Nothing beats the tantalising aroma of a piece of good beef, a lamb chop or a whole fish sizzling on an outdoor grill or barbecue.
I’m daydreaming as the rain pours down in torrents, but the sun WILL shine again, and I’ll be out like a flash to grill up a storm.
I really love to cook over fire, I can make magic in a little circle of stones on the strand. Even sausages take on a new dimension of flavour when eating outdoors but during these crazy uncertain weather patterns you can’t beat the Weber covered barbecue. It’s brilliant for a barbecued pizza, a super easy way to feed lots of family, friends, hungry kids and teenagers.
Just make a batch of pizza dough. Sounds like a lot of bother but honestly it isn’t, just mix the few ingredients, knead for a couple of minutes, cover the bowl and let it rise until soft and pillowy while you get some toppings together.
Everyone can have fun shaping, topping and cooking the pizzas and all you need is a big bowl of fresh greens and maybe a gorgeous summer tomato salad with lots of fresh basil.
For a more sophisticated barbecue, how about a butterflied shoulder of lamb marinated with lots of spices. This Madhur Jaffrey version is definitely one of my favourites, have a bowl of banana raita, some Ballymaloe relish, a few poppadums and you have a feast.
Here too are a few riffs on sausages, my favourite is simply a slick of Colman’s mustard, not the ready mix but the powder which really packs a punch. I just add a little water to make it into a soft paste, it does wonders for even a nondescript sausage and really clears the sinuses.
Its peak summer fruit at present, lots of currants and berries, which of course you can serve just as they are, piled up in a bowl with lots of cream and a good sprinkling of castor sugar and maybe a scattering of shredded mint leaves. Hope you loved the summer fruit salad flavoured with the haunting lemony aroma of sweet geranium leaves from a couple of weeks ago. It’s fresh and gorgeous and actually keeps in the fridge for up to a week. We love it for breakfast too with a dollop of yoghurt. This sweet geranium plant which as you all know is one of my signature flavours is a must to have on your windowsill. You’ll find it in many Garden Centres… the Latin name is Pelargonium graveolens. Look out for it, you’ll find so many ways to use it – If you don’t already have it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it…
But this week,
let’s make delicious use of the apricots that we’ll have for just a few more
Pizza Margherita is possibly the most traditional and universally popular pizza in Italy. You’ll need a Weber style barbecue with a lid for chargrilled pizza. Vary the toppings as you fancy.
Makes 1 – serves lots
150g quick and easy pizza dough (see recipe)
175g Mozzarella cheese, grated
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
flaky sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
4 tbsp tomato fondue or tomato sauce
1 tbsp Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano is best), freshly grated
1 dsp freshly chopped basil or annual marjoram
Slice mozzarella and sprinkle with the olive oil. Season with flaky sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Heat the barbeque to medium temperature.
Roll out pizza dough to a 30cm rectangle or circle, about 5mm thick. Brush one side with olive oil.
Gently place the oiled side of the dough on the grid in the centre of the barbecue, directly over the heat. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes until the bottom of the crust is well marked and browned. Flip it over.
Sprinkle the grated Mozzarella over the cooked side of the crust, within 2.5cm of the edge. Spread the drained, well-seasoned tomato fondue over the top. Sprinkle with the freshly grated Parmesan. Season very well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Close the lid and cook until the bottom is well browned, toppings are warm, and cheese is bubbly, about 5-8 minutes.
Sprinkle lots of freshly chopped basil or marjoram on top, cut into pieces and serve immediately.
Quick and Easy Pizza Dough
The beauty of this recipe is that it is so quick and easy, using this fast acting yeast does away with the first rising. By the time your tomato fonduesauce is bubbling, your pizza base will be ready for its topping! This dough also makes delicious white yeast bread which we shape into rolls, loaves and plaits.
