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The Big Book of World Tapas
This book could have had a couple of different titles both of which would have been equally relevant – How
to Cater Your Own Wedding (or at least your cousins’), or How to Throw
a Cocktail Party Without Needing a Second Mortgage (assuming that you
had already found a bank to give you the first one). Julia Hartley has
been a catering professional for the past 16 years and her expertise
shines through not only in the quality of the recipes but in the
The Big Book of World Tapas isn’t just about those delightful little
dishes of food found in wood-panelled bars in Spain. It’s about the
concept of presenting small and tasty bites to a few family members or
a host of guests. It draws upon bite-size recipes for delicious morsels
from around the world. India, China, Europe and the Middle East all
have their versions of Tapas. What better way of offering a variety of
tastes and textures to those whose palates have been jaded by years of
abuse from curly ham sandwiches, soggy coronation chicken vol au vents,
and carrot sticks that bend like tulips in a vase.
This lovely book gives you enough information to set up in business. I
always worry that I have not prepared enough food for guests. I have
something of a siege mentality when it comes to food so there is
invariably a lot of waste. That’s an expensive mistake in these days of
high food prices and little spare cash. Julia has a useful table that
suggests quantities of food depending on type of event, number of
guests and length of party (people stay longer than you expect).
Julia has tapas selections for 6 types of event: Brunches, Pre-dinner
Drinks, Cocktail Parties, Late-night Drinks, Parties and Celebrations,
and Weddings. All the tapas can be mixed and matched so you can tailor
the food to the guests. There is plenty here for vegetarians, who often
get a raw deal (those limp carrots again) but those vegetarian items
are exotic enough to appeal also to meat-eaters who are probably
heartily sick of sausage rolls.
There are 365 international tapas listed and it’s difficult to pick
just a few from the list of remarkable savoury ones. Chorizo, Red
Pepper & Manchego Empanadas would have my vote for the most Spanish
tapa. Squid Stuffed with Pine Nuts and Raisin Rice is outstanding and
most of the work can be done in advance. Roasted Tikka Potatoes would
be a flavourful hot dish that will disappear before your very eyes.
They couldn’t be easier and they are a great fall-back tapa if a few
unexpected extra guests turn up.
Sweets at catered events are often a disappointment or overlooked
altogether. I have never been keen on wedding cake but that and trifle
are the predictable offerings. The Big Book of World Tapas tempts you
with Treacle Tartlets, Hazelnut Clusters and Chocolate Fondue along
with many other delights to sooth your previously neglected dessert
The Big Book of World Tapas is a book that will enable you to throw the
best of parties without resorting to outside help. It isn’t as daunting
as it might seem. The dishes are straightforward with the minimum of
ingredients, and lots of work can be done several days in advance.
Julia Hartley has penned the new event-catering bible for the home
cook. Amazing value for money.
The Big Book of World Tapas
Published by: Duncan Baird