Friday, June 20, 2008
Cookbook Watch: More summer specials
Summer cookbooks seem to be all the rave, and this one probably takes the prize: The Summertime Anytime Cookbook by Dana Slatkin. Dana Slatkin runs a hotel in Santa Monica called Shutters on the Beach, and her customers have been asking her for years to write a cookbook. I can see why. This is really very nice - not only does everything sound delicious, it also has a very relaxed California-style to it. Aside from recipes, it has a few pages on how to create a beach-like atmosphere at home, and it has plenty of photos from the hotel and from Santa Monica. Beautiful - has any of you been there? I've just been to the Santa Monica promenade once or twice, but that's it. I'd love to stay at the hotel sometime... but for now, I'm happy with the cookbook. It has chapters like Sunny Days, Stormy Nights and Misty Mornings, and the recipes I'm mostly dying to make are Pappardalle with Mushrooms, Rosemary and light Tomato sauce, and Cranberry-Orange Pistachio Bread.
The next book is a nice addition to any summer kitchen: Bobby Flay's Grill It! This book starts with the idea that you know what you want to make: lobster, a steak or a burger, perhaps? Then, each chapter has plenty of versions of that. My favorite chapter was on corn, with recipes like Charred Corn Guacamole, and Mexicali-style corn with Lime Butter and Cilantro. I have to admit that it doesn't completely thrill me, but that could be because I already have five or six books on grilled food. (at the very least...) I also find it a bit impractical - I almost never cook with scallops or lobster, so those chapters are pretty much useless for me. (It's too hard to find decent quality here - and if you do, the price is far from right.) My main gripe with this book is however the lack of photos. There are some, and those are nice, but far from every recipe has a photo.
The last one is a Swedish one, written by mystery novel author Camilla Läckberg and the fairly decorated chef Christian Hellberg. Both are from a small place on the west coast called Fjällbacka (which is where Camilla's murder novels always are set) and the book is called Smaker from Fjällbacka. ("Tastes from Fjällbacka") It definitely has a lot of summer-style Swedish food, but again, I'm not crazy about this book. The main problem I have is actually the food itself - again, much of it uses pretty exclusive ingredients (at least to the east coast where I live!) that I rarely cook with, and almost all of the recipes uses huge amounts of butter and cream. Tasty as that may be, I don't find it very practical for every day, and thus this will not be the book to turn to for weekday dinners. That said, I've managed to tag quite a few recipes to try out, like the Cardamom Apple Muffins, Grilled Lamb with Artichoke Dip and a Herb-marinated Herring. The photos are great - and I love that there's also quite a few action shots of the two authors.
Happy Midsummer's Eve!