Category Archives for Al Fresco Dining

Drink: Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Slushie

A sip or two of this citrus slushie will start your spring BBQ with a swing. A great twist on the classic gin & tonic, this drink is sharp and refreshing with more buzz than a bumblebee in a sunflower….

gin and tonic slushie

A friend of mine recently posted a picture on Facebook of their first BBQ of the year (yes, I’m looking at you Matt!) and I have to say, much as I love a good BBQ, I have found the weather a little too much on the chilly side to be tempted to the dust off the grill and fire-lighters just yet (and by that, of COURSE I mean, get hubby to dust off the grill and fire-lighters).  That being said, I definitely feel like the season of outside eating is just around the corner, and it’s definitely not too early to start planning that first spring or summer BBQ with friends…or to start taste testing this fabulous Grapefruit Gin and Tonic Slushie to make sure it’s up to scratch.  You’re such a good friend to care so much about getting it just right! 😉

gin and tonic slushie

Apart from the fact that it’s just more pleasant to eat a meal in the garden, the warmth of the sun on your skin, the sound of birds singing in the trees; it also makes entertaining so much easier and somehow less formal.  People can be ushered quickly through the house (before they notice you haven’t hoovered) and out into the garden, where you welcome them with a little drinky…

gin and tonic slushie

Slushie the Campfire Slayer

(I’m sorry.  I had to.  It was just too good).

…Which brings me to the purpose of this post.  Assuming you’re not as brave as my friend Matt and you haven’t yet had your first BBQ of the year then I urge you to include these as an aperitif when you do.. They’re a (ahem) ‘citrus’ twist on an old classic and they’re both refreshing and just alcoholic enough to kick your afternoon or evening off with a pleasant buzz.

Grapefruit Gin and Tonic Slushie

[yumprint-recipe id=’23’] In a party mood?  Then try one of these great drinks too!

Chai Baileys



Recipe: Smoked Haddock Quiche

Smoked Haddock Quiche. A flaky, buttery crust packed with creamy smoked haddock, cubes of potato, caramelised onion and a fresh, clean hit of parsley.  

This isn’t a recipe to attempt after work when the evening is rushed and full of chores to complete.  Make this instead on those luxuriously relaxed weekends where you can afford to spend some equally luxuriously relaxed time in the kitchen.

smoked haddock quiche

I recommend some music (Michael Bublé is my personal favourite for this sort of activity), a mug of tea or coffee (to be substituted with a glass of wine if it’s past midday) and a couple of hours of blissfully free time to spend happily slicing, rolling and whisking…

smoked haddock quiche

The result? This golden, autumnal beauty! A flaky, buttery crust packed with creamy smoked haddock, cubes of potato, caramelised onion and a fresh, clean hit of parsley.  The recipe is for 6-8 people because if you’re going to put all that effort in, then you may as well make something which will serve a crowd or last for a couple of sittings!

If you love smoked haddock, then why not try my Smoked Haddock & Prawn Chowder too?

smoked haddock quiche

[yumprint-recipe id=’16’] Serve as a light lunch for friends, still warm and accompanied by a pile of sweetcorn, slicked in butter. If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, then scoff cold the next day (or later the same day…) with a simple dressed salad.

Recipe: Tandoori Chicken Burgers

…all the great flavours of tandoori chicken, with a minty raita – but in burger form!

I started to write this post right at the start of BBQ season, and have only just got around to finishing it! Sadly, the time for BBQ’s is nearly at an end for another year (at least for us folk in the UK), but I urge you to sneak at least one more in, just so you can eat these burgers at their very best.  They’re fab done in a frying pan or a griddle pan, but ALL burgers were meant to be cooked over an open flame. FACT.

Tandoori Chicken Burgers

There’s nothing better than the smell of your food as it cooks over hot coals – and there’s nothing worse than smelling it when it’s coming from someone else’s grill!

Growing up, we never had burgers at our family BBQ’s and I never questioned it. In fact I never really realised there was anything unusual in a burger-less BBQ. Only when I left home and started to go to other people’s BBQ’s did I realise that the burger is pretty much a staple .  I must confess, that I’d still go for a good snorker over a burger any day, but I have recently realised the endless variety of burgers that are possible and that rather ignited (pardon the pun) a passion in the experimental cook in me!

