Just the word ‘nibble’ fills me with a kind of girlish glee. I love the guilt free abandon of it all. Nothing that can be described as a ‘nibble’ can possibly be bad for you for goodness sake! Plus, nibbles tend to come in groups and I’m all for variety in my food. I love nuts for sure, but I also enjoy a good olive, perhaps some blini or even a crostini. Perhaps a Cheesy Prosciutto Puff?
So read on my little vol-au-vents and I shall share with you the secret (or now, not so secret) recipe for Cheesy Prosciutto Puffs (squeee!) They’re bite-sized pieces of puffy heaven that really pack a Mediterranean punch. Flaky pastry; as light as air, a slight tang of pesto with beautiful Prosciutto adding depth and Grana Padano cheese, an extra richness that makes them really elegant and completely indulgent.
I’m confident that you’ll want to make some of these little babies for your next summer gathering…and that your guests will thank you for it!
1 x 320 g packet of ready-rolled puff pastry
4 tbs pesto
1 pack of prosciutto
75 g grated Grana Padano Cheese
1 egg, beaten
I was recently sent some beautiful samples of Grana Padano cheese and Prosciutto di San Daniele. To be honest, they were both so good that very little would beat just eating them au naturel (no, I’m not being paid to say that – promise!) but that would have made for rather a dull post so I tried to come up with a recipe that would show off the beautiful flavours and allow them to compliment each other. I hope that’s what I’ve done… 🙂
I also had help from Mary Berry and her fantastic book Mary Berry Absolute Favourites, where her Cheesy Cheese Spirals gave me the idea for the recipe above.
What are your favourite summer party nibbles? Let me know in the comments below!
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! 😉
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…
(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.
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.
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!
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!
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…
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.
Here are a couple more for you to try…
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.
We’re going a little bit retro today – but (as all the cool kids say), with a modern twist…
Do you have a go-to meal that you ALWAYS chose when you went out for a meal as a kid? For me, it was prawn cocktail starter, followed by scampi and chips and then some form of ice cream.
(PS. If anyone can name the 1980’s frozen ice cream loaf thing that people bought for special occasions then I will love you for ever – I’ve been trying to think of it for ages and am having a mental block..)
Anyhoo, this recipe is a little bit inspired by ye olde prawn cocktail, but using crayfish because, well, it’s in season now y’all! Plus I’ve switched out the Marie Rose (much as I love a good Marie Rose), for something a little lighter and fresher.
(PS. When I was little, I wrote a poem about the Mary Rose which began:
‘The Mary Rose was a fine, fine ship,
the heart of Henry’s navy,
if you had told him she was going to sink,
he would have said you were crazy!’
As you can see, I was destined to write…)
This little beaut works as a starter or a light lunch and if you don’t have any crayfish to hand, then it will work just as well with prawns, crab or even chicken.
It is super summery and light. The crayfish are all sweet and perfect at this time of year. The lettuce adds crunch and bite, the avocado adds mellow creaminess and the dressing is fresh, zingy and finishes it off perfectly. Go on – give it a go – you’re gonna want that dressing on everything!
Oh – and I’ve put the crayfish cocktails in jars – that way you can pack them up and take them for lunch to work. Ingenious, no?
Serves 2 as a light lunch (or 4 as a starter – using smaller jars!)
You will need:
2 x 500 ml jars (optional!)
Approx. 1/4 Cos lettuce (or any other crisp lettuce – eg. iceberg or little gem)
140 g prepared crayfish
For the dressing:
200 ml Greek yoghurt
1 handful of basil leaves
1 handful of mint leaves
1 anchovy fillet (from a jar)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbs cider vinegar
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.
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…)
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.
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…
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).
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
If you’ve enjoyed this post, then why not subscribe to my blog to make sure you never miss another one? 🙂
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?
