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  • Writer's pictureBecky Fifield

Arts and Crafts Hors d’Oeurves – Meta Givens’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking

Get a sharp knife, some scissors, and good luck.

I remember the first time I opened Martha Stewart’s Hors d’Oeuvres Handbook.  I laughed out loud – it was a guide to preciousness and I found the intricate directions hilarious. But the photography was so appealing, the geometry so beautiful. I can see the attraction. Within Meta Givens’s instructions for hors d’oeuvres in her Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking (1947, 1959 ed.) I can see this practice take root. Be an instant success as a hostess with a loaf of white bread and dribbles of sieved egg yolks, thin piped lines of stiff mayonnaise, pink-tinted cream cheese, anchovy coils, and “parsley leaflets.”

According to Givens, “canapes are fashioned to be eaten with the fingers, and do not have to be served with alcoholic beverages to be correct and up-to-date as some gourmands would have one believe.” Quelle horreur.

Here’s a recipe for Baked Bean Canapes: “Economical but pretty good!!” I don’t think this is what Martha had in mind. 1/2 cup baked beans 1 tbsp chili sauce 1/2 tsp prepared mustard 1/4 tsp onion juice Dash of salt Thin slices whole wheat or Boston brown bread 3 tbsp creamed butter Green onion slices or chopped cucumber Small red radishes

Drain off juice and mash beans fine. Blend in next 4 ingredients. Toast bread on one side, cut 24 strips 1″ x 2″, or cut circles of brown bread in 4 pie-shaped pieces. Spread with butter, then generously with bean mixture. Suggested garnish: Onion slices or mound of chopped cucumber for pie-shaped pieces, and a row of radish slices stuck into the strips. 20 canapes.


Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking, page 178-179.

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