Cookbook Review:

The Summertime Anytime Cookbook, Recipes from Shutters on the Beach

by Diane Slatkin

When I think of summertime, I think of light breezes, humidity and doing not a whole lot. When I think of summer food, I think of crisp salads, light lunches and cold treats. Summertime Anytime has recipes that look like they deliver – unless you happen to be the one making them. The recipes are loaded with ingredients and preparation. As an advanced home cook, I knew that I could tackle the recipes in this book but I don’t know why anyone would want to in the summer. I’ll get to the recipes later, though. The photographs are beautiful and inspiring. The chapters are interspersed with tips and fun information to help make your home and life summery at any time. There’s a playlist filled with songs that might make you think of summer, decorating tips and a page dedicated to stocking your bar. While these pages are interesting, they really feel out of place, like page fillers almost. One page is titled “Ten Ways to Decorate a Glass Hurricane” and, as a cook (one who takes pride in my home, too) I really don’t care. If I was looking for decorating advice, I wouldn’t be reading a cookbook. Another non-sequitor are the pages relaying recipes for body scrubs. I know many cooks who are crafty and might be interested by this, but I don’t think its presence serves to better this particular cookbook. As for the recipes, there are too many ingredients in everything. When I looked at the photos, I wanted to eat what was there, when I saw the ingredients list, I wondered where all that stuff was in the photo. In the Roasted Halibut with Fennel-Tomato sauce, a large portion of the half page long ingredients list are strained out of the sauce, which seems incredibly wasteful. I also was reluctant to roast the fish, as it is summer and it was sweltering that day in New Jersey. The Barley Risotto with Carrot-Corn Broth looked beautiful in the photograph, and sounded delightful. The list of ingredients was also daunting, and the fact that the risotto is packed with five different kids of vegetables sounds both healthy and delicious, but prepping them all took a long time. After executing the dish, the broth was largely flavorless and the risotto was good but the Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup) overpowered the delicate flavors of the barley and vegetables. Barley risotto is definitely something I will try again, but I don’t think it needs a broth and it will become a Fall/Winter/Spring dish as it was far too hot stand over the stove stirring it for as long as was necessary. I quickly lost interest in trying anything in the cookbook again. Sad to say, but that’s a mark of a not very good cookbook, isn’t it?

This book was provided by The Daring Kitchen and reviewed for them.


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