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
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 book.
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 day.
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
A kilo of cooking apples, preferably English Bramleys
Pastry lid, bought or homemade, flaky pastry or
Preparation time: 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
Lost Desserts: Delicious Indulgences of the Past
Recipes from Legendary and Famous Chefs
By Gail Monaghan
Photographs by Eric Boman
Hardcover: 200 pages
Rizzoli (November 2007)
Patricia Boccadoro is a senior editor at