Westerly Sun Column | Hot Cookbooks for Cool Summer Meals

June 24, 2024

Summer may have only just arrived, but it’s not messing around! Personally, I love the sun and heat, so you won’t hear me complaining about the rising temps, but they certainly have me reconsidering some of the meals in my weekly dinner rotation. We’re big fans of shepherd’s pie and curries in our house, but it’s time to swap these out for something that doesn’t require the oven or stovetop to be on for hours on end! Fortunately, I can get tons of inspiration from the cookbook collection at the library.

Grilling is obviously a fantastic option for the warmer months, if you have the means and the space for a grill, and it’s incredibly versatile! Books like “Horn Barbecue” by Matt Horn will teach you how to make classic, meat-based BBQ dishes, or you can try “Grilling Vegan Style” by John Schlimm for mouth-watering plant-based goodies from the grill. Then there’s “The Essential New York Times Grilling Cookbook,” which includes all of the staple foods, as well as vegetables, sides, and even desserts that make use of the grill. “Grilled Leeks with White Beans and Blue Cheese?” Yes, please! “Grilled Chocolate Sandwich”? These people know the way to my heart.

If you want to cook indoors without the heat, air fryers and pressure cookers can be lifesavers. I swear by America’s Test Kitchen, and recommend their cookbook “Air Fryer Perfection” for recipes, tips, and tricks for preparing everything from crispy fries to juicy steaks. “Comfort in an Instant” by trusted cookbook author Melissa Clark is another great choice, which includes 75 recipes for comfort foods that can be made in a pressure cooker, multicooker, and Instant Pot®.

Let’s not forget about dessert! Cookies and pies are fantastic, but will heat up your kitchen in no time. Instead, try out some no-bake desserts this summer! “Ice Box Cakes” by Jean Sagendorph and Jessie Sheehan includes a variety of cakes that are made largely with cookies/wafers and cream or pudding — and then frozen — for a delightful, low-maintenance, and heat-free dessert! From Lavender-Blueberry Cake to Banana-Rum Cake, there is something for all tastes! I’m also checking out Food52’s “Ice cream and Friends,” which has ideas for sorbets, ice cream sandwiches, and no-churn ice creams. I’ll start with the Chocolate Tacos!

If you’re looking for an all-in-one cookbook, the “Taste of Home Cool Kitchen Cookbook” is a great option. It offers 392 “crowd-pleasing” recipes that don’t require the use of an oven, making use of grills, instant pots, air fryers, microwaves, and more to cook without making you sweat. In addition to dinner options, the book includes breakfast, lunch, and dessert recipes, from smoothies to salads to an assortment of delicious sandwiches. Speaking of sandwiches (and crowd-pleasers), who doesn’t love a good ol’ PB&J sandwich?!? I’ll happily eat those all summer long, and I won’t even need a recipe!


by Cassie Skobrak, Adult Services Librarian

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