Cooking in the summertime is a double-edged sword (or chef’s knife, more accurately). One the one hand, you’ve got a world of gorgeous seasonal produce waiting to be scooped up from farmers markets and worked into June/July/August-only preparations. On the other, there’s the heat factor: the part where the mere thought of turning on a burner or (horror!) the oven is enough to get you red in the face.
Since one cannot sustain oneself on salad alone, we’ve lined up four of our favorite summertime cookbooks for your warm-weather cooking enjoyment.
1. Ripe: First up is Nigel Slater’s Ripe, the fruity follow-up to last year’s vegetable bible, Tender. It’s a gorgeous volume devoted to all aspects of fruit, from cultivation to cookery. A cook and a gardener, Slater makes use of every last inch of his tiny London backyard plot, growing plums and strawberries in an environment far from pastoral. Following an engaging tutorial on each lovely fruit, Slater lines up a cache of thoughtful recipes that accentuate their unique sweetness: Think roast pork with plum-and-ginger sauce and pistachio-apricot crumble (Ten Speed Press, April 2012).
2. Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book San Francisco’s wildest ice cream parlor, Humphry Slocombe, has gotten more than its fair share of attention for flavors like Secret Breakfast — for the uninitiated, that’s cornflakes and bourbon. Now their mad-scientist wares can be had outside of the Bay Area under the tutelage of their new ice cream book. Secret Breakfast makes an appearance as well as other whoa-worthy flavors like Strawberry Olive and Peanut Butter Curry (Chronicle Books, April 2012).
3. The Gardener & the Grill Grilling cookbooks have a decidedly meaty bent, which is precisely what makes The Gardener & the Grill such a summertime gem. The book doesn’t eschew meat completely, but it does go for a vegetable-heavy approach to grilling, where smoke adds depth to potato salad and strawberries are skewered for dessert (Running Press, April 2012).
4. Beer Cocktails Utilizing beer as a cocktail mixer has been in vogue for a few years, and Beer Cocktails gives home mixologists an avenue into the world of these trendy potables. Less boozy than the all-spirits variety, these summer-perfect cocktails let the beer style’s characteristics dictate the hard-liquor pairings. Be on the lookout for a cool Campari-lime-and-lager Bello Diavlo and a vodka, mint and Aperol-spiked Sunset (Harvard Common Press, April 2012).