Tandoori Chicken Burgers

Other BBQ recipes to try

Spicy Mint Lamb Kebabs

50 Most Mouthwatering BBQ Recipes

These particular burgers were inspired by Mary Berry’s Chilli Burgers from her latest book Mary Berry’s Absolute Favourites She adds chilli and Thai red curry paste to her minced beef (with wonderful results I might add!) and it occurred to me, that I could do something similar to put a new twist on one of my all-time BBQ faves – Tandoori Chicken.

The results, despite a shaky start where I processed chicken breasts to create my own mince (not the right texture at all), were a triumph!  Think all the great flavours of tandoori chicken, with a minty raita – but in burger form!

tandoori chicken burgers

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Recipe: Smoked Mackerel Pâté

This creamy smoked mackerel pâté is bursting with the contrasting flavours of earthy smoked fish, the fresh, clean taste of chopped parsley and lemon juice, and finished off with the tang of chopped gherkin…

This is one of those wonderful recipes that is pure simplicity to prepare (with just 6 ingredients, how could it be anything else?), but absolutely full of flavour.  It’s also a little bit different, which delights something in me which strives to be unpredictable.

smoked mackerel pâté

‘Yes, Colette. It’s different and I don’t know when I’d ever really eat it…’

Aha! I thought I sensed you were a little unsure… let me put your mind at rest. There are loads of great ways to eat this gorgeous little pâté.  You’ll soon wonder where it’s been all your life. 🙂

smoked mackerel pâté

Perfect for a picnic…

Once prepared, the smoked mackerel pâté can be popped into a jar and taken on a picnic to be served with crusty bread and a glass of crisp, cool white wine.

More for your picnic…. My Pesto, Chicken, Sweet Pepper & Mozarella Picnic Loaf

Nice as a nibble…

Why not use a pastry cutter to shape some little toast circles, then pop a teaspoonful of the pâté on top with a slice of cucumber or radish, for a delicious little nibble to serve with drinks?

Extra nibbles… Fig & Goats Cheese Crostini with a Honey, Orange & Basil Dressing

smoked mackerel pâté

Lovely light lunch…

The great thing is, that this is so easy to make, that you needn’t feel like you should only make it for a special occasion. Whip (pardon the pun) up a batch at the start of the week and keep it in the fridge.  This makes a gorgeous lunch on the run, just slathered on a couple of slices of toast!

Alternative light lunch… Quick Quesadillas

Delightful as a dip…

Always on the lookout for healthy ways to snack? Something to swap for the bars of chocolate and the packets of crisps?  Well, a little bit of smoked mackerel pâté with some chopped carrots and celery for dippin’ are just what you need!

smoked mackerel pâté

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Simple Summer Gazpacho

Tomatoes, full of flavour, form the base of this fresh, light, chilled Gazpacho. Each sip will cool, calm and nourish you…

You know those days when it’s oppressively hot and you just don’t feel like eating much?  To be honest, living in the UK, I’m not that familiar with them, but if there’s a nation who totally gets it, it’s the Spanish. Their solution is both simple and delicious…

Simple Summer Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a chilled soup which is both light and fresh and can be whizzed up in flash – because let’s face it, the last thing you want to be doing is slaving in the kitchen when you could be relaxing and sipping something cool under the shade of a tree.

Like soups?

Here are a couple more for you to try…

Carrot & Mint Soup

Winter Vegetable Soup

Jamie’s Tomato Soup

Simple Summer Gazpacho

If you’re a fan of shows like Masterchef, then you’ll know that one of the latest foodie trends is to ‘de-construct’ classic dishes.  You know the kind of thing I mean – Apple crumble becomes a pile of biscuit crumbs, a smear of apple purée and a vanilla ice cream foam.  To de-construct Gazpacho, would be to serve a simple, dressed salad, so you see what a truly virtuous little soup it is!

So get out your blender and your fresh, seasonal veg and enjoy this beautiful, soup.  It’s so full of goodness that you just can’t help feel better for it.

