Archive for June, 2014

BBQ3Even though the first day of summer is officially 21st June, here in Gibraltar, dusting off the grill and serving up a platter of barbequed delights anytime between April/May is a good indication that summer is on its way.

The question is always: who is going to be brave enough to be the first to strike up the BBQ?

Waking up from our winter/spring hibernation-state brought on by the dark, cold and rainy season. The extended hours of daylight means we leave the comforts of the home and spend more time outdoors.  We start to alter our eating habits: food becomes lighter and fresher during the day and we tend to eat later in the evening.  As the weather gets progressively warmer we move out of the house to cook on open flame; all strategies designed to help combat the summer heat.

Cooking on open flame can only mean one thing – barbeque.

And nothing beats the taste of BBQ!

Succulent meats flame-licked to tender perfection, grilled veggies scorched into savoury crispness, flaking off the bone ribs and sumptuous seafood designed to be cooked over charcoal.

The joy of BBQ food is that you can make it as cheap or extravagant as you want; you can cater for one or one hundred.  Children tend to gravitate towards the quintessential BBQ staples: sausages, burgers and corn on the cob.  Those of more diverse palate can taste grilled seafood, choice cuts of meat and even ask for these to be cooked to their liking.

But as delicious as BBQ food is, the main reason why we love a good BBQ is the social aspect of the event.  These get-togethers are intimate, laid back affairs.  There is no procession of courses – the way the food is eaten and served is informal.  People will generally dispense with cutlery, eat standing up whilst mingling, locating drinks or foraging for food.  There is no meal time constraint; food comes as and when it is ready – meats are not cooked at the same time to provide a self service style buffet; service is relaxed and dependent on whether your guests could have, “another little bite!”  This can sometimes go on for several hours should the conditions be right.

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BBQ role-reversal etiquette dictates that the man of the household does the cooking. Mum probably cooks all year round, slaving in the kitchen, to provide food for her family but come BBQ season, cooking becomes man’s domain.  Subsequently any of the male guests will congregate around the fire and make noises of approval/disapproval as to how well food is being cooked.

Females bring salads.

Ultimately, BBQ’s are very convenient.  We can use disposable BBQ sets, self igniting charcoal bags as well as disposable cups, cutlery and plates.  Creating minimal washing up after the event.

BBQ’s are usually celebrated with close friends and family and have the same cathartic effect on us as other major celebrations.  Everyone feels good at BBQ’s.

So whether you do it in your patios, gardens, balconies or at the beach (getting appropriate permissions) light a fire, skewer some meat or seafood, rinse out your beach towels and get grilling.  Let’s enjoy the summer.

As published in Calentita Press 2014

Gastrorob

 

 

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Having recently been to London it struck me that no matter how amazing this metropolis is, there are many establishments that still cannot serve up a decent cup of coffee.  All I want and I suspect that the majority of people really want is a strong white coffee topped with a bit of foam to prove that the milk was heated before it got poured into the cup.  Instead what you get more often than not is a scalding cup of wishy-washy coffee that singes your taste buds on first contact!  But my caffeine rage does not stop there.

Why has ordering a coffee become so difficult?  You’re standing in a queue full of people and finally you approach the counter where this typical conversation ensues:

“Hi, what may I get you today?” (Said in strained American customer service tone). 

“Could I have a white coffee please?”

“Which type of white coffee, sir? Latte, Cappucino, Machiato, Americano with milk, flat white, mocha, espresso con panna?”

This menagerie of different options serves only to confuse me.

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If like me, you are not 100% sure what each is you then spend a few minutes reading the descriptions. Then there are all the different milk options to go through: whole milk, 2%, non-fat and soy.  Eventually, you settle for a latte as it’s the only one you actually recognise.  When you think it’s all over, “Which size sir?”  By now you can hear the disgruntled people behind you shuffling their feet and you still haven’t got round to establishing size!  And here, in Planet Starbucks, the coffee world turns language on its head – tall means small and grande is medium.  Other coffee chains also use their own size terminology: primo, medio and Massimo.

So how does a nation of tea drinkers actually cope with this coffee-confusion?  International coffee chains have, over the years, converted many people into barista coffee drinkers; swigging gallons of the stuff every year.

Culturally, we are still mere babies in comparison to the French and Italian; drinking coffee is a cultural heritage and is probably protected by UNESCO!

In France and Italy, milky coffee is only served at breakfast and ordering a latte or cappuccino after 10am is a cardinal sin.  Espresso, as the name suggests is a quick caffeine shot – not to be lingered over; is drunk throughout the day.  And even though the thought of this after dinner might stir insomniac nightmares, the habit of drinking an espresso after a heavy meal is intended to perk you up as well as to help aid digestion.

So you move away from the counter clutching your cup of grande double shot, extra froth, vanilla, dry soy skinny cappuccino you make your way out into the world thinking that the experience wasn’t so bad – you actually quite liked it.  You have memorised how to ask for your coffee and now know what is expected.  Eventually, you walk into another coffee shop and place your order only to be told that in their establishment it’s either a cup or a mug!

As published by Calentita Press 2014

Gastrorob

 

bbb

Ingredients:

  • 500g beef mince
  • Red onion (small)
  • Cheese for grating
  • Breadcrumbs
  • 1 Egg
  • Worcester Sauce
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Butter (for frying)

Method:

1st: Dice the red onion and gently fry until translucent.  Set aside to cool.

2nd: Mix the beef mince, a handful of grated cheese (I used Edam but Parmesan would work just as well – take care when seasoning as Parmesan can be salty) and breadcrumbs, a beaten egg, a dash of Worcester Sauce and seasoning.  Once the onion has cooled mix this into the rest of the ingredients.  Using your hands is best as this ensures that everything mixes properly.

3rd: Divide the mixture into four and shape them into cricket ball sized burgers.  Leaving them round shows that they are not shop bought but flatten them slightly should you wish.  Place onto an oiled tray and place in the fridge to firm up.

4th: After approx 20mins remove them from the fridge and fry in butter for 3mins per side.  Should you like them more well-done cook them for longer or cook them further in the oven.

5th: Put them into a toasted bap of your choice with salad leaved, onion rings and your favourite sauce.

I made a spiced mayo to go with my burger using mayonnaise, ketchup, lemon juice, tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper.  Make this as spicy as you wish.

Lip-smacking, finger-licking good!