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Saturday, 11 January 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Smart Tart by Tamasin Day Lewis

Not a recipe today, instead its a review of my newest book to add to my collection.  'Smart Tart' by Tamasin Day-Lewis is a book I first came across when I started this blog. After 'following' Tamasin on Twitter, she posted a comment about a new book she was hoping to publish via the Unbound publishing company.  Unbound, if you don't already know, is an online company where writers can pitch ideas to the general public and wait for backers to donate money.  When the target is met the book is published, simple.  Of course the backers get something out of it otherwise why would they bother donating?  Depending on the author most rewards include a first edition print of the book, dedications in the back of the published book, access to addition content and more interesting extras like VIP invites to the release party.  Tamasin offered cooking lessons at her home, acknowledgments in the book and even a tart named after you.  I would have loved to pay for the cooking lesson but missed out due to the book being published early with thanks to Fortnum and Mason.

As with past 'book reviews' please do not expect something as fluent as the reviews you find on Amazon by professional reviewers, this is my simple take on telling you what this book is all about.

Smart Tart
by Tamasin Day-Lewis

Page count: 199 (not including the index etc)

First let me comment on the size of this book.  Hardback it is (a must for my kitchen collection) this book is mini in size.  Now there is nothing wrong with this and I actually like how this book is easy to hold and read.  It is roughly A5 in size.

Divided in to 14 chapters that all include a autobiographical opening by Tamasin herself and a range of recipes based on the subject matter covered.  There are many high quality images and most recipes include at least one photograph of the final version.  Included is the normal range of images of the author herself and also a selection of images from her youth and outdoor/indoor scenes.

I will not give anything away about the contents of the opening sections of the book, if your interested in a trip down Tamasin's memory lane you need to purchase the book yourself.  However I will briefly cover the contents of each chapter.

Chapter 1: Bakewell Tart

Ok, the only recipe in this chapter should not take to much guessing.  Correct, Bakewell Tart.  Chapter 1 consists of 3 pages and includes a double page close up of the best looking Bakewell tart I have ever seen.  This is a recipe I am looking forward to giving a go.

Chapter 2: Tea at Fortnum's Fountain
This chapter contains another recipe I must give a go as it combines two of my favourite things - Tart and Brownie.  The first recipe of this chapter is Chocolate and Cherry Brownie Tart and again it has its own two page close up spread.  Other recipes in this chapter include the very simple Jam Tart, Lemon and Passion Fruit Curd and two savoury tarts - Gammon and Spinach tart and Smoked Salmon and artichoke tart.  

Chapter 3: Christmas
This chapter opens with a poem, 'The Christmas Tree', by Tamasin's father.  Recipes in this chapter include Almond and Crystallised Orange Tart, Sausage Tart and Stilton, celery and red onion tart.

Chapter 4: The things I love and the things I hate about food
The first recipe of this chapter is something I have never heard of before, Primavera Tart.  This tart seems to be a collection of spring vegetables melded together with eggs and cream to form a light 'green' spring tart.  The spring theme continues with the second, and last recipe, in this chapter, Asparagus and Parmesan Tart.

Chapter 5: Treacle Tart
Just one recipe in this chapter and you may have guess what it is already.  Tamasin take on the simple treacle tart.  Her twist, adding grated apple and the optional extra of walnuts.

Chapter 6: Slowly Cooked
Pear, Hazelnut and Honey tart starts this chapter followed by the French classic Tatin, but this time made with Apricot.

Chapter 7: Childhood Tarts
This chapter contains my all time favourite of tarts - Tarte au Citron.  If you read my first attempt at this tart many months back you will remember it didn't work.  I have noticed however that the recipe I followed all those months back (a snippet of this book before it was published) has now been adapted and the cooking times reduced.  I braved it and attempted to cook this tart again and SUCCESS it worked and actually I think it was the best lemon tart I had ever made.  This chapter also contains another tart I have made a number of times and many people have enjoyed, White Chocolate and Raspberry.  Sometimes adapted with strawberries this tart is light and perfect for after a BBQ.  The final recipe in this chapter is apple tart.

Chapter 8: Homestart
This chapter opens with a pleasant story of Tamasin's cooking challenges with a group of young cooks and is my favourite of the whole book.  Classic tarts are found in this chapter starting with Quiche Lorraine and finishing with Lemon Meringue Pie (something I could never make due to an unfortunate case of food poisoning many years back that put me off this combination once and for all)

Chapter 9: The particular spot
Only two recipes in this chapter.  Scarmorza, fennel and tomato tart with mustard gruyere and Crab and caramelised fennel tart.  Not really my sort of tarts so I will just move on to chapter 10.

Chapter 10: Revolution
The first recipe in this chapter is something I have never heard of before: Homity Pies.  From reading the recipe it is basically cheese and potato but jazzed up a little.  The next recipe is dedicated to Kay Ord who donated enough to Unbound to have a tart created for her.  Wraxall Tart: :Leek, Basil, Gruyere and Goat's Cheese.  The next recipe, from another top pledger, is Tarte a la Rippon and consists of ham, tomato and gruyere.  Roast Pumpkin, Goats crouton and sage tart is the final recipe in this chapter.

Chapter 11: Figs
Antipasti tarts start this chapter followed by a very tasty looking Fig, Raspberry and white chocolate tart.

Chapter 12: Famine
This chapter contains a tart that I truly love in summer and can't wait to make.  Simply Strawberry Tart has to be one of the best tarts going.  It must be made with the best of British strawberries and contain the thickest of thick custard.  This tart shares a page with another that I am looking forward to making, Torta Della Nonna.  

Chapter 13: Matters of the Heart
Baked Ricotta, Lemon and Vanilla Tart start this chapter and it is followed by a simple take on the Walnut Tart.

Chapter 14: The Best Restaurant
The final chapter of the book ends with contains no recipes but does discuss the methods of making shortcrust, Pate Sucree (sweet crust) and pate Sablee pastry.  I found this chapter very useful as it puts to bed the silly ideas that people can not make pastry.  I always use the food processor method as it results in the lightest and crumbliest pastry.  Tamasin's final word of wisdom is puff pastry...don't bother making it, buy it!