Simple Summer Gazpacho

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BBQ Recipe: Spicy Mint Lamb Kebabs

A combination of chilli, honey, yoghurt and mint makes these lamb kebabs spicy, sweet and cool all in one mouthful. With only 10 minutes preparation time, they are the perfect dish for your next BBQ…

I’m assuming that as you’ve clicked on this post, you’re at least mildly into BBQ‘s. What’s not to love, right? Chances are (unless you’re British), that it’s a hot, sunny day or a warm, balmy evening.  Chances are, that you’re with friends or family and, chances are, you’ve got some great food cooking on the grill and some even better smells wafting over to you as you sit and sip your favourite summer drink.

lamb  kebabs

Getting all up in your grill…

Sorry – I was so pleased when I came up with that heading, I just had to get it in there.  I mean, come on, that’s pretty funny right? (Mum, I’ll explain when we speak next).  Anyway, before getting down to the recipe, I wanted to go through some barbecue do’s and don’ts.  This is serious stuff people.

(I make no mention of things like ‘don’t touch the grill while it’s hot’ or ‘don’t barbecue the cat’ – please assume all that stuff is implied…)

lamb kebabs

The Right Way to BBQ

We have a very strict family tradition that ALL BBQ’s must start with sausages (or ‘snorkers‘ as they’re more commonly referred to in our house).  After that, the rules become a bit more flexible.  There is a second meat course (usually ribs or kebabs) and then a final, main course which is usually chicken, steak or lamb. This course is when we break out the sides – salads, potatoes, rice and the like.

lamb kebabs

Last, comes the inevitable post-BBQ snooze.  If it’s a lunchtime affair then this preferably takes place in some sort of hammock or homemade ‘nest’ made from an assortment of cushions.  If it’s the evening, then bed is the more likely (and sensible) location for the post-meal snooze. No one wants to wake up at 4 am in the middle of the garden and covered with cushions…

The wrong way to BBQ

I don’t want to labour this point too much but BBQ’s are about relaxation, spending time with loved ones and fun. They are not about spending hours in the kitchen and missing all of the above.  That is why I urge you to give these lamb kebabs a go.  They are so quick to prepare, but they taste soooo goooood that all your fellow BBQ-ees will assume you’ve been slaving for hours and offer to do all the clearing up. Boom! (that was an exclamation of triumph rather than your BBQ exploding – don’t panic).

lamb kebabs

Spicy Mint Lamb Kebabs

(Serves 4)

You will need:

400 g diced lamb

200 ml Greek yoghurt

1 tbs mint sauce

1 tbs runny honey

1 tsp chilli flakes

1 clove garlic, crushed

  • Place the ingredients for the marinade into a bowl and give a good stir to mix
  • Add the lamb and cover completely with the marinade
  • Cover and leave in the fridge for as long as you can (ideally at least 3 hours, preferably overnight)
  • When you are almost ready to BBQ, thread the pieces of lamb (carefully!) on to some skewers. If you’re using wooden ones then you’ll need to soak them first so that they don’t burn on the grill
  • Place the skewers on to the grill and turn occasionally until they are done 

Before you head off for your snooze…

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The 50 Most Mouthwatering BBQ Recipes

Well, by my reckoning we’ve got about one more month before the weather starts to turn and Autumn raises its red and golden head.  So, while there’s still time to sit outside without a jumper, why not invite over some friends, dust off that grill and make the most of these amazing BBQ recipes? 

Burgers & Beef

Barbecue recipes

People go to BBQ’s with certain expectations and burgers are one of them.  Failing that, a big juicy steak makes a very satisfactory alternative.  Omit both at your peril…

1- Grilled London Broil Recipe – Spicy Southern Kitchen

2 – Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce Recipe – Food52

3 – Burgers with Sautéd Mushrooms, Arugula and Dijon Aioli – How Sweet It Is

4 – Summer’s Best Burger? – A Spicy Perspective

5 – Roasted Jalapeno Cheddar Turkey Burgers with Smoky BBQ Aioli – How Sweet It Is

6 – Southwestern pulled brisket – smitten kitchen


bbq recipes

For those of you watching your weight, chicken tends be more on the lighter side – but what it lacks in calories, it makes up for in taste.  Winner, winner, chicken dinner…

