Barbecues and Summer Salads

Gently Spiced Prawn and Bacon Skewers for the Barbie

Absolutely delicious and a great pairing – I would never have thought to put these two together. The gentle spicing adds to the natural flavour of the prawns, rather than detracting from them and I have to say, every time I do these, they go down a storm! Hot favourite for this year’s long and sultry barbecue season!

Makes 30

What you need…

Bamboo skewers

30 raw king prawns

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, ground

4 big, fat cloves of garlic, chopped

15 rashers of streaky bacon, cut in half

Lime slices, to serve (optional – I have forgotten them mostly!)

What to do…

Tip the prawns into a bowl with everything except the bacon and lime slices, mix all together, cover with cling film and pop in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the flavours to develop.

Just before cooking, wrap each prawn in half a piece of streaky bacon and thread onto your bamboo skewers. It’s up to you how many you put on each skewer depending on how many people you are feeding, how many prawns you want them to enjoy and whether they are sharing skewers or individual ones!

Pass prawn skewers over to husband who is manning the barbecue, sit back and sip wine whilst he cooks them to perfection, 4-5 minutes on each side.

Serve with salad, new potatoes, garlic bread and loads of other good barbecued fish and meats for a proper al fresco summer feast – yum!!!!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

I prep a couple of hours in advance. John fires up the barbie. What could be easier?!

Teriyaki Marinade (for Barbecued Salmon)

We eat a lot of salmon, so I’m always looking for recipes that enhance its natural flavours and in this one I’ve certainly found it! Delightfully simple and utterly delicious, this sweet soy sauce marinade transports salmon into a barbecued treat.

Serves 4

What you need…

4 chunky salmon steaks (skin on)

75ml dark soy sauce

50g caster sugar

25ml mirin

½ teaspoon salt

What to do…

In a small saucepan, heat all of the ingredients except the salmon gently and until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool. Pop your salmon steaks into a shallow dish and pour over the marinade. Pop into the fridge for 2 hours.

Hand over the marinating fish to he who is barbecuing with instructions to cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, whilst continually brushing with the delicious marinade.

Pour yourself a glass of wine and marvel at the team effort!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Spectacularly so!

 

Char Sui Marinade for Barbecued Chicken

I have a fabulous chicken marinade (already blogged) that is a firm favourite with everyone who’s tried it but we barbecue A LOT and so sometimes we fancy a change. I found the original of this little number in one of Rachel Allen’s cookbooks and it’s gorgeous – a marinade that lightly infuses the chicken with light, sweet, gently oriental flavours – a truly delightful alternative!

What you need…

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tablespoons light soft brown sugar

2 tablespoons root ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 tablespoons maple syrup

50ml light soy sauce

50ml rice wine/dry sherry

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 teaspoons rapeseed oil

4 – 6 plump chicken breasts

What to do…

Chuck the lot in a bowl and stir together. Wodge the chicken in and pop in the fridge for the flavours to develop for between 2 and 12 hours.

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

I love barbecue marinades – a bit of mixing, abandon to the fridge and pass to John to barbie! Gotta love summer!

Pomegranate, Tarragon and Maple Syrup Salad Dressing with Prawns

Creating unusual salads to accompany our many summer barbecues is something that I love to do and we have a long and varied list from which to choose from, most of which promise to convert even the hardened anti-saladist!!!! This one is fast becoming the favourite for this season – piquant, zesty, fresh and abundant in contrasting but complementary summer flavours – scrumptious!

What you need…

for the dressing

1 shallot, chopped finely

½ tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped finely

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ tablespoon pomegranate molasses (or balsamic for a slightly smoother taste)

5 tablespoons olive oil

5 tablespoons pomegranate seeds

1 tablespoon maple syrup

for the salad

225g cooked prawns

A generous handful of fresh coriander, chopped roughly

A small handful of mint, chopped finely

Your favourite leaves, torn (I used sorrel, rocket, and baby gem)

What to do…

Tip all of the dressing ingredients into your favourite salad bowl and use a fork to evenly mix together. Add the prawns and stir through. Pile the leaves on top and then cover with cling film and store in a cool place until ready to eat (I normally do this up to 2 hours in advance).

