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Antipasti: Fabulous Appetizers and Small Plates
Joyce Goldstein
Chronicle Books, 2006
ISBN 0811848728
Review By William I. Lengeman III

In her sixth effort for Chronicle Books, Joyce Goldstein tackles the subject of antipasti. A fitting choice, since, as the author notes, "over the past twenty years an antipasto revolution has taken place."

In Antipasto Today, her brief summary of the current state of antipasto, Goldstein points out that "contemporary antipasto presentation has become more elegant." She then presents a concise rundown of Antipasto Styles, which, she says, are really dependent on the size and type of group being served.

Goldstein gives up a little more space to Shop-and-Serve Antipasti, an assortment of items, which require minimal preparation and little or no cooking. Then it's on to Eggs and Cheese.

Among the notable recipes in this chapter, Rotolone d'Uovo, or Meat-Filled Omelet Roll. Also, an Asparagus Frittata and Gorgonzola Custards with Pears. The latter is a pre-meal dish that can also do duty as a dessert, if needed. Another standout are the Fried Zucchini Blossoms, stuffed with zucchini, eggs, cheese and spices.

Up next is an assortment of Torte Salate, or Savory Pastries. Among them, a Butternut Squash Pie that uses porcini mushrooms, Sweet Red Pepper Tart with Anchovy Cream and Panzerotti, or Fried Stuffed Pastries, which are stuffed with cheese and ham filling.

Highlights of the Farinaci (Grains) chapter include Truffled Rice Croquettes from Umbria, Crisp Polenta Cake and a Rice Salad. Next up is one of the more substantial chapters, which takes a look at Verdure, or Vegetables. It presents 14 recipes in all, from Stuffed Eggplant Rolls to Warm Mushroom Salad to Green Beans with Hazelnuts to Stuffed Vegetables. The latter is a flexible recipe, which can be made using rice, meat or bread crumb stuffing and any of a number of vegetables. Another interesting recipe presented here is Cauliflower Pudding, which is actually more along the lines of a flan or custard.

Fish and Shellfish is another sizable chapter. The standouts are a Seafood Salad, made with shrimp, squid, clams and mussels. There's also Scallops with Spring Onion Puree and Black Truffles, Stuffed Squid and Potato Cakes with Smoked Fish and Caviar.

Goldstein winds things up with a brief array of Meat and Poultry selections. There's a Rabbit Salad with Truffle Vinaigrette, Tongue with Green Sauce and the intriguing Meat-Stuffed Fried Olives. The key to this one, not surprisingly, is to use a rather large type of green olive, something that might not be readily available at your local supermarket, but is probably worth seeking out.

A great collection of recipes and, since it's Chronicle Books, it pretty much goes without saying that the presentation and photography (by Paolo Nobile) are outstanding.

William I. Lengeman III is a food writer, book reviewer and publisher of Tea Guy Speaks.

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