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Brenda Costigan: Summer sizzle





'Ne'er cast a clout 'til May be out," is an old saying often used by my mother, and a wise one too. But that doesn't stop anyone from doing other summery things like having a barbecue in the back garden on a good day -- you can always keep a warm sweater handy, just in case!

In most houses, cooking on the barbecue is considered a 'man thing'. Hopefully, cleaning out the barbecue after the winter is also a man thing, particularly if it is a gas one! Needless to say, it's good to clean it after every use, as then the annual clean a simpler job. All that's required is a quick scrub of the grill with a wire brush immediately after every use, and once the barbecue has cooled down, spray or brush it with a little vegetable oil to prevent any rusting. However, after the long winter rest, your barbecue may have become home to various insects or snails in its tubes and pipes, so it is advisable to give it a good scraping and washing -- with reference to the owner's manual -- with warm water and a mild detergent, to get it all ready for a new season of glorious eating in the open air.

The best thing about a barbecue is that the recipes for it can be very simple. It is the cooking and the fresh air that give barbecued food its unique flavour.

A handy tip, I find, is to always have a few foil plates to hand. Our barbecue has no solid plate -- only the open grill over the gas flames and so the fat from fatty foods drips down, causing flames and lots of smoke. Putting sausages or burgers that usually contain a lot of fat on to a foil plate on top of the hot grill allows a good proportion of the fat to melt out into the foil plate, at which time the food can be lifted off the plate and finished on the grill.

Using a foil plate for the initial cooking also prevents the food from sticking to the grill.

Unless you have it down to a fine art, it's best to pre-cook items such as chicken legs (with bones in) or spare ribs in the oven. The final tasty browning is then done on the barbecue.


The smoked ground paprika used in the marinade gives a special flavour to these steaks. The recipe is from Australia, being synonymous with the barbie.

Smoked paprika is made in Spain from smoked pimiento peppers and can be found in varying intensities, from mild to hot. A striking deep red in colour, smoked paprika has a delightful smokey aroma. Serves 4.

You will need:

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 teaspoons smoked paprika, preferably the hot one

1 tablespoon malt vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1-2 tablespoons tomato ketchup (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 striploin or T-bone steaks, 275g (10z) each

To make the marinade, put the light brown sugar, the smoked paprika, the malt vinegar, the Worcestershire sauce, the tomato ketchup, if you are using it, and some salt and freshly ground black pepper into a shallow bowl and mix everything well.

Add the steaks. Occasionally turn the steaks in the marinade to ensure an even flavouring. Leave the steaks to marinate for an hour, or longer, depending on the time available. Partially drain off the marinade, and grill the steaks on a well-oiled, hot barbecue grill until the meat is brown on each side. Cook until the steaks are done to your requirements -- rare, medium or well done.



This marinade gives a good flavour to the pork. If you're using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for at least an hour before use, as doing so prevents them from burning too easily. Serves 4.

You will need:

700g (1 1/2lb) lean pork cut in 2.5cm (1in) cubes

Juice of 1 large orange

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

2-4 tablespoons olive oil

Sprig of fresh rosemary

1/2 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed or chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 metal or bamboo skewers

Trim any fat or gristle from the pork.

To make the marinade, put the orange juice into a bowl and add in the lemon juice, the honey, the olive oil, the rosemary, the chopped onion, the crushed or chopped garlic, and some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well, add the pork cubes and stir. Cover the bowl and leave to marinate for at least an hour or overnight. Stir occasionally.

Thread the marinated pork cubes on to the skewers, brush them with olive oil and grill until they are browned on all sides. Serve with the satay sauce -- see recipe below.


Lean lamb, cut in cubes, can be used instead of the pork in the above recipe to make honeyed lamb kebabs -- just marinate the lamb and grill it on skewers in the same way as described above. Serve with chutney.


This rich sauce has a great flavour, if you like peanuts, of course. The addition of the yogurt gives a subtle bite. This is equally good with pork or chicken kebabs.

You will need

4 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter

1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce

50ml (2fl oz) water

1/4-1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)

1-2 teaspoons soy sauce

1-2 tablespoons natural yogurt

Zest and juice of 1 lime

Mix the crunchy peanut butter and the sweet chilli sauce together and then stir in the water to make a smooth paste. Add in the chilli powder, if you are using it, the soy sauce, the natural yogurt and the lime juice. Serve with the cooked kebabs.


This is an Australian-inspired recipe, and it makes a tasty vegetarian option for a barbecue or to serve as a delightful vegetable accompaniment. Serves 4.

You will need:

8 skewers, metal or bamboo

1 red pepper, deseeded, cut into small pieces

16 button mushrooms

1-2 onions, cut in narrow wedges

1 large courgette, cut in chunky slices

4 tablespoons Thai red curry paste

A little vegetable oil

225ml (8fl oz) coconut milk

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

If you're using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for at least an hour before use, as doing so prevents them from burning too easily. Thread the red pepper pieces, the button mushrooms, the onion wedges and the courgette slices on to the skewers and brush with two tablespoons of the Thai red curry paste. Drizzle a little vegetable oil over the skewers. Cook on a hot barbecue -- or under a grill -- for about 15 minutes, turning when appropriate, until the meat is tender.

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, put the remaining two tablespoons of Thai red curry paste into a saucepan and heat for a few minutes, stirring until it becomes fragrant. Pour in the coconut milk. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about five minutes until the sauce has slightly reduced and thickened. Season some with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve this sauce poured over the cooked vegetable skewers.


A nice twist on the baked bananas recipe which can be found in Hugo Arnold's Barbecues cookbook. Serves 4.

You will need:

4 large bananas

4 dessertspoons dark brown sugar

4 dessertspoons butter

4 dessertspoons brandy (optional)

4 generous pinches of cinnamon

Fresh cream or creme fraiche, to serve

Peel the bananas and place each one in the middle of a piece of foil that is large enough to accommodate the banana and all the other ingredients comfortably.

Place a dessertspoon each of the dark brown sugar, the butter and the brandy, if you are using it, along with a pinch of cinnamon on top of each banana. Wrap the foil up tightly into parcels and place the foil parcels in the barbecue fire at the edges, or on the grill. They will smell fantastic, but take care when unwrapping the foil parcels as the escaping steam will be hot. Serve with fresh cream or creme fraiche.