A new Mary Kay Andrews novel is a summer tradition for many readers, who appreciate Andrews's stories with their mix of drama, romance, humor, and sharp dialogue. With her new menu-style cookbook, The Beach House Cookbook, Andrews will find a place in your kitchen all year round.
The recipes in The Beach House Cookbook are inspired by Andrews's lifelong residency in the South and her deep love of ocean-side living. You'll fall in love with Andrews's style: Flea market finds mixed with estate sale antiques, seashells, and easygoing attitude make for enviable gatherings, whether for two or twenty-two.
The Beach House Cookbook contains gorgeous full-color photos of almost every dish plus glimpses of Andrews's beautiful home and family. The red, white, and blue colors and nautical theme are inviting and make you yearn for a beach vacation.
Fortunately, the menus, which span a year of celebrations, will help you bring a little southern sunshine into your kitchen, no matter where you live. The menus include everything from drinks to dessert and promise a stress-free gathering for the cook–host as well as for the guests.
The meals, which are designed to serve 4 to 12, depending on the event, are well thought out and should have wide appeal. The majority of the menus are for evening entertaining, but some focus on brunch and one is for a picnic. Most are associated with a holiday or a special day (Book Bash Cocktail Party, Valentine's Day Dinner), and some are just because (Full Moon Party, After a Day at the Beach).
The recipe directions are straightforward and easy to follow and use no unusual ingredients. Almost everything can be found at a normal grocery store, even in land-locked areas. What's more, Andrews isn't shy of using shortcuts or prepared foods when it makes sense (for example, pre-shaved Parmesan cheese, canned black beans). After all, the idea behind The Beach House Cookbook is to help us "be creative in the kitchen, yet still spend time relaxing with family and guests."
With that in mind, the recipes themselves are along the lines of everyday, down-home dishes, the kinds of food real people serve to real families. You'll find nothing over-the-top fussy or exotic. I've marked several recipes to try, including the chicken enchilada dip, dry spice rub, roasted vegetable soup, marinated beef tenderloin, and cinnamon roll bread pudding. I'm also attracted to Andrews's cocktails— Tybee Tea with bourbon, Red Rooster with vodka—which look so cooling and delicious, especially for summer entertaining.
Younger cooks looking for tried-and-true recipes, menu ideas, and tips for easy entertaining will love The Beach House Cookbook. Of course, fans of Mary Kay Andrews's novels won't want to miss her personal stories and the inspiration behind some of her dishes. On the other hand, experienced cooks who have large recipe collections, may want to borrow this book from the library. Vegetarians and those on special diets should also borrow before buying.
(Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the review copy of this cookbook. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)
I love making quick pickles in the summer, they're a great way to use farmers' market produce and take almost no time at all. Here's Mary Kay Andrews's recipe. She doesn't say how long to let the cucumbers pickle, but I suggest at least a couple of hours.
Marinated Cucumbers and Onions
Serves 6 to 8
- 2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
- 1 Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Bring the vinegar, sugar, and 1 cup of water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the celery seed and pepper, and pour over the cucumbers and onion. Seal the jar and refrigerate until time to serve.
Note: The recipe and scans come from the Mary Kay Andrews's The Beach House Cookbook and are used here in the context of a review. All rights remain with the original copyright holder.