Makes 8 x 25cm pizzas
680g strong white flour or 600g strong white flour and 110g rye flour
2 level teaspoons salt
1 packet fast acting yeast
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
450 – 500ml lukewarm water – more if needed
In a large wide mixing bowl, sieve the flour and add in the salt, sugar, rub in the butter and fast acting yeast, mix all the ingredients thoroughly.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the oil and most of the lukewarm water. Mix to a loose dough. You can add more water or flour if needed.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work top, cover and leave to relax for about 5 minutes.
Then knead the dough for about ten minutes or until smooth and springy (if kneading in a food mixer with a dough hook, 5 minutes is usually long enough).
Leave the dough to relax again for about ten minutes. Shape and measure into 8 equal balls of dough each weighing approximately 150g. Lightly brush the balls of dough with olive oil.
If you have time, put the oiled balls of dough into an oiled bowl and cover or reusable Ziploc bag and chill. The dough will be easier to handle when cold, but it can be used immediately.
On a well-floured work surface roll each ball into about a 25cm disk. I find it convenient to pop a few rolled out uncooked pizza bases into the freezer. You can take one out, put the topping on and slide it straight into the oven. What could be easier!
Tomato fondue is one of our great convertibles, it has a number of uses, we serve it as a vegetable or a sauce for pasta, filling for omelettes, topping for pizza.
Serves 6 approximately
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
110g sliced onions
1 clove of garlic, crushed
900g very ripe tomatoes in Summer or 2 tins (x 400g) of tomatoes in Winter, but peel before using
salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar to taste
1 tbsp of any of the following:
freshly chopped mint, thyme, parsley, lemon balm, marjoram or torn basil
Heat the oil in a stainless-steel sauté pan or casserole. Add the sliced onions and garlic toss until coated, cover and sweat on a gentle heat until soft but not coloured – about 10 minutes. It is vital for the success of this dish that the onions are completely soft before the tomatoes are added. Slice the peeled fresh tomatoes or chopped tinned tomatoes and add all the juice to the onions. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar (tinned tomatoes need lots of sugar because of their high acidity). Add a generous sprinkling of herbs. Cover and cook for just 10-20 minutes more, or until the tomato softens, uncover and reduce a little. Cook fresh tomatoes for a shorter time to preserve the lively fresh flavour.
Tinned tomatoes need to be cooked for longer depending on whether one wants to use the fondue as a vegetable, sauce or filling.
Note: A few drops of Balsamic vinegar at the end of cooking greatly enhances the flavour.
Madhur Jaffrey’s Butterflied Leg of Lamb
Ask your local butcher to butterfly the leg of lamb for you – it’ll take a bit of time to make the marinade, a labour of love but so worth it. Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, it’s only a matter of adding all the spices to the mix.
Serves 10 – 12
1 leg of lamb, butterflied (3.4-4kg)
1 medium sized onion, coarsely chopped
1 piece of fresh ginger 7.5cm x 2.5cm long, peeled and coarsely chopped
7 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
175ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp Garam Masala (see recipe)
1 tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground mace
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
225g olive oil
2-2 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Spring onion and radishes
Ballymaloe Relish (optional)
Whizz the onion, ginger, garlic and 4 tablespoons of lemon juice in a food processor or liquidise for about a minute. Put this paste into a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Cut off all the fat and tissue from the meat and make lots of holes in it with the point of a knife, rub the paste well into the meat and make sure it goes into the holes.
Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Turn it over several times during that period. Light the barbecue 15 minutes ahead if you are using natural charcoal otherwise 45 minutes or better still an hour before you start to cook. Lift the meat out of the marinade and drain for a few minutes. Sear on both sides first then raise the rack to the uppermost notch and cook for 20 minutes on each side. Brush frequently with the marinade until it’s all used up. The meat needs to cook for about 50 minutes in total and should be very dark on the outside but still pinkish inside.
Slice into thin slices with a sharp knife. Serve immediately on a hot serving dish garnished with spring onions, radishes and flat parsley. Add a bowl of yoghurt and fresh mint or a raita. Ballymaloe Relish is a particularly delicious accompaniment.
