By Patricia Boccadoro
PARIS, 25 APRIL 2008 Gail Monaghan's Lost
Desserts is just that; a book of recipes from days gone past, updated
and modernized for today's cook. In it one can find, as stated in George
Lang's foreword, "all manner of chiffon pies, cheesecakes, upside down
cakes, and homemade ice-creams."
Monaghan has painstakingly resuscitated puddings and pies from
restaurants which closed down years ago so those of us who are still
around to remember can once again enjoy Blum's Coffee Cake Crunch,
Escoffier's Mont Blanc, Trader Vic's Flaming Tahitian Ice Cream or
Chasen's Banana Shortcake made in their own home in the blink of an eye,
or, in the case of some recipes, the best part of a week-end.
However lost, as far as many readers are concerned, can also refer to
that delicious sounding carrot cake torn out of one of the Sunday
newspapers, but then left lying around for the weekly help to scoop up
into the trash can, as well as that scrumptious recipe for the "foolproof"
melt-in-the-mouth cheesecake from a friend's Aunt Fanny, who thoughtlessly
died last month taking her secret with her. Both these treasures seem to
have been unearthed by Monaghan and are alone worth the purchase of the
Without following too literally in the footsteps of George Lang's wife,
who allegedly had 80 birthday cakes made for her husband's birthday, (his
80th?? It seems amazing he reached itâ€¦ ), this book would seem to be the
ideal gift for Jean, a friend who has been asked to make a Tarte Tatin *
for the umpteenth time for her daughter's parties. But upon following up
the story, it appeared that she so excels in that particular pudding, that
no one in the family wants to eat anything else! Maybe THEY should be
given the cookbook.
However, while many of the delicacies can be praised, others do leave
one shuddering. Who needs, "an angel cake of every conceivable flavor and
color of the rainbow"?
And who wants to labour for hours on some of
these complicated fancies, when as much pleasure can be had by gazing at
Eric Boman's splendid photographs. And not least, Monagham's amusing and
chatty anecdotes which precede each recipe will brighten many a dreary
European readers, however, are in for a tough ride, for those who are
smart enough to master the "sticks" of butter and "cups" of flour will
basically have a tough time with setting their ovens to "500" degrees.
What about adding a conversion table for those not wizard in arithmetic
for a second edition?
* Incidentally, here is Jean's Tarte Tatin:
Half a stick of butter
Half a cup of brown sugar
kilo of cooking apples, preferably English Bramleys
bought or homemade, flaky pastry or shortcrust
approximately 10 minutes
Melt butter and sugar in a Tarte Tatin dish, preferably Le Creuset,
preferably orange, and sautÃ© quartered apples until lightly caramelized.
Leave to cool, and then top with pastry and bake approximately 35 minutes
at 180 centigrade (350 farenheit), or as instructed on you pastry packet.
Turn upside down when cooled, and eat with lashings of crÃ¨me fraiche.
Lost Desserts: Delicious Indulgences of the Past Recipes from
Legendary and Famous Chefs
By Gail Monaghan
Photographs by Eric
Hardcover: 200 pages
Patricia Boccadoro is a senior editor at