We've never fully understood the need for cookbooks dedicated solely to miniature versions of foods, like Peter Callahan's soon-to-be-released Bite by Bite: 100 Stylish Little Plates You Can Make For Any Party.
Then again, we're not big city caterers (Callahan's namesake catering company is based in New York City), so we don't spend our days dreaming up tiny “chipwich lollipops” (vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two mini chocolate chip cookies on a stick) to please the pickiest tiara-wearing toddlers or petite “caviar spoons and vodka” bites (homemade Gruyère cracker “spoons” with caviar and a side of vodka shots) to satisfy their Real Housewives moms. Yeah, those shots are probably a wise move.
This is an entertaining book. You can expect to find the requisite glossy photos of homespun creations like baked beans in bacon “cups,” cute mini croque monsieur sandwiches on homemade bread and glam “lobster under glass” dishes (lobster claws and homemade corn cakes with tomatillo salsa served under glass domes). Basically, every bite-sized party mood is somewhere among the mini cheeseburgers and tuna tartare plantain “cones” on these pages. Should you need a little baby shower or cocktail party inspiration, Callahan includes a chapter on party themes and menus.
Which is to say that no, this is not a weeknight cookbook. Or even a cookbook we see ourselves thumbing through very often on weekends. Then again, most folks don't spend their Saturdays revisiting Diana Kennedy's recipe for salsa de panal (wasp's nest sauce). Should you enjoy that Martha Stewart-style of entertaining, you're in luck: Mango-shrimp, watermelon-mint, chicken-Parmesan and lamb-mint pesto are all here, and they're all in lollipop form. (Ms. Stewart, in fact, penned the book's Introduction.)
In the creativity department, we'd go with Callahan over Martha Stewart any day of the week, even though we groaned at the picture of the “potted” shrimp, Callahan's version of the English shrimp porridge served in tiny pastry “pots” and topped with an edible flower. Nothing that a few of those pomegranate mojitos (p. 223) can't resolve.