DOTHAN, AL, May 26, 2014 — Memorial Day is the official start to summer, and to back yard chefs it is also the official start to grilling season. Sadly, many Americans will have to face charred burgers, hot dogs of unknown origin and a variety of other chemically infused prepared foods that might better be used for weed control than ingestion.
The books described here are selected specifically to help you prepare easy yet delicious meals for a holiday weekend. Many people are already wonderful cooks and may just enjoy finding new and exciting recipes. Others may still need to learn that incinerating meat into an unrecognizable charred lump is unlikely to earn them a chef’s hat, or that summer dishes can involve more than mayonnaise and ranch dressing.
Perhaps you don’t know how many people to plan for, or how many guests have converted to veganism since last Memorial Day. Or perhaps you need gourmet ideas for a more formal party that does not involve kegs of beer and jumping in pools fully clothed. For those who live to grill, there is great advice on how to avoid having your meal resemble a nuclear test area.
Here are book selections for a non-traditional or more formal Memorial Day repast:
Dinner Party Cookbook by Karen Lancaster, Meadowbrook, 128 pages
If you want to go all out and have a formal dinner party this weekend, Karen Lancaster will guide you through the details of setting up the party and give you 100 recipes guaranteed to wow your guests.
Gather, the Art of Paleo Entertaining by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason, Victory Belt Publishing, 312 pages
The emphasis here is on healthy eating for a dinner party or get together of any size with over 100 recipes.
Chloe’s Quick-and-Easy Vegan Party Foods by Chloe Coscarelli, Atria Books, 32 pages
Chef Chloe was the first vegan to win a reality cooking TV show. In this short volume she shares 10 easy but tasty recipes from her book Chloe’s Kitchen that will appeal to vegans and non-vegans alike.
4 Ingredients Gluten-Free by Kim McCosker and Rachael Bermingham, Atria Books, 304 pages
One in 250 Americans is intolerant or has an allergy to wheat. Here is a guide to over 400 gluten-free recipes with the added bonus of only needing four ingredients – from the popular 4 Ingredients series of cookbooks.
4 Ingredients Kids by Kim McCosker and Rachael Birmingham, Atria Books, 208 pages
Get the kids involved with easy recipes using only four ingredients, and help them learn about healthy foods as well as safe and efficient ways to prepare meals.
The outdoor grill is an American icon. Here are new ideas and recipes that will make you a master griller:
Adventures in Grilling: Cooking with Fire and Smoke by Willie Cooper, Weldon Owen, 272 pages
Grill master Willie Cooper covers grilling recipes for a variety of foods including vegetables, fruit, meats and seafood. This Williams-Sonoma volume also gives suggestions for drinks, sauces, rubs and seasonings.
Al Roker’s Big Bad Book of Barbecue by Al Roker, Scribner, 224 pages
Al Roker has guided us through all kinds of weather, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and holiday cooking. Now he turns his considerable talents to grilling with 100 easy, laid-back recipes from his own back yard collection.
Celebrating Barbecue: The Ultimate Guide to America’s 4 Regional Styles of ‘Cue by Dotty Griffith, Simon & Schuster, 192 pages
Few things ignite as much passion as the topic of barbecue and which regions have the best recipes. Griffith is a restaurant critic for the Dallas Morning News and provides a lively tour, recipes included, of the four major barbecue styles.
Grill Master (Williams-Sonoma) by Fred Thompson, Weldon Owen, 224 pages
Thomson provides the back yard griller with classic recipes, tips on how to prepare in advance and how to prepare side dishes that complement grilled foods.
BBQ Makes Everything Better by Jason Day and Aaron Chronister, Scribner, 256 pages
Bacon lovers will recognize Day and Chronister as the authors of Bacon Explosion. Their latest book covers all things barbecue and suggests how to go beyond grilling “the holy trinity” of ribs, pork and brisket.
Please remember that the reason we have time to cook and grill and entertain is because of the sacrifices made by the brave people of America’s armed forces. Happy cooking and have a safe Memorial Day weekend!