Get the idea: Late summer barbecues
Do we ever stop barbecuing? Well maybe in the depths of winter, but this time of year is particularly barbecue-friendly as there are still plenty of vegetables like zucchini, eggplant and capsicums around. I guess there is nothing wrong with the sort of barbecue which entails simply driving a forklift of raw meat up to a hot barbecue, dumping it on and standing around prodding it until it is done. Nothing if you need to eat a lot of meat, get territorial about who’s in charge of the barbecue and don’t mind monotony. Don’t think a soy sauce marinade on the odd bit of flesh will set you apart either. Soy sauce merchants must rub their hands with glee at the approach of the barbecue season.
Always start with a clean barbecue, oil the food not the barbecue (it keeps it cleaner and anyway you are going to eat the food, not the barbecue) and when something is sticking to the barbecue, leave it. Once it has built up a delicious but dryish, crisp crust on its surface, the food will lift easily off the barbecue. Though barbecues may provide therapy for certain kinds of males, my aim here is not counselling but cooking, and a barbecue is good for the following:
Put some chopped coriander root, ginger, a couple of lemongrass bulbs, garlic cloves, palm sugar and a little soy sauce into a small food processor. Cover by about 2cm with coconut milk and puree. Pour this over free range boneless chicken thighs in a mixing bowl, mix well and refrigerate overnight or a minimum 2 hours. Shake off any excess marinade from each thigh as you place them on a moderate barbecue and cook, turning frequently for 15 minutes or until well browned and cooked through. At the same time brush eggplant slices with vegetable oil and barbecue until tender and browned. Serve the chicken sliced on rice noodles with the eggplant, sliced spring onions, basil, mint and coriander leaves. Thai sweet chilli sauce on the side.
Boil cauliflower and broccoli florets in salted water for a few minutes until becoming tender but not soft. Drain, cool and place in a mixing bowl with cumin seeds, finely chopped garlic, salt, pepper and a little extra virgin olive oil. Mix well so everything is evenly distributed. Put the florets side by side on a hot barbecue and barbecue until well browned and hot. Serve on a platter with plenty of crumbled feta, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced red onions, toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds and a dressing of cider vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
Thread cubes of kingfish fillet, red onion and peeled raw Aussie prawns on well soaked bamboo skewers. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with finely chopped garlic and dried wild oregano and toss gently to coat. Reserve for 1 hour. Meanwhile barbecue plenty of 2cm-thick sliced zucchini, peeled cored capsicums and thinly sliced peeled pumpkin until tender. Remove and reserve. Barbecue the seafood skewers over high heat until the seafood is just cooked through and everything browned. Serve on warm wholewheat couscous that has been tossed with the barbecued vegetables and rocket leaves and dressed with white wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
Make small 2cm-thick patties from minced lamb, a spoonful of harissa and chopped coriander. Barbecue over moderate heat until browned and cooked through and serve with barbecued eggplant and zucchini slices, cos lettuce leaves, a bowl of well seasoned, plain, unsweetened yoghurt mixed with chopped mint, tomatoes, garlic and chilli; and warm pita bread. Break open the pitas, stuff with everything else and enjoy.
Make a dressing with a thinly sliced red onion, a little sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, a sliced red chilli and a teaspoon of sesame oil. Mix well, tasting to make sure the sweet, salty, sour and hot flavours are balanced and adjusting if necessary. Reserve. Put baby cos leaves, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced peeled cucumber, plenty of blanched and cooled green beans on a platter and reserve. Season a slab of sirloin with salt and freshly ground black pepper, brush with vegetable oil and barbecue it the way you like it. Remove from the barbecue and rest then slice on the diagonal across the grain of the meat. Place this on the vegetables on the platter, spoon the dressing over everything, top with chopped roasted unsalted peanuts, mint and coriander leaves and serve. Steamed jasmine rice on the side.
Barbecue some pure pork sausages, slice and serve tossed through hot al dente short pasta with barbecued tomato halves, barbecued sliced red and yellow capsicums, diced mozzarella, pitted kalamata olives and capers and plenty of freshly grated Italian parmesan.
Mix up a small bowl of sour cream, plenty of bought horseradish and some chopped dill. Taste, season and set aside. Barbecue seasoned skinned boned salmon fillet until just cooked. Also barbecue parboiled oil-brushed 1 cm-thick peeled agria potato slices until well browned. Break up the salmon into chunks and serve with the potato slices, sour cream mixture and iceberg lettuce leaves in toasted wholewheat buns.
Make a quinoa tabbouleh with steamed, cooled quinoa, lots of chopped parsley, garlic, diced tomatoes, diced peeled, deseeded cucumber, diced cored deseeded red capsicum, lemon zest and juice, lots of chopped mint and sliced spring onions. Drizzle well with extra virgin olive oil, toss, taste, season and reserve. Slice haloumi cheese 1cm thick, brush with extra virgin olive oil and barbecue over high heat until browned on both sides. Serve on the tabbouleh with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, if available.
Make a Kiwi version of the Argentinian “choripan” (barbecued chorizo stuffed into bread rolls). Boil some chopped silverbeet leaves until soft, cool under cold water, squeeze dry and toss with a little finely chopped garlic, salt and pepper and extra virgin olive oil. Heat, spread out, on the barbecue plate. Barbecue oil-brushed, 1cm-thick slices of well scrubbed purple-skinned kumara and whole chorizos until the kumara is tender and everything is well browned. Slice the chorizo and stuff into bread rolls with the silverbeet and kumara.
In the blender put a small red onion, two tablespoons of chopped ginger, 2-3 cloves garlic, a red chilli, a tablespoon ground cumin, a teaspoon ground turmeric, juice of a lemon, a little salt and half a cup unsweetened yoghurt. Puree and pour over skinned boned free range chicken thighs. Mix well and marinate overnight or a minimum 2 hours. Barbecue over moderate heat until cooked through and serve with warm naan bread, sliced cucumber, spicy chutney and coriander.