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updated: 5/25/2011 7:43 AM

Grilling books for everyone

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  • Looftlighter

      Looftlighter

  • Bill Zars/bzars@dailyherald.com  Deb Pankey new column mug for food front.

      Bill Zars/bzars@dailyherald.com Deb Pankey new column mug for food front.

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If you can read, you can grill.

That's the conclusion I've reached based on the number of grill-centric cookbooks that have filled my mailbox over the last month or so, and I'm not even counting the cookbooks that dedicate a few pages or a chapter to outdoor cooking.

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To help you decide which cookbook to add to your collection, here, in alphabetical order, is a quick look at some of those new releases.

"Better Homes and Gardens: Grill It!" Almost encyclopedic in heft and info, this is a great book with which to begin a relationship with a grill. The charts up front that outline food type, technique, and grilling times and doneness temperatures are valuable, indeed. Each recipe includes photos of steps in the prep process and the finished product. (Wiley, $24.95, soft cover)

"Cook: Out" by Russ Faulk: With recipes that include Blackened Sea Scallops with Lemon Mustard Stinger Sauce, Smoke-Roasted Rack of Lamb with Savory Rosemary Rub, and Orange Teriyaki Beef Kebabs, this book is for those comfortable with their grills but looking to amp up their repertoire. Full-page photos accompany each of the 75 recipes. (Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, $24.99, hardcover)

"The Deen Bros. Get Fired Up" by Jamie and Boobie Deen with Melissa Clark: These are the guys you want as neighbors. Imagine their Mini Pizzas on the Grill at the annual block party or Sweet Potato Coins with Creamy Honey Drizzle (today's Meatless Monday offering on Page 6) at a spur-of-the-moment potluck. With this book, a compilation of 125 recipes suitable for the backyard, ballfield or beach, you'll be that best neighbor on the block. (Ballantine, $25, hardcover)

"Just Grill This" by Sam Zien: The affable "Sam the Cooking Guy" returns to print with a casual book in terms of style, tone and recipes. He includes the requisite recipes for steaks and potatoes, but he's at his best with recipes for Chicken Parmesan Sub, Grilled Pineapple Salsa and Herbed Honey Dijon Burger. (Wiley, $19.95, soft cover)

"Latin Grilling" by Lourdes Castro: Miami native Lourdes Castro breaks this colorful book down by region, giving readers more than 90 approachable recipes that span the wide and colorful spectrum of Latin fare. You could easily build a party around recipes for a Cuban cookout or Yucatecan barbecue. My mouth's already watering at the mention of Chorizo Sliders and Grilled Corn and Quinoa Salad. (Ten Speed Press, $22, paperback)

"My Grill" by Pete Evans: In his American cookbook debut, Australian star chef Pete Evans reminds us there's more to Down Under cuisine than shrimp on the barbie. The 100 recipes -- Easy Grilled Curried Salmon and Japanese Beef Tataki among them -- showcase his global inspiration and his relaxed style. Photos scattered throughout the pages capture the food and provide a glimpse into what Aussies find irresistible about Evans and his cuisine. (Weldon Owen, $30, hardcover)

"Weber's Time to Grill" by Jamie Purviance: I bring this book up again to stress the expertise behind the writing and recipe development. And to tell you about the book's companion, a free, mobile app. Let's say you're at the store and can't remember what you need to make Jerk Pork Medallions. With timetogrill.mobi you can access the recipe, grocery list and get grilling tips. (Sunset, $24.95, soft cover)

Let there be light: At my house we grill with charcoal and it generally falls to my husband to get things started. His job got much easier since we got the Looftlighter, an electric fire starter from Sweden.

We've relied on electric starters for years to get the coals burning, but I'm telling you this Looftlighter literally blows our old model away. With its long metal tube punctuated with holes, it looks like a hair curling wand on steroids. Those holes allow hot air to get wood or coals smoking in less time than you could open a bottle of lighter fluid. You touch the tip of a Looftlighter to wood or coals for 15 seconds, withdraw it about six inches to allow the air to blow onto the glowing embers and within a minute a crackling fire appears.

It has an automatic switch-off when the ON button is released, and its new-tech metal casing cools to the touch in seconds. The Looftlighter costs upward of $80, but you'll save that and more in lighter fuild and matches. Look for it at specialty grilling stores or online retailers; get a complete list at looftusa.com.

• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at food@dailyherald.com or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend on facebook.com at Deb Pankey Daily Herald.

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