Category Archives: barbecue

sweetcorn salsa

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Recently we’ve been trying to eat our sweetcorn crop before the drought dealt to it. (Sweetcorn sucks through the water & we feel there’s a limit to how much hosing we should do.) We usually just boil it & eat with a littlebittabutter, but casting about for something different, I came up with this. You could vary the quantities & the other ingredients too; I really don’t think it would matter 🙂

I husked and removed the silk from 5 largish ears of corn before popping them in a large pan of boiling water. While they simmered for 5 minutes before being cooled in a sink of cold water, I de-seeded a couple of our long red peppers & cut them into small dice (about the size of corn kernels; funny, that), then added them to a bowl along with 3 finely-sliced spring onions.

When the corn was cool enough to handle, I used a sharp knife to slice the kernels from each cob, & tipped those into the bowl too – stir everything up as this will help to separate the kernels.

The final step was to slosh in some sweet chilli sauce (as much as you like, really) & add salt & pepper to taste.

And the salsa went down a treat as a side dish for a barbecue dinner.

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garlic prawns & fried rice

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When I went past the ‘fish’ section of the supermarket the other day, I noticed that they were selling raw prawns for $9.99 a kilo. (I can’t for the life of me see why they don’t just make it $10 or whatever; is anyone really fooled by the .99???) Now, the daughter dislikes prawns intensely but she was away in Taupo, so I bought a kilo & popped the bike saddlebags along with the things I’d actually gone there to buy. (At this point I must say that I hadn’t really thought about the effort entailed in peeling the things, but anyway 🙂 )

It’s been barbecue weather here for what seems like ages, so that’s how I intended to cook my little crustaceans. After shelling them – there were rather a lot but everyone seemed hungry – I mixed together: 2 egg whites (left over from the brioche the other day), 2 Tbsp cornflour, a good grind of salt & pepper, & several (small) heads of garlic, crushed. That was then stirred through the prawns, & I left them in the fridge to soak in that garlicky goodness while I contemplated the rest of dinner.

Salad? That went without saying; we have lettuce & cucumbers & tomatoes in abundance, & there was still a nice avocado from last weekend’s market trip. I decided on a fruity, spicy dressing as that would go well with both salad & prawns: into the blender went the contents of a 450 g tin of peaches in fruit juice, along with 3-4 Tbsp of sweet chilli sauce. (It would have been mango dressing but I only had peaches in the cupboard.) Yum!

We also had about 2 c cooked rice in the fridge, left over from the previous night’s dinner. So I chopped a red bell pepper into eensy little pieces & added that to the rice with a handful of chopped garlic chives & a Tbsp or so of grated root ginger before beating in a couple of eggs.

At which point the husband fired up the barbecue: the rice/vege mix went onto the hot plate in large spoonfuls (I got about a dozen little cakes from that quantity) & the prawns went in batches onto the grill until their heads & tails were pink & their flesh white & cooked through. It took us a while to get through them all, but somehow we managed it 🙂 And the peach-&-chilli dressing went so well with everything.

luscious lamb packets

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Lamb’s rather cheap in the shops at the moment, so yesterday I bought a leg of lamb, then butterflied  & marinated it before cooking it on the barbie until medium rare. This time round the marinade was a paste of garlic (lots of it) & parsley, ground down in a mortar with rock salt & lemon zest & then thinned with the lemon juice, some soy sauce & (because I like the smell & taste) a little sesame oil. Our friends Annette & David came to help eat lovely tender slices of still-pink lamb, which I served with a waldorf salad (sans walnuts, because they don’t like Annette) and some rather good rosemary bread that I cooked on the grill plate.

However, because the two strapping young men who helped the last lamb leg disappear weren’t with us this time, there was quite a bit of meat left over. (Also, we were saving room for the strawberries – from our garden – & cream!) So, this is what I made for tonight’s dinner (it will serve 4 generously, & in fact the leftovers will be lunch tomorrow):

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C and put 4 sheets of ready-rolled flaky-puff pastry on the bench to defrost. At this point you could also put some par-boiled potatoes, cut into chunks, into the oven in a little oil to finish cooking.
  • Cook down a couple of bunches of spinach (like the spuds, this came from our garden), squeeze dry, & chop coarsely.
  • Slice the lamb, as thickly or thinly as you like & as the amount available permits.
  • Spread about a tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce down the centre of each sheet of pastry & cover this with the spinach. Arrange slices of lamb on top of this & then fold the pasty over the top, remembering to seal the short ends of each packet.
  • Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper (or use a silicon sheet – I swear by mine), & bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