When ready to eat, toss the salad together so that all the leaves are covered with the dressing. Serve, ideally in the garden, as an aside to a barbie with good friends. Cheers!

Tip…

This would also work brilliantly with cold, sliced leftover duck or barbecued chicken instead of the prawns

Inspired by…

I saw a recipe in a magazine (can’t remember which) but didn’t have half the ingredients so ended up making this one up!

How easy…

Dead easy – just a case of chucking the ingredients in a bowl, mixing and enjoying.

Provençal Marinade (for barbecued lamb)

We use this marinade for lamb neck and it transforms a fairly uninspiring cut of meat into something that is absolutely luscious

What you need…

2 sprigs of thyme

2 sprigs of rosemary

2 bay leaves

4 garlic cloves, chopped

10 whole black peppercorns

150ml olive oil

50ml red wine vinegar

2 cuts of lamb neck

What to do…

Put all the ingredients except the vinegar and lamb into a small saucepan and over a moderate heat. Cook until the olive oil just comes to a simmer and than remove from the heat.

Add the vinegar and allow to cool.

Place the lamb neck into a shallow dish and pour over the marinade. Cover and pop in the fridge for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight. – barbie-ready!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

I don’t need to answer that – very little effort for a great deal of taste!

Watermelon, Feta and Olive Salad with Mint

A wonderful refreshing but satisfying salad that beautifully marries the earthiness of feta and olives with the bursting sunshine, juiciness and freshness of watermelon. A perfect light lunch or starter, the addition of aromatic, fresh mint just finishes it off. Very yummy and dare I say it, quite healthy too!!!!

What you need…

½ small watermelon, peeled deseeded and chunked

½ cucumber, peeled, halved lengthways, deseeded and sliced

200g feta cheese, chunked

90g pitted black olives

A small handful mint, chopped

for the dressing

4 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

First, tip the dressing ingredients into a screw top jar, pop on the lid and shake like mad.

Tip all the salad ingredients, except the feta, into a pretty salad bowl, pour in the dressing and thoroughly mix together. Gently stir in the feta – too energetic an approach and the feta will crumble. Job done! Serve and enjoy this very moreish, rather gorgeous salad!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Ridiculously!

Oriental Noodle Salad with Crayfish

Light, fresh and tangy, this is a wonderful salad that will now be gracing our table regularly, so lovely it is! The fabulous combined flavours of ginger, chilli, fish sauce and lime together with coriander and mint is just sublime; and the addition of crayfish just makes it that little bit extra special – simply yummy!

Serves 4 -6 (as a side or light lunch)

What you need…

200g rice vermicelli noodles

½ cucumber, cut in half horizontally and seeds scraped out and sliced

200g crayfish tails, cooked and peeled (more if you’re feeling exuberant)

1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced finely

150g bean sprouts

6 spring onions, sliced finely

1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and sliced finely

A large handful of coriander, chopped

A small handful of mint, chopped

3cm knob of ginger, peeled and grated finely

2 garlic cloves, chopped

for the dressing

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons dark brown soft sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

What to do…

First, bring a pan of water to the boil. Take it off the heat and pop the noodles in for 5 minutes. Drain. Refresh under cold running water. Drain again. Use clean scissors to snip into short lengths. Allow to cool completely. Job done.

Whilst that’s going on, prep the rest.

Into a screw top jar, tip all of the dressing ingredients, pop on the lid and shake like mad.

Into your salad bowl, tip everything else, including the noodles. Toss together, pour over the dressing. Toss again. Serve and enjoy with a crisp glass of white wine. The salad works particularly well with barbecued meats or roasted fish (salmon in this case). Absolutely fabulous!

Tips…

Really fresh ingredients are key to the gorgeousness of this salad.

If you don’t fancy crayfish or can’t find any at a viable price, swap them for prawns, sliced beef or shredded chicken.

Inspired by…

Firstly, friends and neighbours, Cyn and Suzy, the first of whom did her own fabulous version (but has no recipe, just raw cooking talent) and the second of whom kindly pointed me in the direction of the lovely Mary Berry!

How easy…

Just a chopping and assembly joy really.

