With summer just around the corner, it’s time to dust off the barbie and bone up on a few new tricks that are sure to impress the guests and improve your al fresco meals.
It’s out of sight, out of mind where herbs are concerned, so unless you have yours close at hand, you’re unlikely to use them. Solve the problem by growing your favourite herbs in tubs that can be moved to wherever the barbecue is being used. Pot up cuttings of old favourites such as rosemary, thyme and basil, but include a few more unusual herbs as well. Mild garlic chives add fresh flavour to barbecued fish; frothy dill livens up grilled tomato and zucchini, and bay leaves bring out the flavour of red meats.
Fresh and fruity
Nothing says summer more than sweet stone fruits so make the most of these seasonal treats. Choose the ripest peaches and apricots, halve, drizzle with the finest virgin olive oil you can lay hands on, and grill alongside chicken and pork fillets. As soon as the fruit heats through, lift away the skins with tongs, and flip the halves to brown both sides. Turn up the heat to caramelise the sugars, and you’re one bite away from heaven!
For most of us, barbecued food is savoury food yet smokey outdoor deserts provide a memorable conclusion to an al fresco summer meal. Try hot banana splits by slicing ripe bananas lengthwise, drizzling them in maple syrup, and toasting them on a lightly oiled grill or hot-plate. Serve with a quality vanilla ice-cream and a teaspoon of home-made raspberry couli. Other fruits to grill include pineapple slices, halved strawberries, and plums. For an easy go-to sauce to accompany any barbecued fruit, keep a metal jug of melted chocolate, mixed with a little cream, on the side of the barbie, hot and ready to pour.
Vegetarians and vegans are popping up everywhere these days, and they’ve never been easier to cater for than at a barbecue. Etiquette dictates that you cook vegan and vegetarian foods first so they don’t absorb the flavours or share the juices of meat and fish. Once they’re done, pop them into a roasting dish that can sit on the hot-plate keeping warm while you deal with the rest of the food. For vege/vegan treats, marinate cubes of tofu and tempeh in Japanese sauces, then thread them onto kebabs with ripe summer vegetables and button mushrooms.
Nothing beats a barbecued breakfast to rouse the troops from the tent or caravan! Toast cashews, and pumpkin and sunflower seeds, on a dry hot-plate until lightly browned. Set to one side to cool. Grill slices of pear, apple, and stone fruits on a lightly oiled hot-plate, and heat through until sugars begin to caramelise. Serve the warm fruits and toasted seeds and nuts with crunchy granola for the perfect start to the day. And if you’re smart, you’ll have the espresso pot bubbling on the back burner!