Among the sureties of summer, like gazillions of zucchini and molestation by mosquitoes, is the barrage of BBQ and grilling books. I had decided to steer clear of them this season, when two, wholly devoted to grilled pizza, arrived on the same day. An auspicious sign, a home-cooking trend in the making, a "be there or be square" moment. . . . Whatever, everyone loves pizza and everyone loves to grill, so everyone will love grilled pizza (it's been a while since I took logic, but that sounds right and tastes even better). Pizza on the Grill by Elizabeth Karmel and Bob Blumer offers 100 recipes, 51 for the fire-roasted disks and the rest for the "nibbles and noshes," dips and salads that add to the fun of pizza-centered dining, lunching and brunching. "Basic Training" in creating that all-important crust gives you info on direct and indirect grilling for pizza and provides a "1-2-3 Technique" for both gas- and charcoal-powered grills. Then you can begin to make merry with variations from a classic Margherita to the more adventurous Blistered Corn, Asparagus and Pesto; Crab and Artichoke; or Bollywood Chutney Chicken; with a sweet-tooth-satisfying chocolate Funky Monkey for dessert.
Craig Priebe's Grilled Pizza & Piadinas augments the pies with piadinas, grilled flatbread sandwiches that give panini a run for the money. His section on grilling methods includes surefire instructions for indoor cooking, great if you live in an apartment or don't want to brave rain, sleet, snow or dark of night. Craig's topnotch toppings include a he-man combo of steak, baked potato and sour cream; elegant prosciutto, figs and gorgonzola; a sweet and spicy medley of chicken, plantain, and coconut sauce; a comforting mix of roasted veggies and creamy garlic cheese and more. He shows us how to make nifty pizza-dough salad bowls and has good ideas for filling them up. In a fiery finale, you get recipes for Grilled Banana Split, Grasshopper Pie and advice on planning grilled pizza parties.
And speaking of parties on the grill, the BBQ Queens, Karen Adler and Judith Fertig, know how to fire up "be-all, end-all" parties from barefoot to black-tie and they've packaged their ideas, organizing tips, inspiring enthusiasm and recipes, of course, in BBQ Bash.
OK, I can't stop now. Robert St. John, chef/owner of three major Mississippi restaurants, food columnist, cookbook author and ardent advocate of Southern savoir-faire as it applies to cooking, partying and general hospitality, turns his attention to the Southern take on outdoor cooking in New South Grilling: Fresh and Exciting Recipes from the Third Coast. Refreshingly, St. John assumes his readers can grill and gets right to his repertoire of recipes. Fabulous grilled winners from BBQ Oysters to Whole Roasted Citrus Chicken and Andouille-Stuffed Prime Rib are augmented with an array of sauces, condiments and drinkable accouterments to make your grilled goodies even better. And his no-stick marinades alone are worth the price of admission.
Renowned chef and super-successful restaurateur Mario Batali does everything con brio. In his latest Ïuvre, Italian Grill, he's paired his passion for all things Italiano with his love of all things grilled. Italian grilling, he says, is about nuance and savoring the flavor of the prime ingredient. Marinades are light - olive oil, lemon juice, fresh herbs, garlic and wine - and most of the 80 recipes have an Old World elegance that sets them apart from the bulk of backyard fare. Just sample the Asparagus in Pancetta, Grilled Polenta Verde, Calamari Spiedini, Spit-Roasted Turkey Breast Porchetta-Style, T-Bone Fiorentina, Portabellas with Arugula and Parmigiano and even a few grilled pizzas! Mario proves again that he's molto magnifico wherever he cooks.