Party Hearty — A Trio of Party Food Cookbooks

It’s that big sporting thingie next weekend, where people get together to eat lots of snacks and watch large men chase a ball on TV. The only Superbowl party I’ve ever attended was thrown by a friend who is also a champion BBQ pit master so I don’t recall the actual watching of a sporting event taking place, unless it was when those guys at the party all tried to eat the most deep-fried turkey wings.

In any case, between sports events and movie awards shows, it’s the season for getting together with friends and eating finger foods. Today I’ve got three books chock full of recipes that should suit any occasion.

Small Bites: Skewers, Sliders and Other Party Eats
Eliza Cross
Gibbs Smith, 2017

This is a lovely collection of recipes for hors d’oeuvres and canapes to suit any party, from formal shin-digs to casual gatherings. Cross offers a little something for everyone with classics such as smoked salmon on cucumber rounds, crab cakes, and pears wrapped in prosciutto, as well as interesting presentations of non-finger food in an easy-to-eat format – Greek salad on a skewer, for instance. Recipes are clear and easy to follow, and range from slightly complicated (choux pastry) to super-easy (cheese balls, lots of things on skewers). There’s also a good selection of vegetarian options, although vegans would likely find themselves with nothing unless they’re willing to pick the cheese off stuff. Overall, a great book for anybody who entertains regularly for any occasion from game day to a swank cocktail party.

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Fan Fare: Game Day Recipes for Delicious Finger Food, Drinks and More
Kate McMillan
Weldon Owen, 2017

Surprisingly vegans might have better luck with recipes from Fan Fare, a collection of more casual dishes designed for parties and gatherings. Besides the traditional game day fare of chili, nachos, and chicken wings, McMillan offers a bunch of recipes for flatbread, soft pretzels, candied nuts, popcorn and party snack mix that are all vegan or vegan-friendly with an option to omit any cheese. Recipes are clear and easy to read, ingredients lists are offered in both imperial and metric measurements. This is definitely a more casual collection of offerings more suited to guests being able to sit while eating, but everything is designed to be dipped, pulled apart, or generally shared.

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The Culinary Bro-Down Cookbook
Josh Scherer
Grand Central Life & Style/Hachete, 2017

If Small Bites is for your more formal party, and Fan Fare is your quintessential casual game day cookbook, then Bro Down is the book you need when everyone in your frat house has slept in until late afternoon on game day and there’s 50 empty drink cups, a disassembled truck, and a live goat in your living room. This (hopefully) tongue-in-cheek cookbook includes some absolutely asinine recipes that include a breakfast shake involving a pop tart and ice cream in a blender. But in between photos of the author with his ball cap on backwards (we’ll allow that because it’s game day, but otherwise, take your damned hat off when you’re indoors… you too with the knit toque, hipster), there are some recipes that look really great. There’s a pile of tacos including Scallop Dynamite Tostadas and Sengalese Lamb and Peanut Stew Tacos. Plus a plethora of really good-looking burgers, including one with fennel jam. These are mostly recipes for standing around a BBQ grill with a beer, but underneath the “bro” schtick, there is the potential for really good food here, although it’s very collective, large batch, and messy. But fun. The lay-out of the book is clear and nicely-sized for hang-over squintiness, but there are no metric measurements for ingredients or temperatures.

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Whatever type of party you have for game day (or Oscar night, or a backyard BBQ) these books (or a combination of all three) have likely got you covered.