Cooking the Books: Summer’s 3 Best Cookbooks

p

Summertime cooking is special. It’s less about cooking and more about assembling, using that good farmer’s market produce while the season lasts. The phrase, “thrown together,” comes to mind. For a few blissful weeks, I organize all cooking and eating around stone fruit, basil, sweet white corn, heirloom tomatoes, and all my other favorites.

An ideal summertime cookbook lets you do this. Its recipes are both produce-heavy and flexible enough to accommodate whatever whims you’ve had at the market that day. Here are the three I’ll be using (and probably staining with tomato juice) all season long.

What's Gaby Cooking
Photo: A Cozy Kitchen

What’s Gaby Cooking: Everyday California Food

Gaby writes the type of recipes that inspire al fresco dinner parties with friends and Margaritas on random weeknights (which is basically the point of summer). They’re cravable, colorful, and all about using as much fresh produce as you can get your hands on.

Salad for President
Photo: A Cookie Named Desire

Salad for President: A Cookbook Inspired by Artists

I love jumping into Julia Sherman’s colorful, artistic world where food becomes art and salads receive main-dish status. I’ll make her Heirloom Tomatoes with Crunchy Polenta Croutons until the tomatoes disappear for the season.

river cafe london
Photo: Blackbook

River Cafe London: Thirty Years of Recipes and the Story of a Much-Loved Restaurant

The River Cafe’s simple recipes and focus on good ingredients make this book especially good for summertime, though I’ll use it year-round. I’m also excited to dig into Ruth Rogers’ inspiring words on 30 years running a landmark restaurant, breaking ground for women in food along the way.

What’s Cooking: June 2018

tomatoes

Our favorite past time? Talking about food, of course! Our team is always discussing the latest recipe, restaurant or cookbook we’re into. Here’s our list for June…

What We’re Cooking:

  • Anything and everything that involves heirloom tomatoes.
  • Everything from Alison Roman’s “Dining In” Cookbook. Can’t get over her recipe for Crunchy Chili Oil. I put it on everything now!
  • Currently making the basil vinaigrette from What’s Gaby Cooking every week!
  • Peaches with burrata, heirloom tomatoes and basil… anything that doesn’t require the stove!
  • Soba noodles! I’m a lover of all noodles, but in the summer I prefer cold broths over hot. I love keeping it simple or adding edamame, chicken, and nori.

What We’re Into:

  • Summer herbs. For our wedding, we were gifted an herb garden seed kit from Williams Sonoma. Thankfully, my basil is flourishing. And I’ve recently potted chives, parsley, mint, and cilantro. Wish me luck!
  • Making pies! Love using all the beautiful market bounty like juicy peaches, perfectly tart cherries and plump berries.
  • Car picnics, especially before a concert at Red Rocks

Where We’re Eating:

  • Denver’s Barcelona Wine Bar. I’ve been an embarrassing number of times since they opened a few months ago — as in, the manager knows me by first and last name. Everything is amazing, including their white wine sangria and roasted cauliflower with romesco sauce.  
  • The LGBT sandwich (a Pride Month special) at The Walrus and the Hedgehog, a pop up in the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, and one of L.A.’s best caterers!