cover image Hot, Hot, Hot!: Cooking with Fire and Spice

Hot, Hot, Hot!: Cooking with Fire and Spice

Paul Gayler, . . Kyle Cathie, $19.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-1-904920-19-9

The chile pepper is the star of this effective cookbook by Gayler, executive chef at London's tony Lanesborough Hotel. The author borrows from the disparate but equally spicy cuisines of North Africa, the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia and the Americas to cull more than 150 intriguing recipes—some authentic (Braised Pork Belly with Chinese Spicy Bean Sauce; Pollo Verde), others fusing cross-cultural flavors (Asian Blackened Monkfish; Curried Crab Tart with Smoky Guacamole). The first chapter is devoted to the basics home cooks need for instant warming effects, including fresh and dried chiles, chile powder mustards, horseradish, biting greens and spice rubs; as well as safety tips for handling especially pungent items. The rest of the book consists of recipes ranging from soups to meat to breads (alas, there are no dessert recipes). Some ingredients, like Camargue red rice, may be difficult to find, but Gayler often offers ideas for where to look or possible substitutions. Throughout, an emphasis on low-fat techniques like grilling and roasting makes for healthy preparations. At times Gayler's directions err on the side of minimalist (he doesn't explain, for instance, how to shred a scallion), but his recipes are reliable, (mostly) simple and unquestionably hot. Photos. (Oct.)