I started taking an interest in cooking about ten or eleven months ago. I found too many TV shows and the movie channels providing shows that were offensive, boring, and repetitive. So, knowing nothing about cooking beyond the basic dishes I assembled over the years, I started watching the Food Channel. Naturally, I came across Emeril Lagasse. He and a few of the other hosts caught my eye because they were focusing on cooking, teaching good basic techniques, and offering dishes I thought I could begin to tackle. I watched until I found dishes I thought I understood enough about to attempt. They came out well. And over the months I have been experimenting with dozens and dozens of dishes, my family loves the Emeril dishes the best. In fact, whenever I present a new dish to try, my oldest son asks me if it is an Emeril dish, if I say yes, he says to bring it on!
This is a very nice book for bringing Emeril's savory and flavorful food aesthetic to the grill. While you certainly can grill indoors, most of us think of grilling as a backyard activity or one for some other outdoors location. We love the fire, the smoke, and the flavor it imparts to the food. While we normally think of meat when we grill, and this book has a lot of meat dishes, Emeril shows us a lot more we can do with our grills.
The book opens with a two page preface from Emeril and a few pages on the basics of cooking on a grill. Emeril opens the book with some festive drinks you can make to serve with your grilled food. Most have alcohol, but not all. And he lets you know which drinks can be served nicely even when omitting the booze. This section is only about 15 pages long. So, it isn't a big part of the book.
The first big food section is on side dishes. If you are familiar with Emeril's various shows over the years, you will feel comfortable with these dishes. You get help with things like grilled smashed potatoes, chipotle-deviled eggs, cucumber salad, bake beans, salads (I like the watercress, avocado, and mango salad - very summery), grilled polenta, tomatoes on the fence (skewers of small tomatoes, oil, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper), and much more.
Next comes a section of sandwiches. These use interesting ingredients such as figs, chipotle, red peppers, taleggio cheese, turkey, pork, and even fish tacos. Just tasty stuff! This is followed by a section with various kinds of burgers and kebabs. Emeril even shows you how to make your own spicy ketchup or a habanero ketchup! Are you up for lamb kababs or burgers? You can find them here as well as burgers made with beef or buffalo. Do swordfish kebabs sound great? How about with a mixed herb pesto? Or sliders made with ground turkey?
You also get nearly forty pages of seafood dishes using fish like swordfish, salmon, sardines, tuna, sea bass, bronzini, and catfish, as well as shellfish such as lobster, shrimp, crab, clams, and a whole lot more.
The "Things With Wings" section provides about thirty pages of poultry dishes exploring styles like Vietnamese, Filipino, Brazilian, Italian, Mexican, Jamaican, and Indian as well as traditional American style BBQ. Emeril even offers a take on the old beer can trick, but with Turkey Breast and BBQ Gravy rather than chicken.
The land based entres explore traditional items such as strip steak (with a stilton-walnut butter), t-bones, rib-eyes, simple bbq ribs, bone in Delmonico steaks, and hanger steak. But Emeril also does takes with a Thai beef salad, a Caribbean pork tenderloin, Korean short ribs, baby lamb chops with a mint pesto, and an Asian-style skirt steak. There are, of course, many more offerings in these thirty pages.
You then get about twenty-five or so pages of desserts: a root bear float, grilled chocolate sandwiches or s'mores, freeze pops, ice cream sandwiches, fruit kebabs, chocolate suffed apples, chocolate chipotle brownies, and even a strawberry pie.
The production values in this book are quite high. The photographs of the dishes are so inviting that you want to make the dish so you can taste what you see in the pictures! They also give you a strong idea about what you are trying to create. The lists of ingredients are clear and helpful. For example if you don't know what pimentón is, the recipe lets you know it is Spanish smoked paprika. The process to cook the dishes are listed in steps and most take three or four with a few taking only two and others requiring seven. Emeril also includes notes about the dish such as how far ahead you can prepare a sauce, how to store it, or what it means to French a piece of meat. You also get the expected number of servings the recipe will create. I also appreciate the nice index and the way the flaps on the front and back covers can be used to mark your place in the recipe you want to work with. While the book is a paperback, the quality of the cover material and the pages within the book show that it is clearly meant to be used in the kitchen and get close to the action.
A really nice book and the kind of quality I have come to expect from Emeril Legasse, as chef whom I admire and feel gratitude towards for the way he has shown me how to cook.
Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI