When I heard Holly Herrick had a new cookbook coming out in October about making tarts, I asked for an advance copy to review. I don't have a hard copy, but I do have a full cookbook in pdf format in front of me that I have already marked up and started baking from.
Tart Love: Sassy, Savory, and Sweet has already stolen a place on the top shelf in my kitchen where I keep my favorites. I have laminated the outside covers so that it holds up until I get my hard copy!
You know how I love baking and sweet little things, but I have been spending time in her chapter on Savory Pies and Pot Pies---mainly because of memories of my grandmother Mimi's scrumptious little chicken pot pies. She used to order old hens from the Amish country so that her chicken stock was strong and flavorful. Her crust was flaky, her pies in demand.
Holly describes her recipe for chicken pot pie this way. It is quite different from my grandmother Mimi's, but it turned out to be equally beguiling:
"Maybe it's because of the fronds that flutter in the late summer winds like deep green lace from the stalks of the perennial fragrant herb we call fennel, that it strikes me as a particularly delicate thing to be used with extreme care. The entire herb is used in these light, beautifully fragrant pot pies.
A whole chicken is gently poached with the stalks to lend to the stock its signature anise kiss."
Where Mimi's was hearty, bold and creamy, Holly's is an elevated chicken pot pie that echoes anise by the use of both fennel and Pernod.
This chapter holds four substantial recipes for main course pot pies: Shepherd's Pie, Pot Roast Pot Pies, Braised Pork Shank-Fresh Fig-and Sweet Potato Pot Pies, and the Chicken and Fresh Corn Pot Pie.
Holly amplifies the marriage of her southern roots with her culinary training in France to produce recipes that take the best from both worlds. There's a decadent Lavender Buttermilk Tart---a little bit Provence, a little bit Charleston. There's a Tuna Nicoise Tart as well as several tarts using sweet potatoes. Technique sometimes French, ingredients sometimes southern. The combination is sublime and works for American cooks who can easily find the ingredients she uses.
And why this book is especially good is that it devotes time to teaching how to perfect crust, which after all is the essence of a good tart. When I find a good crust recipe I save it with stars. I have flaky crust recipes that are great. Cookie crust recipes I use for fruit tarts. Savory crust recipes for fish and meat. Holly provides us with lengthy descriptions and hand holding so that her tart crusts come out just perfect and are totally dependable. They are also flavorful, something a lot of crusts miss out on.
You can pre-order Tart Love on Amazon now and it will be in book stores as of October 1, 2011. This is a reference book you will want to own. It is a must have book if you have tart love.
Tart Love: Sassy, Savory, and Sweet by Hollry Herrick.