Outdoor cooking: hearty fare and exotic delicacies

Claudia Roden's newest cookbook includes cross-culture recipes such as a French pie pastry with an Indian filling and cooked chicken that can be prepared with Egyptian-style spices or Creole herbs.

''Everything Tastes Better Outdoors,'' by Claudia Roden, (Knopf, $19.95) is illustrated by Alta Ann Parkins. It is by no means a summer book, nor does it depend on the climate to make the recipes practical and wonderful reading material.

Iranian omelets, Japanese lunch boxes, and English tea on the lawn are described along with beanhole baked beans, hush puppies, New England clambakes, and barbecue recipes from Texas and India.

The sense of adventure that should always be part of an outdoor excursion is evident, however, and the book is full of bits of culinary history mixed with dozens of intriguing recipes that can be cooked most anywhere.

Brought up in Cairo, the author emigrated to London 30 years ago and now gives cooking lessons in her London home as well as in other cities around the world.

After her first cookbook, ''A Book of Middle Eastern Food'' (Vintage, 1968), she became interested in outdoor cooking due to a magazine article she wrote on Middle Eastern picnics.

Ms. Roden came to the United States two years ago to study outdoor cooking in this country. ''The food here is abundant, available, and the quality is unsurpassed,'' she says. ''I certainly hope it stays that way.''

In her book, actually a revision of an English edition now in paperback, she describes food prepared in the kitchen to take outside in one section, and outdoor cooking techniques such as spit roasting, skewer cooking, embers, and all kinds of barbecues in another.

The basic advice is excellent and the recipes for simple but good food are fairly easy.

Ms. Roden also gives tips on cooking at sea and in small camping galleys.

Included are practical directions for picking and cooking fruits, berries, and greens in Europe and other countries, dining in the American wilderness, and pit cooking.

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