Here's what's hot in the world of grilling: A new book from Sur La Table called Everyday Grilling: 50 Recipes From Appetizers to Desserts (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $15). With twists on classic faves -- such as grilled corn with chipotle butter and cilantro -- we think there's something for everyone in the family.
In addition to grilled recipes for every course, there are tips for cooking on gas and charcoal grills, along with ideas about using specialty gadgets.
Try this quartet for your Memorial Day celebration -- or any summer evening.
Hickory-grilled baby-back ribs
Yes, they're messy, but who can resist their sweet, smoky flavor? For tender ribs, remove the membrane on the underside of the ribs by detaching it with a sharp knife, then pulling it off with your fingers or with needle-nose pliers.
Hickory rib rub:
1/3 cup store-bought hickory-smoked salt or kosher salt
1/4 cup garlic powder or granulated garlic
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 cup chili powder
3 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
3 tablespoons firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons dry mustard
11/2 tablespoons ground ginger
11/2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
4 (11/2-pound) slabs baby-back ribs, back membrane removed
Hickory wood chips
1 (16-ounce) squeeze bottle clover or other amber honey
2 cups tomato-based barbecue sauce
1. To make the rub, combine all ingredients in a bowl. Sprinkle both sides of each slab with the rub.
2. Prepare a moderate charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium (375 degrees).
3. Grill the slabs for 15 minutes per side, turning every 5 minutes, or until slightly browned.
4. Transfer the ribs to a baking sheet. For a charcoal grill, lift up the grill grate, brush the coals to one side, and throw moistened wood chips directly on the coals. Replace the grill grate. For a gas grill, turn off a burner, enclose the wood chips in a metal smoker box or an aluminum foil packet with holes poked in the top, and place the box or packet on the grill grate over the heat source.
5. When you see the first wisp of wood smoke, place the slabs on the indirect side, using a rib rack if you like. Cover and grill, turning or repositioning the ribs every 10 to 15 minutes, for 30 minutes longer, or until the meat begins to pull back from the ends of the bone about 1/2 inch.
6. Squeeze the honey on both sides of the ribs and brush to cover the meat. Then brush on the barbecue sauce. Cover and grill for another 10 to 15 minutes, turning several times, until the sauce on the ribs has caramelized. Serve one-half slab per person.
Grilled corn with chipotle butter and cilantro
Grilled corn is the best option because the heat intensifies the sweet flavor. If you grill the ears in the husk, you will steam the kernels before peeling back the husks to slather the ears with a spicy, smoky chipotle butter.
4 ears corn
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons finely minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, or more to taste
Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1. Prepare a moderately hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium-high (375 to 400 degrees). Carefully peel back the corn husks without removing them, then pull out and discard the threadlike silk. Replace the corn husks and tie the tips closed with kitchen twine. Soak the ears in a sink filled with cold water for 20 minutes.
2. Put the butter in a small bowl. Add the chile and a large pinch of salt and stir to blend. Taste and add more salt or chile, if desired.
3. Place the corn directly over the coals or gas flame and cover the grill. Cook for about 15 minutes, giving the ears a quarter turn every 3 to 4 minutes as the husks brown.
4. Transfer the corn to a platter. Snip the ends of the husks to remove the twine tie. Remove and discard the husks. While the corn is hot, slather it with the chipotle butter, then sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve immediately.
Fresh farm slaw
Along with crunchy cabbage, you get other crisp, raw veggies and a tart-sweet dressing. Add other vegetables, if you like, such as red bells, cucumbers and carrots. Mix in grilled shrimp to make this recipe an entree salad.
1/2 pound Napa cabbage, cored
1/2 pound green cabbage, cored
1 bunch red radishes (about 12 medium to large), trimmed
1/2 pound broccoli, florets separated from stalks
1/2 bunch green onions, pale and green parts, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 pound green beans, ends trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
21/2 tablespoons cider vinegar, or more to taste
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Chop the Napa cabbage, green cabbage, radishes and broccoli florets into small pieces, roughly 1/4 to 1/3 inch. The vegetables do not need to be precisely diced but should be about the same size. With a paring knife or vegetable peeler, pare the tough outer layer of the broccoli stalks to reveal the pale core. Chop the cores the same size as the other vegetables.
2. Put all the chopped vegetables in a large bowl, and add the green onions and green beans. Toss to mix.
3. To make the dressing, in a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, ginger and salt and pepper to taste. Taste and adjust the balance of sweet and tart. Add the dressing to the slaw, using only as much as you need to coat the vegetables nicely; you may not need it all. Toss well, taste and adjust the seasoning. Let rest at room temperature for about an hour before serving, or cover and refrigerate if serving later. The slaw will remain crunchy for at least 8 hours.
Tropical fruit kebabs with honeyed creme fraiche
Look at Asian grocery stores or specialty markets for exotic fruits, which look so great on skewers. Otherwise, go with fresh pineapple and firm peaches, plums and nectarines. Metal or flexible wire skewers or a kebab basket require no soaking beforehand as bamboo skewers do.
Honeyed creme fraiche:
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup honey
8 (12-inch) bamboo, metal or wire skewers, or 8 kebab baskets
2 large, ripe carambola or star fruit, or 1 large pineapple, cut into 1-inch slices
16 fresh lychees, shelled and seeded, or whole kumquats
1 mango or papaya, peeled, pitted and cut into 2-inch chunks
4 limes, quartered
1. To make the creme fraiche, whisk the heavy cream and sour cream together and rest, covered, on a kitchen counter so it thickens in about 8 hours. Alternatively, you can buy prepared creme fraiche and stir in the honey. Set aside, on the counter, until needed.
2. If using bamboo skewers, soak the skewers in water for 30 minutes.
3. Assemble the skewers by threading the carambola slices lengthwise, piercing the skin of the fruit at one point of a star, going through the soft middle and through the point of a star on the other end. Alternate the other fruits, ending with a lime wedge.
4. Oil the grill grate. Prepare a moderate charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium (375 degrees).
5. Grill the skewers, turning often, until the fruit is blistered, about 2 to 4 minutes per side.
6. Whisk the honey into the creme fraiche and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve the skewers on a serving platter. To eat, remove the fruit from the skewers, squeeze the grilled lime over all and enjoy with the creme fraiche.