With the warm weather increasingly getting nearer, it is time to consider recipes to impress family and friends at your barbecues this Summer so without further delay lets start it of with a cracking recipe for barbecue sauce
I first tried sea bass about three years ago, and immediately fell in love with it. As this supremely tasty fish almost melted in my mouth I started to wonder just how I’d avoided eating it for so long, especially as I’m a big lover of fish. Ever since then I’ve sought to experiment with this brilliant fish, and there’s no better place to do it then upping the flavour factor on the barbecue.
Grilling sea bass on the barbecue couldn’t really be simpler, and it makes a great change to having a barbecue full of sausages and burgers. Cooking it simply, as follows, is tasty enough; but there are plenty of other things you can do with that fish on your grill.
Grilled Sea Bass (10 minutes prep, 12-14 minutes cooking)
- Sea bass (how many you need is up to you, but add time if you have to gut the fish yourself)
- 130ml olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Herbs; basil and thyme work best, but oregano and parsley are options too
Before you do anything cut up any herbs you need to save time later. Start your barbecue and wait for the coals to have a light coating of ash over them. While you’re waiting for this, apply olive oil to the entirety of the fish with a brush. This is so the fish doesn’t stick to the grill, which won’t make for a tasty morsel after you’ve spent time trying to scrape it off. Use the herbs you prepared earlier to season the fish, but leave some left over.
Once the barbecue is ready, place the sea bass on top and cook it for 6-7 minutes. While you’re waiting for this you can take the rest of the herbs and mix it together with some lemon juice, this can be dribbled over the fish once it’s cooked.
Flip it over and cook it for another 6-7 minutes. You’ll know that it’s ready when the skin takes on a lovely golden hue and the white flesh of the fish flakes with ease. Serve with earlier prepared dressing and enjoy!
What else can you do?
Instead of the lemon and herb dressing you can create a tasty garlic butter sauce instead; which you can buy or make by combining onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, lemon pepper and salt, cooking in a small saucepan.
Alternatively I find sauce vierge works well too; mixing chopped tomato, olive oil, lemon juice, and chopped basil together.
If you’d rather have your sea bass more charred and crispy then extend cooking time to around 8 minutes each side, checking the skin is crispy enough to suit your taste.
Photo credit: Wikimedia
With a small amount of preparation, a Halloween barbecue party is easy to arrange. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t also a lot of fun to prepare for. Your kids can make their own invites, made into ghoulish shapes like ghosts, bats and pumpkins, and decide on the particular theme for the occasion such as monsters or characters from spooky films.
Once the invites are sent, it’s time to think how to decorate your garden for the occasion. In addition to buying plastic spiders and creepy creatures to place on the table and edges of certain dishes, you can carve faces into pumpkins with a candle placed inside and put these on the table or garden walls so guests can see them when outside with the barbecue.
You may also want to have a few games up your sleeves to entertain the kids after they’ve eaten. Good ideas for playing outdoors include the hanging apple tree. You need a handful of red apples and a couple of green apples – hang 5 red and 1 green, using long string, from a branch and twist together. Then blindfold a child and see which apple is picked, with a prize up for grabs when a green one is selected.
Of course, food is the main element of any barbecue party – and with lots of hungry little people to feed, here are some fun ideas to get you started.
Pizza cooks beautifully on the grill of a BBQ, and is also the perfect option for creative cooking. All you need are a load of pizza bases, pizza sauce, cheese and a variety of toppings, and then you can let the kids’ imagination run wild. It’s easiest to use a pizza stone for the cooking part, that has a light dusting of flour to stop the dough from sticking to it, but you can also place the base straight onto the grill. Just make sure the barbecue is hot enough, so you can quickly cook both sides of the pizza base. Let these cool and then let the kids decorate their pizza with the toppings – and a bit of help from the adults!
One idea is to make the pizza into a ghost or a pumpkin using the ingredients, for example adding olives for the eyes and pepperoni for the mouth. When the kids have decorated their pizza, you can cook it on the grill for 10 minutes, with the lid down.
These are simple to make and great fun to eat, transforming cooked cocktail sausages into gruesome fingers. When ready, make three cuts on one side of the sausages and cut a flat slice from the top of each and place a small triangle of cheese here – then serve them sticking out from a bowl of ketchup, in the shape of a hand.
