If you love food – exchanging recipes, tasting one another’s attempts in the kitchen and creating weird and (hopefully) wonderful dishes of our own – you’re in the right place. With regular blogs from an awarding winning chef – slaving over a hot stove just got a little bit more exciting…

Let’s eat Alfresco

Why is it that food tastes better when it’s eaten outdoors?

We don’t know why, but we do know that when the weather’s warm nothing beats decamping to the garden. Here we have pulled together our favourite alfresco recipes from some of our friends, so seize the moment and take your next meal outside.

Jamie Oliver raspberry Fizz

This raspberry and ginger fizz recipe from Jamie Oliver is the prefect drink to accompany your alfresco meal. just remember to keep away from the kids unless you make a ‘virgin’ version.

 

Sausage rolls BBC

No picnic would be complete without a sausage roll – here’s an easy recipe from the BBC to make your own.

 

Smoked salmon picnic loaf 'channel 4'

The perfect loaf to add to your picnic – a smoked salmon cream cheese and cucumber loaf

 

Panzella 'View From the Table'If you have some bread that is in need of reviving then this Panzanella dish from The View from the Table is just perfect to add to your menu.

 

Rainbow jam tarts

Finally these jam tarts from Jamie Oliver simply look way too yummy to leave out of your next alresco party.

 

For more of our favourite recipes be sure to visit our ‘COOK IT’ board over on Pinterest.

 

Valentine Warner’s exciting BBQ recipes

The sun is out so it’s officially time for Dad to light the BBQ and cook a feast for the whole family.

Valentine Warner lets us in on two exciting recipes from his new book ‘What to Eat Next’ which are great served up at your next BBQ.

 

Mackerel with passion fruit salsa

Valentine Warners Mackerel Salsa

My friend Joe came across this after filming in Brazil. He told me the story of a man in a battered hat behind his stall on a coastal road, leaning over a tiny barbecue as he knocked up this salsa in seconds to then pour it over a charred and sizzling piece of fish. I went home and cooked it immediately, knowing it would be delicious – and it was! I can imagine that the sauce would also work well with thin slices of raw fish, marinated like a ceviche.

If you cook the fish over charcoal, make sure it is wiped totally dry first and heavily scattered with some good flaked sea salt, as this should prevent it sticking. Ideally a barbecue would be better than a grill, as charcoal smoke is a magic ingredient.

 

Serves 2

›              2 medium mackerel, gutted and wiped as dry as possible

›              flaked sea salt (approx. ½ teaspoon for each fish)

›              lime wedges, to serve

For the passion fruit salsa

›              ½ hot green chilli, such as jalapeño or serrano, seeds scooped out, very finely diced

›              3 fat and full passion fruit, flesh and seeds scooped out

›              1 tablespoon olive oil

›              juice of ½ small juicy lime

›              2 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh coriander, stalks and all

›              2 tablespoons very finely diced red onion

›              flaked sea salt

 

1.   Preheat the grill to high.

2.   Slash the mackerel three times down each side, and season well with a good amount of sea salt, probably more than you would normally be inclined to use.

3.   Lay the fish on the grill and place them not too far from the element. Cook for approximately 4 minutes on each side, or until the skin is blistered and browned, taking care not to rip the delicious skin when turning them over. The mackerel should be cooked, but ever so reluctant to pull from the bone without a bit of prompting. If the flesh is just cooked but with a red blood line running along the spine, you have done it perfectly.

4.   While the fish blister, make the passion fruit salsa. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and season well with sea salt, tasting a few times.

5.   Remove the fish to 2 plates and spoon over the salsa.

6.   Serve with lime wedges and eat accompanied by cold beer drunk from the bottle, not a glass.

 

Grilled squid with chermoula

Valentine Warners Grilled squid with chermoula

Heavenly green sauce, charred tentacles, tender and giving flesh hissing and sizzling on the grill. When I am reminded of squid this way, I want it served up immediately. Remember that the squid should cook and colour very quickly so as to remain succulent. Make sure that the charcoals are properly hot – a hand held close to the grill should not be able to remain more than a second at most. You can also cook this indoors, on a cast-iron griddle pan. Get your fishmonger to prepare the squid if you’d rather not.

 

Serves 4

›              4 medium squid with tentacles, opened and cleaned

›              2 teaspoons coriander seeds

›              2 teaspoons cumin seeds

›              100g fresh coriander, stalks retained but roots cut off

›              25g fresh mint, leaves picked

›              3 large cloves of garlic

›              1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes

›              juice of 1 lemon

›              8 tablespoons olive oil

›              1½ teaspoons flaked sea salt

›              ½ small red onion, coarsely grated

›              lemon wedges, for squeezing

 

1.   Lay the opened squid tubes on a board, inside facing up (to tell, you will notice that the outside looks a little shinier as opposed to the matt inside). Holding a sharp knife at a 45-degree angle, score the squid diagonally in parallel lines 5mm apart. Repeat in the opposite direction. Take special care not to cut all the way through the squid. Leave the tentacles and fins whole.

2.   Toast the seeds in a dry frying pan. Tip them into a pestle and mortar and crush them lightly.

3.   In a food processor or blender, blitz the fresh coriander and mint with the garlic, crushed spices, chilli flakes, lemon juice, oil and sea salt until well puréed. Transfer to a non-metallic bowl and then add the onion (blitzing it does strange things to its taste).

4.   Put a quarter of the chermoula into a separate bowl and set aside. Add the squid to the rest of the chermoula and stir well until thoroughly combined. Cover the squid, chill and leave to marinate for 30 minutes.

5.   Get your barbecue charcoal seriously hot but with all the flames gone – just whitish grey embers cracked with pulsing orange.

6.   Place the squid bodies on the grill, scored-side down – they should sizzle immediately. Throw on the tentacles and fins.

7.   Don’t fidget the squid, just let the bodies get some good colour. If they do not roll up, just free the edges that may have stuck to the grill. Once they start to go they will roll up like a carpet curled from both ends. The tentacles and fins also want to be properly coloured, so attend to turning them when need be. Remember, charred patches on all the squid is GOOD.

8.   Remove the squid to a plate and spoon over the reserved chermoula.

9.   Serve the squid with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

 

Piri piri chicken wings

Here is my confession. Frequently I can be found at a dark corner table in Nando’s stripping the meat off their peri peri chicken wings, with burning lips and a greasy face. Sometimes I do the work in a quiet backstreet – eating my way home. My guilt lies in that I should probably be making them myself, given my job, but purism can be terribly tedious. Here is my own recipe for them, very good too but not as instant.

The stumpy red piri piri chillies are not always easy to find, so replace them with the Dutch red variety you will usually find in the supermarket.

 

Serves 4

›              1½ tablespoons groundnut or sunflower oil

›              10 finger-length hot red chillies, stalks removed

›              75ml red wine vinegar

›              juice of 1 lime

›              2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

›              5 cloves of garlic

›              3 teaspoons flaked sea salt

›              24 plump chicken wings

 

1.   Put everything apart from the chicken into a blender and blitz the hell out of it.

2.   Score the chicken wings lightly all over with a sharp knife. Pour the marinade over the chicken wings in a non-metallic bowl and leave them to marinate in the fridge for 2 hours.

3.   Light the barbecue charcoals about 20 minutes before cooking, and, when they are pulsing white and orange, place the wings on the grill. Cook them for approximately 10–15 minutes, turning every so often and each time brushing them with more of the remaining marinade, until well browned and slightly charred (not burnt).

4.   Eat with French fries, coleslaw, cold beer and music.

 

WTEN cover

All recipes taken from Valentine’s new book ‘What to eat next’