Equipment for barbecue
- Long gloves and tongs to avoid wrist burn when sausages sizzle and hamburgers spit.
- A long apron for splashes and a hat for the sun. Cooks don’t often get to sit in the shade.
- A good corkscrew and bottle opener
- Bubbish bags. Divide into recycling units as you go with one for food, another for cans, bottles, plastic, paper etc.
- Thermal flasks will keep iced water iced. Cool boxes are useful in the garden to keep raw meats cool.
- Keep meats chilled while waiting to be cooked. Bacteria tucked into the small particles of mince easily multiply in heat so keep quantities small and use quickly. Do not put meat in the sun to help to defrost. Use a microwave to defrost fully if unable to defrost slowly.
- Burgers, sausages and kebabs made of minced meat and all poultry and pork must be cooked all the way through. Once they have browned on the outside, place on a low heat area to cook inside. Don’t serve burgers that are still pink inside
- Watch how Mediterraneans serve food and avoid dairy produce in the heat. Use olive oil on bread instead of butter.
- If serving ice-cream, don’t put leftovers back in the freezer once it has defrosted. If making ice-cream re-use yoghurt pots to freeze it or buy small tubs or blocks to avoid waste. Only defrost what you are sure will be used. If buying ice-cream get it home quickly before it de-frosts.
- Once used, discard marinades, as blood can leach from meats.
- Wash hands after handling raw food. Use tongs for putting raw meat on the barbecue and a separate pair of tongs for serving cooked meats. Use separate chopping boards for cooked and raw meat
- Deal with leftovers quickly, getting them out of the sun and allowing to cool before putting in the ‘fridge. Don’t wait longer than 2 hours to put in the ‘fridge or freezer
Keep washed lettuce leaves in a bag or coolbox sprinkled with water until ready to serve. Dress it at the last minute to keep it crisp.
Getting to the picnic spot, opening the bags and baskets of food, laying it out on a rug should be shared by everyone, creating anticipation and an appetite.
Below I have given some tips for easy serving and the least mess and work, along with recipes I have created over the years.
- Have whole baby tomatoes on the side. Keep lettuce undressed until the last minute.
2. Hardboiled eggs. Off trend these days, they make a great snack and are delicious with a little salt or dipped in some chutney.
3. A tub of hummous is useful to serve with sticks of celery, carrot, cucumber and courgette. Seal the vegetables in a bag and ideally keep in a coolbox or near a bag of ice.
4. Jars of gherkins, peppers and sundried tomatoes are good on the side for stylish picnics. Decant them into sealed bags, without their oils, to reduce weight.
5. Plenty of water is essential to quench thirsts healthily – avoid fizzy drinks which have a lot of sugar, and some have salt so they increase thirst and eventually cause dehydration. Iced drinks will keep cold in a flask, just as hot drinks keep hot, so make iced coffee or use this simple recipe for a refreshing iced tea: Make tea in the usual way and pour into a flask, add crushed ice, sugar to taste and a slice or two of lemon. A sprig of mint can replace the lemon and a slice of fresh ginger is delicious.
- For me rosé wines echo summer and are ideal as they don’t have to be as cold as white wine. A simple wrap around cooler is enough for chilling. Red wines should be chilled rather than allowed to boil as they deteriorate in extreme heat. Before leaving home place wine in the freezer for 30 minutes, then into the cooler for transporting. Try placing the bottle in a supermarket bag and resting it in a stream or river while the picnic is being prepared.