Summer has finally established itself so it’s time to break out the bar-b-que/grill. Now I know some of you get the horrors when it comes to cooking over a naked flame, but worry not. Here’s the trick, do NOT leave it’s side. Whoever is doing the grilling must commit. So grab a drink and stay put.
Keep the temperature on medium and grill away, flipping often. When you think it’s done, move it up to the higher bit. If the whole grill takes on a life of it’s own through a manifestation of hell, i.e. goes up in flames due to drippy fat, stand back a bit and throw a little beer at it. Be careful as it can spit or put out the burners. Re-ignite if necessary and carry on as if you know exactly what you are doing. Believe me it works and doubles as extra moisture for the food.
The big decision is what to cook. Don’t go mad and do seventeen different things. If you do the poor sucker doing the cooking will be at it all evening. Pick a theme and stick to it. One of the best and easiest is several different types of gourmet sausages (Gubbeen and Caherbeg in Ireland) served with a gorgeous gratin of potatoes with Cashel Blue or Roquefort cheese and a big green salad. But if you want to go a little crazy, try ribs. Very quick to cook as you start them in the oven. Here is the most delicious recipe for pork ribs.
What you need:
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 inch of ginger peeled and minced
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup dry sherry (Marsala, brandy or white wine will also work)
1/4 cup of orange flavour liqueur (or use juice and zest of one orange and double up on the sherry)
1 medium onion finely chopped
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons hot salsa (yep, from a jar!)
3 teaspoons lemon juice (nope, not from a bottle…..squeezed from a real lemon)
What you do:
Combine the lot and marinate the ribs in it for at least three hours, overnight is best. Cover with foil and cook in 160-180 degree oven for 45-50 minutes then grill to perfection as described above. Eat and enjoy.
So you’ve been to Greece and you can’t believe while you were there that you loved olives. For the first time in your life you didn’t go Yuk!
Olives are an acquired taste and in our house we call the process ‘aversion therapy’. Start with the lightly flavoured greens and move up to the robust black, slowly over time mind you. It was that Greek Salad that made you change your mind about the little oval jewels wasn’t it? Well here is a way to re-capture that flavour and remind you of those heat soaked heady days of holiday. Lets face it anything even resembling summer is a bonus at the moment.
What you need:
Good feta cheese made with sheep or goats milk.
1 red onion.
Vine ripened tomatoes.
Pitted Kalamata black olives.
Red wine vinegar.
Extra virgin olive oil.
Salt and pepper.
What you do:
Cut the feta into large rough cubes and set to one side. Cut tomatoes into half moons. Slice onion thinly (but not so thin that they are floppy). Cut cucumber into cubes.
Now put half the vegetables into your serving dish top with some feta and olives (if you are concerned about presentation be careful because the feta will smudge the lovely veg, so place carefully). Top with the rest of the veg then feta and olives.
Just before serving sprinkle first with oil and then vinegar, then salt and pepper.
Caprese Salad, otherwise known as Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil
This salad has become a staple on the Irish bbq spread. It’s tasty, attractive and so easy to make. But you can make a complete ham of it by using cheap and nasty ingredients. So take my word for it, use only the best. Excellent vine ripened tomatoes (from your own vine, ha ha.) Tomatoes taste like they smell. If there is no smell there will be sod all taste. Buffalo mozzarella, yes, made from the milk of the water buffalo. And now we even have our own home produced one, Toons Bridge from North Cork. The basil must be fresh and fragrant. Don’t bother making this salad without it. And to top the lot, good balsamic vinegar (little trick to make cheap balsamic taste like aged, add half a teaspoon of sugar to a cup of the vinegar, bring to the boil and simmer until reduced by one third, cool to room temp), extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. It’s a summer must.
What you need:
1 lb. of vine ripened tomatoes
1 Toons Bridge buffalo mozzarella or other buffalo mozzarella
handful of fresh basil
Aged balsamic vinegar (or as above)
Good extra virgin olive oil
Maldon sea salt
Black pepper grinder (full of peppercorns of course)
What you do:
Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella thinly (3-5mm thick) and arrange in circles
Rip the larger basil leaves gently in half, leave smaller ones whole and sprinkle over the top. Save one basil head for decoration.
Drizzle the oil first as it will stop the vinegar from running and staining, drizzle the vinegar and then season at will.
Couscous is one of those controversial dishes between the sexes. Women love it, men fear it. But the following recipe is one size fits all. Women adore it and men actually love it, it’s a proper manly grain dish. You can use any of the derivatives including wholegrain, spelt, rice and maize couscous.
1 500g packet of couscous
1 red, green and yellow pepper
2 large carrots
2 red onions
Bouillon powder1 x head of garlic
olive oil, salt and pepper
What you do:
Cut the veg into bite size chunks, now please show a little finesse here. Not door-stops, slice into appealing shapes. Separate the cloves of garlic, nick the skin and throw into the roasting dish with the veg. Coat the lot in olive oil, don’t be shy as you can use any flavoursome excess for the dressing, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast at 200 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until the edges are browning.
Take out the garlic cloves and slip off the skins, a tongs will stop that painful burning feeling you are now experiencing in your fingertips……. Put the resulting garlic paste in your dressing bowl/jam jar. At this point make your couscous. Add 1 pint/ 600 ml of BOILING water with the appropriate amount of stock powder/cube dissolved in it, OR 1 pint/ 600 ml of boiling homemade vegetable stock (Hi Martha) to the couscous, stir briefly and cover with a tea towel. Stand for 5 minutes, fluff with a fork and then add the roasted veg.
Make your dressing by adding the following to your awaiting garlic paste, then throwing into the couscous and mixing through…
Chopped fresh coriander
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
5 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 teaspoon of honey
Optional extras: roasted cashew nuts or roasted sesame seeds, extra coriander, more dressing
Chopped fresh basil
4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of sugar or more to taste
optional extras: roasted pine nuts, extra basil, extra dressing.