While I may be slow to pack away my sweaters even as summer approaches, my cookbooks have a more timely seasonal migration. The cookbooks that I kept close at hand all winter—braising books, comfort-food focused titles, an impressive stack of baking books—are tucked away in favor of more summery favorites. There are ice cream books, grilling books and hot-weather appropriate cocktail books. There are books that help me wrangle my often-ambitious farmers' market hauls and books that transport me to distant lands even if my summer won't involve exotic travel. Here are the books that are at the top of my to-cook-from list this summer.
Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau (Ten Speed Press, 2016)
This slim, smart volume scratches two important summertime itches for me: it transports me to another place—Italy -and it is chockfull of lightly bubbly drinks, perfect for the long and languid cocktail hours that populate a satisfying summer. Baiocchi and Pariseau offer an engaging history of the spritz and the aperitivio along with dozens of related cocktails recipes. And once you have a Negroni Sbagliato or a Americano Perfecto in hand? You can whip up any of the 20-plus snacks that will complete your aperitvo table. Saluti!
Lonely Planet (Lonely Planet Publications, 2016)
My dream summers always involve lots of travel. When that isn't the case? Books fill in. The Lonely Planet's guide to street food teaches you about everything from Korean gimbap to Hungarian Langos and Moroccan Sfenj. The only thing missing? Specific information about where to buy these dishes in their origin countries. Enjoy cooking from this book at home or tuck it in your backpack before your travels begin.
Lisa Hostetler (Aperture 2016)
This book, a project started by Deborah Barsel at the George Eastman House in 1977, combines stunning food photography with many famous photographers' favorite recipes. It is a volume to make even the most seasoned Instagrammer feel like a pretender. The recipes? It's a far cry from The Zuni Cafe, but who doesn't want to learn to make Ansel Adam's Beer-Poached Eggs or Horst P. Horst's Cucumber Salad? Take this book to your vacation rental. Most recipes require minimal equipment and provide endless Instagram fodder. You could host the ultimate summer cook-out with Neal Slavin's Nylen's Frankfurters in Full Dress or end a challening day with Robert Heinecken's Serious Martini.
Laura O'Neill, Benjamin van Leeuwen, Peter van Leeuwen with Olga Massov (Harper Collins 2015)
Summer requires a steady stream of frozen treats, and if you want to make your own, the Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream book needs to be in your kitchen. O'Neill and the van Leeuwens, with help from Massov, guide you through an incredible range of frozen desserts: custard-based ice cream as well as superb vegan versions, sorbets, granitas and the recipes for the best mix-ins. On my to-make list this summer? The Sweet Corn Ice Cream, Butterscotch and Brownies Ice Cream, Vegan Coconut Ice Cream and the Watermelon Granita.
Yossy Arefi (Ten Speed Press 2016)
Apt. 2B Baking Co's Yossy Arefi has already received lots of wonderful press for her book, Sweeter Off of the Vine, and I can't imagine baking this summer without it. Both thoughtful and balanced, Arefi's fruit-focused desserts are the perfect way to show off your favorite summer fruits. Make her Cherry and Chocolate Turnovers, Roasted Apricot and Buttermilk Sherbet or Coconut Cream Fool with Raspberries to make a good summer even better.
Steve Raichlen (Workman Publishing 2016) You know your way around a grill, but have you tried your hand at using a smoker? Steve Raichlen's thorough and accessible volume, Project Smoke, will take you from novice to master smoker before Labor Day. And once you have mastered the techniques, the sky's the limit! Smoked salt for a pitcher of Mezcalinis, smoked cabbage for Smoked Slaw, smoked brisket for your House-Smoked Pastrami. (Read Food & Wine's own Tina Ujlaki's review here.)
Domenica Marchetti (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2016)
Summer may not last forever, but preserving the bounty can extend the season. Looking to Italy for inspiration, Marchetti guides cooks though a number of techniques to help cooks make the most of summer produce. Canning recipes include everything from Grilled Zucchini in Olive Oil to Wine-Spiked Julienne Carrots and her Sour Cherry Spoon Fruit. Not limited to summer or even to produce, Marchetti also teaches cooks how to cure their own Slab Pancetta and bottle their own Nocino.