When this book was published back in 1985, it seemed to be as much about displaying Martha Stewart's fantastic, esoteric and extensive collection of tableware, furniture and other household goods in her beautiful Connecticut estate as it was about its subject. Photo captions read, "A tender croustade is served in the shade of our orchard atop an old tavern table. Lemon tea, served in Fire King cups, is a perfect accompaniment," and "Two lemon tarts ready to be served on a tea table on our upper porch, which looks out over Long Island Sound. The plates and tea cups are English lustre." The lifestyle guru and tastemaker wrote about how her "homegrown eggs" were far superior to the ones purchased in shops; how her "Massachusetts cottage" is near a Shaker village; and that "until Andy [her now ex-husband] builds me an orangery" she'll have to make do buying citrus in shops.
Fortunately, though, the book is a great source of inspiration for bakers and many of the tarts and pies are downright beautiful. Stewart makes basics, such as pastry doughs - which many people are intimidated by (especially puff pastry) - seem less daunting, and her step-by-step photos for making pate brisee (pie or tart dough) in the food processor are especially helpful.
Some of her recipes will be impossible for us in Hong Kong to make, not because they're difficult, but because they call for rare varieties of fruit, such as winter banana apples or belle of Georgia peaches.
But the other recipes are easy enough. They include puff pear croustade with anise; pear or apple dumplings; bottom crust plum pie; nectarine galette; golden raspberry mille feuille; fraise des bois tartlets; lemon curd tart; persimmon tartlets with lemon cream filling; spicy butternut squash pie; white chocolate mocha cream carnation tartlets; and chocolate pecan lattice tart.