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Cookbook Watch

July 22, 1998|LAURIE OCHOA

Summer cookbook releases aren't too different from summer movies--they're mostly lightweight and designed for pure entertainment. Consider the recent crop of small single-subject cookbooks.

"You Say Tomato" (Broadway Books, $15) from San Francisco cooking instructor Joanne Weir is a fun book of tomato recipes, lore and famous tomato quotes. Weir's recipes are great dinner party food--dependable and full-flavored. The book will be especially handy to have during the height of tomato season later this summer.

Chronicle Books, which focuses much of its attention on single-subject books all year long, has several summer single-topic cookbooks, including the great-looking "Simply Shrimp" ($16.95) from Rick Rodgers and "Tea: Essence of the Leaf" ($14.95), in which tea-based recipes, lore and famous tea quotes share space with gorgeous design, including a cover shot of a tea bag that happens to visually contradict the book's subtitle. It should be noted that the credited authors of "Tea," Sara Slavin and Karl Petzke, are the book's art director-stylist and its photographer, respectively. The book's nicely done text is credited (in smaller type) to Lessley Berry and the sparse but imaginative recipes to Sandra Cook. A triumph of form over function?

Certainly Joost Elffers, who in 1997 came out with the hit picture book "Play With Your Food," exuberantly celebrates form over function. In his soon to be released "Play With Your Pumpkins" (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, $10.95), he and collaborator Saxton Freymann take some of the most popular carved pumpkin characters from "Play With Your Food," add some pumpkin recipes, lore and famous pumpkin quotes and package them in a charming gift book. The text separating the photographs is by Johannes van Dam.

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