The "Grand Guru of Grilling," the "Boss of Barbecue" or whatever moniker you might choose for Steven Raichlen, the esteemed (some might even say "sainted") author of The Barbecue! Bible is back and better than ever. To welcome in this grilling season, Smoky Steven gives us How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques. With more than 1,000 full-color photos and 100 all-new recipes, this book is a veritable master class in grill skills a prequel, if you will, to his Bible. Raichlen addresses all the questions you have about live fire cooking and some you probably never even thought of. In two separate sections, he virtually takes you by the hand, and shows you how to choose the right grill and how to use it for direct and indirect grilling, smoking and rotisserie cooking. The seasoned grill jockey may not need all this info, but I found it reassuring.

The fire-fueled festivities really get underway with the individual lessons. Each focuses on a particular technique and recipe and is accompanied by a fabulous, inspiring photo of the finished dish and detailed, step-by-step technique photos for grill set-up, food prep and on-the-grill care. You'll find traditional favorites North Carolina Pulled Pork, smoked Memphis-Style Beef Ribs, Good Old American Grilled Chicken but you'll also find new treasures a show-stopping, whole Barbecued Cabbage, Grilled Quesadillas and Pizza, Bluefish in Banana Leaves, even Grilled Chipotle Cremes Brulees. In Raichlin's grilling gospel, fun is mandatory, and the fun of making and eating fine, fire cooked food is what you'll learn from this grillmeister's masterpiece.

If a Master Class is a bit more than you want and something closer to a fireside chat sounds more soothing, sign up for Rick Rodgers' Barbecues 101. Rodgers gives cooking classes around the country, teaching people how to give great seasonal parties. His previous "cooking class" books, Thanksgiving 101 and Christmas 101, with their less-stress approach, have helped a host of hosts get through those holidays with more joy and fewer anxiety attacks. So, when this meal-mentor-extraordinaire takes the festivities outdoors, he aims for easy entertaining whether it's a backyard birthday party or an all-day family reunion. Rodgers begins with a quick tour of the basics and once he has you, and the grill, fired up, he gets right into the recipes for the sauces, salsas, marinades and rubs that bring out the zing. Graduate to the sizzle of burgers, ribs, chops and chicken, the delicate flavors of fish and seafood and a garden of grilled vegetables. Rodgers moves back into the kitchen to cook up essential sides and salads and adds a sweet array of traditional desserts. Fortunately, this 101 course ends with a series of menus with complete timetables, not with a final exam.

Ina Garten, owner of the successful, stylish, specialty food store, The Barefoot Contessa, and author of The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, has been catering parties for over 20 years. She's seen the "good, the bad and the ugly" and the advice she offers in her opulently illustrated new cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Parties!, is that good parties take planning, but they're not necessarily complicated. That, plus her luscious recipes, marvelous menus and inspirational ideas, is great news for all of us who have slaved over party prep and greeted guests feeling as though we've just run a marathon. She spells out the gospel guidelines keep cool, keep the guest list lively, assemble rather than tremble. Garten provides the recipes for 16 parties, four parties per season: a spring Sunday breakfast featuring Roasted Asparagus with Scrambled Eggs; a summer Lunch in the Garden with all the lovely languor of an al fresco meal in Greece; a fall football fiesta centered on sandwiches that have more than a touch of class; and a winter Snow Day celebration warmed by Chicken Chili and three kinds of cookies, among them. Ina's bubbly enthusiasm is infectious and her culinary confidence contagious.

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