Cookbook collections seem to migrate into three categories:
HONEYMOON: When these cookbooks are first purchased, one or two recipes are prepared, and then the book joins a long line with all the others somewhere on a distant bookshelf. REFERENCE: These cookbooks move to the front of the line and are voraciously used as a source of information for those bothersome questions that we all inevitably have. CLASSIC: These are the cookbooks that stay in the kitchen. They have corners of pages folded down, personal notes written in the margins that "someone" can read, and a page or two may be stuck together because of some gooey confection that got out of hand. Martha Stewart's The Hors D'oeuvres Handbook falls into this latter category. This is a book that all cooks will want to have close at hand.
From the first chapter titled, The Building Blocks for the Best Hors D'oeuvres, through chapters on layered and starched skewered and threaded and on to a chapter on the classics, the book is well organized and packed with vital information. The book is loaded with sidebars that contain "notes," techniques and substitutions, all are helpful and make the overall picture much clearer. This is meant to be a handbook, a how to, if you will. The pictures provide great serving ideas and also guide the layman step-by-step through some challenging processes.
The best part is that the recipes really work! Classic crab cakes with chili-lime aioli (page 352) were a recent hit with guests, with no deviation from the recipe. Of course there are the wonderful entertaining tips as only Martha Stewart can give! A whole section, "The Guide," takes the reader from the concept phase right through to service.
It takes a great team to pull off a work such as this, and rightfully, Martha gives much credit to her team of chefs, writers, and photographers. But with this work, as well as many others, you know who is at the helm, Martha Stewart-You go girl!