If you look over to the side bar of my blog, you will see a widget from Library Thing. Here is where I catalogue all of my cook books. Its daunting enough listing them and not the other multitudes of books I have. Library Thing is a great networking resource for book lovers and so much to to offer. I have barely tapped into Library Thing, but each month I eagerly bid in their Early Reviewers offers.Limited quantities of books are released from publishers on a whole range of topics. I have been bidding for months and had about given up on ever getting a book. Wasn't I presently surprised when I saw I was chosen to receive 50 Great Appetizers by Pamela Sheldon Johns, a reknown cooking instructor and host of Italian culinary workshops throughout Italy.
It arrived immediately from Andrews McMeel Publishing/ Universal Press Syndicate. 50 Great Appetizers is a small gem of book that would make a great gift this holiday season. The author takes the anxiety and angst out of planning a party with party theme/menu suggestions From Middle Eastern Mezes to Farmers Market spreads. She even breaks down traditional entrees and shows how the host/hostess can adapt them to appetizer portions. It is all about presentation, and this book is wonderfully presented. Pamela Sheldon Johns divides the book into four sections Topped and Dipped, Grilled &Skewered, Stuffed & Rolled, and Plated and Sauced. The author even has a detailed vegetarian listing of all recipes. Each recipe has a brief suggestion of other pairings or any ideas or recommendations.So all your bases are covered for entertaining. Jennifer Barry is her visual collaborator and has given us a wonderful package in photos and design. All in all a great resource.
I wanted to choose a more sophisticated and complex recipe for my blog to test a recipe. One of the first recipes that caught me a unique and challenging was Tea Smoked Chicken Wings with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce. I used Assam Black Tea Leaves. I was worried about the brief time in cooking as this process was new to me. My first attempt at improvising a smoker didn't work and the wings were raw after the elapsed cooking time.
The rack was to far away from the smoke mixture.I grabbed a layer from my bamboo steamer that fit more directly over the tea/ spice mixture, and we were in business! The wings were smoked in the exact time the recipe stated. I normally like my wings broiled or fried with a crispier skin, but these were rich and seductive with that smokey flavor. The accompanying sauce wasn't to sweet and cloying, but just right in its simple equal proportioned mix of soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and sesame oil. These are grown up wings, and I will use this technique for other foods down the line. I loved that tea smoked smell that lingered in the house. It kind of reminded me of Oolong tea in scent, if that's your thing.
For legal /copyright reasons I wont give the recipe . But essentially I used rice, brown sugar, star anise, orange peel, and tea leaves to create a foil lined sealed smoker. The sauce was soy, rice vinegar, minced garlic, and sesame oil. I found success changing my rack to my bamboo steamer rack. This is really easy and wow your guests when entertaining. I look forward to changing tea blends, and meats with this technique. A cook book can be followed literally of be there to give you more inspiration or ideas. This does both succesfully.
I'm sending this to Meeta for her Monthly Mingle...Coffee and Tea. If anyone wants more detailed instruction email me.