7 – Chilli Garlic Chicken Skewers with Yoghurt Sauce – How Sweet It Is

8 – Grilled Chicken Breasts with Chive Herb Butter – foodiecrush

9 – Coconut Honey Lime Filipino Chicken Adobo Skewers – Half Baked Harvest

10 – Grilled Jerk Chicken Skewers with fresh summer peaches – Feasting at Home

11 – Grilled Buffalo Chicken Caesar Salad – How Sweet It Is

12 – Corinne Trang’s Korean Barbecued Chicken – The Wednesday Chef

13 – Peach-Whiskey Barbecue Chicken – The Pioneer Woman Cooks/Ree Drummond

14 – Lemon and Sweet Pepper Chicken Kebabs – Lavender and Lovage

Pork & Ribs
bbq recipes

A well marinated spare rib is a beautiful thing. Now is the time to grab the kitchen roll, lose your inhibitions and get stuck in!

15 – Grilled Pork Chops with Spicy Balsamic Grilled Peaches – foodiecrush

16 – Grilled Spareribs with Cherry Cola Glaze – Spicy Southern Kitchen

17 – Secret to Barbecue Baby Back Ribs – foodiecrush

18 – Barbecued Pork Shoulder – Simply Recipes

19 – Apple Spice Baby Backs –

20 – Vermont Maple Glazed Pig Candy Ribs –


bbq recipes

Certainly in the UK, it’s quite rare to get fish on the BBQ – which is a shame because it’s really rather wonderful.  The delicate flavour of the fish is complimented so well by the smoky, char-grilling. Well,  smoked salmon for goodness’ sake!

21 – Grilled Salmon with Cucumber and Dill Sauce – foodiecrush

22 – Chinese Grilled Shrimp – Steamy Kitchen Recipes

23 – Grilled Branzino with Rosemary Vinaigrette – Simply Recipes

24 – Grilled Swordfish with Lemon and Caper Sauce -Food52

25 – Grilled Tuna Kebabs – Simply Recipes

26 – Salmon Skewers with Cucumber Yoghurt Sauce – Sprouted Kitchen


bbq recipes

You didn’t think I’d forgotten you did you? Actually, even for those non-veggies among you, I’d recommend giving some of these a go.  It’s a wonderful way to bring out the beautiful flavours of the great seasonal produce that’s available in summer.

27 – Grilled Halloumi Cheese Skewers – foodiecrush

28 – Grilled Brie with Blackberry Basil Smash Salsa & Grilled Bread – Half Baked Harvest

29 – Grilled Artichokes – Simply Recipes

30 – Charred Corn with Rosemary Grilled Pizza and Crushing On Naturally Ella – foodiecrush

31 – Grilled Sweet Potato Skewers with Halloumi – Naturally Ella

32 – Grilled Romaine with Toasted Almonds and Caesar Dressing – Slim Palate

33 – Barbecued Eggplant (Aubergine) – Saveur

34 – Cajun Spiced Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burgers – Tinned Tomatoes


bbq recipes

Now I’m all for a big slab of barbecued meat, but I do like a little something else besides. My husband would disagree, but that’s his loss!

35 – Grilled Corn with Bacon Butter and Cotija Cheese. – How Sweet It Is

36 – Bacon Wrapped Grilled Peaches with Balsamic Glaze – foodiecrush

37 – Grilled Pineapple and Corn Salsa – Bev Cooks

38 – Grilled Watermelon Salad plus a Watermelon Margarita – Verses From My Kitchen

39 – The Best Barbecue Beans – Serious Eats

40 – Grilled Vegetables with Za’atar Vinaigrette – David Lebovitz


bbq recipes

Isn’t it annoying when you finish grilling all your food and the charcoal still has loads of cooking time left in it?  Feels like such a waste.  Fear not! There’s always pud…

41 – Campfire Grilled Smore Calzones – Half Baked Harvest

42 – Toasted Marshmallow Charred Bread and Banana Sticks with Chocolate Fondue – Martha Stewart

