Martha Stewart Dishes on the Art of Appetizers

Domestic diva Martha Stewart

Lifestyle guru and former Westport resident Martha Stewart has a new book out this month all about scrumptious starters. Though the name seems to say it all—Martha Stewart’s Appetizers: 200 Recipes for Dips, Spreads, Snacks, Small Plates, and Other Delicious Hors d’Oeuvres, Plus 30 Cocktails (Clarkson Potter, 2015)—we’ve got the inside scoop on how to throw the ultimate soiree from the hostess-with-the-mostest herself.

Martha Stewart's Appetizers Cook Book CoverIt’s very easy to find free recipes online these days—what will readers discover in this cookbook that they can’t find elsewhere?
Appetizers includes a lovely variety of snacks, starters, small plates, stylish bites and cocktails. Aside from 200 recipes, the book includes my 10 golden rules for hosting a party with planning tips and strategies, as well as serving essentials such as wooden boards, Japanese soup spoons and marble stones to keep food chilled.

What was the most memorable party you hosted?
Last summer, I hosted a party for Dom Pérignon. I was especially honored when they asked me to host their U.S. launch of P2, a 1998 French vintage, as I was eager to share this very special Champagne with friends and neighbors. Preparation for this event took a few days of hard work, but all that attention to detail really paid off. The party was fabulous!   

This is your third cookbook specifically focusing on appetizers. How do you keep each book fresh?
Appetizers is different because it is a new collection of recipes that reflects the casualness we are all witnessing in home entertaining—a more relaxed approach to serving pre-dinner snacks, appetite enhancers and small plates.

Which appetizers would you recommend quickly whipping up for a first- time host?
You don’t have to make party snacks entirely from scratch for them to be memorable. For example, a first-time host could start with some quality potato chips, then briefly warm them in the oven for a few minutes before sprinkling with the desired topping, such as Old Bay seasoning.

Martha Stewart's Puff Pastry Cheese Straws Do you have a favorite appetizer in this book?
Puff Pastry Cheese Straws right out of the oven. It’s something simple, but special. Everyone loves them, and they pair well with practically any drink.

What should hosts keep in minding when pairing beverages with appetizers?
Wine and beer are always appropriate, but a signature cocktail can really make a statement at any party. Always be sure to serve some nonalcoholic options as well.  

If you have guests with dietary restrictions, what is the best way to accommodate them without disappointing others?
Party hosts should always remember to include a few options that address any dietary restrictions. Prepare a menu that can be simply adapted to appease vegetarians.

We love your “Golden Rules,” but is there one key ingredient to hosting a great party? A well-organized approach is the real key to hosting a great party.

Click here for a Puff Pastry Cheese Straw recipe!


A version of this article appeared in the September 2015 issue of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Master Course.