While there’s always a certain thrill involved in finding a wonderful new restaurant, there are also other fantastic ways to enjoy great food during the summer season. During the summer, with the weather warming up and the sun staying up longer, many people like to attend outdoor events which allow us to enjoy a picnic or barbecue.
Of course, sometimes these events are already established, and you are able to just go and enjoy the food, drink and company. However, sometimes, it’s nice to put your own al fresco fare together too. It’s easy enough to pop into Marks and Spencer for a few nice bottles of summer wine and a few fresh ingredients to organize your own picnic or barbecue – so we’ve collected a few recipe ideas for you to consider.
Here are 5 particularly fitting ideas for outdoor cooking, summer weather, and good company.
1. Portobello Burgers
If you’re going to be hosting an outdoor dinner event and cooking with a barbecue grill, you’ll have plenty of options. But for a nice summery twist a portobello burger is a great option. Hearty meals are always appreciated, but lighter options can go down a treat in warmer weather and a portobello mushroom with a little chopped garlic and a drizzle of olive oil makes a great tasty burger and is easy to manage for a large group.
2. Grilled Tacos
Tacos are some of the easiest food options for large groups, and are absolutely perfect for outdoor summer dining. Simply barbecue your choice of meat or fish and provide enough interesting toppings to allow your guests to make up their own tacos. In particular a few light citrus sauces and toppings such as shredded lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes are likely to be popular.
Another incredibly simple but delicious option for summer dining is a grilled kebab. One of the great things about serving up kebabs is that they work beautifully for both vegetarians and meat lovers alike. Serve up skewers with peppers, mushrooms, courgettes and tomatoes, and/or chunks of meat on them, and you’ll have plenty of easy, delicious food to please your guests. Have a few few sauce options and some warm pitta on hand and the meal is sorted!
4. Lettuce Wraps
If you want to serve up food and leave assembly entirely to your guests, lettuce wraps can be perfect. An array of cooked meats, tofu, chopped vegetables, spices and sauces – and in some cases, even nuts – will provide just about any toppings your guests could want. Lettuce wraps are a bit of work, which many people appreciate during communal, outdoor dining experiences, as it can be great fun and heightens the social atmosphere.
5. Salads With Fruit
Finally, for the simplest option of all, offer up a well-conceived salad with fresh summer fruit and vegetables. There’s scope to make it as exciting as you like by adding a good range of ingredients from meat or fish, to cooked grains such as tabbouleh or quinoa or even a few fresh berries or some chopped citrus to give the salad a unique and summery feel.
We’ve been dithering about having a bash at wine making for some time now and this weekend, finally took the plunge.
It was seeing an auction listing for three demi-johns that swung it really…. we saw the listing on Thursday and realised they were being sold from a little village that we were due to literally drive past the very next day. We decided it was an omen and became their proud owners 24 hours later and after a swift trip to our local Brew Mart for the other essentials, we were all set to start our first batch.
As the rhubarb on our plot is now sprouting with vigour, it felt only right that our very first attempt at country wine should make full use of this delightful vegetable and we’re following the much esteemed John Wright’s rhubarb wine recipe, so our newly sterilised fermenting tub is now sitting with its mix of rhubarb and sugar for the requisite three days before we add the active ingredients.
Apparently patience is the key to good country wine and we we’re going to need a hefty dose of willpower because we have to try and leave it to mature for about a year after bottling!
There is a very strong tradition of cider making in Herefordshire and whilst once it was simply the drink of choice to refresh farm workers during the long and busy days of harvesting, it is now a much more popular drink.
Cider orchards are scattered throughout the county and the Hereford Cider Route highlights many of the region’s producers, including gems such as Dunkerton’s Cider Company, where the fruit is grown organically before being pressed to create the apple nectar (or pear nectar, if we are talking Perry!)
With a climate that is so good for apple production, it is no surprise that wine producers are also taking advantage of it, to start and put the the county on the map of English wine producers. There are now several vineyards in Herefordshire turning out excellent quality wines, that can be enjoyed without the worry of having thousands of food miles attached to them.
With premium drinks at the forefront of the county’s food heritage, it is fitting that there should be a leading producer of crips and snacks in the county and Tyrells have developed one of the UK’s leading snack brands from their base in Leominster, with scrumptious products such as hand cooked potato crisps.
It’s not just apples, wine and snacks though. Hereford is renowned for producing top quality beef and the county grows a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables, in particular Asparagus, with plenty of thick juicy spears available at the region’s farmer’s markets during the season from April to June.