Summer barbeques

This year I planned to have lots of barbeques – informal gatherings for family and friends.

As I don’t have a huge house, but a bigger than average garden, summer is the perfect time to socialise and enjoy spending stress-free time with loved ones. Or so I thought, so far, we have managed one!

Trying to tie our various groups of friends and relations down to a date that suits everyone is akin to getting the Queen and Prince Phillip over for lunch! And now of course, the weather is very unpredictable (putting it politely!) I am, however, still determined to succeed before the leaves turn golden and we need to barbeque in woolly hats and mittens. For those of you who manage to squeeze some al fresco dining in between showers you may find the tips below useful (taken from

Clean up
Clean your barbecue after each use – this will save any nasty surprises the next time you come to the grill.

Handy tools
Keep all your barbecue tools handy to avoid traipsing back and forth to the kitchen too many times. Place everything on a side table next to the barbecue. This means you won’t have to leave the grill unattended, and you can spend more time with your guests. Always make sure tools are thoroughly cleaned and dried before putting them away.

Meat temperature
To avoid burning and drying your food, remove meat and poultry from the fridge an hour before cooking to bring it back to an ambient temperature. This will result in a more succulent cooked result. Be sure to keep the meat covered, and out of direct sunlight.

Use long handled tools
Protect your hands from the heat – always use long handled tools, such as tongs, for handling the food.

Add flavour to your meat and keep it tender by marinating for at least 20 minutes. Some meats are better left overnight, while fish only needs 20-30 minutes – the acid in the marinade will ‘cook’ it if left overnight.

Cook in foil
Save the stress of foods falling apart as you cook them – wrap them in foil. Those foods that easily stick or burn, such as fish, can be wrapped up in foil. Brush the foil with oil before adding the fish, add salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon and a splash of white wine. Fold the corners together to seal the foil and keep the juices in.

And to eat…
Chicken satay with Indonesian-style salad taken from Good Food, Fast Dairy Cookbook: available online at or order by telephone 08450 948128.

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