cover image Luscious Berry Desserts

Luscious Berry Desserts

Lori Longbotham, Chronicle Books, , photos by James Carrier. . Chronicle, $19.95 (168pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-4414-7

Former Gourmet editor Longbotham never met a berry she didn't like. Strawberries are "summer's brightest jewel"; raspberries have "flesh like soft velvet"; blueberries are "a dazzling bright blue." Her introduction, which will feel familiar to readers of her Luscious Lemon Desserts , shares botanical facts and practical advice. While some of it is specific (how to keep blueberry batter from turning blue or green), much of it is general and aimed at novices (for instance, standard instructions on measuring flour by spooning it into the cup). Skip the prefaces to the recipes—nearly everything is "great," "fabulous" or Longbotham's "favorite"—and there remains the classic gamut of pies, cakes, puddings and topped desserts. (Unlike many writers, Longbotham distinguishes knowledgeably among cobblers, crisps, betties, buckles and grunts.) While most recipes involve baking from scratch (although they are not daunting), the instructions for Square Strawberry Puff Pastry Tart suggests readers use all-butter packaged puff pastry such as Dufour's—sound advice but outside sophisticated markets you may have to order online. Carrier's lovely photographs and a preponderance of pink and purple pages add to the summer weekend gift-book feel. (July)