Thursday, November 03, 2011

Cookbooks: 750 Best Appetizers by Judith Finlayson and Jordan Wagman

When it comes to 750 Best Appetizers (Robert Rose) my biggest complaint is a pretty high class one: there’s simply too much. I know that sounds silly, possibly even foolish, but 750 is almost encyclopedic. Almost. Not quite enough for that. Just enough to leave you feeling, every time you sit down with the book, that you just don’t know where to start.

At least, that was my reaction. For every time you think, “That might be nice to try” there are 15 more pages daring you to flip them. Start, for instance, by wanting to do something with cheese. There are a lot of options. A lot. Cheese Arepas. Oh! Cheese Puffs. Yum! Corn and Cheese Empanaditas. Ole! Fontina Cheese Polenta Crostini. Ummm. Fried Banana and Cheese. Greek-Style Fried Cheese. Liptauer. Crostini. And loads of dips with cheese. It’s possible that you may not have this problem, but for me, unless I had a big plan going in, it was impossible for me to know where to start.

This is not one of those gorgeous cookbooks that you keep around just to look at the yummy pictures. 750 Best Appetizers is the inexpensively printed book you keep around to reference when you have a specific goal in mind. Seriously: think of an appetizer. I’ll bet it’s here. Someone mentions an appetizer you’ve never heard of? I’ll bet that’s here, as well.

Co-author Judith Finlayson has written a number of cookbooks -- many of them about effectively using a slowcooker -- has worked here with rising star chef Jordan Wagman to create more appetizer recipes than anyone will likely use in a lifetime. If you’re someone who likes to entertain often and with variety, you’re likely to get a lot out of 750 Best Appetizers. ◊

Aaron Blanton is a contributing editor to January Magazine. He’s currently working on a book based on his experiences as an American living abroad.

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