Spicy Lamb Kebabs
Serves 10 – 12
The meat can be cut into 2.5cm cubes and marinated as above. Thread 5 or 6 on a skewer, grill for 8-10 minutes on a rack over hot coals. Serve with a green salad.
Madhur Jaffrey’s Garam Masala
A brilliant spice, mix to use on lamb, beef, pork, chicken… Commercial garam masala loses its aromatic flavour very quickly, so it’s far better to make your own kind. Grind it in small quantities so that it is always fresh and used up quickly. Brilliant to use as a rub also.
Makes about 3 tablespoons
1 tbsp green cardamom seeds
1 x 5cm piece of cinnamon stick
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
½ whole nutmeg
Put all the ingredients into a clean electric coffee grinder and whizz for about 30 seconds or until all the spices are finely ground. Store in a dark place in a tiny screw top jar and use up quickly. Don’t forget to clean out the coffee grinder really well or your coffee will certainly perk you up! Better still, if you use spices regularly, keep a grinder specially for that purpose.
Banana and Cardamom Raita
One of my favourite raitas, you’ll want to eat it by the spoonful and also dollop on granola for breakfast too…!
Serves 6 approximately
25g approx. raisins or sultanas
15g blanched slivered almonds
90ml natural yoghurt
40ml sour cream
1 dsp pure Irish honey
2-4 firm ripe bananas depending on size
pinch of salt
3-4 green cardamom pods
Pour boiling water over the raisins or sultanas, leave for 10 minutes.
Toast the almonds (watch them, they burn really easily).
Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods, crush in a pestle and mortar. Mix the yoghurt with the creams and cardamom, add the honey, taste and add more if needed. Add the raisins. Slice the bananas, season with a pinch of salt and add to the yoghurt base. Turn into a serving bowl and scatter with toasted almonds, chill for an hour if possible.
Serve with curries and spicy dishes.
Sausages with Honey and Grainy Mustard and variations
Super easy and delicious. Everyone including children love these honey and mustard sausages, even if there’s lots of other fancy food. They are brilliant to nibble with drinks while waiting for the remainder of the food to be ready.
Makes about 30
450g good-quality sausages
2 tbsp Irish honey
2 tbsp Irish grainy mustard (such as Lakeshore wholegrain mustard with honey)
Prick the sausages and cook on the grill, turning occasionally until cooked and golden.
Mix the honey with the mustard. Toss the sausages in the honey and mustard mixture and serve hot or warm.
Sesame and Honey Sausages
Add 2 tbsp of sesame seeds to the above recipe and omit the mustard.
Honey and Rosemary Sausages
Add 2 tbsp of freshly chopped rosemary to 4 tbsp of honey.
Sweet Chilli and Lime
Use 4 tbsp
of sweet chilli sauce and the juice of ½ – 1 lime, depending on size.
Poached Apricots with Sweet Geranium Leaves
A gorgeous combination – another way to use the leaves of your sweet geranium plant.
4-6 large lemon scented geranium leaves (Pelargonium Graveolens)
225ml cold water
450g fresh apricots, left whole or cut in half and stoned
Jersey pouring cream or Sweet Geranium Cream (see recipe)
Put the sweet geranium leaves into a saucepan with the sugar and water and bring slowly to the boil. Meanwhile, add the apricots whole or if you prefer, slice the apricots in half and remove the stones. Cover the saucepan and simmer until the apricots are soft (5-10 minutes depending on ripeness and whether they are stoned or not). Turn into a bowl, serve chilled with Jersey pouring cream.
Poached Apricots with Lemon Verbena
Substitute 6 lemon verbena leaves for sweet geranium in the master recipe and proceed as above
Sweet Geranium Cream
3–4 sweet geranium leaves (Pelargonium Graveolens)
Put the cold cream into a saucepan with the geranium leaves. Bring slowly to the shivery stage over a low heat. Allow to cool. Whip softly and serve.