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BITES : Whooooeee! Alright !

August 03, 1995|CHARLES PERRY

The cover of Bill Hufnagle's "Biker Billy Cooks With Fire" (Hearst Books; 248 pp.) shows the author as a massive bearded dude wearing shades and surrounded by fire. But fear not. Hufnagle, who has a cooking show on cable TV, may ride a bike, but he's no barbarian.

The "fire" of the title refers to chiles. Everything, but everything, contains hot peppers; even chocolate cheesecake has a honey-strawberry-habanero sauce. The Sources section, where most cookbooks list places to buy exotic ingredients, gives four addresses for ordering rare chiles, three for pepper seeds and that of Chile Pepper Magazine--plus four motorcyclists' organizations.

Biker Billy's prose has something of a whooping, hollering tone. For one recipe, having sauteed onion, garlic and bell pepper, you're supposed to grab handfuls of peanuts and cashews. Then, Hufnagle says, "crush them into the pan with your fist while yelling, 'Alright! ' " As bikers are thought to be a little bit country, Hufnagle shows a lively appetite for corn breads and Southern-type vegetables.

From all this you'd imagine Biker Billy to be spirited but perhaps, well, backwoodsish. In fact, his recipes are more eclectic and sophisticated than you'd expect. In their hearty vein, recipes such as the potato pancakes with onions, garlic, jalapen~nos and liquid smoke or the crepes with a vegetable filling and a chipotle-sundried tomato cream sauce look pretty good.

Hey--crepes? Sundried tomatoes? There's even a quiche. And that's not all--the book is actually vegetarian, with a couple of recipes calling for tofu or vege-burger mix. Given Hufnagle's girth, heart-healthy recipes seem wise.

Balsamic Light

New product being made in Italy: white balsamic vinegar. But it's not being used there--it's strictly for export (though we've yet to see it in stores), which raises the ugly suspicion that Italian marketers have noted American's weakness for having the same product in different colors.

One Newsbite's Opinion

We keep seeing these new reduced-fat sausages. They're all well and good, but are they enough? Indeed, are even zero- calorie sausages good enough? No! We want to see a negative figure in the calorie column! We want to see . . . lipo-sausage!

Now, Carbonate It and See Them Really Jump

When you've reached the age that you no longer follow the latest trends in candies and soft drinks, any news from that quarter seems horrifying, whether it's Garbage Can-Dy 20 years ago or today's Jumpin' Gems. The latter, aimed at the 8- to 12-year-olds, is a non-carbonated watermelon-strawberry drink with little gelatin bits floating in it. The maker of Jumpin' Gems, Mistic Beverages, is picking up on a trend from the Far East, where this sort of solid-in-liquid drink is wildly popular.

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