By now, our part of the country is well into the bounty of summer fruits and vegetables and hard hit by its heat and humidity. If the first flush of the tomato has faded and cooking has become a little bit ho-hum, these books will bring added flavor.
“Smoke and Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen.” Chef/owner of Louisville’s 610 and MilkWood restaurants, Edward Lee writes that “My Korean forefather’s love of pickling is rivaled only by Southerners’ love of pickling. BBQ, with its intricate techniques of marinades and rubs, is the backbone of both cuisines. Buttermilk has become my miso, ubiquitous and endearing.”
Lee fills his cookbook with these blended cuisines, giving us dishes including pulled lamb barbecue; rice bowl with chicken, orange, peanuts, and miso remoulade; squid and bacon salad with a tahini vinaigrette. There is bourbon and smoked paprika in his seafood boil and lemongrass in his warm shrimp salad.
But Lee also lends their flavors to Lowcountry produce. Garlic, red pepper flakes and celery leaves spike his butterbeans and curry amps up his corn cakes. He roasts okra with cauliflower and cumin, then sweetens it with cashews and dried apricots. His yellow squash soup is finished with cured strawberries; his affogato based on buttermilk ice cream. I want to try it all. Hardcover. Artisan Books. $29.95.
“Bacon Nation.” Southern comfort food and bacon is a match made in heaven, but authors Peter Kaminsky and Marie Rama take it way beyond the BLT. Their bacon-wrapped shrimp are marinated in brown sugar, ginger and scallions. Summer vegetable soup is finished with bacon and tomato-basil pistou and chicken pot pie is topped with rosemary-bacon biscuits. They bring us corn kernels sauteed in butter and cooked with bacon and tomatoes and curried Cobb salad. For the finale: rum ice cream with candied bacon chips and bacon s’mores. Oink! Paperback. Workman Publishing. $14.95.
“The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook: Recipes and Reflections from a Small Vermont Dairy.” Author Diane St. Clair gives us part story (how she founded the dairy that supplies Thomas Keller’s elite French Laundry restaurant with butter), part DYI (how to make buttermilk at home), and part recipe book (how to cook with buttermilk once you’ve made it), all wrapped in an especially lovely package.
From buttermilk biscuits to mint-lemon buttermilk pops, there’s plenty to enhance your summer cooking. Hardcover. Andrews McMeel. $27.99.
Reach Marion Sullivan at email@example.com.