These are actually quite large & so I cut each packet into two before serving, so people could choose to suit their appetite. We ate them with the roasted spuds, a mix of new peas & sweet little baby broad beans,  & fresh-picked, steamed broccoli, with a light cheese sauce. “Those were pretty special leftovers,”, said the husband 🙂

 

lamb legs & bbqs

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I am a happy omnivore. I do cook vegetarian meals on occasion (more occasions than the husband would like, I suspect), & those occasions will probably become more common when our French niece and her Scottish partner (hi, Mally! hi, Tony!) arrive on our doorstep next month. But I enjoy meat, as well. One of my favourites is lamb (whether or not this has anything to do with eating roasted lambs’ tails at docking time, when I was a kid on the farm & docking involved a sharp knife rather than those little rubber rings, I’m not sure). And lamb is rather cheap in the shops, at the moment.

So a couple of weekends ago I found myself early-ish on Sunday morning with a 2kg leg (bone in) of lamb in the fridge and the happy prospect of a slow, late lunch with friends. And the day was sunny – a great day for the first barbecue of the summer. First up, I needed to bone the lamb – lacking a turnspit, I can’t imagine trying to cook a leg, bone in, on the barbie. Now, I used to have a proper boning knife, but it disappeared a while ago; I suspect the husband nicked it for cutting up bait on one of his fishing trips. So these days I use a knife with a fairly narrow straight blade. Being a zoologist hath its uses as I’ve got a nice mental image of where the bones actually are.

Boning a leg is no big deal, really, although I know perfectly well that my way probably isn’t the most efficient way to do it (& one day the elder of my brothers, who is a Very Good Cook Indeed, will probably take me to task for it): basically I cut down to & along the shin at the point where the flesh is at its thinnest, & then work around the bones & deglove them as I go. Then I make a couple of slashes where the meat is thickest, so it will lie fairly flat under grill or on barbecue, & there you are. (The bones go to my little dog, Ben, & make him very happy for quite some time.)

The last time I did this, the next step was a fairly conventional marinade involving olive oil, lemon zest & juice, rosemary & garlic.  Did I mention that we have quite a bit of garlic still to use from last summer’s crop? Anyway, this time I felt like something different. So I peeled the cloves from a couple of bulbs of garlic (I’ve got one of those silicon tube-thingies that you use to skin garlic cloves & it works rather well) & put them in a mortar with a tablespoon or so of ground cumin & a couple of teaspoons of rock salt, & ground the whole lot into a coarse paste with the pestle before thinning it with some olive oil & a little sesame oil (because I thought it would taste good. Which it did). That was spread over both sides of the lamb, which I then put into a dish, covered it with gladwrap, & left it to its own devices for 3 hours.

During which time we all went to the Hamilton Farmers’ Market & bought various yummy things, & then the dog & I walked home while the rest of the family drove back with our purchases 🙂

By the time we got home it was about an hour until our guests were due, so I fired up the barbecue (gas bottle, three burners, nice semi-cylindrical hood) & when it was at around 200 degrees C I turned off one of the burners & carefully placed my butterflied lamb leg on the grill over that burner, skin side down. Then I closed the lid & turned the other burners down to medium, & left the meat to cook over that indirect heat (turning it once, about 30 minutes later) while I went in to deal to the rest of the meal.

Which was pretty straightforward: the first of our new season’s potatoes (Swifts, ready in about 60 days from planting), to be boiled & served with a littlebittabutter; a nice big head of fresh brocolli, cut into florets & steamed just before we were ready to eat, along with fresh asparagus from the market; a sweet red pepper coulis; & a lemon-thyme scented hollandaise sauce. Our guests arrived & exclaimed, drooling slightly, about the lovely smells from the barbecue. The lamb was done and, after resting it for 10 minutes while dealing with the veges, I carved it into thick luscious slices, still pink inside but brown & crisp with garlic & spice on the outside. The eight of us sat down to a veritable feast, & no-one complained that there was no dessert to follow.