Entertaining in the summertime should be a labor of love, not laborious. The sultry days and evenings are a time to enjoy the alfresco gatherings of family and friends while serving up the fruits of the season. Fresh everything – from the catch of the day to summer’s delectable produce – is the name of the hosting game at this time of year. To help home chefs prepare for company, Swedish veteran cookbook author and television chef Lisa Lemke dishes up laid-back menus that are anything but humdrum in her latest cookbook, The Summer Table.

“For me, summertime is the highpoint of the year when it comes to fresh produce. It feels like something new is ready to be harvested everyday,” says Lemke, who lives in a small town on the west coast of Sweden, where she regularly appears as a food expert on a popular Swedish morning show.

In her fifth cookbook, Lemke makes organizing meals for entertaining easy by creating 11 delicious and simply prepared menus for a variety of occasions. Her Lazy Days at the Beach Buffet includes eight recipes, such as melon tricolore with olives, basil and mint; steak sandwiches with horseradish mayo; and strawberry semifreddo cones with biscotti streusel. A Getaway Picnic serves up carrot and coconut soup; cheddar biscuits with roasted onion; and crispy hoisin chicken. Additionally, useful chapters are dedicated to marinades, rubs, butters, sauces and salsas.

As for one of the author’s favorite tastes of summer? “My strawberry and grappa sorbet is a super dessert on a really hot day,” she says.

The Summer Table sets the scene for easy, relaxed cooking with quality fresh produce and for having fun both in the kitchen and at the dinner table – or on a beach blanket.

Published by Sterling Epicure, $24.95, available from Barnes & Noble.

Image Credits: Photo by Asa Dahlgren.