Summertime, and cooking isn’t on my mind. At least that’s the way I’ve felt as unrelenting heat and damaging storms have battered the Northern Virginia suburbs where I live. Curling up to read new cookbooks has proven an entertaining — and mouthwatering — diversion.
My favorite of the recent crop is the lush and lavish The Hamptons: Food, Family, and History
by Ricky Lauren (Wiley, $40). Lauren, wife of designer Ralph, uses personal and historical anecdotes and wonderful recipes stylishly presented to show us The Hamptons, where her family has summered for 40 years.
The recipes are, for the most part, easy to follow, honing to Ricky Lauren’s philosophy of taking advantage of natural settings and entertaining outdoors whenever you can.
Besides offering a peek into the lives of the rich and famous on a Gatsby-esque estate, the book charmed me with family stories like this one, which introduces David’s Ice Cream and Brownie Cannonball recipe:
“On Saturday evenings after the children were bathed, fed and dressed in their Dr. Denton pajamas and little plaid robes, we would all gather in the living room to watch The Love Boat
and Fantasy Island
on television. During “intermission,” the children would race off to the kitchen to climb on chairs to scale the kitchen counters, and rush to prepare their favorite snacks to share with us.
“The children were like a team of Oompa Loompas on an assembly line, tossing Twinkies, Mallomars, red Twizzlers and Mr. Salty pretzel bags down to one another, squealing with delight, raiding the freezer for ice cream and sorbets, sharing in the fun of concocting treats of malteds, shakes and ice-cream sodas.”Martha’s latest
I’ve never met a Martha Stewart cookbook I didn’t enjoy immensely and cook from often, but I’m especially taken by Martha’s American Food
(Clarkson Potter, $40). It offers more than 200 recipes from across America, organized by region. Stewart describes it as “a culinary road trip” and a “celebration of the extraordinary quilt of American ingredients and cuisine.”
There are recipes for favorites such as clam chowder, pulled pork, chicken pot pies, Shaker lemon tarts, blueberry crisp and strawberry shortcake, plus lots of stories about our national dishes and the stories behind them.
Since I had received a basket of fresh mangoes from a generous Miami friend with a backyard tree, I tried the chicken recipe here with mangoes rather than peaches. It was simple and yet delicious.Tried and new
Several readers reported having trouble finding the picadillo seasoning packet from Nueva Cocina mentioned in a recent column. If you have Internet access, there is a store locator and online shop at nuevacocina.com
. You can also call 800-630-1125.Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com. Personal replies cannot be guaranteed.