For those of us who, as children, dreamed of eating with our fingers, but were properly trained to use a knife and fork, the world has finally caught up with our fantasy," writes Mable Hoffman in her new book called "Finger Foods" (HP Books: $12.95).
Winner of five R.T. French Tastemaker Awards, the "Oscar" for cookbooks, Hoffman and co-author/husband, Gar Hoffman, who specialize in food styling and consulting, express delight in producing their latest book. Long overdue, this book is a compilation of international recipes based on the couple's travels as well as a sampler of their family and friends' favorite bite-size delights. "Everyone loves the informality of pick up party foods," Mable Hoffman said, "at a buffet or cocktail party, guests are more mobile if they do not have to use silverware."
Selected primarily for ease and simplicity in preparation, most of the recipes feature readily available ingredients with taste considerations. Other than party and special function ideas, there are quick dishes for breakfast on the go, walk away foods for lunch, pick-up dinners, as well as round the clock snacks.
The color photographs in the book are highly stylized, whimsical and inspiring, expressing a carefree spirit. "It was decided that 'Finger Foods' would have special appeal for young families," Hoffman said, "so we used an upscale contemporary type of layout and photos."
In one chapter, the authors grouped together recipes for certain theme activities, such as sesame wings, pizza rolls and butterscotch macaroon ice cream sandwich for a teen gathering; other unusual combinations for motifs include a tropical or south of the border party, an Italian buffet and a birthday tea.
One recipe that fits deliciously in a chocoholic's dream party--along with rocky road cheesecake cups and chocolate-almond truffles--is Chocolate-Cashew Baklava Wrap-Ups. Filo-crisp, it leaves no sweet tooth disgruntled. The wonderful part is that the dessert can be prepared in advance and cut up in bite-size morsels before serving.
CHOCOLATE-CASHEW BAKLAVA WRAP-UPS
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1 cup finely chopped cashews
12 sheets filo dough
3/4 cup butter, melted
Combine sugar, water, orange zest and cinnamon stick in medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium high-heat. Reduce heat and simmer 12 minutes or until slightly syrupy. Remove from heat.
Strain to remove orange zest and cinnamon stick. While mixture is still hot, add chocolate pieces. Return to very low heat, stirring until chocolate melts. Stir in cashews.
Brush 1 side of sheet of filo with butter. Fold in half crosswise, with butterred sides together. Brush top of folded sheet with butter.
Spoon about 2 tablespoons nut mixture to within 2 inches of short side of filo. Roll up about 3/4 of filled filo. Fold in ends and finish rolling like jelly roll. Seal edges with melted butter.
Place roll, cut-side down on 15x10-inch jellyroll pan. Repeat with remaining filo and filling, placing rolls about 1-inch apart in shallow baking pan.
Bake at 400 degrees 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven. Cool on rack. Makes 12 servings.