We all know what a huge proponent I am of the importance of sharing great meals with friends and family. The sort of meal I enjoy sharing most often happens out of doors, on a sunny weekend afternoon and doesn’t generally involve heating up the kitchen or folding napkins into perfect thirds.
Though I’ve had both near and total disasters in the kitchen preparing for regular dinner parties, I’ve never had the experience with a BBQ. There’s something magical about the ease and joviality that go hand in hand with the BBQ. No one’s worrying about the right fork and it’s totally acceptable to be so enamoured of what you’re eating that you end up with sauce on your chin. I guess that’s why I love barbeques so much… they really are the essence of what a shared meal should be - enjoyment of great food, and lively company (especially when there’s good beer and wine!) - without the fussiness and formality that sometimes comes packaged up with more formal meals.
My most vivid childhood memories of eating a complete meal (as opposed to a particular food item or the preparation of food) are of summer suppers eaten outside with my parents and sister on the patio of the house I grew up in. We had a patio table with an umbrella that had a very hip (for the late 70s) brown and blue stripe on it. That was at the time long before patio furniture became plastic. Our table was a shiny powder-coated white metal. The meals were never really fancy – salad from the garden, baked potatoes – maybe done in foil with sliced onions, butter and a touch of honey – and steaks from the barbeque. I loved those meals. Heat would kick me under the table, or torture me by obliquely revealing to my parents some secret I’d confided earlier and which I was mortified to hear her repeat. After supper, we’d get Popsicles from the freezer. Those meals were lively and happy and exciting in a way that meals eaten inside never quite were.
Maybe it’s because the winters here can seem so long, but I really feel like I have in the past been much more adventurous with my indoor cookery than the outdoor variety. I felt stuck in a BBQ rut really, serving the same old standbys time after time. I swore to myself that this year would be different – I’d cook outside more, and I’d cook better and more adventurous things. So I issued the Summer Barbeque Challenge. I thought it would be a great resource to have a little online cache of great outdoor recipes to inspire our shared backyard meals all summer. So here we are…
The Summer BBQ Challenge has certainly turned out to be an international event with recipes from all corners of the globe all of which are amazing alternatives to the same-old-same-old that happens all too often around my own barbeque. After some initial confusion over what in fact I meant by “barbeque” the entries rolled in.
Stephanie, my favourite Happy Sorceress brings us a tasty looking Lamb & Persian Rice Kibbeh and in doing so has unwittingly created for the barbeque one of my favourite Middle Eastern Dishes. Funny, without her, I’d never have thought of doing kibbeh on the barbeque. Thanks Stephanie!
McAuliflower of Brownie Points brought a tasty treat for vegetarians and meat lovers alike! Her Teriayki Grilled Tempeh that looks amazing. She did hers in a grill pan, but I reckon it’s going to get a workout on my wood fire pit grill this summer. This is one recipe that's stood the test of time...McAuliflower's brought this with her from her college days!
Helen of Beyond Salmon brought us two fantastic entries. First she provided great instructions on how to properly grill fish. I for one, have never really attempted to grill fish before because I was always worried about temperature control and the possibility of the fish sticking to the grill or breaking up and disappearing into the flames! With Helen’s great step-by-step instructions, I think I can finally conquer my fear.
Helen also made a great salad, with grilled ingredients. I don’t have much to say about Helen’s Grilled Asparagus, Tomato and Feta Salad, because I’m too busy drooling. I love grilled asparagus. I love tomatoes. I love feta. Yum.
Sandra of Un Tocco Di Zenzaro gave us the only non-English entry. Sandra, who lives in Turin, Italy made some chicken skewers that sound wonderfully yummy, no matter what the language! Her chicken skewers recipe – done both in Spanish and in Italian, would make a great addition to any summer barbeque.
Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once is from my very favourite city in the whole wide, wide world: Melbourne. When we lived in Melbourne, Cakes and I would barbeque our supper at least 5 nights out of 7 over the summer. I can remember some Saturdays when we’d barbeque both our lunch and our supper! Getting away from the focus on the meat is Haalo’s potato skewers recipe, which is a fab alternative to plain potatoes in foil. I could practically smell the garlic and roast potato smell looking at that photo!
