So the heatwave continues and we have been eating ‘alfresco’ as much as possible. Certainly a record for us as a family, I don’t remember a summer like it!
We have not just been eating outside but also cooking on the bbq as much as possible. When its hot, appetites are suppressed and of course we look for refreshing drinks, light bites, fresh salads and fruit – nothing beats a hunk of watermelon on a hot afternoon..
I was looking online and there are very little recipe books or collections that concentrate on ‘summer eating’ and keeping cool with cooking too. This is not the time to be baking all day and roasting in the oven, unless you are happy to also roast inside and out!
We have the wonderful Thermomix in our kitchen and of course this does everything but bake, roast, so its just been ideal but not everyone has one of these on their worktop! Today I have been busy preparing Spanish Tapas, several small dishes that we can share with friends over a glass of Sangria later on. I have been looking at outdoor kitchens which of course most Italian and French families have. I was lucky enough to visit my girlfriend nearby Nice, France last summer and she told me from May they pretty much move poolside to their outdoor kitchen. This exterior room has a sink, fridge, freezer, work counters, and hob. They use this all summer for meal preparation and keep it well stocked with glasses, cutlery and ingredients. The possibilities for outdoor rooms are almost limitless – from large and spacious to small and intimate; from a simple patio-sized eating and grilling area to a grand multilevel deck complete with cocktail bar, outdoor pizza kitchen, fountain, spa and pool. In an outdoor room, the “walls,” can be an extension of the home’s exterior walls – or they can be formed by trees, shrubs, hedges, planters, fences, privacy screens or lattice panels. Outdoor “flooring” can be as simple as grass, pebbles or stepping-stones or as elaborate as wooden decking or tiles installed on a concrete pad. “Ceilings” may be outlined by tree limbs, vines, pergolas, arbors, retractable awnings or permanent roof structures. I already know a couple of friends locally with pizza ovens, and outdoor kitchen spaces and some limited facilities, will these become the next trend beyond the BBQ!
So endless possibilities on what you can prepare for meals. Using the hob you can boil pasta, make sauces, and saute courgettes, tomatoes and mushrooms. Chopping up salads, using fruit (fresh and dried) meat, fish and leftover vegetables makes for more creative lunch or accompaniment. We haven’t got a pizza oven but being able to make fresh bread, flatbreads, pizzas sweet and savoury must be heaven on a plate!
Keeping food light but flavoursome is so important and a simple salad dressing can make a meal. The sky really is the limit!