Book Review - Fine Cooking Appetizers

~ Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 10:20 PM ~

I came across a cookbook which was available for review on netGalley and decided to request it. The book is called: "FINE COOKING APPETIZERS".

Title: Fine Cooking Appetizers - 200 Recipes for Small Bites with Big Flavor
Publisher:  The Taunton Press
ISBN: 9781600853302
Paperback: 256 pages (194 full-color photographs)
Dimension: 8 7/8 x 10 7/8  in.

Description from the product page:
"From simple to sophisticated, the 200 recipes in Fine Cooking Appetizers will get any party started. This latest collection of recipes from Fine Cooking features the best starters and small bites for any occasion, from holiday party to weeknight noshing. Like each issue of Fine Cooking, the delicious recipes are accompanied by time-saving tips, step-by-step techniques, and handy kitchen advice. In addition, fun cocktails, party menus, and entertaining tips will make this the only guide you need for year-round celebrations and get-togethers."

For more info on the author, you can check out the website.

I was attracted to the cute cover, and the prospect of finding yummylicious appetizer recipes are exciting! 

The appetizers are segregated into 6 categories:
* Quick & Simple
* Passed & Plated
* Spread & Scooped
* Sliced & Served
* Stuffed & Skewered
* Sips & Sweets

The few recipes which caught my attention (and bookmarked of course!) because of their simplicity and easy to get ingredients are: Saucy Grilled Chicken Wings, Cheese Sables, Mini Potato Latkes,Garlic Roasted Shrimp Cocktail (very appetizing picture!), Crispy potatoes with tangy tomato sauce,  Tiny Twice Baked Potatoes , Mini Savory Clafoutis, and so on.

I love it that this book came with additional tips for the reader such as guide in buying corn, to butterfly shrimp, and so on. And I totally love the recipe on basic tart dough (I've been looking for one that is simple and easy to do for a while!).

The only thing I'd like to improve on with this book is that the pictures for the recipes be sorted or shown accordingly, as some picture came before the recipe, some after, which gets confusing at times.

If you are often entertaining guests at home and is looking for more creative ideas to spice up your appetizers, do consider getting this book! For me, I'd like to give one of these recipes I've bookmarked a try one of this days!

You can purchase this book from Taunton Press website or from Amazon .

I received no monetary compensation for this review, I was provided with a galley proof of the book via my association with netGalley as a reviewer in order to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed in this post are my own. Please do your own research when purchasing products, as your opinions may differ from mine.

And if you'd like to read my previous book reviews, you can do so by reading this post of mine called "My Book Reviews"

Surprise Sweet Goodies!

~ Posted on Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 3:21 PM ~

I was busy the whole afternoon yesterday (which is why no post yesterday), I was caught up in a mini baking mission to bake some surprise sweet goodies for my ex-colleagues. On top of that, 2 of hubby's close friends came over for lunch cum playdate with Ben (one of hubby's friend brought along her 17 months old daughter). From morning, I started off roasting the chicken wings which I marinated the night before and hubby went out to buy some cold cuts and sausages to make spaghetti for lunch.

About 1pm+, I accompanied Ben with hubby's friend and her daughter and spend some playtime with them in Ben's playroom. Around 2pm+, Ben looked tired and it was past his naptime already. So I nursed him to sleep while hubby's friend took her daughter downstair and play with the other friend who just arrived.

I then proceeded to start baking the Shortbread Shapes cookies (total 3 batches) while Ben took his nap and hubby and friends had their lunch. I had earlier prepared the ingredients in 3 batches to save some time. By the time I finished everything (I even bake some Orange Poppy Seed mini muffins again) it was 5pm+.

After the cookies and muffins have cooled down, I got ready the small plastic bags with my plastic bag sealer and started off the packaging exercise. In total, I prepared for 13 people and all 13 will get their bag of cookies (I think I put about 14-15 pieces into each bag).

