As summer shows signs of fading most of us wish it could continue: the light-filled evenings, the freedom of wearing fewer clothes and going barefoot, the endless days of sunshine and the relaxing way of cooking and eating outside – it’s hard to give up.
Julie Biuso has chosen a collection of recipes that capture the outdoor spirit, food that can be cooked outside and eaten outside, whether it is at the beach with your toes in the water, or in your own back garden under a shady tree or in a sheltered spot as the sun sets. But there’s a back-up plan: all the food can be cooked indoors if the weather turns on you, and many of the recipes cross over the seasons.
What should you expect? How about chilli beef with lime and palm sugar dressing, cute-as-a-button chicken lollipops (spicy chicken mince on ice-cream sticks), meatballs wrapped in lemon leaves, tiger prawns with mixed leaf salad and sizzled lychees, grilled chicken sandwiches with rouille and roasted tomatoes and refreshing lemon granita and quick strawberry trifles. These dishes speak undeniably of summer, while other dishes such as bruschetta with beetroot, goat’s cheese and toasted walnuts can be made from late spring onwards with baby beetroots, or later in autumn or fall with larger beets, aubergine (eggplant) and white bean salad is as good with rosemary-scented baby lamb cutlets hot off the grill as it is with a slow-roasted leg of lamb in winter, and orange and red onion salad with feta and green olives is as perfect with tapas, as it is with roasted chicken or grilled seafood or ham.
There are plenty of easy mid-week meal ideas, too, including a speedy beef stir-fry, green chicken curry with cashew nuts, portobello mushrooms with prosciutto and balsamic, best-ever steak sandwich with aioli and barbecued lamb tacos.
The Kiwis like using the barbecue for brunch, lunch and dinner – and why not, if it gets you outside where the action is? Apple buttermilk hotcakes, crunchy potato cakes with avocado salsa, and raisin bread with ricotta, honey and barbecued peaches, will all lift the bar at your next brunch, while spicy prawns wrapped in lemongrass leaves, and a recipe for grilled pizza – it looks and tastes just as good as one made in a wood-fired oven – will make your place the hottest ticket around.