Garlic and beets. (Photo: Carol Sachs for The New York Times)

Here’s a take on the perfect summer birthday cake: a buttery, vanilla-scented spongecake doused with ripe strawberries and fresh whipped cream, gilded with a spicy-tart syrup to cut the sweetness. After the cake cools, you’ll cut it into two layers and put them back together with the sliced strawberries, which have been resting in some sugar and lemon zest, your whipped cream and the lemon-pepper syrup. (Photo: Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times)

Grilling food over an open fire is one of life’s great pleasures, at least if you set yourself up for success. Here’s our guide to the fundamentals and a handful of techniques to master, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced cook, using either a gas or charcoal grill. We'll show you how to achieve the perfect grilled steak or tender barbecued chicken. Get ready to get cooking with fire. (Photo: Tony Cenicola/The New York Times)

Though it may seem demure, lavender should be handled with a delicate touch in drinks lest it overpower other ingredients. Here, gently deployed, it lends its gorgeous floral flavor and aroma to a tall, icy and refreshing cobbler. (Photo: Davide Luciano for The New York Times)

This cocktail — essentially a tequila sour softened by elderflower liqueur and gilded with a garnish of flower petals and toasted sunflower seeds (which add a surprising crunch) — aspires to capture some of the unambiguous cheerfulness most of us associate with sunflowers and serve it in a glass. (Photo: Davide Luciano for The New York Times)

The name and color of this cocktail may bring to mind sunlight playing on the East River (or, if you prefer, the arguably more romantic Gowanus Canal). (Photo: Davide Luciano for The New York Times)

Summer is unofficially upon us, and what better way to welcome it than with a spectacular Memorial Day cookout? Here’s everything you need to know to lift your grilling game, pick the perfect hot-weather beers and more. Your summer is going to be just delicious. (Photo: Tony Cenicola/The New York Times)

Roasting rhubarb with Demarara sugar until the stalks caramelize and soften enough to collapse gives you a heady and intense jamlike compote with a molasses edge. Here, it’s paired with tender, biscuitlike shortcakes made with a little oat flour for complexity and plenty of whipped cream. (Photo: Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times)

A classic Caesar salad touched by the heat of the grill. (Photo: Melina Hammer for The New York Times)

Serve this smoky chutney alongside pork or beef. (Photo: Jessica Emily Marx for The New York Times)

You'll need a medium-hot charcoal fire to make this Argentine sauce. (Photo: Jessica Emily Marx for The New York Times)

This spicy dipping sauce is particularly good with fish, shrimp or chicken. You'll need a medium-hot charcoal fire to make it. (Photo: Jessica Emily Marx for The New York Times)

These glazed carrots, from Karen and Quinn Hatfield of the Los Angeles restaurant Odys and Penelope, are caramelized and sweetened from a quick hot turn on the grill, then tossed in a salty dressing of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, garlic and ginger. (Photo: Rikki Snyder for The New York Times)

This recipe, from the chef Nick Anderer of Marta in Manhattan, pairs simply seasoned arctic char fillets (feel free to use salmon instead) with a bright, delicious crema with lemon and spicy horseradish. (Photo: Rikki Snyder for The New York Times)

Cutting the broccoli into large florets makes them easier to manage on the grill. (Photo: Rikki Snyder for The New York Times)

There’s no reason this braai sout, a fragrant dry rub, can’t be used on steaks other than a T-bone. Serve with whole potatoes roasted in the coals, and drink beer or one of South Africa’s excellent wines. (Photo: Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times)

In South Africa, charred ears of corn (called braai mielies) are year-round, smoky-sweet roadside snacks. This version is a side dish for the American summer, when corn and grilling are both in season. (Photo: Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times)

Wait to make this until good strawberries are available, because this fool-proof method lets their flavor and texture really shine through. Tangy from the sour cream, this is imbued with a caramel-tinged brown sugar sauce, and the ice cream itself has a soft but not runny texture. Think Mister Softee meets artisanal. (Photo: Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times)

This homemade liqueur is the perfect addition to many a beachy cocktail, served in frosty glasses and sipped on a porch at sunset. The margarita, the Cosmopolitan and the ever-dangerous Lemon Drop are all made more refreshing by its bright citrus flavor. (Photo: Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times)

A vinegary potato salad with bacon is one of the great Germanish summertime traditions. Here, Sam Sifton has added a Mexican accent in the form of the canned, smoked jalapeño known as chipotle chile en adobo. (Photo: Grant Cornett for The New York Times)

If you finely grind part of the salmon, it will bind the rest, which can be coarsely chopped to retain its moisture during cooking. Some bread crumbs keep the burger from becoming as densely packed as (bad) meatloaf. This approach, along with a few simple seasonings, produce delicious burgers in not much more time than it takes to make one from ground chuck. (Photo: Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times)

The quality of your ingredients counts for a lot here. Don’t bother making ketchup until you can get luscious, ripe tomatoes. Grape tomatoes work, but feel free to use plum tomatoes instead. You want a meaty tomato for this, so save delicate heirlooms for salads. Many ketchup recipes call for loads of spices, but this one is kept simple with just a little black pepper and Worcestershire sauce for complexity — a close approximation to that inimitable flavor of classic Heinz, without the high-...

This is a Yankee take on the classic French recipe for beurre de homard, which incorporates cooked lobster meat into a compound butter. It is thriftier, using the shells to bring flavor instead of the lobster meat, but is no less delicious for that. The process is akin to making a lobster stock, with butter in place of water. Use the lobster butter as a melted dip for shrimp or yet more lobster, or as a topping for sautéed scallops or fish. (Photo: Melina Hammer for The New York Times)

This is my cover-band take on a dish served one spring at the restaurant Joe Beef in Montreal, which paired an enormous quantity of chilled steamed Canadian shrimp, bright and sweet, with a tureen of lobster butter. It was a dark and clouded sauce, slightly yellow, slightly green. We dipped and ate – sweet shrimp meat against deep salinity and velvet sauciness – and it was like hearing a hit song for the very first time, addictive from the start. We dipped everything in lobster butter that n...

For the American cook in summer, the composed salad is a back-pocket lunch or dinner that can be endlessly reinvented and served to many people at any time. It shows off the intense, irresistible vegetables, herbs and fruits of the season — but can also have rich components like cheese, eggs, toasted nuts and smoked fish or meat. With a loaf of (preferably grilled) bread, it is a meal in itself. (Photo: Sabra Krock for The New York Times)