With the Fourth of July a week from today, I thought I’d turn to some new cookbooks for inspiration.

First off, who knew the French invented barbecue?

The introduction to “French Grill: 125 Refined and Rustic Recipes” by Susan Herrman Loomis, reads, “Way back when, the Gauls were racing through lush forests in what is now Brittany, Normandy and the Loire Valley, hunting wild boar, deer and fleet-footed rabbits. They were also raising their own brand of pig. When they weren’t doing that, they were spearing and netting wonders from the area. They would return to the village, build a huge fire and split whatever animal they had from la barbe a la queue, literally the ‘beard’ or head to the tail, for roasting. Thus, the technique and the word barbecue were invented.”

Loomis’ collection is anything but ordinary to Americans. Consider Sweet Potatoes with Quail Eggs, Sardines, Ohi Sardines, Ginger Tofu Steaks with Melted Spinach, Golden Veal Chop with Vanilla Lime Butter, Syrian-Spiced Lamb Chops, Grilled Chicken Livers and Onions, Root Vegetable Skewers and Grilled Chicken with Sweet, Spiced Rhubarb.

The more you read the book, the more you want to try everything in it.

Run, Thumper, run.

Rabbit with Mustard and Crispy Bacon

(Lapin a la Moutarde et Lard Croustillant)

Mustard sauce:

• 1 shallot, diced

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1/4 cup Dijon mustard

• Pinch sea salt

• Freshly ground black pepper


• 1 whole rabbit (about 3 pounds)

• Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 10 to 12 slices slab bacon, rind removed


• Fresh bay leaf or sprigs of other fresh garden herbs

Blend all ingredients for the mustard sauce in a small bowl.

In a nonreactive baking dish, place the rabbit and rub it all over with the sauce. Cover and let it sit at room temperature for at least two hours.

Build a medium-size fire in the barbecue or light the gas grill using the two outside burners. When the coals are red and dusted with ash, divide them and place half the coals on either side. Set a grill pan in the center of the grill to catch any drippings.

Season the marinated rabbit all over with salt and pepper, then wrap it with the bacon strips and tie them with trussing string into place.

If using the rotisserie, fit the rabbit firmly on the rotisserie bar.

When the fire is hot, place the rotisserie bar in place; if not using, set the grill over the coals, and when the grill is hot, place the rabbit directly on the grill over the drip pan. You don’t really need to check the rabbit if you’re using the rotisserie; if you’re grilling the rabbit, you need to turn it every 15 minutes, or as often as necessary to keep it golden without it getting too dark, until it is cooked through. Either way you cook, it will take one hour. Halfway through the cooking time, brush the rabbit with any of the leftover mustard sauce.

When the rabbit is cooked, transfer to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting off the string. Cut the rabbit into serving pieces and cut the bacon into bite-size pieces.

If you have the rabbit liver, rub it all over with oil and place it on the grill until it is golden on all sides and slightly rosy inside, six to seven minutes. Remove from the grill and season with salt and pepper.

To serve, place the rabbit pieces and the bacon on a platter. Cut the liver into several pieces and arrange it on the platter with the rabbit. Garnish with the bay leaf or herb sprigs and serve immediately.

Makes four to six servings.


Do you know what goes perfectly with French-style barbecued rabbit?

Peruvian tater-tot salad!

We’re so worldly.

I found the following tater tot potato salad in the ridiculously addictive “Tots!: 50 Tot-ally Awesome Recipes from Totchos to Sweet Po-Tot-O-Pie” by Dan Whalen.

Tots a la Huancaina is basically tater tots in a spicy, cheesy sauce.

Tots a la Huancaina

• 1 pound frozen tots (about 45 tots)

• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or peanut oil

• 1/2 cup evaporated milk, plus more as needed

• 10 ounces queso fresco cheese

• 1 pickled aji amarillo pepper, stemmed and seeded (or pickled cherry peppers)

• 1 garlic clove, minced

• Juice of 1 lime

• 15 Kalamata olive, pitted and roughly chopped

• 3 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and roughly chopped

• 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place the tots on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle them with oil. Toss the tots gently to coat them evenly with the oil, then spread them out in an even layer. Bake, carefully flipping the tots halfway through, until they are browned evenly and crispy, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a blender or the bowl of a food processor, combine 1/2 cup evaporated milk with the cheese, pepper, garlic and lime juice and blend on medium-high until smooth. Add more evaporated milk if needed to thin it out (it should have the consistency of a thick sour cream or cheese sauce).

