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Simpler cooking for sunny days
By Steven Martinovich
Summer cooking is simple cooking, perhaps the only reason many of us muster the energy necessary to enter the kitchen during those torpor filled days. Unfortunately that usually means a steady diet of hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad and lemonade for a few months. Enter Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer, a companion book to the currently airing Style Network television series of the same name. Lawson promises and delivers a collection of meals that often break from traditional summer fare but will remind you no less of the season.
"Summer, then, is an idea, a memory, a hopeful projection. Sometimes when it's gray outside and cold within, we need to conjure up the sun, some light, a lazy feeling of having all the wide-skied time in the world to sit back and eat warmly with friends. I am not talking about creating some overblown idyll of perpetual Provençal summer, but of extending that purring sense of sunny expansiveness," writes Lawson.
That expansiveness courses through Forever Summer. Her recipes are divided into four major sections -- first and second course, dessert, and drinks -- and then subdivided into specific groupings such as starters, soups, pasta and fish, among many others. There is quite a breadth of choice provided, enabling you to create anything from a casual meal to a sophisticated dinner. Interesting combinations abound given Lawson's mixing and matching from traditional English and European fare spiced up with ethnic touches.
Lawson has a deserved reputation for recipes that do much to expand waistlines. Forever Summer, while hardly an entry in the low/no-carbohydrate school of cookbooks, is more weight-watcher friendly than her previous books. There are plenty of salads and seafood based recipes if you're worried about the prospect of putting some serious weight if you decide to indulge.
Forever Summer's recipes are as usual with Lawson top-notch yet the collection lacks some of the warmth that her previous efforts have emanated. Unlike Nigella Bites, her last collection, Forever Summer largely dispenses with the ongoing narrative that made her last book like a story to be read from start to finish. The book's recipes and pictures are no less lush than before but her fans will notice that the book's tone seems a little more distant.
The fact that Forever Summer is a British series and that Lawson indulges in some exotic tastes also means that some of the recipes will be easier to pull off than others. Some of the ingredients called for could be quite difficult to find outside major urban centers and in some recipes she fails to offer alternatives, making them unattainable to many people who don't have up to date grocery stores or ethnic marketplaces.
Despite those quibbles Forever Summer is a delightful collection with each recipe serving less a paean to summer cooking but summer itself. Lawson has a well-deserved reputation for making the idea of cooking fun again. Cooking is an exploration and your reward is good old-fashioned indulging of your senses. Thank heavens we have Lawson to remind of us that.
Steven Martinovich is a freelance writer in Sudbury, Ontario.
Buy Forever Summer at Amazon.com for only $24.50 (30% off)
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