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
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
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 – BarbecueBible.com
20 – Vermont Maple Glazed Pig Candy Ribs – AmazingRibs.com
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
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
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
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…
45 – Grilled Leg of Lamb – not without salt
46 – Szechuan Lambypops with Cilantro Chimichurri – Food52
47 – Apple Cider BBQ Sauce – Amuse Your Bouche
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
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.
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.
You know those meals that are are really special? The ones you spend hours preparing but it’s totally worth it because they’re such a treat?
Well this isn’t one of those.
Instead, do you know those dishes which can be whipped up in a flash but when presented to your eager diners, will be met with ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaaaahs’ and ‘how lovelys!’ The reason being that sometimes the food just speaks for itself. Sometimes, beautiful, fresh and perhaps unusual ingredients can make a dish just as special (if not more so), without the need for endless toiling.
Happy days dear readers! This recipe, is one of those.
You will need:
50 ml extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 orange
1 tbs runny honey
1 tbs chopped fresh basil
1 stale small baguette, thinly sliced along the diagonal (approx 1/2 cm thick)
1 x 120 g soft, round goats cheese
3 small figs, finely sliced lengthways (you should get about 6 slices per fig)
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.)
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.
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.
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. 🙂
(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
You will need
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:
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!
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..
Just a splash of cordial at the bottom of the glass before pouring your Prosecco and hey presto 🙂
A great one for the kids this one. Just add sparkling water.
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!
August has a lot of pressure on it in my book. I always consider it to be the heart of the British summer and the sultriest month of the year. So when it isn’t, then that’s summer ruined. August is the last chance for a heatwave – next stop, Autumn, so it had better be good!
With clement conditions, August brings forth yet more wonderful seasonal produce for us to drool over, dribble down our fronts and delight in…
Figs always remind me of wonderful childhood holidays in Malaga, with my Auntie and Uncle. They grow figs and at this time of year, there is always an absolute glut (if that’s possible – not sure there is such a thing as too many figs!) so we would have them for breakfast with Greek yoghurt & honey, for lunch with salad, Serrano ham and goats cheese and for snacks whenever the mood took us…which it often did.
Fig Recipes from Martha Stewart
Sweetcorn is one of those wonderful vegetables which is so simple to prepare but so wonderful to experience – emphasis on the word ‘experience’ and not just ‘eat’. Who isn’t taken back to childhood BBQ’s or summer meals, where you’d gnaw at the cob to get every last kernel, buttery goodness all over your face but you really don’t care because it’s just so good?
As for plums and blackberries, these always signal the first signs of Autumn to me (alert! alert!) but what sweeter, juicier signals could you ask for? They’re just begging to be picked and turned into all manner of wonderful jams and puddings – all of which will make you feel much better about the impending arrival of colder weather and darker evenings.
Plum Recipes from BBC food
I love all shellfish. My son often asks me what my favourite food is and after much tortuous soul searching, I nearly always tell him that it’s crab.
The crayfish which is native to our waters is actually protected, but luckily, our waters are teeming with the Signal Crayfish, originating from North America. These are fair game and even fairer eating.
Barbecued Lime and Chilli Crayfish – Nadia Lim
I’ve always dreamed of living by the sea. I even have my own ‘Dream Beach House‘ board on Pinterest for goodness sake! I long for romantic candlelit dinners on the beach and long, barefoot walks with my big, shaggy (currently non-existent) dog, first thing in the morning as the sun just starts to rise on another perfect, blue skied day….. ahem, anyway, one of the OTHER reasons, is that I rather like the idea of foraging for wonderful seaside goodies like sea purslane and samphire. If you’ve never tasted samphire, then the best way that I can describe it is to say that it tastes of the sea and (not surprisingly), goes best with other seafood.
Wild mushrooms are another goodie, which signal the start of Autumn. While crab is probably my favourite food (I can’t bring myself to commit 100%), then Wild Mushroom Risotto (done well) is probably among my favourite meals (again, notice the lack of real commitment – afterall, there are just so many others!)