Spread the tots out on a platter and pour the cheesy sauce over them. Top with the chopped olives, eggs and parsley. Serve immediately.

Makes three servings.


“Dinner Special: 185 Recipes for a Great Meal Any Night of the Week” by the editors of Food and Wine touts “52 Family-Friendly Seasonal Menus.”

Well, we’re only interested in summer; in particular, the menu that includes grilled T-bone steaks.

Spice-Rubbed T-Bone Steaks

• 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder

• 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

• 1 teaspoon hot paprika

• 1 teaspoon garlic powder

• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

• 2 T-bone steaks, cut 1-inch thick (3 ¼ pounds total), at room temperature

Light a grill.

In a small bowl, mix the ancho chili powder, cumin, paprika and garlic powder with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Season the steaks with the spice rub and grill over moderate heat for eight minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a work surface and let rest for five minutes before serving.

Makes four servings.


Although Food and Wine suggests serving the T-bones with a watermelon salad and grilled baked potatoes, I say this colorful pasta salad from “The Weekday Lunches and Breakfast Cookbook” by Mary Younkin is another great idea.

The recipe makes eight to 10 servings, a lot, but know that it keeps well in the refrigerator for three to four days.

Southwestern Pasta Salad

• 6 to 8 ounces tiny pasta

• 1 very small red onion, diced extra small (about 1/2 cup)

• 3 cups grape tomatoes, halved

• 1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (3/4 cup)

• 1 can (11 ounces) corn niblets, drained

• 1 can (2.25 ounces) sliced olives, drained

• 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced

• 1/3 cup Cotija or feta cheese, crumbled (optional)


• 1/2 cup olive oil

• 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (from about 4 limes)

• 2 large garlic cloves, minced

• 1 teaspoon kosher salt

• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse well to cool.

While the pasta is cooking, combine onion, tomatoes, pepper, corn and olives in a large mixing bowl.

For the dressing, in a glass measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together oil, lime juice, garlic, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Add the cooked pasta to the bowl with the vegetables and pour the dressing over the pasta and vegetables. Stir or toss well to thoroughly coat everything. Sprinkle cilantro over the pasta and stir again. (Add cheese, if desired.) Cover with a lid and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Makes eight to 10 servings.


Perfect for a picnic, I found these mini German chocolate cakes baked in 8-ounce canning jars in the back of “Prep-Ahead Breakfasts and Lunches: 75 No-Fuss Recipes to Save You Time and Money” by Alea Milham.

Upside-Down German Chocolate Cakes

German chocolate cake topping:

• 6 tablespoons butter, melted

• 6 tablespoons brown sugar

• 1 1/4 cups sweetened shredded coconut

• 1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans


• 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

• 2 teaspoons baking powder

• 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

• 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 4 ounces German chocolate

• 2 large eggs

• 1 cup milk

• 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon mild oil

• 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 wide-mouthed 8-ounce Mason jars.

To make the topping, combine butter, brown sugar, coconut and pecans. Divide the topping between the 12 jars. Press topping into the jars.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, cocoa powder and salt.

Break the German chocolate up into small pieces and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high for one minute. Stir, then heat for an additional minute. Stir, then heat for 30 to 45 seconds, or until chocolate is completely melted.

Add the eggs to a small bowl. Beat with a fork or egg beater.

Add the milk, oil and vanilla to the eggs. Stir to blend.

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Add the German chocolate to the flour mixture and beat on high for two minutes.

Divide the batter between the jars. Bake 33 to 37 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Place the jars on a wire rack to cool.

Makes 12 servings.

Store and thawing: Place the lids on the jars. You can store them in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for three months. Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator or place a frozen cake in a picnic basket and the cake will thaw by lunchtime.

Looking for a recipe? Have one you’d like to share? Write to Potluck, Times Record, P.O. Box 1359, Fort Smith, AR 72902. Email: jharshaw@swtimes.com.