With Memorial Day under our belts and the hot summer fast upon us, we're already in the thick of barbeque season. To be honest, I've yet to fire up my sturdy Weber, but I've been doing some hearty armchair reading of recent releases. June is turning out some fine BBQ titles.
There's nothing like a carnivorous visit to a Brazilian churrascaria, but if you don't have one in your town, try Brazilian Barbecue and Beyond. The cooking techniques are simple and basic, and the way-south-of-the-border zing is what makes this meat-focused grilling fresh and new. Also, banana upside-down cake! Why have I never thought of this amazing creation? Likewise, chicken fried in a coating of tiny matchstick potatoes? Genius! From cover to cover, this book is a color fest of modern Brazil.
I love food on a stick, so The World's 60 Best Skewers... Period is right up my alley. Most BBQ books have filler recipes of sides and drinks, but this is nothing but skewers. Cooking techniques are both over a flame and over an indoor grill, which is nice for our unpredictable PNW summers. Amidst the more traditional recipes, you'll find tasty treats such as raclette brochettes (potatoes, sausage, and cheese) and grilled cheese (tiny sandwiches on a stick).
Cooking with Fire made me want to leave my desk here at Powell's, rush home, and light a fire just to see it burn! Food Historian Paula Marcoux starts back at the very beginning of proto-modern food, with just the use of fire and a stick. I'm completely captivated by a recipe nicknamed "S'mores for Grownups." Slab bacon roasted on a stick, grease artfully caught on rye bread, with chunky veggies... simple perfection. The author continues to show her archeology roots as she introduces tools and more formal fire building. Cooking with Fire is for the outdoor cook who treasures the time spent gazing into the dancing flames of a campfire as much as the time spent cooking the food. Share these meals with your friends, just like we've been doing for thousands of years.
Building a fire is always more fun with a cold drink in your hand. Bar Book is quite a treat and a must-have for any cocktail aficionado. No kidding. The chapter on ice is worth it alone. I can honestly say this is the most thoughtful book on the art and craft of bartending that I have ever seen. Jeffrey Morgenthaler is a Zen master/scientist behind the bar. If you love the craft of cocktails, you will adore this book.