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Cookbook Watch

May 26, 1999|RUSS PARSONS

There will be no Martha-bashing in this review. Not much, anyway. That's because her new book, "Martha Stewart's Hors d'Oeuvres Handbook" (Clarkson Potter, $35), is a pretty nice piece of work. Call it nouvelle Martha, or Martha redux (of course we have to use the foreign words); this is the kind of stuff you find in her magazine: fancy food done well and stunningly photographed (more than 200 of the 500 pages are color plates).

So it's free of the kind of "this plate is actually rare Depression glass that I found at a yard sale and store in one of the five barns on my property" remark that made her previous books such ripe targets for skewering. Perhaps because there is so little non-recipe text, it is also blessedly free of the Olympian third person ("Martha says") that can make her magazine so eerie to read.

This is not, by any means, food for everyone (or everyman). This is Martha food--fussy, arranged and sometimes a bit superficial--but if that's not what you want, why on earth would you buy this book?

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