Outdoor Pleasures, by Elizabeth Sahatjian (Stewart, Tabori and Chang: $29.95, 240 pages, illustrated.)

The fact that "We are a nation of backyards, balconies, patios, beach houses, boats, parks and endless miles of countryside accessible for picnics," Sahatjian writes, justifies the making of this beautiful cookbook. Writing in informal journal style, Sahatjian, former senior editor at Cuisine magazine, exploits pleasurable alfresco entertaining from the blue-jeans casual of a New England clambake to the black-tie formal of a luminous tugboat dinner on the East River of Manhattan.

Photographer Richard Jeffrey of "Glorious Food," a beautiful cookbook published by the same company in 1982, takes you places, like roughing it on the Delaware River via canoe to have a rocky shore picnic featuring grilled duck breasts, zucchini and flambeed crepes with pears. In another chapter, he captures the serene vista of a summer tea party at Martha Stewart's garden home in Connecticut. Wildflowers, pastel-tinted finger foods on old silver and embroidery, and women in long white linen dresses set the slow, gentle mood, reminiscent of a turn-of-the-century tea party. The book contains 150 recipes and 135 full-color illustrations.

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