Reviews

Clafoutis-1

Our fifth review is in!

“A Taste of Gorgeous is a sumptuous cookbook by authors Craig and Johanna Harlen. The book contains a selection of photographs which accompany fifty recipes for home-style cooking, which are derived from the executive sous chef of the Shila restaurant in Israel. A Taste of Gorgeous specializes in dessert recipes, with a mixture of traditional and exotic desserts presented in interesting ways. As author Johanna Harlen explains, desserts have to be simple to put together in order to motivate her to want to create them, so this collection presents a strong theme of simplicity in construction, whilst also producing something delicious and beautifully presented for your audience. I’m just dying to try these recipes out after looking at the array of highly professional photographs, which really celebrate color and flavor at the same time. Craig and Johanna Harlen have done their best to create single-page recipes which are simple to follow, and I found the little Chef’s Tip sections very useful and informative. I’ve got my eye on the Chocolate Hazelnut Pate especially, which looks great on the plate and is actually ‘cooked’ in the refrigerator! Overall, A Taste of Gorgeous should be a great starter book for anyone who wants to make a wow-factor dessert, but doesn’t yet have the skills and experience for complex cooking.”

“Any cookbook that has “gorgeous” in its title had better deliver great photography. A Taste of Gorgeous by mother and son team Craig Harlen and Johanna Harlen has, if anything, a title that is too modest. Part cookbook and part coffee table photography book, A Taste of Gorgeous is a collection of 50 dessert recipes, many of which are common in their simplicity, but these recipes are plated and photographed to perfection. Johanna Harlen is the author of the recipes, which range from Easy Cherry Cobbler to White Chocolate Crème Brûlée. She describes the recipes as simple, and, for the most part, they use ingredients and techniques that should be accessible to almost any home cook. But the way executive sous chef Craig Harlen plates and photographs these simple desserts is spectacular! He makes even Carrot Cake and Pineapple Upside Down Cake look like they belong in a Michelin Star restaurant. And what he does with the S’more is extraordinary! I can’t gush enough about the wonderful photography, but the recipes in A Taste of Gorgeous also sound so good it was hard to choose a favorite. The standout for me was the recipe for Key Lime Pie Deconstructed. Johanna Harlen not only describes how to make the dessert, but she lists step-by-step how to plate so it looks like the photograph. This is the only recipe in which the plating is explained as the other recipes simply tell how to make the dish. The photos are so inspiring that I might have to try it. Highly recommended as a dessert cookbook, and even more highly recommended as gorgeous food photography. I’m not sure which is the best part of A Taste of Gorgeous – the recipes or the photographs! Really impressive job!” -Donna Gielow McFarland for Readers’ Favorite

“The sentence, “This is a collection of favorite recipes and not necessarily originals,” introduces this unique cookbook. The authors are a mother and her son/chef, and they have collected a number of dessert recipes. Some of the desserts are from the kitchens of Johanna and Craig; others are from Johanna’s mother, and other sources. Happily, some of the recipes have been revised in innovative and delightful ways. For example, Chef Craig deconstructed s’mores and presented an artistic masterpiece – from the ingredients of a favorite, simple campsite dessert – a s’mores. Additionally, each recipe is adorned with a beautiful photograph of the dish. The creativity found in the plating of each dessert is inspirational and could be used with other desserts. A Taste of Gorgeous, composed by Craig Harlen and Johanna Harlen, is a treasure for anyone who loves ending a meal with a sumptuous treat. At the top of each page is an equally-sized photograph of a delectable dessert. This cookbook would be a great addition to the cookbook collection of any dessert-loving home chef. Craig Harlen and Johanna Harlen have cleverly titled their dessert cookbook A Taste of Gorgeous and it is, without a doubt, a gorgeous cookbook!” -Deborah Lloyd for Readers’ Favorite

“A Taste of Gorgeous by Craig and Johanna Harlen is a beautiful cook book, featuring great recipes for those who want to prepare some of the tastiest desserts and pastries out there. From the executive sous chef for one of the reputable restaurants, Shila restaurant in Tel Aviv, Israel, comes a wide selection of recipes, each clearly written and explained with a simplicity of language that gives the reader exactly what they need to know. But there is more to this book than recipes; the photography features images of succulent, delectable and mouthwatering treats that will make readers want to get into the kitchen and try the recipes. As one moves from one recipe to the next, there is a feeling of talking with experts who know a lot about food and the kitchen. The book is beautiful because of the simplicity and elegance in the layout. The authors tease you with an image of the dessert before moving on to share the recipe. Every recipe comes with a brief description of the dessert, what makes it different from the others, and the ingredients required in preparing it. You’ll find recipes for a wide selection of desserts, including the Citrus Soufflé, the easy Cherry Cobbler, the Lemon Cream pie, the Chocolate Hazelnut Pate, Paint Pot Tarts, and a lot more. The authors write with clarity and the instructions are very clear for readers. A Taste of Gorgeous is a wonderful cook book that is particularly designed to instill the love of cooking desserts in the reader. Just the images will make you want to taste the final products of these recipes. I can’t wait to try some of them.”       -Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite

“A Taste of Gorgeous is a nonfiction cooking and food book written by Craig Harlen and Johanna Harlen with photographs by Craig Harlen. Craig Harlen is the executive sous chef at Shila Restaurant in Israel. Johanna, his mother, has adapted many of her mother’s traditional African desserts for inclusion in this collection and provided the narrative for this book. She generally does not enjoy spending inordinate amounts of time preparing desserts and has chosen recipes with ease and relative simplicity in mind. While she and her son are geographically separated, they worked together to compile this collection of recipes which offers classic as well as artistically deconstructed versions of favorites such as their S’Mores Torte. Many recipes include fruit, citrus and berry juices and fresh cream. Most have a minimal amount of ingredients and have clear and easy to follow instructions. Craig Harlen and Johanna Harlen’s A Taste of Gorgeous is not for dieters or the weak of heart. The gorgeous illustrations alone will have you figuring out what you can whip up right now with what you have in your pantry, and constructing mental shopping lists for the next delicious treat to try. I was particularly impressed by the wholesome and natural ingredients I found listed in each recipe and the relatively judicious use of butters and fats necessary for even the most decadent offerings. Johanna says in her introduction that she hopes readers will work through each of the recipes in the book, and I can see how that would be a most tempting and doable feat. I loved the simplicity of her Easy Cherry Cobbler and Lemon Cream Pie (which is first on my to-do list), and appreciated her version of an all-time favorite, Berry Clafoutis. Other impossible to pass up goodies? Dark Chocolate Cherry Pie, Caramel Vanilla Custard Tarts and Chocolate Toffee Swirl Cheesecakes come to mind. The recipes are a breeze to follow, require a reasonable amount of ingredients and sound and look simply heavenly. A Taste of Gorgeous is most highly recommended.” -Jack Magnus for Reader’s Favorite