Summertime, and the cooking is easy.
Hot weather means cold, refreshing foods – bright, light and in season.
Here’s a round-up of recent cookbooks:
“The Vibrant Table: Recipes from My Always Vegetarian, Mostly Vegan and Sometimes Raw Kitchen” by Anya Kassoff (Roost Books, $35) – The fresh and flavorful plant-based dishes in this beautifully photographed book are simple, elegant and, often, gluten-free. There are more than 100 healthful recipes, organized by breakfast and snacks, savories, teatime and sweets, and the whimsical “playtime,” with treats like Avocado and Strawberry Ice Pops, Everything Halva, and Apple and Kale Chips. The first section discusses basic recipes and techniques, including growing sprouts. The author, a Russian-born blogger who lives in Florida – she writes at golubkakitchen.com – shares tips for homemade vegetable broth, chocolate, almond milk and tahini, along with her favorite pantry items. Her no-meat meals are exciting and surprising: Peach and Avocado Summer Rolls, Beet and Buckwheat Gnocchi, Fava Bean Quinoa Cakes, Butternut Squash and Sage Fritters, and Caramelized Fennel and Fig Pizza. For breakfast, there’s a dramatic-looking Cherry Ricotta Bake and savory Chestnut and Buckwheat Crepes with Leeks and Mushrooms. For dessert, there are tarts and tartlets – Rhubard and Rosemary, Pink Salt and Chocolate Mousse, Apricot Lavender, Mango Lime – as well as treats like Fig Cupcakes and mini Blood Orange Chocolate Cakes.
“A Change of Appetite: Where Healthy Meets Delicious” by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley, $34.99) – A ribbon helps home cooks mark recipes in this lovely volume by one of Britain’s best-loved food writers. The latest work from the author of the popular “Salt Sugar Smoke” emphasizes seasonal ingredients and forgoes rich and heavy foods. Elegantly photographed – who knew carrot shavings could look so beautiful? – recipes are lean without losing flavor. Simple yet sophisticated and influenced by the cuisines of the Middle and Far East, Scandinavia and South America – they’re divided by season and sprinkled with essays with titles like “You can never have too many salads” and “The question of lunch.” For summer, there’s Cucumber and Yogurt Soup with Walnuts and Rose Petals; Warm Salad of Pink Grapefruit, Shrimp and Toasted Coconut; Goat Cheese and Cherry Salad with Almond and Basil Gremolata; and Poached White peaches with Rose Wine Gelatin.
“The Ginger and White Cookbook” by Tonia George, Emma Scott and Nicholas Scott (Mitchell Beazley, $24.99) – Written by the three owners of the London-based cafe by the same name, this book organizes its more than 80 recipes by meal type and features fanciful illustrations of ingredients along with vibrant photographs. Dishes run from fancy toasts – like Chorizo, Avocado and Lime on Toast and Portobello Mushrooms with Roasted Garlic Mayo on Potato Sourdough – to hearty sandwiches – such as Brie Tomato and Baby Basil on Rye Bread and Garlic and Fennel Slow-Roasted Pork Buns – and baked goods – from savory muffins and traditional scones to Rhubarb and Almond Crumble Cake and Lemon Curd Layer Cake. The pantry items chapter includes staples like Slow-Roasted Tomatoes, Caper Mayonnaise, Rosemary Sourdough Croutons and Cream Cheese Frosting. The inside cover is a collage of images from the stylish cafe, opened in 2009, with an urban vintage vibe and emphasis on artisanal British food and coffee.
“Leon: Ingredients and Recipes” by Allegra McEvedy (Conran Octopus, $29.99) – Originally published in 2008, four years after the fast and fresh food chain opened in London, this updated and charming cookbook is divided in half. The first section focuses on favorite ingredients and principles. The second holds more than 140 recipes, including old favorites like Leon’s Original Superfood Salad, Moroccan Meatballs or Magic Mackerel Couscous. It carries the distinct look of other Leon cookbooks: fun, funky, fanciful and, in places, reminiscent of an old-timey carnival. Blue and yellow ribbons mark spots in pages adorned with childhood photos, vignettes and bold graphics. Stars in upper corners denote Leon classics. The ingredients primer includes a pull-out cheese map, perforated seasonality chart in the shape and colors of a rainbow, and other fold-out pages – all adding to the super-charged sense of whimsy.
“Wrapped: Crepes, Wraps and Rolls from Around the World” by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra (Interlink Publishing Group, $25) – The seven chapters in this colorful cookbook cover bases and batters, wraps and rolls, pastries and stuffed snacks, savory cakes and fritters, pancakes and griddle cakes, relishes and accompaniments, and sweets. Most of the recipes are eclectic and ethnically inspired handhelds, perfect for on-the-go lunches or picnics at the lake. Born in what is now Guyana of Indian descent, the author was educated in Spain and Canada and now lives in the Netherlands. Influences are Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American. There are Korean Beef Bulgogi, Fresh Spring Rolls from Indonesia and China, Apple Turnovers from Holland and Walnut Cream Crepes with Chocolate Sauce from Hungary, plus a few foods on a stick – Ground Chicken Satays from Bali, Tandoori-Style Chicken Skewers, Chermoula Chicken Skewers and Lamb Souvlaki – as well as potstickers, falafel, spicy corn cakes, Latin American Cornmeal Griddle Breads, or “the plump cousins of Mexican corn tortillas.” Sides and sauces include mango chutney, mango salsa, simple peanut sauce and refried beans.
“Itsu: the Cookbook” by (Julian Metcalfe and Blanche Vaughn (Mitchell Beazely, $19.99) – The 100 Asian-inspired recipes in this cleanly designed volume – think crisp photographs and lots of white plates – feature 300 or fewer calories per serving. Calories and grams of saturated fat are listed at the top of the page for a single serving size of each entrée from the London-based Asian fast-food chain, like Hot and Sour Lemongrass Chicken Soup – 222 calories and 2.3 grams of saturated fat – or Vietnamese Chicken Salad – 172 calories and 0.6 grams of saturated fat. The Crab Crystal Rolls come in at 90 calories and 0.3 grams saturated fat. The Chicken and Leek Yakitori totals 271 calories and 2.1 grams saturated fat. Extra-long cover flaps help hold your spot in this softback book, which also includes step-by-step instructions for sushi-making, a glossary of terms and list of pantry essentials. For dessert, there’s Quick Watermelon and Lime Sorbet with 270 calories and 2.1 grams of saturated fat.