I don’t know about you but we haven’t used the BBQ in this house yet. I bet you guys are cooking up a storm and grilling to your heart’s content, but I’m doing nothing of the sort. I’m cooking yes, but only because we have to eat, but during these hot days there’s no enjoyment to be found in the kitchen.
This is definitely a Throwback Thursday recipe. I promise I didn’t plan it on purpose. What’s true is that I’ve been thinking about writing about it for ages. I never did until now because the photo isn’t good at all. It almost went in my not-to-publish file, but I’ve changed my mind. This recipe turned out well so why not?
It goes back to the first month or so in my kitchen here in Malta, when I was barely doing any serious cooking. We moved back in the middle of the summer months, when being in the kitchen, I think, is totally unbearable. The heat is just too much for me, so I either cook late in the evening or very early in the morning, although those two options don’t always work for me either. We end up eating loads of salads and the likes instead, and there’s no need to say that baking stops almost to a complete halt.
I love a good burger. Don’t you? I don’t know what it is but the thought of one just screams of summer barbecues. I find one challenge with making my own though, and that’s coming up with new ways of turning a good burger into something more special. Now I would never bash the ol’ beef burger. Never, but finding a really good one is tough.
A few weeks ago I bought some pork mince on a whim on one trip to the butcher’s. I didn’t know what to do with it until I saw Gill Meller from River Cottage whip up some gorgeous-looking burgers on YouTube. I like how simple they are to make, and the combination of pork, sage and apples is, of course, a classic. So I decided to give this recipe a go. I looked through my herb stash and found that I didn’t have any sage. OK. No biggie I said, and allowed myself some leeway and used my trusty za’atar instead. (At the moment I’m using up some of my dried herbs and spices so that I can replenish with fresh ones.) I also ran out of seeds so I couldn’t toast my own. So I used some ground cinnamon to counteract the tartness of the apples. (I was tempted to add some honey in the mix but in the end I decided to leave it out. It would have given the burgers a more golden caramelised look but then got stuck on how much I would need. The taste would have been great.) It worked. This amount will give you around 8 small patties. Keep me posted if you make these for your next cookout.
This is our dinner today. Grilled steak, medium rare. Any more cooking and a good cut of meat is ruined. Or so I learnt from living in MI. All you need is a butcher you trust, from where you can get the freshest meat, and of course (this goes without saying, but still felt the need to include it here) where hygiene is top priority. It might seem like this is a mission of some sort, and it kind of is. I’ve heard some horror stories…
*But* when all the boxes have been ticked, then there’s no need to worry. We like a good rib-eye for the grill. *Thick*, please. Leave the thin slices of meat for Pizzaiola (the Italian recipe, generally using sirloin, which is also very popular in Malta).
So how do we do it? Easy. Rub the meat with a little vegetable oil, salt and lots of freshly ground pepper, and give the steaks around 3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness, on a grill pan, preferably a cast iron one, but any grill pan will do. Remember that once you remove the steaks from the pan they will still keep on cooking for a while so don’t be tempted to leave them more that is needed. Also you need to put the meat on a warm dish to let it rest. Serve with grilled veggies and potatoes. And if you’re going all out, with chips. Enjoy!
I love it when after a day’s work I can make dinner in one-pot, in the oven. This is just the thing I need when I’m stressed but still want something hearty to eat without resorting to the emergency takeaway stuff. The following recipe is one I have adapted and changed a lot throughout the last few months from Nigella’s Forever Summer. Also, since Nigellissima has hit the shelves earlier this month (my review will follow this post later on this week), I thought this was an appropriate way of celebrating the occasion.
I used chicken pieces for this, mainly because I didn’t want to faff around with a whole chicken. Also smaller pieces make serving easier. But if you want you can use a chicken (or two) and have them butterflied by yourself or your butcher. It’s totally up to you. This recipe also spells convenience. You can scale it up (or down – but this is rare in my house) as you please, or adapt the herbs to your taste. But here’s how I do it.
You will need any number of chickens or chicken pieces as you want. You will be ok with around 2kg worth. Place these in a glass dish. (I use my large Pyrex one – safe for marinating and then into the oven it goes.) On top of the meat, scatter 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon course salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon chilli flakes, 2 teaspoons paprika, 2 red onions, quartered or roughly chopped, juice and zest of 1 lemon. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for a few hours when you lack the time, but you can prepare it even a day or two ahead (always keeping it in the fridge) if you want to. The more time, the better. Around an hour or so before you want to cook it (and depending on how long it was in the fridge for), remove it from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 220ºC and cook for 1 hour uncovered, skin side up. Remember: chicken needs to be cooked properly so check it by cutting near to the bone (eg. between a thigh and a breast). If the juices run clear it’s ready. Serve with rice or some roast potatoes, with some bread to mop up the lemony gravy. You are in for a treat.