Food items like cheddar chunks, orange segments, spooky sweets, are always well received. Plus you can serve Halloween-themed dips with crisps, such as guacamole that you renamed Slime or a chunky salsa called Puke.
Try making a spooky punch using cranberry juice together with lemonade, served in a bowl and decorated with worm sweets.
The main thing is for the kids to have fun, so think creatively about what you’ll cook on the barbecue and have ready-prepared too. Plus, you could end the party with a game of Pass The Scary Parcel, which is just like the traditional version but with ghoulish prizes in each layer, and some marshmallows that can be toasted on the barbecue.
Whether you’re cooking on a gas or charcoal barbecue, you’ll be able to enhance the natural smoky taste that grilling food al fresco creates. Using a food smoker adds a greater depth of colour and flavour to every type of dish including meat, fish and vegetables – and allows you to add your personality to your barbecuing also, as each wood type produces a different aroma and final flavour.
Smoking food is a tradition that dates back to ancient times when it was used to preserve meats. Nowadays, it’s often used to add flavour to barbecued food.
With charcoal barbecues you have the choice of placing pre-soaked wood chips inside a smoke box and adding this to the charcoals or simply sprinkling a few wood chips onto the hot coals, according to personal preference. For gas barbecues, you just need to soak your chosen wood chips in water – or beer, wine or fruit juice for added zest – before adding to your smoke box. As an alternative to the smoke box you can always use some aluminium foil, which you wrap loosely around the wood chips and pierce with a few small holes so the smoke can escape.
Each wood type gives off a distinctive aroma for an individual flavour, and the amount of wood you add to the BBQ will depend on how strong you want the flavour to be. Some wood types work better with certain meats and fish than others, and it’s a good idea to experiment with the flavours to discover your favourites.
These are some of the most popular wood types that can be used in your food smoker:
- Oak – this wood has an attractive aroma that complements a number of different meats including pork, poultry and beef as well as fish.
- Alder – this wood produces a delicate flavour that goes well with fish, especially salmon, and chicken.
- Hickory – strong and smoky, this wood is ideal with dominant flavours like cheeses, beef, pork and game. As this wood is so pungent, though, you need to take care not to use too much or it’ll overpower the foods.
- Mesquite – sweeter and more subtle in flavour than hickory, this wood is good with meats including beef and vegetables.
- Cherry – with a sweet flavour, this wood adds extra depth to poultry, pork and game birds.
- Apple – subtly sweet in flavour and works wonders with poultry and pork in particular.
- Maple – smoky and sweet, this wood works well with corn on the cob, ham and poultry on the barbecue.
- Pear – this wood is sweet and goes nicely with poultry and game birds in particular.
- Birch – with a similar flavour to maple, this wood adds sweetness to meats like poultry and pork.
- Grape vines – aromatic, this wood is especially good with lamb.
- Chestnut – nutty and sweet, this wood goes well with most meats.
The first thing you need to do when barbecuing in colder weather is be prepared. Make sure your guests are warm enough for the outdoors, and this includes before, during and after the grilling phase of the evening. Ask your guests to wear thick coats and hats, plus have a few warm items like blankets to hand just in case. Also, it’s a good idea to invest in outdoor heaters at this time of year, especially if you intend to keep your barbecue busy throughout the coming months. And make a selection of hot drinks as well as fiery BBQ sauces for your guests, as these are perfect for drinking and eating with food on winter nights.
In addition to this, you can make sure the barbecuing itself goes smoothly with a little bit of preparation.
Top winter barbecue tips:
- Pay attention to the specifics of the weather on the day so you can make the necessary adjustments. For example, if it’s windy try to set up your barbecue in a sheltered location and keep an eye on it throughout the grilling time to ensure the flame on a gas barbecue and heat from a charcoal barbecue is not blown out. Take care, though, to place the device somewhere safe, away from overhanging branches and the house, and on an even surface.
- Pre-heat the barbecue so it’s perfectly hot when you start cooking. For charcoal barbecues, this takes around 30-45 minutes depending on the weather. You need to wait for the flames to die down and for the coals to be hot enough and covered with a fine layer of ash before you add any food. Listen for that sizzle sound when you place the food on the grill, as this tells you it’s hot enough.
- Keep the lid down. To prevent too much heat being lost, place the lid of the barbecue down as this helps to keep the temperature consistent, something that is harder to manage on a winter’s day than on a warm summer’s day.
