Tamasin Day-Lewis. Random, $24.95 (144p) ISBN 0-375-50492-3

Tarts, when done well, are gorgeous creations-their fillings displayed in buttery crust like jewels shown on velvet. Day-Lewis (The English Woman's Kitchen; West of Ireland Summers: A Cookbook) does not disappoint; in addition to delectable recipes and luxurious photos, her prose itself is exquisite. Even the most jaded palate might be tempted with her description of the much-maligned Quiche Lorraine "with a buttery pastry and an unctuously creamy, bacony, barely wobbling interior." These tarts are rich (lots of butter, cream and eggs), simple and wholesome, prepared in straightforward ways with uncomplicated steps. As Day-Lewis explains, they are not "state-of-the-art, designer-dream, fashionable" fare (even if she tells us that Julia Roberts loves the Treacle Tart), but rather "foods to console and please on the highest order." The favorite tarts of well-known chefs appear regularly throughout the pages, tweaked and appropriately credited. Classics such as Onion Tart, Plain Apple Tart and that English favorite, Bakewell Tart, coexist with more flamboyant fare, such as Fennel, Taleggio and Cardamom Tart, Mjuk Mandeltarta (soft almond tart) and a "beauteous, sluttish, fall of the Roman Empire" Roast Fig and Honey Tart with Cointreau. With quiet sophistication, Day-Lewis presents a beautiful and useful book to savor on many levels. (Mar. 9)