Dish

Emily's List
No self-respecting pastry chef frets about the calories and general decadence of dessert -- and Emily Luchetti, former pastry chef at Stars and currently the chair of the International Association of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, doesn't. In fact, in her new cookbook, Four-Star Desserts (HarperCollins, $32.50), she waxes positively lyrical about the numinous powers of dinner's sweet finale.

"Desserts may not solve all the world's problems, but they do offer respite," she writes in her introduction. "People cannot help but smile when they talk about the desserts they like."

The pleasure of desserts isn't just eating them, of course, it's making them -- a process Luchetti finds deeply satisfying. On that score the book is tricky. For the most part these are not beginner's or casual recipes; as Michael Lamotte's gorgeous photography shows, the end results (such as the blackberry chiffon roll and the warm bittersweet chocolate tartlets with spiced almonds) are elegant, sophisticated -- and the product of a knowing hand. A piping bag would come in handy, for instance, as would a set of individual-size tart pans.

Luchetti has a definite philosophy of dessert. There should be no more than three distinct flavors in the dish, and the dessert's design should be less complex than those of main courses so as not to weary the palate. She's also wary of too many ornate visual effects.

"Sugar and chocolate may be easier to mold and turn into a 'creation,' but just because it can be produced doesn't mean it should be," she writes. "Desserts should not look so contrived that you feel someone had their hands all over your food while it was being arranged, or that you don't know where to begin to eat."

Six Degrees of Stoli
Stolichnaya, the Russian vodka, is about to be joined on the shelves by six more flavored versions that, say the spin docs, "will permanently expand America's old perception of vodka as odorless and flavorless." But the new Stolis will, like their austere patriarch, be "all natural" (how about organic?) and available in the convenient liter size.

The flavors? Vanilla, coffee (for breakfast? How about mocha?), cinnamon, raspberry, strawberry, and peach. The newcomers join earlier flavored Stoli vodkas, including pepper, lemon, herb, and orange.

"The new Stoli flavors represent the ultimate tool for bartenders to create the specialty drink menus that can really drive sales," says straight-talking Ernie Capria, senior vice president of marketing for Carillon Importers, which brings Stoli, in its ever greater splendor, to these thirsty shores. Can you hear those cash registers ringing already?

By Paul Reidinger
sfwdish@aol.com

 
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