Desserts by the Yard: From Brooklyn to Beverly Hills: Recipes from the Sweetest Life Ever Hardcover – Nov 1 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Brooklyn-born Yard worked her way up to reign as Hollywood and Beverly Hills queen of sweet. Executive pastry chef of Puck's Spago empire, she annually creates 1,700 or so perfect desserts for the Governors Ball following the Oscars, such as mousse-filled chocolate boxes on power-painted red carpets the year Julia Roberts won for Erin Brockovich. But Yard hasn't forgotten the rapturous tastes of her childhood; along with celeb-studded, look-at-me tales of her lofty successes, she offers tender memories and recipes for such favorites as Italian bakery Rainbow Cookies. Yard actually delivers what every cookbook promises: news for the professional and foolproof secrets for the avid amateur. From her finger-stirred sugar–water–corn syrup caramel to her assembly-line masterpieces, every ingredient is necessary and every direction makes sense. Fruit desserts, her special passion, transport the reader to Eden. Comprehensive, well-organized and meaningfully illustrated, Yard's book may be the new dessert bible. Color photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
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"Like a new best friend...empowering." (Gourmet )
"The acclaimed executive pastry chef of the Wolfgang Puck empire shares with readers the 'master' techniques that are the foundation of most classic desserts...Outstanding." (Bon Appetit )
"Filled with recipes that are within the scope of the home baker...a book that's likely to be as influential for the next generation of pastry chefs as that of her fellow Angelena Nancy Silverton." (New York Times ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book is much different. It is also much different from almost any other book of restaurant dessert recipes I've seen. The heart of the difference is that it reflects Ms. Yard's own career, beginning with her early experiences growing up in Brooklyn through her Academy Award banquet and `Iron Chef' appearances. In following this course, Ms. Yard has succeeded again in giving us one of the best restaurant baking books I have seen to date.
I am fully aware that this book's strong appeal for me lies in the large number of recipes which fit my particular interest and ethnic background (Austro-Hungarian). Strongly influenced by Herr Puck, with whom Sherry has been working for over twelve (12) years, her Spago era recipes contain many famous Austrian influenced desserts. What is so remarkable about the Puck - Yard collaboration is that Mademoiselle Sherry often disagrees vigorously with her boss, and usually wins. For his part, Puck is more than happy to go along with his pastry wonder woman, as the strong respect seems totally mutual.
My favorite aspects of the book, aside from the delightful snippets of memoir are:
Linzer Torte recipe. Even Wolfgang wasn't interested in this Austrian classic, until Yard produced a supremely moist version.
Strudel recipe. This is by far the most complicated recipe in the book, as making strudel dough is as much an athletic as a culinary exercise. It is similar to, but not the same as the Greek phyllo dough.
Dobos torte recipe. Another Austrian classic, taking about as much work as the strudel, but as totally impressive as a bouche de Noel or a baked Alaska.
Bill Clinton's Oatmeal cookies - The president could not eat chocolate, so Sherry wheeled out these delicious cookies. This is the first time I've seen it mentioned that the trick with oatmeal cookies is that you must work fast, or the oatmeal will absorb all the moisture and leave you with dry cookies.
Charlotte Russe - The dessert on the cover, for which Ms. Yard provides the recipe for the ladyfingers, and over which she and Wolfgang had a major row!
No Bake Cheesecakes - One of many relatively simple recipes. If Sherry Yard can make no-bake cheesecake, who am I to turn my nose up at it!
The English Interlude recipes, including Crumpets, Scones, Devonshire cream, Lemon Tea Biscuits, trifle, treacle tart, and peach melba. All are simple are delightful.
The large number of recipes which use fresh fruit, but which are not traditional pies. The version of Tarte Tatin is especially fascinating, in that it uses puff pastry and no pan! The most interesting of these was the rhubarb, apple, and fennel crumble recipe. Who would have thought of combining rhubarb and fennel!
The recipe for Lime-scented Floating Islands from her appearance as an assistant to Wolfgang on the `Iron Chef America Master Series' show. Unfortunately, she does not give us her technique for spinning sugar by hand, which made a big impression when we saw her do in on the show. This is the first time I've seen an `Iron Chef America' recipe in print anywhere.
The excellent tips and tricks given along the way and the concise section on basic techniques at the back of the book. The most novel and interesting suggestion was Sherry's statement that she prefers baking cake layers in half sheet pans rather than the traditional round pans. The second most interesting suggestion was the fact that cake crumbs are one of the most useful utility ingredients to have around, and Sherry gives several recipes which use them. The third most interesting suggestion was that a streusel topping should be made separately from the fruit filling, and heated on top of the fruit at the last minute.
The sure sign that this is book has something to offer is the fact that I read it from cover to cover in one sitting, and hardly noticed the time going by. If you are on the lookout for exceptional desserts, described by one of the craft's leading practitioners, this IS the book for you.
