyhoe is the founder and Executive Editor of GlobalGourmet.com which offers a truly international selection of recipes, what she terms "The World on a Plate."  And this little book is a terrific reflection of her interests with recipes that include the flavors of Spain, Thailand, China, Tunisia, India, Italy, and Japan
The first recipe to catch my eye seemed more like an entréeâ€”which it can easily be. "Char Shu Slices with Mahogany Marmalade and Hot Mustard" is a real knock-out.  The pork tenderloin is marinated in a Chinese-style glaze of soy sauce, molasses, hoisin, sherry, garlic, scallions, ginger and toasted sesame oil.  Broil, slice and serve with a reduction of the marinade and some hot mustard on the side.  The cooked pork can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days before serving or served hot.  Easy and impressive.
Another simple but effective choice is the "Spanish Smoked Paprika Wings."  Instead of the usual faux-Asian sticky-sweet chicken wings found at any Super Bowl party (courtesy of the local Super market), these savory drumettes are given an easy dry-rub of granulated garlic, dried marjoram, salt and Spanish smoked paprika for a bold un-cloyed taste.
As always, there are recipes whose ingredients or names seem off-putting.  I expressly tried the "Spicy Tunisian Sunset Dip" because the main ingredient--cooked carrots--turns me off.  Thus my expectations were pretty low, and who really needs another dip anyway?  Well, it turns out I do.  This colorful spread that employs seasonings like ground coriander seed, cumin, ginger, honey, lemon juice among others is addictive and goes well with the "Seeded Honey Crisps"â€”though I will use fewer cumin seeds on mine the next time I make them.
Another near misstep came from a recipe title: for me, anything called "Pizza Squares" conjures up those cheap, sour, frozen bribes intended for cranky teenagers.  But in "Puff Pastry Pizza Squares with Balsamic Duxelles" only the puff pastry starts out frozen, and the toppings of Portobello mushroom duxelles, sun-dried tomato pesto and Brie are far from those stale, pre-packaged snacks.  Talk about (nearly) instant gratification!  I haven't been this pleased or had this much fun with a cook book in some time.
Great Bar Food at Home
|Dewey Decimal Number||641.812|
|Number Of Items||1|
|Number Of Pages||128|
|Product Type Name||ABIS_BOOK|
|Title||Great Bar Food at Home|