Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Simple Summer Outdoor Food for Friends and Family

I love summer and I also love food, so a combination of the two is bliss for me. Summer weekends mean precious time with family and friends, so simple food that's easy to prepare, fun to cook and that tastes delicious is what I like best, and if it can be cooked outside, so much the better. I've put together some of my favourite marinades for food, things you can prepare well in advance then just take outside to cook on the grill or the barbecue when everyone's starting to get hungry. I think I've 'translated' all the ingredients correctly for my American friends!

I've found that kids really love to help make marinades, maybe because there's no real 'cooking' involved but they still get to do all the chopping and measuring. It's a nice way to introduce them to different ingredients and another way of preparing food. You'll see I don't use precise measures much but just go with what feels right for the amount of food to be cooked and personal preferences. If you love heat in your food, use chillies with their seeds and all, or leave out the seeds and use just a small amount of red chilli peppers if you only like the tiniest bit of kick. Pile on or remove the garlic as you prefer, it's up to you.

It's a pinch of this and a handful of that, my favourite way to cook with lovely summer ingredients.

Citrus marinade for prawns/shrimp.

Allow 6 or 8 jumbo prawns/large shrimp per person, peeled and ready to cook. Pour around half a glass of good olive oil into a shallow dish together with half a glass of white wine. Add:
- a tablespoon of French mustard
- 2 or 3 cloves of chopped garlic
- 1 medium size chopped red chilli, seeds left in if you like
- juice of 1 large fresh orange and 1 lemon
- a small handful each of chopped fresh coriander/cilantro and flat leaf parsley. You can substitute fresh basil for the coriander/cilantro if you prefer.

Mix the marinade well and add the prawns/shrimp, turning them over in the mixture to coat them. Leave covered in the refrigerator for 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning occasionally. Thread them onto bamboo skewers and cook on the outdoor grill or in an iron skillet in the kitchen till they're done, about 5 minutes or so depending on the size, basting occasionally with the remaining marinade as they cook. TIP: if you soak bamboo skewers in warm water for an hour before you need them, they won't burn when you put them on the grill.

This citrus marinade also works well with chicken strips, but here's another good one for chicken, invented by my husband.

Soy, honey and ginger marinade.

To about half a glass of olive oil in a shallow dish, add a tablespoon each of dark soy sauce and runny honey, a couple of cloves of chopped garlic, a tablespoon of grated fresh ginger and the juice of 1 orange. Add strips of skinless chicken and marinate for at least 1 hour. Thread onto skewers as above and cook on the grill until the chicken is thoroughly cooked through.

Here's a couple more, for your vegetarian family or friends.

Marinated Mediterranean Vegetables.

Prepare a marinade of olive oil, chopped garlic, juice of 1 lemon and some torn fresh basil. Add some aubergine/eggplant cut into 1" dice, some courgette/zucchini cut into 1/2" slices, some yellow and some red bell peppers cut into 1" chunks, some white or red onion also in 1" chunks, and some baby button mushrooms, left whole if small. Marinade for an hour then cook in an iron skillet over the grill. About 5 mins before the veggies are done, add some small, whole cherry tomatoes just to warm through. This is delicious served on crusty ciabatta bread topped with slices of creamy mozarella cheese.

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms.

Prepare a marinade of half a glass good olive oil, a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, chopped garlic, a twist of black pepper and a tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley. Pour over cleaned Portobello mushrooms, one or two per person depending on the size, and marinate for half an hour or so, turning occasionally. Cook for 5 - 10 minutes on the grill, basting with the remaining marinade. These are scrumptious served in crusty bread, topped with your favourite soft blue cheese crumbled over them just before you take them off the grill.

Pull up a chair, grab a plate and a glass of something crisp and cold - and enjoy!

Jane Richardson


Rebecca J Vickery said...

Hi Jane,
We love cooking on the grill in summer and early fall. These marinades are a bit different than our usual and I'm looking forward to trying them. Thanks so much for sharing them. (And your pinches and dashes and by instinct are exactly the way I like to cook too.)

Lindsay Townsend said...

Jane - these marinades sound amazing! My mouth is watering!!

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hi Rebecca, I'd love to hear about your marinades too - I'm all for an easy life! Glad to hear you're a pincher-and-dasher too! ;-)

Lindsay, you're welcome any time to come over and tuck in!

Jane x

EA said...

I'll have to try some of these very soon! We're running out of bbq days here in the northeast, and we're gearing up for one final summer hurrah. What a nice way to celebrate with a little marinade. :D

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hi EA, very few bbq days left here in the south either. :( Let's hope for an Indian summer and a couple more weekends where you can actually stay outside for more than 15 minuted without a jumper on! ;-)

Jane x

Maggie Toussaint said...

sounds yummy, Jane. I enjoy grilled foods in the summer so I'm going to print these out to go in my recipe tote.

Jane Richardson, writer said...

I'm following you around today, Maggie! Nice to see you, hope you enjoy the recipes. :)

Jane x

LK Hunsaker said...

Jane, that citrus shrimp marinade sounds wonderful. We may have to try it. :-)

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Go for it, Loraine! It's scrummy, and easy-peasy. :)

Jane x

Sherry Gloag said...

Yummy, those marinades sound scrumptious, we'll have to try them out. Thanks for sharing.

Savanna Kougar said...

Jane, I swear I'm going to have get a teleport machine and invite myself over. It all sounds delish and has made me HUNGRY!

I use the pinch and a dash of this method, too. Or if I'm backing a pour of this and a toss of that. Usually turns out good.

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hi Sherry! Hope you're having better weather than we are here in the south, maybe you'll manage that one last bbq!
Good to see you. :)

Jane x

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Savanna, you're welcome ANYtime! Just give me a shout and let me know when you'll get here! ;-)

Jane x

Bekki Lynn said...


I'm going to have to try these.

We're big on marinading meat.

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hi Bekki, let me know how you like them! :-)

Jane x