- When it’s really cold, you may need to adjust the cooking times. Because of a loss of heat as the food barbecues, you may want to use a digital thermometer to ensure the food is cooked thoroughly.
- Watch out for slippery surfaces. Clear the area around your barbecue before you start cooking, to make sure you can work quickly and safely – for example, remove fallen wet leaves or any snow to prevent you from slipping.
- Plan the meals and go for more straightforward dishes and smaller cuts of meat to speed up the cooking time.
- Light it up. Make sure you can see what you’re doing while cooking and that guests can easily make their way to and from the barbecue without tripping in the dark.
- Eat inside. If the weather really gets cold, why not eat indoors when the food is ready? This way you get the best of both worlds – you can stay warm while enjoying delicious barbecued dishes.
Food smokers are fantastic devices that offer you the freedom and flexibility to flavour your food according to your tastes, and with our tips you should find the experience both effortless and fun too.
Barbecue enthusiasts often enjoy cooking their food using a food smoker, to add a richness and depth to the barbecued meat, fish or vegetables. Whether you grill outdoors on a gas barbecue or traditional charcoal barbecue, you can use smoke to enhance the natural flavour and look of the food – and of course, add that truly delicious smokiness that is a main reason so many of us adore cooking on the BBQ in the first place.
If you’re new to food smoking and looking for some ideas or are keen to find out more and extend your knowledge, take a look at our 10 tips for ensuring you get the most from your smoker, each and every time.
1. You can buy smoke boxes for wood chips and these can be used on any barbecue, gas or charcoal, provided it has a lid.
2. The process for gas and charcoal barbecues differs slightly, although you can always simply place the wood chips in the smoke box and add to the lit barbecue.
3. For charcoal BBQs, you need to make sure the device is hot enough. As a guide, it takes around 30-40 minutes to get the charcoals to the right temperature, and when the flames have died down. How exactly you add the wood chips, is up to you – you can add a few just before you begin cooking your food so that the smoke is released throughout or you can wait until near the end, depending on the strength of smokiness you want. Alternatively, you can pre-soak the wood chips in water and place in a smoke box on the coals.
4. For gas barbecues, soak the wood chips in water first for about 60 minutes as their dampness enhances the smoking process and helps to keep the food moist throughout too. Remove the excess water from the chips by giving them a good squeeze before adding them to your smoke box or to some aluminium foil – if you use foil, be sure to spread the chips loosely round and wrap and pierce so the smoke can escape and flavour the food.
5. You can buy a special smoker and grill barbecue device, which has two cooking grills and supports different cooking methods including smoking. Often, this device will let you smoke, grill, steam and roast your food for extra versatility.
6. When smoking meat, you can leave the fat on as the process is long and this will melt away during the cooking, which helps to keep the meat moist.
7. The wood types each emit a distinctive flavour and effect on the barbecued food. For example, maple works well with ham and seafood whereas hickory is good for smoking beef. To find the wood you like best, it’s a good idea to experiment with the different flavours.
8. Start with a small amount of wood chips for your first use, to see what you make of the flavour, and then you can build from there – but be careful not to overdo it or you may end up with a bitter taste.
9. The heat source on the barbecue should be away from the food, as the cooking process is long and slow, so that the smoke can enhance the food over time. Ideally, pile the coals on one side and grill on the other, and similarly with gas barbecues light a burner and place the food on the grill to the side and not directly above this.
10. A digital thermometer is a great tool as it helps you to know when the smoked food is ready. Because smoking food alters the flavour and appearance, it can be hard to judge when it’s cooked, but a thermometer will tell you – and you can even time it according to how you like your meat to be cooked, be it rare, medium or well done.
With a few simple measures, you can really lift your party from being a fairly traditional BBQ to something really quite special. And because it’s not difficult to do, you don’t even need to wait for a special occasion or good excuse to do so!
It’s your garden so you have total freedom to decorate it as you wish – which means you can have some fun by adding lively touches to enhance the atmosphere as well as provide comfort for your guests with a few practical elements.
Give your garden the “wow factor” by making some decorations to be strewn on the day and putting a bit of thought into the look and presentation of your barbecued dishes.
For example, you could make some bunting. Using magazines or even printed snaps, all you need to do is cut the material into symmetrical diamond shapes and fold them in half over a piece of string or ribbon and glue the backs together. A nice idea is to centre the bunting on your guests, using photos of them for the material, or alternatively just make the cut-outs bright for visual impact.
