Small Bites, Big Nights: Seductive Little Plates for Intimate Occasions and Lavish Parties


Whether he’s setting the scene at his acclaimed restaurant Table 8 in Los Angeles, entertaining the audience on Food Network’s Iron Chef America, or designing the menus for Hollywood hot-spots RokBar and L’Scorpion, chef Govind Armstrong knows how to create spectacular menus for occasions of all sizes. As Govind says, small plates encourage people to be more adventurous, to share food, and to enjoy the mélange of flavors and textures. In his first cookbook, Small Bites, Big Nights, he shows you how to put ...
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Whether he’s setting the scene at his acclaimed restaurant Table 8 in Los Angeles, entertaining the audience on Food Network’s Iron Chef America, or designing the menus for Hollywood hot-spots RokBar and L’Scorpion, chef Govind Armstrong knows how to create spectacular menus for occasions of all sizes. As Govind says, small plates encourage people to be more adventurous, to share food, and to enjoy the mélange of flavors and textures. In his first cookbook, Small Bites, Big Nights, he shows you how to put together a menu of small, sophisticated, sexy dishes and pair them with the perfect cocktail. The result? Guests get to enjoy a feast of flavors, and as the host, you’ll be able to relax and have fun, instead of spending the whole night in the kitchen.

Wow a crowd with hors d’oeuvres like Arugula, Dates, and Parmesan (a salad that’s finger food; Rare Tuna Crostini with White Bean Puree and Tapenade; or Seared Kobe Beef on Mini Yorkshire Pudding. To drink: Black Martinis. Barbecue sizzling treats like Grilled Endive with Serrano Ham; New Zealand Scampi with Heirloom Tomatoes and Summer Truffle Vinaigrette; or Grilled Chicken Thighs with Wood-Roasted Gazpacho and Avocado Salsa.

Make dinner for 8 unforgettable with Tender Bean Salad and Prosciutto; a deceptively simple Foie Gras–Stuffed Quail; and luscious Panna Cotta with Raspberry Coulis.

Warm up a cool night with bite-size comfort foods: Mini Onion Soup; Braised Chicken Oysters Piccata; and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Mousse.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[This] is everything you’re looking for in a cookbook.”
—Tyler Florence, from the foreword

“Govind Armstrong’s unique cooking style is reflected in every page of this compelling book. The vitality of his recipes ensures that your party will be successful and memorable.”
—Drew Nieporent, restaurateur / owner of Tribeca Grill, Nobu,
Rubicon, Centrico, and Mai House

“Chef Govind Armstrong’s cooking is sensual and understated.”
—Los Angeles Times

“Govind toiled in our City Restaurant kitchen with the serious exuberance his high school mates reserved for playing soccer and spin the bottle. . . . It’s no wonder his cooking and his recipes are such a joy! His food is simple yet innovative, deeply satisfying, and beckons you to the stove.”
—Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, owners of Border Grill and Ciudad restaurants

“Govind Armstrong embodies all the admirable qualities of a modern chef: A passion for great products, outstanding culinary skill, and a zeal for life that winds up on every plate and in every heart he touches.”
—Richard Coraine, chief operating officer, Union Square
Hospitality Group, New York

Publishers Weekly
Celeb chef Tyler Florence writes in the foreword that "Govind Armstrong [the executive chef and co-owner of Table 8 restaurant] is the new king of Los Angeles and I want to tell everybody about it." Armstrong's big personality certainly comes across in the pages of this festive book; his passion, dedication and playfulness are evident from the first lines of his intro to the last recipe, and he never gets pretentious about it. After a discussion of the well-stocked pantry, there are chapters-somewhat sporadically arranged-on cocktails and hors d'oeuvres; grilled dishes (Grilled Squid with Green Garbanzos and Bruschetta, for example); dinner party food; comfort foods; "Sexy Savories," such as Heart & Sole and Breakfast in Bed (an omelet with asparagus, morels and goat cheese); and "Lounge Foods," like Scotch Quail Eggs with Chorizo, Smashed Spuds with Sliced Beef and Blue Cheese, and Krispy Kreme "Coffee & Doughnuts." Even recipes that sound intimidating are approachable (although readers will have to get used to the somewhat unconventional recipe format in which ingredients are listed on the left and amounts on the right). But that's a quibble, for the 125 color photos are simple and striking enough to make up for that. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

Armstrong is the personable chef/co-owner of the acclaimed Table 8 restaurant in Los Angeles, with a branch in Miami's South Beach and others planned for Las Vegas and New York City. He actually began his culinary career at 13 as an apprentice at Wolfgang Puck's Spago (he went on to spend three summers there). The recipes in his first book, organized into chapters such as "Lounge Foods" and "Dinner for 8," are fresh, imaginative, and designed for entertaining. They are restaurant-style recipes, to be sure, featuring expensive or exotic ingredients, but they will appeal to sophisticated cooks who like to feed friends and want to make a splash. For any collection where chefs' books are popular.

