Book Review: The Fire Island Cookbook by Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen

Weekend Cooking meme graphicBook: The Fire Island Cookbook by Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen
Genre: Cookbook
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: April 2012
Pages: 180

Source: Received, unsolicited, for review from the publisher

Summary: Fire Island is a vacation spot near New York City where the authors, Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen also known as the World Wine Guys, entertain at a beach house. As their nickname implies, DeSimone and Jenssen also travel so these recipes are from all over: Tuscany, Spain, the Caribbean, and more.

Many of the menus in this cookbook involve dishes that can be prepared ahead of time and finished at the last minute, so you can do your prep work in the morning and then spend your day by the water along with the rest of the gang. They can also be divided up among the group, with one or  two people tackling each course, so that nobody has to work too hard to get dinner on the table. With fourteen menus to choose from, there is one for each weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day, or one per night for a two-week stay at the beach. (p. 2)

Gorgeous full-page photos throughout the book and wine-pairings for every course make this a beautiful book for browsing.

cover of The Fire Island Cookbook by Mike DeSimone and Jeff JenssenThoughts: Living in Missouri, beach house vacations are as fantastic as a fortnight in Florence, a photo safari in Kenya, or a garden tour in Ireland. Oh wait, I’m doing that last one soon, so none of those are impossible dreams. In the meantime, I enjoyed reading this cookbook as a virtual visit to beach locations around the world.

I’m not very experienced at entertaining so a few of these menus look a little daunting, although splitting the work among the guests would make a difference. Many of the menus seem high-fat to me, but these are meant to be special occasion meals. Some could be lightened by simply leaving out a course or converting something like Mayan Chicken and Lime Soup, p. 84, to a simpler tomato soup since it’s on the same menu with Tequila-Marinated Hanger Steak on a Bed of Grilled Peppers and Onions.

I marked several recipes to try this summer, including Fusilli with “Crudo” Tomato Sauce, p. 32, Basil Vanilla Ice Cream, p. 39 and the afore-mentioned Mayan Chicken and Lime Soup, p. 84 which would make a great main dish in our house.

I would like to try the Greek-inspired menu late in the summer: Mykonos By Torchlight, starting on page 69. Since Rick is allergic to red meat, I would substitute chicken for the lamb, but here’s the menu as The Fire Island Cookbook presents it:

  • Feta Cheese Baked in Puff Pastry
  • Tomato, Cucumber, and Feta Salad
  • Rosemary-Rubbed Boneless Leg of Lamb with Tomato-Eggplant Caponata
  • Pistachio Frozen Greek Yogurt

Appeal: The Fire Island Cookbook will be most useful to those who entertain in the summer, but if you’re like me and just dream about it, you’ll enjoy it, too. Vegetarians will find little to dream over, however.

logo for Foodies Read 2 ChallengeChallenges: This is the 8th of 19 books for the 2012 Foodies Read 2 Challenge.

Edited to add: I just realized this works for the What’s In a Name challenge as a topographical feature — island!

Visit Beth Fish Reads for other Weekend Cooking posts.

Signature of Joy Weese Moll

About Joy Weese Moll

a librarian writing about books
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8 Responses to Book Review: The Fire Island Cookbook by Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen

  1. I’ve never been to Fire Island, so close, yet so far, I’m on Long Island. One of these days but in the meantime, the book appeals to me. The menus sounds delicious, I like what you’ve bookmarked. Especially the soup, and that hangar steak with tequila.

  2. Ooh, the Greek-inpsired menu sounds wonderful, and the cover of the book looks beautiful.

  3. Romelle says:

    Stopping by to say hello to my fellow MNINBer. I shall visit your blog more often. Always looking for a good cookbook. Basil vanilla ice cream? Sounds interesting…

  4. Beth F says:

    Wow — must track this down. We love a variety of flavors and this book looks like would be perfect. Yummmmm.

  5. Marg says:

    Oh, that Greek menu sounds amazing! I like the fact that it does have menus like this to help plan entertaining.

  6. Great attitude, Joy – “none of these dreams are impossible.”

    Looks like a wonderful cookbook, and a great way to armchair travel (or armchair nibble) our way around the world.

  7. Oh yes, a beach house vacation sounds like bliss to me! I’d like this book, thanks for the review. Another one added to “the list”. :)

  8. Christine says:

    Pistachio Frozen Greek Yogurt?? YUMMMMMmmmmmm!
    I grew up spending my summers as a kid on Eastern Long Island.. much further out on the island than Fire Island, but still… seeing the title to this cookbook makes me happy. :D