Delightful Duck with Ginger and Lime Salad

A lively, fresh and tangy salad topped with succulent duck – ideal for a lazy summer lunch in the garden. And….so tasty, so easy!

Serves 6

What you need…

3 boneless duck breasts, about 250g each

Salt

A pile of your favourite fresh salad leaves, washed and torn

for the dressing

125ml olive oil

2 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

3 spring onions, chopped finely

1 teaspoon sugar

1 Thai chilli, finely sliced

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 200˚c / 400˚f / gas 6.

Wash the duck breasts, dry on kitchen paper and then cut in half.

Prick the skin all over with a fork and season well with salt. Place the duck pieces, skin-side down, on a wire rack over a roasting tin. Pop the duck into your oven and cook for 10 minutes. Tuner over and roast for a further 12 minutes or until cooked but still pink in the centre.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Chuck all the ingredients into a screw top jar, pop on the lid and shake like mad.

Remove the duck from the oven, cool and then cut into thick slices. Add a little of the dressing to the duck to moisten.

To serve, arrange your salad leaves on a serving plate. Top with the sliced duck breasts and drizzle with the remaining salad dressing. Absolutely delightful!

Inspired by…

Carol Bowen, Thai Cooking (a VERY old book)

How easy…

Quick bit of roasting and a little bit of shaking: job done!

Prawn, Strawberry and Mint Salad

 

Most unlikely bedfellows, prawns and strawberries snuggle up together happily in this vibrant salad that truly celebrates British summer time. A joy to eat on it’s own or as a side to barbecued fish: light, refreshing and simply yummy! Give it a go with beautifully ripe strawberries – you’ll be converted, I promise!

Serves 4 as a side salad

What you need…

350g jumbo king prawns, cooked

200g British strawberries, hulled and halved

A handful fresh mint leaves, torn

Handfuls of your favourite salad leaves. I use rocket, little gem and basil

for the dressing

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 dessertspoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon runny honey

A squeeze of lemon juice

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

In a screw top jar, chuck in the dressing ingredients, pop on the lid and shake like mad. Set aside.

Clean the salad leaves and tear if necessary.

Tip the salad leaves, strawberries, mint and prawns into a pretty salad bowl.

When you are ready to serve, shake the dressing again, pour over the salad and toss so that all the ingredients are evenly mixed together. Serve on it’s own or with barbecued fish and a lovely cold glass of white wine: totally delicious! Summer on a plate, right there!

Inspired by…

Don’t know – I think I made this one up.

How easy…

It’s salad so it’s not hard!

John’s Luscious Barbecued Lobster Tails with Garlic Butter

So, if you fancy a bit of a treat and have the available pennies, this little number is totally indulgent and absolutely gorgeous. The garlic butter essentially sautés the lobster meat and the combination of flavours is out of this world: moist, delicately flavoured lobster and ever so garlicky butter – they don’t compete but just enhance one another. Simply delicious!

Serves 4 as a starter treat

What you need…

1 x barbecue!

2 raw lobster tails

Garlic butter (recipe already blogged), softened

What to do…

Lay the lobster tails, shell-side up, on a good, solid board. Taking your sharpest knife, cut the lobster in half lengthways. Be very careful: the lobster shells are hard and the knife can slip – it’s always nice to continue life with 10 fingers!!!!

Turn the tails over and spray them with a little olive oil. To seal them, lay the lobster tails flesh-side down on a very hot barbecue grill and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the flesh just starts to turn a golden brown. Set aside to cool.

When cool and you’re just about ready to eat, spread lashings of garlic butter over the seared lobster flesh – don’t hold back – particularly making sure that there’s a goodly portion where the flesh meets the shell.

On the barbecue, return the lobster tails to the high heat but this time, shell side down. As the lobster heats up, the flesh will start to come away from the shell and the garlic butter will melt, seep down the sides and then start to bubble, effectively sautéing the flesh in the delicious butter. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the barbecue, serve and demolish immediately – that’s the only problem with them – you know you should be savouring the lusciousness of them but you can’t just help attacking them! Watch out for the garlic butter chin dribble!

Inspired by…

My lovely husband,  John

How easy…

Wonderfully easy but should be prepared with a lovely glass of wine.