When it comes to the cooking, no doubt you’ve prepared an array of delicious dishes. You can buy plastic bowls, plates and cutlery in bright colours to add to the occasion, together with matching napkins. Various candles and flowers in vases on the table always look great too, and you can enliven guests’ drinks by adding a twist to standard ice cubes – freeze in advance slices of lemon and lime to add to drinks instead.
Just because something is practical, doesn’t mean it can’t be fun too. So keep this in mind as you add means of making the barbecue experience even better for your friends. Lighting and heating are obviously important, especially as the nights are starting to draw in and get a little chilly also. So using a patio heater to provide warmth works well at this time of year, as does having blankets available for those who want to wrap them around themselves after eating. And making warm drinks after the meal works well too – especially if everyone can cook some marshmallows on the barbecue to go with them.
With lighting, you can make your garden look beautiful and also ensure guests can see where they’re going. Lighting paths and dark entrances with outdoor flares is a good idea, as are tea lights in jars on steps or to highlight any raised parts of the garden. Not only do these look charming but they highlight any potential hazards and help prevent guests tripping up in the dark. Hanging lanterns from trees adds atmosphere and scented candles on the table smell nice and help to keep any bugs away too. With all the extra light and warmth, you’ll be able to enjoy the occasion for a lot longer.
Come rain or shine, when the opportunity presents itself many of us can often be found in our gardens, crowded around the barbecue and cooking our favourite dishes for friends. And it’s a pastime that is popular around the world, with barbecuing taking on its own form in different countries in terms of grilling techniques, BBQ design and preferred foods.
So why not sit back, throw a couple of burgers on the grill, and enjoy these barbecue facts?
1. Barbecuing and outdoor eating and entertaining is now the number one summer leisure activity enjoyed at home in the UK.
2. Two out of three households own a barbecue.
3. Couples are three-times more likely to throw a barbecue party than single people.
4. 51% of people prefer charcoal barbecues to gas barbecues.
5. The precise origin of the word “barbecue” is unknown but many believe it comes from the Spanish word “barbacoa” which means a wooden frame used to cook meat, a form of fire-pit cooking.
6. In the UK we get through 40,000 tonnes of barbecue charcoal every year.
7. July 4th is the most popular holiday day for barbecuing in the United States.
8. Hooded barbecues now account for 40% of total barbecue sales in the UK.
9. Many of us spend about £35 on food and drink for a BBQ nowadays, compared to £19 five years ago.
10. The idea of cooking meat over a flame has been around for more than a million years.
11. Over the early May bank holiday weekend in 2011, there were 11 million barbecue occasions with 7.5 million taking place on 29th April, the day of the royal wedding.
12. The average number of barbecues hosted per family in the summer is now more than 9 – a sharp rise from the 2.5 a decade ago.
13. Britons now prefer posh rather than traditional barbecue food, with many choosing to grill more unusual meats like duck and exotic dishes rather than the usual bangers, burgers and chicken drumsticks. However, in the US, the favourite foods are burgers, steak, hot dogs and chicken, in that order.
14. Of all households, 14% now own two barbecues.
15. The cases of food poisoning in the UK almost double over the summer months. The two major health risks are undercooked meat and germs spreading from raw to cooked meat so it’s important to ensure your food is thoroughly cooked all the way through and that you keep raw and cooked meats separate. (You can view our top 10 tips for barbecue safety for more information.)
16. George H Bush, the 41st president of the United States, held a barbecue for Members of Congress each year on the South Lawn of the White House, a tradition continued by his son, George W Bush – this custom was interrupted on September 12th 2001 following the terrorist attacks, and the barbecue was cancelled with the White House kitchen giving the 700 pounds of beef to the rescue workers who’d travelled to Washington.
17. In 2011, the barbecue and outdoor eating and entertaining market was worth £7 billion.
18. The word “barbecue” first formally entered the English language in the seventeenth century, introduced by the explorer William Dampier.
As summer draws to a close and we head into September, the nights draw in and the temperature starts to cool, it’s time to take a few easy steps to get your garden ready for enjoyable barbecuing throughout the coming months.
