Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hot Tips Spice Up Grilled Fare A Handful of Books Help Extend Summer Fun by Fueling the Creative Fires of Outdoor Cooking

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hot Tips Spice Up Grilled Fare A Handful of Books Help Extend Summer Fun by Fueling the Creative Fires of Outdoor Cooking

Article excerpt

Now that it's August, your outdoor-grilling skills are likely to be beyond the brushup stage and into the experimental phase.

If you're like many people, you've been trying out new ways to spice up those steaks, flavor those fish filets, and rev up those vegetables. Or, at the very least, you've expressed interest in adding variety to the ho-hum practice of throwing it on the sizzler, then glopping on the store-bought barbecue sauce.

To avoid wearing that invisible U on your apron (U stands for uncreative), look no further than the bookshelves, where the pages of books might as well serve as a marinade of advice, a hotbed of ideas for those who suffer from creative block the minute the tongs come out of the kitchen drawer.

Most of these books offer sound advice on types of grills, fuels, tools, maintenance, cooking techniques, mail ordering, and more. Some also touch on current trends such as using aromatic woods (from mesquite to apple); grilling unconventional fare (bananas, California barracuda, curried goat); smoking your own meat and fish (no gas mask needed); utilizing exotic spices (what's achiote?); and creating a main course out of grilled vegetables (not for vegetarians only). The choices are enough to keep you grilling through autumn or even winter.

At the end of the day, how you cook outdoors is a matter of personal preference. And many say it's not what you put on the grill that matters, but what you do to the food before, during, and after it hits the heat. Flavor bursts onto the scene in the form of marinades, dry rubs, mops, sauces, dressings, butters, glazes, bastes, dips, pastes, and more. (See recipes, left.)

Keep in mind that somewhere between being a culinary Evel "Knievel" and a boring tender of the coals, there's uncharted territory to be discovered. Here are a few books to get the juices flowing:Grill-meisters Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby present Big Flavors of the Hot Sun with "Hot Recipes and Cool Tips from the Spice Zone" (William Morrow & Co., 487 pp., $27.50). As authors of the popular "The Thrill of the Grill," restaurateur Schlesinger (of East Coast Grill, Jake and Earl's Barbecue, and the Blue Rooom, all in Cambridge, Mass.) and food writer Willoughby expand their repertoire of flavorful flame-cooked food by honing in on equator-inspired cuisine. "This is my theory: Where the weather is hotter, the food is more intensely flavored," Schlesinger writes.

Many of the 240 recipes, though not all, in this hardback book call for grilling. …

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