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Cookbook reviews: Bobby Flay's 'Burger, Fries & Shakes,' Pillsbury's 'Fast & Healthy' and more

TITLE: Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries & Shakes by Bobby Flay (Clarkson Potter, $25.95; 160 pages)

Generally speaking: For every picture of burgers, shakes and fries that you see, you will want to make them, if not eat them right off the page. A good variety of recipes that are simple to pull off.

For: Meat lovers. A juicy burger with a side of fries and a milk shake. Is there anything more to say?

Recipes: Cheyenne burger, Caesar salad burger, four-cheese burger, nacho burger, Napa Valley burger, Miami burger, wild mushroom-cheddar burger, peanut butter banana marshmallow milk shake, vanilla coconut milk shake, red pickled onions, chipotle ketchup, plantain shoestring fries and homemade potato chips.

SAY WHAT? For most of the burger recipes, Flay instructs us to use a saute pan or griddle with a bit of canola oil. Of course you can produce a great burger with this technique but Bobby Flay is the king of the grill. We thought there would be more about outdoor cooking.

TITLE: Knack Grilling Basics: A Step-by-Step Guide to Delicious Recipes by Linda Johnson Larsen (Knack, $19.95; 256 pages)

Generally speaking: Color photographs that accompany every recipe show step-by-step instructions for preparation and grilling. This is more than meat and chicken. There are veggies, pizzas, shellfish, fish and more.

For: If you're nervous about grilling, this book will put you at ease. Even seasoned grill chefs may find something new. Take a look and get ready for summer.

Recipes: Potato and root veggie kebabs, meatball lollipops, tender veggie kebabs, ethnic burgers, salmon or tuna burger, stuffed chicken breast, whole fish and marinated vegetables.

Special Equipment: For a few recipes you will need a food processor. You'll need skewers, bamboo or metal.

TITLE: Pillsbury Fast & Healthy Cookbook: Delicious Family Meals in 30 Minutes or Less (Wiley Publishing Inc., 19.95; 224 pages)

Generally speaking: This cookbook truly has something for everyone. There are snacks, grilled dishes, side dishes, sweet treats and more. Some recipes have icons indicating they are superfast to make; perfect for busy nights. There are also pointers on such topics as chicken storage and safety, stretching soup or stew and more.

For: Families looking to produce fast, healthy meals. The one downside is there are no recipes for breakfast. The focus is on dinner with a few salads and sandwiches thrown in.

Recipes: Creamy marinated potato salad, swordfish with pineapple salsa, quick fish tacos, spicy Chinese chicken tacos, pork chops Cubano with garlic-citrus sauce, couscous-stuffed red bell peppers, asparagus, shrimp and dill fettuccine, crunchy trail mix bars, and chocolate espresso mousse.

Ellen Folkman's cookbook review columns appears monthly in Taste.

>>EASy

Trattoria Burger

1 ½ pounds ground chuck or ground turkey

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 ½ tablespoons canola oil

8 ounces fresh whole-milk mozzarella, sliced into 8 slices

4 hamburger buns, split; toasted if desired

4 slices ripe beefsteak tomato

8 fresh basil leaves

8 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Divide the meat into 4 equal portions, about 6 ounces each. Form each portion loosely into a ¾-inch-thick burger and make a deep depression in the center with your thumb. Season both sides of each burger with salt and pepper.

Cook the burgers, using canola oil, and topping each one with 2 slices of cheese and a basting cover during the last minute of cooking. (A basting cover is an aluminum dome meant to cover the burger, without touching the cheese, to melt the cheese.)

Place the burgers on the bun bottoms and top with sliced tomato and 2 basil leaves. Drizzle each burger with 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon olive oil, cover with the bun tops and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Source: Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries & Shakes by Bobby Flay (Clarkson Potter, $25.95)

>>easy

Meatball Lollipops

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon mustard

½ teaspoon grill seasoning

½ teaspoon pepper

½ cup soft bread crumbs

1 tablespoon plain yogurt

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 ½ pounds lean ground beef

16 small potatoes, parboiled

3 ears of corn, cut into thirds

2 tablespoons butter, melted

In large bowl, combine ketchup, mustard, seasoning, pepper, bread crumbs, yogurt and parsley. Add meat and mix gently. Form 1/3 cup of meat mixture around the end of a metal skewer. Press firmly but gently to keep the meat together, but don't compress too much. Alternately add potatoes and corn to the skewers, leaving about 2 inches at the end.

Grill lollipops on direct heat for 6 to 8 minutes until the meat is thoroughly cooked, turning frequently, brushing vegetables with butter.

Makes 8 kebabs.

Source: Grilling Basics: A Step-by-Step Guide to Delicious Recipes (Morris Book Publishing, $19.95)

>>easy

Crunchy Trail Mix Bars

4 cups Cheerios

3 cups trail mix (seeds, nuts and dried fruits)

½ cup butter or margarine

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ cup light corn syrup

Grease 9- by 13-inch pan with shortening, or spray with cooking spray. In large bowl, mix cereal and trail mix; set aside.

In 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, flour and corn syrup. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a full boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Pour mixture evenly over cereal mixture; toss to coat. Press mixture in prepared pan. Cool 10 minutes. Cut into 6 rows by 6 rows.

Makes 36 bars.

Source: Pillsbury Fast & Healthy Cookbook: Delicious Family Meals in 30 Minutes or Less (Wiley Publishing Inc., 19.95)

Cookbook reviews: Bobby Flay's 'Burger, Fries & Shakes,' Pillsbury's 'Fast & Healthy' and more 05/19/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 4:30am]
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