Cookbook Lowdown: How to Eat Summer Food All Year Round

This book will give your summer kitchen a Scandinavian flair—and plenty of ideas for the other seasons too.

(Photo: Courtesy Simon & Schuster) 

Sarah McColl has written for Yahoo Food, Bon Appetit, and other publications. She's based in Brooklyn.

Summer Food: New Summer Classics is a love letter to June, July, and August, with nearly 100 recipes for breakfasts, lunches, appetizers, drinks, main dishes, and desserts using the anticipated summer stars—such as tomatoes and stone fruit—of your local farmers market.

The Players

Summer Food was written by Paul Løwe, of Sweet Paul magazine and blog fame, with photography by Nina Dreyer Hensley and Jim Hensley.

The Vibe

Warmly written and inspired by Løwe’s memories of summers spent in the tiny kitchen of a Norwegian beach cottage with his family, this is a cookbook for casual sun- and salt-soaked meals eaten outdoors. (All of the photos were taken outside.) Think Scandinavian-influenced seafood meets August’s overflowing farmers market stall, pulled together with the intimate familiarity of your favorite blog.

Who Would Love It

Fans of Nigella Lawson’s 2003 cookbook Forever Summer and Donna Hay; beach house inhabiters; cooks for whom pictures are worth 1,000 words; and anyone who eats up every stylish thing Løwe touches.

How About the Rest of the Year?

Ah, good question. Why take up valuable space on a crammed bookshelf with a hyper-seasonal volume? “We wish you all a fantastic summer,” Løwe writes in the introduction, “whether it is in frigid January or during a beautiful sunset in August.” The idea woven throughout the book is that those elements of summer we love most—an off-the-cuff approach to cooking, unfussy techniques, and a relaxed sense of leisure and fun in the kitchen—can be brought to the table any month. Aside from dishes featuring ripe summer tomatoes, the majority of the recipes have ingredients widely available throughout the year. Feta and lemon dip, a kicky cucumber salad, and a cauliflower gratin with cured ham can all work as well at a February cocktail party as on a July picnic table.

Ideas to Steal

Summer Food is flush with really simple fish dishes that make seafood seem neither tricky nor a bother: trout salad with potatoes, baked oysters, crab and corn cakes, and a soup starting one of our favorite sustainable bivalves, the mussel, that will elbow classic moules meunière out from your Le Creuset pot. There’s also a three-ingredient no-cook jam (well, “jam”) that’s a game changer.

Mussels Soup

Serves 4 

Ingredients

½ cup dry white wine

2 pounds mussels, rinsed and cleaned

2 tablespoons butter

2 shallots, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

4 cups fish stock

1½ cups heavy (double) cream

Salt and freshly cracked pepper

2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped

Directions

Combine the wine and mussels in a large pot and set over high heat on the stove top. Steam the mussels with the lid on the pot for 3–4 minutes, or until the shells open. Discard any mussels that have not opened. Strain the liquid from the pot and reserve in a bowl. Remove the cooked mussels from the shells and transfer to a bowl. Wipe the pot clean. Transfer the pot back to the stove top and set on medium heat. Melt the butter in the pot, and sauté the shallots and garlic until soft and translucent. Whisk in the flour until absorbed in the mixture, add the fish stock and reserved mussel liquid, and continue to whisk vigorously to avoid clumps forming. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Whisk in the cream, salt and pepper to taste, and the dill and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls, garnishing with the cooked mussels.

Fresh Strawberry Jam

Makes 1 large container

Ingredients

2 pounds strawberries, rinsed, with stems removed

3½ ounces sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Directions

There are many ways to make a simple fresh jam, but I place the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a bowl and mash them with a big fork. Mash the mixture until it is a suitable jam-like consistency. Add the jam to a glass jar and cover with an airtight top.

You can also try this method with raspberries, blueberries, red currants, or gooseberries.

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