Tart, torte, quiche, whatever you call it, encountering the choicest, freshest ingredients smugly contained in buttery-crisp pastry is pure pleasure. But given the image of pastry as something to be "mastered" it is unsurprising that what was the starting point of cookery fundamentals (remember those jam tarts at school?) has become more intimidating and ironically, not something to be attempted at home. What Tamasin Day-Lewis does here is not so much debunk the pastry mystique as present recipes so delectable that the skill of pastry making seems one very much worth acquiring.
Starting with savoury tarts; Quiche Lorraine makes a welcome return, a holy trinity of cream, eggs and bacon so simple yet sumptuous when made properly. There's no mention of the dreary "low fat option" anywhere here. Double cream, eggs and butter reign supreme alongside fresh ingredients in tarts such as "Smoked Haddock and Watercress Tart" or "Spinach and Anchovy". The cheekily entitled section "Other People's Tarts" includes recipes lovingly plundered from the likes of Nigel Slater and Lindsey Bareham, the most decadent Chocolate Tart coming from Simon Hopkinson's classic cookbook Roast Chicken and Other Stories.
The sweet tart section contains some traditional treats; Bakewell and Treacle Tarts alongside more unusual offerings. A "Roast Fig and Honey Tart with Cointreau", which is aptly introduced as a "beauteous and sluttish, Fall of the Roman Empire kind of pudding". Author Tamasin Day-Lewis writes on food for Saturday's Telegraph and Food Illustrated and here her style is anecdotal and nicely familiar. In many places she mixes the good sense of Nigella Lawson with an entertaining effusion rather reminiscent of the Two Fat Ladies;
I always make a hubcap-sized version rather than the normal tart-sized one because everybody in my family eats gargantuan slices of it and if there is any left it is whittled away sneakily on the day. This is not a tart to be served up the following day, tiredly, pinkily soggy; it simply doesn't work. Just eat lots of it." The Art of the Tart
is a superb collection of recipes, but get the oven warm and the rolling pin and pastry tins ready--you'll be seized with a desire to use them the minute you start reading--Rachel O'Connor
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Tamasin Day-Lewis is one of Britain's finest food writers, to be ranked along with Nigel Slater and Simon Hopkinson. She writes an avidly followed column for Saturday's TELEGRAPH and COUNTRY HOMES AND INTERIORS, and is a regular contributor to VANITY FAIR and VOGUE. She has just completed her first cable television series, TAMASIN'S WEEKENDS.