But not all get the additional mini muffins cos my SIL and her daughter came over for dinner at our place and had some, and I also gave some to hubby's friend to take home as well. So, ended up about 6 or 7 close ex-colleagues only get to try the extra mini muffins in their goodie bag.

All in all, it was a tiring but rewarding experience. I'm pretty proud to achieve all this baking within 3 hours time. I hope to be able to practise more and perhaps find some way to reduce time wastage and probably need to think of easier and faster ways to do the cookies mould. That was the tiring part of all the tasks and also when I need to turn the baking tray 180degrees midway baking to ensure the air circulation are thorough and the cookies are baked nicely all over.

Some of my ex-colleagues have already emailed to thank me for the treats and I also gave some of them the links to my recipe posts. A couple even asked me to start taking orders for Chinese New Year cookies and doing this as a part-time business... hahahah... funny, funny... I told them it's not the right time yet as I'm still learning and can only do my baking when Ben is taking his nap, maybe who knows, in future I might think about this hahahahah... until then maybe I should start training Ben to do the cookies cutting/moulding part hahahahaha...

Orange Poppy Seed Mini Muffins

~ Posted on Monday, November 15, 2010 at 9:11 AM ~

This is my 1st attempt of making: ORANGE POPPY SEED MINI MUFFINS.

I baked this on Wednesday 10th Nov. I'm still not confident enough to ditch the premix for muffins attempt (unlike cookies) so, this recipe will still be using premix.


* Less than 5 minutes to mix & fold batter
* 5 minutes to pre-heat the oven
* 15 minutes for baking process

Ingredients / Tool Required:

Orange Poppy Seed Mini Muffins

* Orange Poppy Seed Muffin Mix (250g)
* 1 egg (at room temperature)
* 70ml oil
* 50ml water (at room temperature)
* Measuring spoons
* A big containter to mix ingredients in
* A flexible spatula for mixing and folding
* Mini cupcake casings-depending the casing size, I used 13 pieces
* Kitchen scale
* A small spoon to spoon mixture into cupcake casings
* Baking aluminium foil the size of wire rack

What to Do?

* Place all ingredients into a big container, making a well with the dry ingredients at the outer side while the oil, water and egg are in the well.
* Mix and fold using the flexible spatula.
* Continue mixing and folding until all ingredients are combined.
* Using the small spoon, spoon the mixture to each mini cupcake casing until about 3/4 full.
* Place each mini cupcake casings on top of wire rack which has been lined with baking foil.

Orange Poppy Seed Mini Muffins


* Pre-heat oven at 180℃ (about 5 minutes)
* Place wire rack tray into oven.
* Set oven to 180℃ and bake for 15 minutes

Orange Poppy Seed Mini Muffins


Orange Poppy Seed Mini Muffins


Orange Poppy Seed Mini Muffins

Orange Poppy Seed Mini Muffins


"Yummy and the mini muffins are cute! I will definitely use the mini casings again since it's so much easier (less guilt for eating more hehehe...) with the bite size mini muffins now!"
"Ammm! Ammm!" (usual response...)
"Oooo... the mini muffins are so cute! Taste a bit sweet though"
"Mmm.. delicious but a bit sweet for me. And so much poppy seeds!"

"Ooo so cute and small muffins! Delicious! The poppy seed gives it a nice crunchy feel!" (he even MMS me a picture of himself eating the 2nd mini muffin the next day at work...)
"Delicious but why a bit sour?" (to which I told her it's orange...)

So there you go.... my 1st ORANGE POPPY SEED MINI MUFFINS attempt!

Overall, I'm very happy with this attempt - the way they turned out, nice rounded peak and the very perfect moist, the crust top is just nice, not too hard and not too soft. Just that a few of my guinea pigs commented that it's a bit sweet. I wonder whether I should add more water to make it less sweet (since I don't know how much it is in the premix).... hmm... To view my other recipes, feel free to hop over to my Recipe Library page for more info!

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