43 – Grilled Shortcake Skewers – betsylife


These recipes were too good to leave out but too abstract to fit in any of my other categories. ‘Lambypops’? Greatest name ever. Plus, that BBQ sauce sounds so easy and so delicious that it’s almost a crime not to make some for every BBQ…

44 – Marinated Greek Lamb Souvlaki recipe (Skewers) with Pita and Tzatziki – My Greek Dish

45 – Grilled Leg of Lamb – not without salt

46 – Szechuan Lambypops with Cilantro Chimichurri – Food52

47 – Apple Cider BBQ Sauce – Amuse Your Bouche


Strawberry Peach Cordial

I couldn’t do a list of BBQ recipes without including a few drinks.  There’s something about eating outdoors that inspires a bit more creativity – plus it’s a great excuse to use more of those wonderful seasonal ingredients… This time, I’ve chosen a few of my own – didn’t want to leave ALL the work to the guys in the posts above!

48 – Strawberry Peach Iced Tea – Eat Drink Cook

49 – My Perfect Sangria – Eat Drink Cook

50 – Pimms

bbq recipes

Now, I was going to include a recipe for My Perfect Pimms here but as luck would have it, the lovely people at Pimms have sent me a selection of Pimms Drinks to try so I thought I’d tell you about those instead (my Pimms recipe coming soon though!)

Pictured above is Pimms Summer Crush, which combines the frozen taste of Pimms with hints of strawberry and cucumber.

bbq recipes

Or what about Pimms Cider Cup? 

This is a wonderfully British combination of the crisp taste of English cider and the glorious flavours of Pimm’s. It wouldn’t be the same without a hint of strawberry and cucumber, so the makers of Pimm’s have kindly added that in too. There’s no need for chopping – it’s a union made in heaven.

Strawberry Peach Iced Tea

You know those really hot, oppressive summer days when the air feels heavy and no matter what you do, you just can’t get cool?

Doing anything feels like wading through water and that’s just emphasised by the dampness of your clothing and brow…

What you need is my Strawberry and Peach Iced Tea – sweet, refreshing summer in a glass…

Strawberry Peach Iced Tea

Fruit teas, herbal teas and green teas are a bit like blue cheese, caviar and olives. I’m not comparing them taste-wise (although in the case of some green teas, I’m not sure that comparison would be far off the mark..) What I’m saying is, you feel like you really ought to like them because, well they’re super cool right?  Only, try as you might, you just don’t get it.

(Actually, truth be told, I TOTALLY dig olives – not literally – they’re picked from trees dontcha know? … but you get the idea.)

Strawberry Peach Cordial

Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something about fruit teas, iced tea and all that malarky, which just isn’t British.  We have our tea steaming hot and in a mug (or teacup) thank you very much.  A teapot is preferred, a biscuit to dunk is a treat – and don’t get me started on when the milk should be added.… it’s a steaming hot topic and no mistake.

Strawberry Peach Iced Tea

I briefly dabbled with mint tea just after the birth of my second son – but more because of its supposed ability to settle an upset tummy than because I thought it sounded particularly tasty. I must confess, I was pleasantly surprised.  It wasn’t awful.  That’s as far as I’d go. Put it this way, I had my son in February 2014 and I haven’t managed to finish that box of tea bags yet…


More recently, a friend enticed me to try more of a spiced tea – with cloves, cardamom and cinnamon.  It was pretty tasty.  I haven’t finished that box either.

For more of my musings on tea, check out these posts..

Food Hugs

My Chai

strawberry peach iced tea

This year, I thought I’d have a go at making my own version – Peach and Strawberry Iced Tea.  I mean, iced teas are a pretty big deal in a lot of places so there must be something to them right?

As it turns out – YES! 

The first step was to make a Peach & Strawberry Syrup, which by the way, makes your whole house smell amazing so if your home is on the market, then the time to  make this is just before you have people coming for a viewing. Guaranteed sale. 🙂

stawberry peach cordial

Peach & Strawberry Syrup

(Makes approx 700 ml)

2 peaches, chopped

200 g strawberries

200 g caster sugar (if you have vanilla sugar then use half this and half normal caster)

500 ml water

  • Bung everything in a saucepan on a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Bring to a gentle simmer and then turn off the heat
  • Using a fork, mush up all the fruit to get out as much of the juice
  • Leave to cool completely
  • Push through a fine sieve or muslin cloth (depending on just how pure you want it) and then funnel into a bottle.

