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Coolio is in the kitchen with 'Cookin With Coolio'

Some of the recipes don't necessarily roll off the tongue:

Finger Lickin', Rib Stickin', Fall off the Bone and Into Your Mouth Chicken.

I'm Gonna Slap You With My Whisk Tomato Bisque.

But the cook swears you'll love them.

The recipes appear in the new cookbook, Cookin' With Coolio (Atria, $16). Coolio, as in the Gangsta's Paradise rapper? The one and only.

The Grammy-winning artist wrote the book to prove you don't have to be rich to eat well. "All you need is a little bit of food and a little bit of know-how," he writes.

The book is made up of 76 easy-to-make comfort food recipes with a healthy twist. It's laugh-out-loud funny, he says, with chapters ranging from "How to Become a Kitchen Pimp" to "It's Hard Out Here for a Shrimp."

"My poultry is so d--- delicious," he writes, "chickens line up at my door just to get a chance to get in my pot!"

In a recent interview, the self-described Ghetto Gourmet says his style is Emeril Lagasse meets 50 Cent. "Bling, bling, over-the-top cooking," sprinkled with language that might make Martha Stewart blush.

Instead of "Bam!" he shouts "Shaka Zulu," a nod to the famed African warrior.

Coolio, 46, started cooking long before rapping and credits his mother, Jackie Mae Jones, as his culinary inspiration. After her death, he went on a quest to re-create her recipes, which she made from memory.

"When my mother passed away, I didn't want to eat anymore because nothing tasted like what she cooked," he said. "One day I said, 'I'm tired of this. I have to figure out a way to enjoy food again.' I re-created her stuff and just took out all the heart attack and cholesterol."

Many of his recipes mix regional cuisine with black cooking to create what he calls Blasian (black Asian) and Bleek (black Greek) food.

Recipes in his book include tidbits of advice from his cousin, Jarez Posey, such as, "Puree is just a fancy Frenchie word for 'make it look like a smoothie.' "

Coolio's cooking has been the focus of a reality show, Coolio's Rules, and an Internet cooking show, Cookin' With Coolio. Eventually, he hopes to create a frozen food line to sell in supermarkets and write a sequel about cooking for large groups.

"I want people to take a bite of my food and close their eyes and d---- near pass out because it's so good."

Susan Thurston can be reached at sthurston@tampabay.com.

>>EASY

Swashbucklin' Shrimp

2 pounds shrimp, shells off, tails on

1 teaspoon seasoning salt

3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 cup dark brown ale

1/2 cup malt vinegar

Juice from 1 lemon

1 stalk lemongrass, finely minced

1/2 cup hickory barbecue sauce

Get your grill (or grill pan) fired up on high. Place shrimp in a medium-sized bowl. Add seasoning salt, pepper, ale, vinegar, lemon juice, lemongrass and barbecue sauce to shrimp. Combine well.

Use aluminum foil to create a tray on your grill and place all shrimp on tray. Drizzle marinade on shrimp as they cook. Remove from heat and serve. Serves 4 to 6.

Source: Cookin' With Coolio by Coolio (Atria, $16)

Coolio is in the kitchen with 'Cookin With Coolio' 12/08/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 8, 2009 3:30am]

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