Last Tuesday we had a barbecue. It was a warm day with temperatures reaching over 20C, a pleasant change from the rain and gloom that has pervaded these early spring days. It was a short lived dose of sunshine though as it began drizzling once again even before we could fully wrap up our meal.
With the help of our enthusiastic parents, we put these few hours to good use during the day finishing up work in the garden, kinda long pending list of activities, all of which had to be done before it began raining again.
So it was great to unwind and relax at the end of the day with a glass of wine, taking in the gorgeous view of the valley in front of our little country home while the bbq was slowly cooking our food for us.
For the main meal, along with a set of sausages and already prepared turkey skewers, I marinated some pork escalopes in a spice-herb mixture.
A couple of side dishes were made to go with the meat – a salad of mixed leaves, radish and tomatoes with a mustard-syrup dressing, asparagus with a coriander cumin seasoning and some herb and chilli butter to serve as condiments with the bread.
The rain drove us indoors before we could savour the last bits of the meal but it let us clean up before the drizzle stopped and we went out again to have our dessert of chocolate mousse. We’d started the meal outdoors and wanted to finish it there too!
I´ve shared below my recipes for the marinade and the other sides and condiments.
The dessert was made by following a recipe from Saveur that can be found here. I modified it slightly by adding some madeira to the mix. I also sprinkled some cocoa powder and served it with sponge fingers.
Marinade for Pork Escalopes (this was sufficient for 5 medium sized escalopes)
a good few tablespoonfuls of olive oil
1 heaped tsp paprika powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
the juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the ingredients together and use it to coat the meat. Leave it covered and refrigerated until it’s ready to be cooked.
Coriander Cumin Asparagus
Ingredients (Serves 4)
a medium sized knob of butter
1 heaped tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
5-6 small shallots, peeled and cut in half
salt and pepper
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Drop in the asparagus and blanch for about 5 minutes. Have a basin of cold water ready and transfer the blanched asparagus into the cold water to refresh it. Remove and set aside on a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb the excess water.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the coriander and cumin seeds. Let the seeds colour and toast for a minute or two. Add the shallots and fry them until nice and brown. Add the asparagus to the pan. Coat it with the contents of the frying pan. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.
Radish, Tomato & Greens Salad with Sweet Mustard Dressing
Ingredients (Serves 4)
a bunch of fresh radish washed and cut into thin round slices
a handful of cherry or similar small tomatoes cut into halves
a couple of large handfuls of mixed greens such as rocket and watercress – I also added some of the radish greens to add an extra sharp flavour
For the dressing
a tsp of whole grain mustard
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tsp honey or maple syrup or similar (I used agave syrup)
a dash of salt and pepper
Mix the ingredients for the salad in a large salad bowl and set aside until ready to serve.
Mix together all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Adjust the quantity of ingredients as per taste and keep aside until ready to dress the salad just before serving.
Take a few sprigs of fresh thyme and sage, remove leaves removed and finely chop them. Mix this through about 125g butter or good quality spread and season with salt to taste.
You may also add some crushed garlic for garlicky herb butter.
Store in the fridge until ready to use.
Spicy Chilli Butter
Add a finely chopped shallot, couple of pinches of dry chilli flakes, half a teaspoon of paprika powder and dried oregano or mixed herbs to about 125g butter or spread. Season with salt and mix through.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
It was a great evening and even the rain did not dampen our spirits. We´re really looking forward to more pleasant, long barbecue smoke filled evenings and I´m looking forward to trying out more new recipes and sharing it here!