You can prepare for your next barbecue party with these tips for brightening and warming your garden, ready for your guests. After all, we all love being outdoors and with some clever garden lighting and heating ideas you can continue cooking outdoors for longer.
Adding lighting to your garden not only looks great and enhances the atmosphere, but it serves a practical purpose too – you can see what you’re doing even after the sun has retreated! And it means guests are less likely to tumble between the BBQ and table too.
The more creative the better, as far as we’re concerned with outdoor lighting – and to get your ideas flowing, take a look at these options:
- Place garden flares along the edge of your garden path, to literally light the way and add a sense of charm to the occasion. These are especially handy if you have a large garden and a long path.
- Hang lanterns from trees or line borders and paths with these. You can buy fire-retardant paper lanterns which feature pretty patterns and graphics on the sides, and emit a gentle glow. It’s a good idea to weigh these down using a few stones or some gravel to stop the breeze taking them away. Or you can make your own lanterns using empty jam jars with candles inside, and wire around them so you can hang them.
- Outdoor fairy lights look so pretty hung from trees or lining garden fencing.
- Tea lights in jars can be placed on each of your garden steps to show the way as well as look snazzy.
- To decorate your table and to shed light on the barbecued dishes, you could place a few scented candles in the middle – these are effective at keeping bugs away too. Or pop a few floating candles together with rose petals or rose heads in glass bowls for an impressive centre piece.
To keep your guests warm throughout the evening, especially once the barbecue has died down, why not try one of these options? Each one works well and offers a flexible solution to late-night barbecuing, staying warm while the food is being cooked or simply enjoying the fresh air after you’ve eaten.
- Patio heaters work well, and are available in gas and electric versions.
- Outdoor fireplaces are pretty nifty for barbecues as you can move them where you want to, placing them near you as you tuck into the food. With these, there is no installation and you get a real flame look and feel but with no odour and a clean burn.
- If you love a real fire, try a fire pit for burning logs outdoors. These are also good for toasting marshmallows after pudding – and you can even get ones with an in built grill for any last-minute cooking you and your guests want to do.
Barbecues were born for the summer, and this year is no exception. So make the most of any sunny days that come your way to enjoy cooking al fresco – and with these top tips you can also do so safely.
Naturally, having a barbecue is all about fun, enjoying great food and being outdoors. But it’s important you take a few precautions to avoid the associated risks like food poisoning, burns and fires. The great news is that it’s easy to stay safe as you cook on an outdoor grill, just as long as common sense is applied!
Prepare your food in advance and apply the same safety measures for the barbecue as you do when cooking indoors. Poor food safety on the barbecue can cause food poisoning, and cases of this double over the summer with the two main risks being undercooked meat and cross-contamination from raw to cooked meats.
If you’re worried or cooking for large numbers, it’s a good idea to cook meat in the oven first and then finish them off on the BBQ to add that smoky flavour. Alternatively, cooking meat on the barbecue can be safely done by ensuring the coals are hot enough before you start – wait until they glow red and have a dusting of grey powder. Always thaw frozen meat thoroughly, and turn meat regularly during the grilling to ensure an even cook. Before serving, check the meat is piping hot and that the juices run clear.
Be careful not to spread germs from raw to cooked meat too. Precautions include washing your hands after touching raw meat, using separate surfaces for the raw and cooked meats, and keeping foods like salads and dips cool in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.
Alongside food poisoning are the risks of fires and burns. After all, the barbecue is designed to get very hot. Again, let common sense prevail here to make sure your barbecues are both fun and safe. To help ensure barbecue safety this summer, check out our 10 safety tips below.
1. Don’t light a barbecue near overhanging foliage, sheds or the house, and make sure the device is on a level surface.
2. Never leave the barbecue unsupervised while it’s still hot.
3. Keep children and pets away from a hot barbecue.
4. Clean the barbecue regularly to avoid flare-ups from the build-up of grease, and to keep it hygienic.
5. Just because meat is charred on the outside doesn’t mean it’s cooked on the inside and you should always check the centre is hot and the juices are clear.
6. Light the barbecue early so it’s hot enough for when you want to start cooking.
7. Don’t be tempted to use any flammable liquids to start the BBQ, only use a recognised lighter fluid on cold coals.
8. Use the right utensils for barbecuing, as these have longer handles.
9. Stay sober – alcohol and cooking on the barbecue are not a good mix.
10. Wait until the ashes are cold before binning them.