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Hot Off the Press, Here Come the Latest Guides to the Grill


The Thrill of the Grill by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby

(William Morrow & Co. Inc.: $24.95)

(Publication Date: June 14, 1990; 395 pages, 200 recipes, 32 pages of color photographs.) Imagine mingling the sizzlingly spicy flavors of equatorial foods and the sweet, smoky tastes of American Southern barbecue and you'll discover what this book is all about.

In 1985 Chris Schlesinger opened the East Coast Grill in Cambridge, Mass. More recently he opened Jake and Earl's, a barbecue take-out next door. But the young chef is also a surfer; while searching for the perfect wave, he discovered equatorial food, which he describes as "highly spiced, usually grilled, and served in that informal, friendly fashion that goes with beaches and hot weather." With food writer John Willoughby, he has translated his findings into chapters of exotic tropical grilled meats, seafood and poultry.

"Grilling creates no natural jus or any equivalent," note the authors. Who wants grilled shrimp without fresh salsa? The one here is made with chopped fresh pineapple, sweet peppers and ancho chiles. Then there's banana-green mango chutney, whose sweet tangy taste is in perfect balance with spicy pork on skewers. These grilling partners are contained in one special chapter called "Sambals, Blatjangs and Salsas." They're so unusual, they're worth the price of the book.

But the accompaniments aren't all tropical. Schlesinger remembers barbecue parties at his parent's cottage near Virginia Beach, and adapts Southern standards such as piccalilli of corn and watermelon. Georgia peach chutney and Leesburg chowchow complement outdoor pork baby backribs and duck barbecue. He also touches on the Southwest: chipotle pepper mayonnaise with cilantro is an appropriate partner for the strong-character of grilled bluefish.

Last-minute touches are the chef's trademark. He writes, ". . . a squeeze of lime, some fresh herbs, a chunk of spicy butter. I like my sauces to reach as many parts of the palate as possible simultaneously." His compound herbed butters of basil-lemon, rosemary-garlic or honey-sage melt over the warm food, adding a bit of richness, a bit of zing.

Color illustrations, sound advice on grilling techniques, and interesting anecdotes all add to the thrill of this grilling book. As a bonus, it includes some desserts and beverages. Best of all, there's a useful pantry of unusual ingredients listed at the end.

365 Great Barbecue & Grilling Recipes by Lonnie Gandara with Peggy Fallon

(Harper & Row: $15.95)

(214 pages, no photographs, 365 recipes.)

Don't underestimate this book. Despite its lack of photographs and illustrations, it offers ideas for every day of the year. And it is an ideal working cookbook. The sleek red, white and blue cover is washable, and the book lies flat when opened so it is extremely easy to use. Finally, author Lonnie Gandara, a California culinary consultant with an advanced certificate from the Paris Cordon Bleu, has covered almost every grilling favorite you can think of.

For hot beginnings, how about grilled quesadillas? Or try beef or pork satay, Southwestern frittata or a no-fuss grilled wheel of Brie.

Most dishes have an American accent: hamburger is offered au poivre, Yankee Doodle chicken comes with butter and cider vinegar, spareribs are served "in the nude" with no gooey, fussy barbecue sauce. But there are also some sweet surprises: a dessert called chocolate-raspberried pound cake and all manner of drunken foods such as Scotch-soaked quail and grilled halibut with martini butter.

"Smoke-Touched Salads" is a refreshing chapter. You'll expect good things from grilled and chilled steak salad, or grilled salad nicoise. Equally refreshing is the "Foiled Again" chapter--which offers creamy pesto bread or nachos on fire.

A chapter on barbecue sauces, marinades and glazes offers delicious samplings such as Ragin' Cajun Sauce, Hong Kong BBQ Sauce and Black Olive Pesto. Not to be missed is Grilling Go-Withs, delightful accompaniments from salads to hot vegetables, rice and beans.

The author makes it easy to decide from the start how long a dish takes to prepare, offering timing on preparation, marination and cooking. This would be a good gift for a beginning cook, as most recipes are quick, easy and completely unfrightening.

The Art of Grilling: a Menu Cookbook by Kelly McCune

(Harper & Row: $14.95)

(Paperback, 108 pages, color photographs throughout, 75 recipes . ) Flip through this sophisticated, beautifully photographed book and you may just want to get that fire going. A sequel to the award-winning "Grill Book" (Harper & Row), Kelly McCune's latest opus is a barbecue bible for the '90s, offering more helpful tips, guidelines, product information and best of all, more innovative recipes.

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