"Desserts by the Yard" contains an impressive collection of tempting recipes, some of my favorites including `Gingersnap Toaster-Oven Tarts with Peach Filling' (think high-end pop tarts), `Chocolate-Covered Chocolate-Mint Cookies,' `Apfelstudel' (Apple Strudel) and `Pistachio Gelato.' The `Ring of Saturn Peach "Doughnuts"` were also a hit, combining delicious ingredients like anise biscotti and macerated peaches into a treat that's dusted with confectioner's sugar, then served with vanilla ice cream. Recipes range in skill-level from basic to advanced and I appreciated how several of them allowed me to stretch my culinary knowledge. I had to make the `Fig Bars,' which are essentially homemade fig newtons, a few times before the texture was just right, for instance. Yet the treats I found myself making over and over again happened to be the ones that satisfied my simpler tastes: `President Clinton's Oatmeal Cookies' and `Soft Pretzels.' The cookies were a huge hit at the office with two dozen cookies disappearing at lightening speed, while two (soon to be three?) batches of pretzels have already made an appearance in my kitchen. With the exception of one recipe, for `Forbidden Rice Pudding,' I was hugely satisfied with all the dishes I made. Yard even included something for Fido: a recipe for `Real Doggy Treats' made with honey, wheat flour, cornmeal and chicken stock. My Labrador Retriever certainly appreciated those!
Chapters include: Brooklyn Inspirations; New York City: From Cigarette Girl to Pastry Chef; London Interlude; Go West, Young Gal: San Francisco and Napa; Spago Hollywood; Farmers' Market Inspirations; Vienna Interlude; Spago Beverly Hills; Chinois on Main; Special Events; and the Academy Awards.
Each receipe has a story of the author's life and what part of the world she created the easy to bake with a photograpy that makes you want to lick the pages.....
Sherry's receipe for her cover photo of Charlotte russe was my favorite dessert when I was growing up in New York
and now I can share this with my children & grandchildren
My college granddaughter is reading this book as a Biography and loving Sherry's story.
I strongly recomend this book as a gift and get one for yourself to enjoy the read and the "eat" of this wonderful book.
The cookbook is divided chronologically, beginning with Sherry's childhood in Brooklyn. Her introductions are nostalgic, and she includes updates of her childhood favorites such as rainbow cookies, frozen chocolate-coconut bars, charlotte russe, chocolate-dipped frozen custard cones, and mom's cuisinart chocolate mousse. Nostalgic in origin, Sherry has turned these into elegant creations, but her clear writing and step-by-step instructions make the recipes easy enough to follow, and most call for common ingredients.
The next section, New York City, chronicles her experiences working in the Rainbow Room, and includes showier (and more difficult) desserts such as chocolate souffles, baked Alaska, chocolate velvet, chocolate truffle cakes, and chocolate devil's food cake with chocolate filling. Chocoholics will find this section the most rewarding, although many recipes are time-consuming.
The other sections cover Sherry's adventures in Vienna (including the prerequisite apple strudel), the Asian-themed Chinois on Main, with its exotic Asian fruit concoctions such as mango pudding, yuzu lemon-lime meringue pie, Mandarin granita, and passion fruit sorbet (this was probably my least favorite; besides the forbidden rice pudding, an update on Thai sticky rice pudding, I don't see myself making any of these), a London interlude, and recipes taken from Sherry's special events catering, including the Academy Awards (rather plain chocolate boxes mounted with sugar Oscar statuettes).
This is truly a dessert cookbook for everyone, and Sherry thoughtfully includes several savory recipes as well, such as honey-glazed cornbread and crispy herbed flatbread. For fans of ice cream (sadly, I don't own an ice cream maker, so I haven't tried to make these), there are numerous recipes for gelato (butterscotch, Meyer lemon, pistachio, coconut, stracciatella) and ice creams, including exotic choices such as black currant tea, Calvados, coffee, and yuzu curd.
Sherry's writing makes this a delightful travelogue, and her down-to-earth style includes touches of humor (if she writes an autobiography about her experiences as pastry chef, I'll be first in line to read it!). Her recipes are clearly written (I have several bookmarked to try in the near future), beautifully photographed, and most are simple enough for the beginning home baker to attempt (although some call for more sophisticated touches such as spun sugar adornments, or complicated puff pastry bases). Some do call for hard-to-find and expensive ingredients such as Asian fruits, but most are doable by the average home cook with access to a decent grocery store (Sherry does recommend using top-of-the-line Cluizel chocolate, since desserts are one area where you can't skimp on ingredients and expect a stellar outcome using Nestle).
Verdict: this is an absolutely lovely volume with something for everyone, whether you're a chocoholic, someone looking for a little nostalgia, or a daring pastry chef looking for new challenges (the Oscar desserts are labor-intensive and exacting).