This cookbook has a copyright of 2010. I bought this book with a gift certificate a few months ago. I have never cooked from this book before.
Like most, I cook differently in the summer than in winter. Lighter. Simpler. In the summer I also tend to make it to the Farmers Market more often for fresh local ingredients. So I picked up this cookbook with those two ideas in mind.
I really liked the information that this cookbook gave out. Can't say I was thrilled with the orange and green type though (recipe names and ingredients in orange, instructions in green). Basic chapters (sandwiches, soups, main dishes, etc) along with chapters like Breakfast/Brunch and Homemade Summer Staples (Pesto, dressings, croutons, rubs, marinades and sauces). It did have a chapter on "summer" which included info on finding fresh ingredients (a great fruit and vegetable summer seasonality chart) what to keep in your pantry, and info about things like grilling. The end of the book has pages on different menus (weekend brunch, seafood dinner, 15-minute gourmet feast), sort of a fruit and vegetable dictionary (it lists the various types...under Apricot it lists Golden Amber, Moorpark and Ram Roc and explains the differences and when they usually come to market). There are a few pages on 'recipes by icon' (some recipes are tagged as 'no cook' or 'make ahead'), and a section on recipes by spotlighted ingredient (blueberries, corn etc). A standard index is also included.
Throughout the book you will find boxes of information spotlighting certain fruits or vegetables, technical information (on measureing fresh and dried herbs, foraging for wild summer fruit) and "summer memories" where the author relays memories he has of summer foods or events. These summer memories are in dark orange type on a light orange background. I found that annoying, though the memories he wrote about were not.
There are no photos in this book. The ingredients didn't seem too out there, though you might have trouble finding some of the main ingredients during winter months (which is kinda the point, to use fresh in season ingredients, so that shouldn't be a problem). I only came across a few things that might be tough to find (like squash blossoms, fresh spearmint, dandelion greens) but most should be available at your local grocery store. The directions seem pretty detailed and easy to follow. One of the things I noticed is that the recipes tend to give you a heads up, in the notes leading to the recipe, when there is some sort of delay time (like when you have to marinate something for several hours or keep a dish overnight in the fridge before finishing). This will probably save me some "uh oh, I should have started this earlier" mistakes by not noticing it in the directions.
For some reason this cookbook speaks to me. You would think it not having any photos and that horrid colored type, that it wouldn't be high on my "browse" list but it is. Normally its the flashy photographs and snappy recipe names that catch my eye, but I look at something as simple as Crab and Cucumer Salad and want to give the recipe a try. Though I'd probably try 90 percent of the 300 recipes in The Big Summer Cookbook, the ones that caught my eye to try first were the Brioche French Toast, Sour Cream Breakfast Cake, Deep-South Onion Rings, Tacos Con Carne Asada, Grilled Corn Salad, Watermelon Salad, Crab and Cucumber Salad, Sweet-and-Tart Gazpacho, Summer Squash with Pasta, California Burger, Bourbon-Hoisin Baby Back Ribs, Mango Shrimp, Lemon-Garlic-Butter Scallops, Crab Delights, Stir-Fried Asparagus with Beef, Polenta with Mushrooms and Cheese, Corn Risotto with Lime, Jalapeno Cornbread, Cucumber Sorbet, Peach Delight, Grilled Apricots in Caramel Sauce, Summertime Pie, Peachberry Almond Galette, and Fruity Agua Fresca.
The hardest part of a cookbook like this is picking the "one" dish that I'm going to try. Sometimes it's a crap shoot and I really do go "Eeny Meeny Miney Mo". Other times it might be because I have a certain ingredient on hand and want to cook with it. Or maybe I saw or read about a recipe and went looking for a similar dish to cook. Or I'm participating in a challenge and the cookbook I'm currently looking at has recipes that fit the bill. It's always interesting to see what recipe I finally end up using.