Sunday, August 19, 2012

Summer BBQ How-To

Want to know my secret for BBQ-ing success? Prepare as much as possible in advance. (In other words, think Boy Scouts!)

I suppose that is really my not very original tip for hosting any kind of dinner/gathering involving food. When I get my prep out of the way in the afternoon, I am much more calm before people come over, I'm much more considerate to my husband, and I have time to do last minute cleaning jobs (ex. vacuuming the kitchen floor after what seems like several pounds of dill fragments, chopped celery, bell pepper seeds, spices, and the like have fallen onto it over the course of cooking), clear the sink, change into something nice, and run a cool washcloth over my face.

So for a BBQ such as the one we hosted last night, get that meat marinating the night before (or morning of, if like me you only remembered about the meat after climbing into bed). Chop veggies and soak wooden skewers (if using) in the afternoon, start your water simmering early so when you need it to boil you'll only wait a minute or two, throw utensils and other little items (paper towels, tin foil, etc.) into a canvas bag*, put your drinks, glasses and plates on a large tray**, and then relax while your husband gets an early start on grilling the veggies. When your guests arrive, grab your tray and escort them to the terrace, where you can chat and drink refreshing Luscious Watermelon iced tea while the meat starts sizzling behind you.

East Meets West Summer BBQ Menu
1 pitcher homemade watermelon iced tea, lightly sweetened with agave
Creamy dill pasta salad
Corn on the cob (with butter, salt, and pepper)
Veggie kebabs (green and yellow zucchini, grape tomatoes, rainbow bell peppers, red onion)
Marinated kalbi (beef short ribs)
Soya garlic chicken wings
Italian sausage
Homemade apple crumble (deliciously supplied by our guests!)

We usually opt for veggie skewers these days, as they're fun (and look impressive nice too :p) and are easier to maneuver on the grill than individual slices of peppers, zucchini, etc. We also tend to BBQ a lot of food at one time, especially if we're having friends over. To make sure we have enough time to cook everything and not end up eating at 9 pm or later (!!!), Wilson goes out to the BBQ about 20-30 minutes before our guests arrive to start cooking the veggies (which taste just fine if they're not piping hot). Once we're all together, it doesn't take too long for some meat to make an appearance and we can all get started with a well-rounded meal while any remaining meat (in Wilson's case, completely unnecessary yet crowd-pleasing Italian sausages) get their turn on the grill.
Then all that's left is to sit back, savour your meal (It does help if you don't get so carried away with the conversation that you forget to eat! Ahem, yes. No comment.), and enjoy the sun highlighting the clouds in princessy-pink as it sets behind you. Nothing beats a BBQ with great friends on a cool summer evening!

*Our condo life does not include a balcony or personal BBQ, but we're fortunate to have a lovely fourth-floor terrace that overlooks our neighbourhood (yes, massive construction site and all) and has plenty of shared BBQs and patio tables for our summer enjoyment.
**If, like us, you get a bonus rain shower towards the end of your dinner, the tray will make it so much easier to stack and pack everything quickly and make a beeline back to your apartment! :)

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