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Celebrate Memorial Day with a BBQ bash

With Memorial Day weekend just a few days away, the official summer grilling season is about to kick off. Elizabeth Karmel, author of the cookbook “Taming the Flame: Secrets for Hot-and-Quick and Low-and-Slow BBQ," was invited on the “Today” show to share a festive spread for your holiday bash. Here are the recipes.Barbecue in North Carolina is defined as pulled pork with a distinctive tangy
/ Source: TODAY

With Memorial Day weekend just a few days away, the official summer grilling season is about to kick off. Elizabeth Karmel, author of the cookbook “Taming the Flame: Secrets for Hot-and-Quick and Low-and-Slow BBQ," was invited on the “Today” show to share a festive spread for your holiday bash. Here are the recipes.

Barbecue in North Carolina is defined as pulled pork with a distinctive tangy vinegar sauce — no sweet tomato sauce allowed! The pork is either “pulled” into pieces or chopped with a meat clever and dressed with the sauce. It is served on a cheap, white flour hamburger bun and topped with a simple slaw of chopped green cabbage dressed with the same vinegar sauce.

North Carolina ColeslawElizabeth Karmel

Makes about 3 cups

Mix all ingredients together in a large nonreactive bowl and let sit at least 10 minutes or almost indefinitely, covered in the refrigerator.

912353826935apple cider vinegar2cup2 cups apple cider vinegarketchup0.5cup1/2 cup ketchuppacked brown sugar0.25cup1/4 cup packed brown sugarsugar2tablespoon2 tablespoons sugarkosher salt1tablespoon1 tablespoon kosher saltground white pepper1tablespoon1 tablespoon ground white pepperred chili flakes1tablespoon1/2 to 1 tablespoon red chili flakes (the more, the hotter)black pepper0.5teaspoon1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

North Carolina barbecue (pulled pork) is distinctive and much revered because of the tangy vinegar sauce. The sauce enhances the smoky flavors of the meat without becoming the dominant flavor. The cider vinegar is mixed with two kinds of sugar, a touch of ketchup, salt, and three kinds of pepper, adding notes of sour, sweet, salt, and a bit of heat to the unctuous smoky slow-cooked pork. This is not a sauce to be tasted on its own but mixed in with the hot-off-the-grill meat since it literally makes the pork sparkle with flavor. The vinegar sauce cuts through the smoke and the natural fats to balance the dish and deliver a very clean pure pork flavor. It really proves the age-old adage that the sum of the parts is greater than the parts alone.

This sauce is a sweetened-up version of the Eastern Carolina-Style Sauce. It is traditionally used to dress pulled pork from Lexington, NC, and west to the mountains.

One sure-fire way to become the king or queen of your grilling universe is to make a “better” banana split by grilling the bananas. Grilling makes the fruit sweeter by caramelizing its natural sugars. But most importantly, the warm fruit is a much better match for the cold ice cream and hot fudge sauce. I recommend making your own chocolate sauce with the Ganache recipe or, at least, buying the best-quality sauce you can find.

Queen of the Grill Banana Split SundaeElizabeth Karmel

Makes 4 servings

Build a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill. Slice the bananas, in their skins, in half crosswise and then lengthwise, so each banana yields 4 pieces. Place the bananas on a platter. Drizzle the honey on the cut sides of the bananas. Let them sit for 5 minutes.

Place the bananas, cut-sides down, on the center of a very clean cooking grate over direct medium-low heat, and cover. Cook for 2 minutes, or until grill marks appear. Using a pair of long-handled tongs, turn the banana pieces over and let them cook for 5 more minutes, or until the skin pulls away from the bananas.

Let the bananas cool slightly, then remove the skins. Arrange 2 banana halves on each serving plate or bowl. Top each serving with 2 scoops of ice cream. Ladle 1/4 cup of hot fudge over

each sundae. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of chopped nuts, and if desired add whipped cream and a cherry on top. Serve immediately.

9123538604912693527771bananas44 firm but ripe bananas, unpeeledhoney, or more if needed1tablespoon1 tablespoon honey, or more if neededvanilla ice cream88 small scoops best-quality vanilla ice creamchocolate fudge sauce 1cup1 cup jarred chocolate fudge sauce or Chocolate Ganache, heated (see recipe below)coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted0.5cup1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts, toastedWhipped cream, optionalMaraschino cherries, optional

Chocolate GanacheElizabeth Karmel

Make the ganache up to 2 days in advance. Chop the chocolate into bite-size pieces and put it in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan to almost boiling, add the sugar, and stir to combine. Remove the cream from the heat and pour it over the chocolate pieces. Whisk vigorously until the chocolate is melted and the cream is completely incorporated. Add the liqueur, if using, and vanilla, stirring constantly until the mixture is cool the touch.

Cover the ganache with plastic wrap and set aside or refrigerate. (If refrigerated, it will need to be brought to room temperature and rewarmed before serving.)

9123538604912693527770chocolate6ounce6 ounces 70 percent bittersweet chocolate, preferably ScharffenBergerheavy whipping cream0.3333333333333333cup1/3 cup heavy whipping creamsugar2tablespoon2 tablespoons sugarliqueur2tablespoon2 tablespoons liqueur (either Kahlua, Frangelico, or bourbon), optionalpure vanilla extract0.5teaspoon1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

This is my signature shrimp preparation, and I grill it almost every time I entertain. The salt on the shells stays on your fingers as you peel the shrimp, seasoning the shrimp as you dip into the potent lemon-garlic sauce. My favorite way to serve it is outdoors next to the grill, where the whole party feels like they are “in” on the backyard action. If you are not already great friends, you will be once you share this finger-lickin’ good eatin’ experience.

A few years ago, I was appointed curator of the Southern Foodways Alliance First (and most likely only) Coleslaw and Potato Salad Invitational. I read through hundreds of submissions, made more coleslaw and potato salad than I care to remember, and after much debate, I selected the finalists. This recipe was created by Blair Hobbs, and it won the grand prize — not only does it taste great, but you can’t help but love the name!

About mixing the salad, Hobbs said, “Don’t stir. Dive in with your hands, mashing some of the potatoes to bond the intact golden chunks.” And when you serve this salad, “Receive your kisses and happy praise.”

This antipasto plate is my favorite thing to offer guests at the beginning of a dinner party or cooking class. Since it is better made several hours before serving, I can take my time grilling and arranging the colorful vegetables before I need to socialize and supervise the fire. It never ceases to get a rousing reception, and everyone is amazed at how good the grilled seasoned veggies taste. The robust sauce is made up of classic Italian ingredients. Brushed onto warm grilled vegetables, it makes them “sing” with flavor, thus the name. If you have leftover veggies, save them to toss with hot pasta and the extra sauce to make Antipasto Pasta.

My friend Gretchen Belmonti and I made this lemonade for one of our dinner parties. It was so delicious that it has become the star of my summer drink repertoire. The recipe was originally developed by John Ash for Fine Cooking magazine. I’ve changed it to include a couple of shots of iced vodka, and I use the lemon syrup as a base for all sorts of summer fruit. Add the vodka as you pour the drink so it remains “pure” for the nondrinkers in your group.

Excerpted from "Taming the Flame: Secrets for Hot-and-Quick Grilling and Low-and-Slow BBQ," byElizabeth Karmel. Copyright © 2005 by Elizabeth Karmel. Published by Wiley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt can be used without permission of the publisher.