The smell of grilling throughout a neighborhood during the dinner hour is an aroma that lets me know we’ve firmly arrived in summer. Grilling is easy and healthy, and we Americans just love it.

There are a few simple techniques that can make your grilling almost foolproof:

1. Clean the grate well, either after each use or before beginning to grill.

It is easier to clean when still warm, so you may want to get into the habit of brushing the grill just after you’ve finished cooking. In either case, use a stiff-bristled grill brush to do the job.

2. Gauging the heat is easy. If you can hold your hands 2 inches above the grate for less than 2 seconds, your grill is on high heat; if you can do it for 7 seconds, it’s at medium, and somewhere in between is medium high.

If you are building a charcoal fire or have a grill with more than one temperature gauge, give yourself an area with lesser heat so that you can transfer food if it starts to cook too fast.

3. There are a couple of ways to ensure your food doesn’t stick to the grill. One is to clean it well, as mentioned above. Another is to put cooking oil on an old kitchen towel or paper towel and, while holding the towel with tongs, rub it on the heated grate just before placing your grill items on.

The oil will burn off if you do this too early. Also, if your food sticks to the grill, it may be that you need to leave it on longer before turning it.

4. Food safety is important when grilling. If you’re going to baste with a sauce, reserve some for that purpose only, and do not serve the sauce that has been touched with the basting brush.

When basting with a marinade, stop basting 5 minutes before you are finished grilling.

When grill utensils have touched raw meat or fish, switch to a new utensil for handling the cooked food, or any other food, or clean the original one well with hot soapy water.

Do not transfer grilled food to the same platter that touched raw meat or fish. Again, either use a new one or clean the first one well.

GRILLED CHICKEN, RED ONIONS AND POTATOES WITH DILL

If you are like me and can’t find the grill the first time you decide at 5:30 p.m. that you’ll be grilling and planning on dinner at 6. And if you have searched all over the garage or shed for the grill, and finally find it and it doesn’t have any gas because your husband used the canister for some boat project in December — then broiling is also a good option.

4 chicken breasts, trimmed (7 if you are planning on the salad recipe)

1 large red onion, sliced into 1-inch wedges

4 to 8 small or medium red-skinned potatoes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

MUSTARD AND DILL MARINADE:

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons water

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire

2 tablespoons minced garlic; about 3 cloves

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup lightly packed fresh dill, minced

In a medium bowl, whisk all of the marinade ingredients together. Divide the marinade in half and place the chicken and half of the marinade in a sealed plastic bag. Marinate for at least 15 minutes and up to 24 hours.

In a medium stockpot, boil the potatoes in salted water until the potatoes are almost cooked through. Gently drain the potatoes, and cool completely. Slice the potatoes in half and toss gently with onions in the rest of the marinade.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat and grill the chicken, potatoes and onions until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes and onions are tender. (About 5 to 8 minutes each side for the chicken.) The chicken will take the most time and the potatoes the least. Salt and pepper while on the grill.

Remove from heat and let the chicken sit covered for 5 minutes before serving.

To broil instead, heat broiler on high heat and place chicken breasts, potatoes and onions on a broiler pan 4 inches from heat.

Broil for 4 to 6 minutes each side for chicken, and remove potatoes and onions when they are tender inside and dark-golden on the edges.

Serves four. 

CHICKEN AND ASPARAGUS SALAD WITH DILL

This is a great recipe to use with the leftovers. Plan on extra chicken, and add any leftover potatoes or onions if you wish.

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, lightly packed

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, lightly packed

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 bunch asparagus, ends removed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 chicken breasts, cooked and diced

1/2 half head of Romaine lettuce, chopped and cleaned

Juice from 1/2 lemon

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk parsley, dill, lemon juice, mayonnaise and Worcestershire.

Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and then the asparagus. Cook the asparagus until almost tender and add the minced garlic.

Cook for another 30 seconds to one minute. Combine asparagus with the chicken and dressing, and chill.

Dress the lettuce leaves with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve the chicken salad on a bed of the dressed lettuce.

Serves four to six. 

ICE CREAM COOKIE SANDWICHES

There are so many chocolate chip cookie recipes out there, but I’ve tested quite a few and this one is really good.

1 cup butter (2 sticks)

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups dark chocolate, cut into chunks

6 to 7 cups vanilla ice cream, softened

Chocolate or rainbow sprinkles to garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugars and butter. Add the eggs one at a time until the mixture is fluffy. Add the vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt, and add to the creamed mixture. Add the chocolate, and stir only until mixed.

Using an ice cream scoop or a spoon, scoop 1/4 cup of dough into a ball and place six balls per baking sheet. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden.

When the cookies have cooled, scoop the softened ice cream onto the bottom of a cookie and top with another. Roll in the sprinkles, and wrap in waxed paper.

Repeat with the rest of the cookies. Freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea.” She can be reached at:

[email protected]