By now, most of you should have uncovered the grill and christened it for the summer with a family barbecue, filling the neighborhood with the mouth-watering aromas of grilled vegetables and marinated, sizzling meat.

Enjoying cooking outside, keeping the heat out of the kitchen and in general living more out in the elements are among the foundations of summer cooking.

Just as with any other sort of cooking, planning ahead and taking advantage of the heat source while it’s on will save you time when you need to pull dinner together quickly. While you’ve got the grill fired up, throw on a few extra chicken breasts for a salad or quesadillas the following evening. Marinate and grill some chicken or turkey thighs and add them to a stew on one of those chillier evenings when a sweater is still welcome and you’re STILL considering turning on the heat.

While the fire is still hot, take a peek in the fridge and add to the grill anything that won’t make it another day or two. Don’t wait until it’s too far gone and you really do need to throw it out.

Entertaining is something that goes hand in hand with grilling, and this menu would be a good one for guests with the addition of some grilled asparagus or peppers and perhaps some red-skinned potatoes.

MEXICAN RUBBED STEAK

Typically, two rib-eye steaks will serve my family of four with a little left over, but that’s if almost everyone is enjoying a 6- to 8-ounce portion of meat. If you’re in the mood for a meat-fest, or don’t want to cut them on the platter, then one steak per person works fine.

4 rib-eye steaks, 3/4-inch thick

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

Combine all the rub ingredients on a large platter. Rub both sides of the steaks to thoroughly coat and let sit for 10 minutes. Grill on medium-high heat uncovered for 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Don’t forget that if your steaks are thinner or thicker, cooking times will vary.

Serves four.

CHIMICHURRA SAUCE

Traditionally, chimichurra sauce has oregano in it, but this has always tasted somewhat harsh to me, and while I respect traditional methods, I can’t bring myself to follow this one. If you would prefer to replace some of the cilantro with oregano, you will surely satisfy the rule followers.

1 bunch scallions, green stalks cut into 1-inch pieces, about 6 scallions

1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, about 2 bunches cilantro

2 cloves garlic, mashed

1/4 to 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds optional, amount optional

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor until the garlic is completely incorporated and the herbs are finely minced.

Makes about 1 cup.

GRILLED CROSTINI WITH GOAT CHEESE

4 slices of homemade or sourdough bread, sliced into 3/4-inch slices

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Pinches of kosher salt and black pepper

Pour the olive oil into a flat-bottomed bowl or platter. Quickly dunk each side of the bread in the olive oil. If your bread is fluffy rather than chewy, the oil will soak in too fast, so use a pastry brush instead. Sprinkle one side with salt and pepper. Grill the bread on medium to medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Once you’ve turned the bread, sprinkle the goat cheese on the warm side and cover for 1 minute to warm the cheese. If the oil is causing the coals to flare up, move the bread to a cooler part of the grill.

Serves 4.

RHUBARB GINGER SHORTCAKE

Rhubarb and ginger are good partners, as one doesn’t drown out the voice of the other, but instead the tart rhubarb harmonizes beautifully with the lemony bite and spice of the ginger. Vanilla whipped cream modulates and rounds the sharpness of both the rhubarb and the ginger.

SHORTCAKE:

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold, unsalted butter

1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar and then add the zest and nutmeg. Cut in the butter using a pastry knife or fingertips until coarsely mixed. Stir in the buttermilk until the mixture is just blended.

Dust the countertop with flour and press the dough into a thick, flat round. Cut 8 biscuits from the dough and place on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes.

To serve, cut the shortcakes in half and place the bottom half onto a plate. Then layer with the rhubarb, whipped cream and top half of the biscuit.

RHUBARB:

1 pound rhubarb, diced, about 4 cups

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

2 tablespoons water

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Melt the butter and add the ginger. Saute for 1 minute and add rest of the ingredients. Heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until rhubarb is tender but not completely falling apart. Serve warm on biscuits and with vanilla whipped cream or ice cream.

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

VANILLA WHIPPED CREAM

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Serves 6 to 8.

 

Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea,” a recipe book about her experiences cooking aboard the family’s windjammer. She can be reached at: [email protected]