—Judith Sutton
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307337931
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/10/2007
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 7.75 (w) x 10.25 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Wycoff is a lifestyle magazine editor and writer who focuses on food, travel, golf, spas, and health.
Alison Clare Steingold is a freelance food and style writer and editor based out of Los Angeles, California. Previously Wycoff was the editor in chief and Steingold the executive editor of Eating, a Los Angeles culinary magazine
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Read an Excerpt

Small Bites, Big Nights

Seductive Little Plates for Intimate Occasions and Lavish Parties
By Govind Armstrong

Clarkson Potter

Copyright © 2007 Govind Armstrong
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780307337931

wild mushroom risotto balls / burrata / scallion oil
Serves 8
Difficulty: Medium

When you give love and attention to a pot of risotto to make arancini, the legendary street food of Sicily, it’s like paying homage to each grain of rice. Meaning “little orange” in Italian (no doubt a play on the stuffed croquettes’ size and saffron-tinged color), arancini are equally suitable for a midmorning pick-me-up or a late-night nibble. Here, a crispy, golden double coating of panko crust gives way to creamy mushroom risotto with a surprise of melted, oozing burrata cheese. You can save a step here by buying scallion oil at the grocer if it’s available.

Scallion Oil

• 2 scallions, thinly sliced (Basil and garlic oil will also work in lieu of scallion.)
• 2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil

Wild Mushroom Risotto
• 3 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thin
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon grapeseed or canola oil
• 3 button mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thin
• 3 chanterelle mushrooms, stems shaved and torn in shreds
• Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
• 4 cups chicken stock or water
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 cup Carnaroli rice
• 2 tablespoons finely diced onion
• 1 medium garlic clove
• 1 sprig thyme
• 1 bay leaf
• 1/4 cup white wine (preferably sauvignon blanc)
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
• Vegetable oil, for frying
• 12 ounces burrata cheese*, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 2 cups Panko Dustin’ Mix (see below)
• 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
• Salt

*Substitute mozzarella, Monterey Jack, gouda, or any cheese that will melt as gooily as possible.

To prepare the scallion oil, place the scallions and grapeseed oil into a mortar and pestle. Coarsely grind the scallions until the oil has picked up the flavor and is emerald green in color. Allow it to steep in the oil, and reserve for garnish.

In a hot sauté pan over medium-high heat, sauté the mushrooms with 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of the grapeseed oil. Be careful not to move them around; you want to get a little color on one side. Season with salt and pepper, then flip and gently sauté the other side. This should take approximately 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the mushrooms to cool. Coarsely chop them and set aside.

To prepare the risotto, bring the stock to a boil in a small sauce pot and set aside. In a medium, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and the Carnaroli rice. Begin to stir the rice with a wooden spoon, coating and heating it in the oil—but not forming any color. Once the rice is completely warm to the touch but not toasted or colored, add the onion, garlic clove, thyme, and bay leaf, stirring constantly. Cook the vegetables until translucent, stirring all the while, about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and reduce for 45 seconds, or until dry. Begin adding the stock, 1/4 cup at a time while stirring, and add the next 1/4 cup only after the preceding has been fully absorbed. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to medium; after an additional 10 minutes, add a pinch of salt. Continue to cook and add the stock until the rice is perfectly al dente, or about 25 minutes total cooking time. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and Parmesan cheese, and season again with salt and pepper. Stir very well until incorporated. Add the chopped mushrooms, then spread the mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Smooth it out with a spatula, and refrigerate until cool.

While the risotto is cooling, heat 2 inches of frying oil in a small sauce pot until it reaches 350°F.

Get a bowl of water ready for your hands, because this will get messy. Moisten your hands and, like a sushi god, make 2-tablespoon portions of all the risotto and set aside. Place a portion of the rice in the palm of your hand, and flatten it into a fairly thin circle. Tuck a cheese cube firmly inside, squeeze it in, and then wrap around to make a nice rounded ball. You will need to continually wash your hands in order to prepare all the risotto balls.

Dip each wild mushroom risotto ball into the panko mix, then the egg wash, and back into the panko again. Fry in batches for approximately 2 1/2 minutes, or until the bubbles begin to subside and the balls are nice and golden. Remove the risotto balls from the oil, season with salt, and drain on paper towels, allowing them to rest for 1 minute. Serve hot with a drizzle of scallion oil.

Panko Dustin' Mix
Makes 1 1/2 cups
Difficulty: Easy

• 2 cups panko bread crumbs
• 1/4 cup cornstarch
• 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 tablespoon chopped thyme

Finely grind the panko in a food processor. Mix all the ingredients together, and store in an airtight container.


Excerpted from Small Bites, Big Nights by Govind Armstrong Copyright © 2007 by Govind Armstrong. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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