Kat of Kat on Thyme made an extremely adventurous Triple Sec and Vanilla Brined Pork Tenderloin with a Rhubarb Fruit Compote spanning two posts. This is definitely on my to-try list as I’ve become a great fan of brining meat ever since reading Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking. Plus, I’ve got some nice fresh rhubarb sitting on the counter……
Zorra of 1 x umruehren bitte also stepped away from the meats! The one Barbeque meal food that I almost always end up buying is the bread. That will probably change now that I’ve seen how soft and yummy looking Zorra’s home made pita bread looks. I can just imagine wrapping up a nice hot browned bit of lamb or sausage straight off the grill in one of those pitas.
Gabriella True of My Life as a Reluctant Housewife brings us the only desert entry with her amazing-looking grilled pineapple with caramel sauce. Yum. I really would like to experiment more with grilled sweet foods and this looks like a great place to start!
Craig’s & Lois Notes from the Cape sent in a fantastic recipe for melted camembert on a baguette. I can’t even bear to look at the picture because I am afraid the drool might short out my keyboard and then where would we be? No roundup. I think I’d probably be tempted to also grill the baguette too, but that’s just me and my new barbeque motto - no food should be left ungrilled! Seriously. Melted cheese? Too good.
Everyone need as good Barbeque sauce recipe or two in their repertoire. I’m glad I can add Dave’s world famous BBQ basting sauce from Robert at White Trash BBQ to mine. I find the selection of sauces at the store most perplexing. I get tired just contemplating reading the labels on 200 different sauce bottles to find one that I like. I’d much rather just make my own. I’m gonna put this one together with Helen’s fish-grilling instructions…
Intrepid Torontonian Ruth, of Once Upon a Feast, came up with a whole barbeque meal menu including grilled asparagus, cedar plank salmon, quinoa tabouleh, chickpea & couscous salad and blueberry mint granita. Wow. Now I have one whole barbeque party planned out and I’m not even tired! Those granitas sound great, and I’ve always wanted to do cedar planked salmon……
Kevin of Seriously Good is clearly making this his sausage year as well. In that vein he made us some super tasty looking Romanian sausage called Mititei, which I imagine is Romanian for “seriously good-looking sausages”. They’re user friendly too. You don’t need a sausage stuffer for these babies, as they are skinless.
My favourite Edmonton author/shopping enthusiast and all-round blog-girl, Jena of Naked Bootleg, added to the international flavour of the challenge by producing Korean barbequed chicken and beef with loads of garlic. She complements this with home made Sunomono, which is an absolute favourite of mine – I’ve never even though about making it myself before, but now that Jena’s brought this recipe to my attention, you can bet I will!
Blogless Erica sent us two really tasty entries from her online cookbook (why don’t I have one of these?). Her Sweet & Sour Broccoli Coleslaw looks like a great twist on an old barbeque favourite and the amazing sounding Wheatberry & Roasted Beet Salad is right up my alley – I love roasted beets in a salad!
My favourite Southerner, William of Never Trust a Skinny Chef, throws it back in Rachel Ray’s face with a five-hour smoked chicken chilli. Could Rachel even stand to do a dish that took more than 30 mintues? We’re guessing not. After all, she’s probably too skinny to stand and cook for that long. She'd probably feel all faint and have to lie down. William smoked his own chicken folks. That’s dedication.
Robert from Al Forno wades into the backyard cooking fray with a great post on the history of barbeque sauces and the regional sauces of the American barbeque belt. He serves up a great recipe for an old fashioned all-American barbeque technique that sounds amazing and which will certainly find a place in my repertoire.
And lastly, my own entry… Grilled Char Sui Beef Bundles
Fitzroy will be making his selection of the winner of the Summer BBQ Challenge later in the week when his mum manages to buy a new printer cartridge! Also, he's feeling a little out of sorts owing to the fact that he recently ate a bee. This necessitated a terrifying trip to the vet (actually, probably more terrifying for me and Cakes than for poor old Fitzy). I'd like to make sure he's in top form before setting him to such a difficult task!