You can feel it in the air and the world just seems better… it’s Spring Fever! As you dig out your favorite shorts and flip-flops, don’t forget to dust off the barbecue and get ready for outdoor cooking. This Spring, instead of barbequing just steaks and snags, be adventurous and find out how that open fire makes a lot more foods taste better than ever.
Spear a mixture of red, black and green pitted salt-brined olives on a water-soaked bamboo skewer and BBQ over medium heat to elevate your favourite martini to gourmet status. Add a smoky flavour to a tall glass of iced limoncello with a few sprigs of barbequed thyme or rosemary. Sorry, soft herbs such as cilantro and basil will burn on the BBQ, so keep them chilled and crisp.
You can make the best BLT ever without using any kitchen appliances. Toast thick bread slices on the grill top, along with thick-sliced ripe tomatoes and skewered bacon strips. Toss a wedge of iceberg or a bunch of romaine on the hotplate until it just starts to blacken. Add a smear of mayonnaise to the toasted bread, stack on the meat and vegetables, and you’ve got a sandwich fit for royalty. For extra richness and flavour, pit and halve an avocado and put a nice grill char on it. Thinly slice it and add it to the BLT ingredients. BLAT-tastic!
Yes, it’s challenging but not as hard as it seems. Slice a disc of raw pizza dough onto a very hot BBQ with a pizza peel and stand back (alternatively, pre-heat your pizza stone on the BBQ before adding your dough). The key to success is to let the pizza brown and stiffen before you add the cheese and other toppings. Put a lid on the BBQ and cook for a few minutes more until the toppings are hot. Carefully remove with the peel.
Quesadillas done on the BBQ have an appealing smoky flavour and the grill marks on the tortillas make a great rustic presentation. You can also toast up pitas or other flatbread on the BBQ, cut them into wedges and serve them with a grilled avocado guacamole or salsa made with grilled tomatoes. For a smoky-sweet snack, skewer big pieces of ham, bacon or pancetta along with like-sized pineapple chunks and grill until the meat is crisp and the pineapple caramelizes.
Sounds crazy but hard cheeses such as aged provolone, parmigiana and halloumi are wonderful treats when they’re a little charred on the outside. These cheese types are very hard and have high melting points, so they will get soft and smoke-flavoured on the grill but won’t melt and drip down into the fire. Serve them with crackers or grilled flatbread.
Put a new twist on dessert with toasted cake topped with fruit caramelized on the barbecue (surely you can’t get more Australian than a pavlova topped with barbecued fruit?!). Otherwise, try cutting sponge or pound cake into thick slices, brushing lightly with butter, and BBQ until golden brown. BBQ slices of fresh pineapple, watermelon, mango, banana or peaches until warm and the natural sugar emerges and place on top of the cake. Finish off the dish with a dollop of whipped cream or softened vanilla ice cream.
Once you start barbequing novel types of food, see how easy it is and how much flavour the barbecue adds, you’ll soon be rummaging through the fridge looking for new things to toss on the grill. Be daring and challenge your guests to come up with their own creations.