Simply Summer

This review was prepared by Lisa of Lisa is Bossy.

Simply Summer: Gourmet Meals Made Deliciously Easy with Tips for Elegant Living is the perfect name to give this cookbook which is all about simplicity in the kitchen. Angela Tunner wrote the book with the intent of keeping our kitchens cool during the summer months.

Angela Tunner was a Canadian restaurant cook who has since left the industry to create cookbooks, teach about food and act as a general culinary enthusiast. She is a self-proclaimed Kitchen Coach.

Overall I was disappointed with Simply Summer: Gourmet Meals Made Deliciously Easy with Tips for Elegant Living. Essentially this cookbook is not so much a cookbook as a “food assembly” book. I understand the author’s intent is to have the reader utilize their microwave and toaster oven if heating/baking is necessary — but to me, this is not really cooking. Most of the recipes are for salads and sandwiches; simple meals for which I wouldn’t even think to capture a recipe. There were instructions to purchase frozen pie crusts, slice bakery bread and buy butter croissants. It’s very disappointing for me to read a recipe titled “Angel Food Cake with Fruit Compote and Custard” only to find that the recipe instructs the cook to purchase an angel food cake and canned custard. Therefore the recipe is merely for the fruit compote.

The whole book is not entirely “food assembly”. There are certainly some simple dinner ideas — Pasta with veggies, Mango Coconut Chicken, Asparagus Wrapped with Prosciutto with Risotto — but none of these jumped out at me and there weren’t many more to choose from.

Needless to say, I had a very difficult time selecting recipe(s) to try. In the end I settled on a dinner sandwich: Ham and Parmesan Sandwiches with Herbed Mayonnaise and Apricot Jam. I’d never really followed a recipe for a sandwich before, other than perhaps a very specialized sandwich which has a correct and incorrect ingredient list (ie: Philly Cheesesteak). I purchased a Dutch Crunch roll and topped it with parsley mayonnaise, Black Forest ham, Dijon mustard, lettuce, Parmesan shavings and apricot jam. It was delicious — but…really nothing for which I’d buy a cookbook and need a recipe.

I had intended on also doing the Toaster Oven Balsamic Tomatoes, but ran out of time. And to be honest, I would have been forcing myself to try this recipe instead of looking forward to it — I’ve been roasting vegetables for years and just don’t need a recipe to do so.

To add the slightest insult to injury was the complete absence of photos. I am a very visual cook and, likely more than your average reader, NEED photos to accompany my recipes. I won’t purchase a cookbook without an abundance of photos. I like to see an interpretation of the final product and will often “shop” recipes by looking at the photos as opposed to reading the recipes. Since the recipes in this book were so simple, photos were perhaps not necessary for the reader to imagine the final product — but they would have upped the overall book appeal for me.

Perhaps I sound like a snob, but there are different levels of cooks and different levels of books and this book didn’t match up with this cook. There are non-cooks and beginning cooks and college students who might greatly enjoy the style and simplicity. But I’d much prefer instructions on how to make the perfect croissant, rather than instructions for runing to the store to purchase one.

lisa-is-bossy's picture
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I of course would like to remind people this is from MY perspective. It could very well be a great book for you. It just was not for me. I felt really awful writing such a review, but wanted to be honest as well. No point in gushing over something falsely…

Audax Artifex
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Joined: 03/07/2009

Don’t feel bad about your very honest comments the book wasn’t for you and your review makes clear what sort of ‘cook’ book it is – I’m not a fan of assembly cooking – though a lot of people do need very simple and clear instructions about how to make sandwiches and the like as you mentioned first timers from home or very young children would like it, baking and cooking can be very intimating for some people and this is good way to ease them into the subject. I gave my 9 year old niece an assembly book like this and she loved it because it was to her standard. I have to admit I’m like you I love to have lots of pixs and I will always pick a recipe with photos over one without them. I think a book like this should have photographs since it is designed for first timers and they need visuals to see what the final result should look like.

Shellyfish's picture
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Daring Alternative Cookie!
Joined: 03/09/2009

I think it’s great that you were so honest about it! It’s never easy writing a negative review, but it’s so important to let people know what you feel and why – especially because often it’s the opinions of other cooks that help us decide what (or what not) to buy!

Lis's picture
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Daring Kitchen Co-Founder & Owner/Holder of Super Kitchen Powers
Joined: 03/06/2009

I don’t think you sounded like a snob at all, Lisa. I think this was a great review. It allows the buyer to know exactly what they are purchasing before they purchase.

Having read your review, nothing bothered me about what the book includes.. see, I’ve got this horrible problem with figuring out what to make for lunch everyday – it’s got to be quick and easy, and I don’t have much imagination when it comes to different types of sandwiches and salads, it’s usually ham, cheese & lettuce for us, so some inspiration for different flavors/textures (even if all ingredients are store bought) is very appealing.. and I was actually thinking this book might fit in with what I need.. until I read there are no photos, or only minimal photos.. that made me decide to keep looking for the book I want.

Frankly, I appreciate your honesty – this, to me, was a very helpful review. Smile


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