Strawberry Peach Iced Tea

strawberry peach iced tea

You will need

tea bags


Strawberry Peach Cordial

I haven’t put amounts here – it really depends on whether you want to just make a glass for you or a jug. The basic directions are:

  • Make tea – leaving to brew as long as your personal taste desires (I find, if left too long though, it makes the drink a touch bitter – you’ve been warned!)
  • Leave to cool completely
  • Pour 1/3 cordial and 2/3 tea and then add ice
  • Go outside in the sun and feel refreshed!

PS – I don’t own one (yet) but if I did, I would absolutely serve this Peach Tea in one of these amazing clear teapots!

Strawberry Peach Cordial

The fantastic thing about the Strawberry Peach Cordial that you’ve just made is that it will keep in the fridge for a week or so and can also be used for these gorgeous drinks..

Strawberry Peach Prosecco

Just a splash of cordial at the bottom of the glass before pouring your Prosecco and hey presto 🙂

Strawberry Peach Prosecco

Sparkling Strawberry Peach Cordial

A great one for the kids this one.  Just add sparkling water.

Sparkling Strawberry Peach Cordial

One last thing…

If you’ve enjoyed this post or this recipe then please do share it with your chums and let me know in the comments.  I’d love to hear from you!

Recipe: Crab Linguine

…linguine, slicked in an unctuous dressing of olive oil, crushed fennel seeds, garlic, lemon, parsley and chilli with delicate flakes of sweet and salty crab stirred through…

You know those days when you don’t stop, from the moment you first haul yourself out from under your duvet and put your little tippy-toes on the cold, hard floor?

crab linguine

If the answer is yes, then you probably also know when those days turn into whole weeks. Each day blurs together into a series of stressful meetings at work, teething toddlers and endless housework.  Wednesday dawns and you feel a little bit like weeping that it isn’t Friday yet… we’ve all been there right?

Well, this crab linguine is your light at the end of the tunnel.  When Wednesday dawns and despair hits, then this is what you focus on to get you through.

crab linguine

You just gotta keep going till Friday evening, get the kids to bed, then crack open a bottle of well deserved wine and settle down, fork in hand, ready to slurp your way through a big plateful of linguine, slicked in an unctuous dressing of olive oil, crushed fennel seeds, garlic, lemon, parsley and chilli with delicate flakes of sweet and salty crab stirred through.

crab linguine


Suddenly that awful week seems like just a distant memory and before you know it you’ll be ready to do it all again…

Other Friday night treats to celebrate the arrival of another weekend 🙂

Salmon en Croute

salmon en croute

Prawn Pilau

Prawn Pilaf

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[yumprint-recipe id=’4′] crab linguine



Summer Cocktail: Rose Peach Punch

I’ve purposefully posted this on a Saturday because I just knew that as soon as you saw it, you’d want (no, need) to sample it immediately.  Obviously, I don’t want you getting into trouble at work so I thought the weekend was best (apologies for those of you who work at weekends – tough times ahead for you guys!)

Rose Peach Punch

Peaches are at their absolute best at this time of the year.  Full of sweetness and of chin-dribbling juice. So I’ve been taking full advantage of them while I can – I mean you could just turn one meal into a complete peach-fest! How about Chicken & Peach Tagine to start, Peach Tart for dessert and some of this Peach Punch to drink? Too much peach? I’m not sure that’s possible.

Rose Peach Punch

Before we dive into the recipe, I feel an explanation is in order for my glaring omission of the accent at the end of ‘Rose’ in the title.  This wasn’t an editing error, I purposefully left it out because, although the base of the punch is rosé wine, the taste that I wanted to highlight was the delicate floral note of rose water.  Too much and it becomes soapy, but just a smidge and it really adds something wonderful to the sweet peach and crisp wine.

Rose peach punch

Cloudy lemonade lightens the whole drink and makes it acceptable for daytime consumption without fear of falling asleep in a drunken heap by 5pm. Let’s not be this guy

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