Saturday, May 09, 2009

Cookbooks: Sips & Apps by Kathy Casey

Author, chef and expert mixologist Kathy Casey had me at Zen Turkey Dumplings. With peanut sauce. They are, in a way, typical of the type of food she’s opted to include in Sips & Apps: Classic and Contemporary Recipes for Cocktails and Appetizers (Chronicle Books). They are easy to make -- can, in fact, be made by a group, preparing to party together. And they represent interesting flavor and texture combinations and will please a wide swath of your potential party going public.

Sips and Apps is more about the Sips than the Apps -- sips win 69 to 35 in the number of recipes included. (Though variations bring the numbers up on both sides.) But the number included might also speak to the type of recipes chosen for both sides. The apps here are solid, basic, crowd-pleasing favorites. For the most part, you won’t have seen these recipes before -- Casey’s flavor choices and presentations are interesting and original -- but they are the sort of backbone recipes frequent hosts may very well come to treasure.

The Sips, though, are a different matter. Very good bar basics sections get things going in the right direction and by the time you’re ready to make a drink, you’ll know just what everything is. (And if you’ve skipped ahead, you can go back and look for whatever it was you missed.) So if you decide to make, for instance, a Strawberry Shag or a Rouge Pulp, you’ll know how to do it. There’s even a section called Clear-Headed Cocktails: gorgeous drinks with fruit and finish, but no alcohol.

Sips and Apps is excellent. Those who enjoy entertaining at home will find this to be a useful and interesting book.



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