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Barbecue by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby

24 April 2008 by

Barbecue
Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby
Dorling Kindersley, £16.99
ISBN 978-1-4053-1296-7

You can always tell that summer's around the corner when new barbecue or grill cookbooks start hitting the shops. They are, of course, aimed at the home, rather than the professional market, but if you've got an outdoor space in your pub or on a roof terrace of a blue-chip contract (and there are some fantastic roof terraces around in London) it's always worth leafing through these for a bit of up-to-the-minute inspiration.

Most barbecue books are penned by Australians and Americans and the first one through Caterer's letterbox this year is a recipe book from an American duo, chef Chris Schlesinger and food writer John Willoughby. They've got form: Schlesinger being the chef-patron of Boston's well-regarded East Coast Grill and Willoughby the executive editor of Gourmet magazine.

The book's layout is clear and logical. You might like to skip the opening chapters dealing with domestic barbecues and equipment, cooking techniques and fire building and head straight for the business end of the book: the recipes.

These are divided into eight sections - everything from meat and fish, to salads and desserts. The puds chapter is pretty short, but there are a few good calls well-suited to alfresco cooking - grilled mangoes with ice-cream and strawberry sauce, grilled banana upside-down cake (a combination of oven and barbecue techniques) and a few ash-roasted fruit recipes.

A bonus throughout the book are spasmodic insertions headed "flavour footprint", which basically deal with key flavours/ingredients from areas around the world associated with outdoor cooking. For instance, the pages on West Indies-Caribbean deliver red-onion and tamarind chutney and various relishes using guava, ginger and molasses, chillies and lime. Other regions covered include the Eastern Mediterranean/North Africa, China, India and South-east Asia.

Recipes, as you'd expect, are all about bold, robust flavours based on tried-and-tested matches: figs with cheese among the salads, for instance: grilled lamb with rocket and broad beans glazed pork and apple skewers.

All in all, a good book to get the brain cells thinking ahead for June, July and August.

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