cover image LET THE FLAMES BEGIN: Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Real Live Fire Cooking

LET THE FLAMES BEGIN: Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Real Live Fire Cooking

Chris Schlesinger, . . Norton, $30 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-393-05087-5

In the seventh collaboration since their ahead-of-the-curve Thrill of the Grill (1990), Schlesinger and Willoughby demonstrate what separates the men from the boys in the practice of outdoor cookery. As their preface insists, lighting charcoal is not just cooking, it is a serious connection back to childhood, a kid's discovery of fire as well as the celebration of lessons passed on from Dad. The authors clearly love their work and their passion makes for an exciting collection. It doesn't hurt either that they are at once elegant and disarming. The very first recipe, Silky Turkish Eggplant Dip, relaxes the reader: "Cooking eggplant on the grill is particularly fun because it's one time when you can feel free to burn your food to a cinder." This is not to suggest that the recipes are simplistic. Indeed, the authors have found a way to combine the requisite smoky flavor of charcoal with the complex, new-world colors and tastes most often found in dishes meant for the even-tempered but unchallenging gas grill. The key is to build what they refer to as a "multi-level fire," a literal ramp of heat that allows for a range of temperature. Thus, for West Indies Grilled Chicken Thighs with Grilled Banana, the chicken gets high heat while the fruit and a butter and molasses mixture do well on the cooler end of the grill. Sides include Pineapple-Chipotle Salsa and Peach–Red Pepper Relish. In all, 400 pages, 250 recipes and two lifetimes' worth of experience make this a must-have for the serious backyard chef. (June)