Barbecues and Summer Salads

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.

Green Salad with Halloumi, Grapes and Pomegranate Dressing

This is a really unusual and very lovely salad: fresh and tangy and with a combination of distinct flavours that almost unexpectedly, work really well together (halloumi with pomegranate or olives and grapes, for instance). And the dressing is a lovely piquant blend of tart and sweet – finishes the salad off beautifully. You could eat this salad on its own for lunch or serve it alongside barbecued meats or fish. Really loved it and will definitely be doing this one again. Yummy!

Serves 4 as a side salad

What you need…

3 large handfuls of your favourite salad leaves

1 handful fresh thyme, leaves stripped and stems discarded

1 handful green seedless grapes, halved

1 handful red seedless grapes, halved

10 pitted green olives, sliced

250g halloumi cheese, cut into bite-sized cubes

Knob of butter

80g pomegranate seeds

for the dressing

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

60ml olive oil

What to do…

Tip all the dressing ingredients into a screw top jar. Pop the lid on tightly and shake like mad. Set aside.

Place the salad leaves into a pretty serving bowl and then scatter over the thyme, grapes and olives.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over a moderate heat and fry the halloumi until golden all over. Remove and scatter over the salad. Drizzle over the dressing and toss the salad gently. Garnish with the pomegranate seeds and enjoy being pleasantly surprised by this unusual salad before you reach for a second helping!

Inspired by…

Suzanne Husseini

How easy…

Well it’s salad so it’s not hard but very rewarding.

My Favourite Chicken Marinade

I’ve been doing this marinade for years and everyone who has ever tried it has requested the recipe so I thought I’d share. We used it this time to marinade whole chicken breasts before barbecuing them. But on other occasions, I’ve cut the chicken into chunks and fried the chicken in its marinade before adding it warm to a salad of leaves, avocado and bacon. Either way, its lovely: the chicken is succulent and has a rich, almost caramelised flavour – not too sweet but just rather gorgeous – it elevates the simple chicken breast into something much more enticing, if I don’t say so myself! Give it a go!

Serves 4

What you need…

4 skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons dark brown soft sugar

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons soy sauce/tamari (for gluten-free)

2 cloves garlic, chopped

What to do…

Score the chicken breasts lightly to enable the marinade to get into the meat.

Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Add the chicken breasts, give them a quick stir, cover with cling film and leave to marinate for 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade with a slotted spoon and barbecue until cooked all the way through.

Serve and enjoy! It really is lovely.

Serving suggestion…

I tried this salad from the Hemsley sisters this weekend and it works spectacularly well with the marinated and barbecued chicken!

Courgette Salad Close Up w

Per person: take 1 courgette, trim the ends and grate the courgette into a bowl.

In a small saucepan, dry-fry a handful of pine nuts for a couple of minutes, just until they are toastie!

Mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil with 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar .

Mix the dressing into the courgette, season well with sea salt and black pepper and tip over the pine nuts. Serve – so simple but absolutely delicious!

Inspired by…

I have no idea where the marinade came from but ‘thank you’ to whoever came up with the combination!

How easy…

I marinate, John barbecues – dead easy!