Tamasin Day-Lewis writes so beautifully, so eloquently, and so descriptively that it's almost impossible to choose which of her exceptional, delectable tarts to begin with. Her tone is warm, friendly, and generous, and her attitude towards food and cooking will make you nod and smile and want to read this cookbook aloud to anyone who'll listen. She laments that the "current speed-addicted climate" has pushed so many of us to give up cooking from scratch. We have been convinced to make questionably nutritious fast food instead of relishing the relaxation, pleasure, enjoyment of not just preparing good food, but of eating it in the way it is meant to be eaten--by savoring it slowly.
Early childhood memories of standing on a kitchen chair, cuffs covered with flour, making her first tarts, and then impatiently biting into a hot jam tart and the sweetly searing pain that results inspired Day-Lewis to write this book. Tarts, she argues, are superior fast food. With practice, the dough can be made quickly and in batches large enough that there's no need to make the dough every time. Fillings can be as simple as the onions, eggs and cream necessary for the Onion Tart. And longer recipes are just longer, not any more complicated or difficult to follow. "Anyone reading this book," says Day-Lewis, "should not doubt his or her ability to achieve every one of the recipes." She assumes "basic skills and competence," and a bit of curiosity. Many of these recipes are remakes of old favorites, but because Day-Lewis is writing in the U.K. and Ireland, most of those old favorites are brand new in America. The Leek, Potato, and Oatmeal Tart is a substantial cold-weather dish made with oatmeal crust filled with garlic, leeks, potatoes, and cheddar. Treacle Tart is "gloopy, gooky, toothachingly sweet," best served with "a solid spoonful of clotted cream slipping deliquescent from the slice, turning buttery at the edges as it slides." How can anyone read that and not start checking the kitchen for ingredients?
Divided by the chapters "Savory Tarts," "Sweet Tarts," and "Other People's Tarts" (try Nigel Slater's Broccoli, Blue Cheese, and Crème Fraiche Tart and Richard Corrigan's Banana Tart), the book is sprinkled with vibrant color photographs of lusciousness such as the Peach, Vanilla, and Amaretti Tarte Tatin ("amber-hued ... speckled with vanilla and sticky with caramel") and the bright yellow Corn and Scallion Tart with a Polenta Crust. Day-Lewis is inventive, as is evident with recipes such as Monkfish Tart with Bearnaise, Tomato, Goat's Camembert, and Herb Tart; Rhubarb, Honey, and Saffron Tart; and Brûléed Black Currant or Blueberry Tart. If your taste buds (or those of your audience) are less adventurous, you can start with Asparagus Tart, Potato, Garlic, and Parsley Torte, or Quiche Lorraine. And no one will ever turn down a "state-of-the-art" Lemon Tart, a Strawberry Tart ("voluptuous ... and glazed to gloopy perfection"), or Simon Hopkinson's Chocolate Tart ("If there is a heaven, this is it," says Day-Lewis). Whatever your time frame, your kitchen comfort level, or your palate, Day-Lewis will leave you with your cuffs in flour, composing a thank-you note in your head to this most delightful author. --Leora Y. Bloom
From Publishers Weekly
Tarts, when done well, are gorgeous creationsDtheir fillings displayed in buttery crust like jewels shown on velvet. Day-Lewis (The English Woman's Kitchen; West of Ireland Summers: A Cookbook) does not disappoint; in addition to delectable recipes and luxurious photos, her prose itself is exquisite. Even the most jaded palate might be tempted with her description of the much-maligned Quiche Lorraine "with a buttery pastry and an unctuously creamy, bacony, barely wobbling interior." These tarts are rich (lots of butter, cream and eggs), simple and wholesome, prepared in straightforward ways with uncomplicated steps. As Day-Lewis explains, they are not "state-of-the-art, designer-dream, fashionable" fare (even if she tells us that Julia Roberts loves the Treacle Tart), but rather "foods to console and please on the highest order." The favorite tarts of well-known chefs appear regularly throughout the pages, tweaked and appropriately credited. Classics such as Onion Tart, Plain Apple Tart and that English favorite, Bakewell Tart, coexist with more flamboyant fare, such as Fennel, Taleggio and Cardamom Tart, Mjuk Mandeltarta (soft almond tart) and a "beauteous, sluttish, fall of the Roman Empire" Roast Fig and Honey Tart with Cointreau. With quiet sophistication, Day-Lewis presents a beautiful and useful book to savor on many levels.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.