Summer BBQ

Well another hot day is on its way and I’ll be out with the hose very shortly to start watering before the heat hits (we only have a 3 hour time period in which we can water in the mornings). We will be hitting the old century mark (100º F) today so any activity will be confined to the next two hours before I come inside to stay.

Yesterday we went to a friend’s place for a BBQ, thankfully in the evening. We had been asked to bring some salads, particularly a leaf salad. I’d said yes, no worries and then started to wonder what I would bring. I knew that our lettuce had pretty much bolted and there is nothing much to our lettuce seedlings at this stage. A tour of the garden reassured me that while I wouldn’t be supplying a lettuce salad we did have leaves of all sorts that could be used. What ended up in the bowl was, two or three salvageable lettuce leaves, loose leaf chicory (an Italian variety) and wild rocket – these two formed the greatest contributions – celery leaves, basil, beetroot leaves, bucks horn (one of the Italian salad leaves I’m trying out this year), snow peas (our second crop) and garlic chives. TB dressed it with his Vietnamese Nuoc Cham dressing (3 tablespoons fish sauce, 100mls lime juice, 1 teaspoon rice vinegar, 2 cloves of garlic chopped, 1 long red chili chopped) which we had in the fridge.

I also got excited with the radishes and made the Smashed Chinese Pickled Radishes from the Japanese pickle book Tsukemono Japanese Pickled Vegetables by Kay Shimuzu (Shufunotomo Co. Ltd 1993). This is a dead simple recipe and worked really well. All you need do is pick your radishes, give them a clean up and leave them to sit for 15 minutes in a bowl of iced water. Take them out of the bowl and using something heavy, like the flat blade of a heavy kitchen knife or chopper you crush the radishes as you would a clove of garlic. If you have a small round variety you might be able to do them whole, otherwise cut the radishes into pieces about 2.5cm (1 inch) cubed before you try this manoeuvre. You may also want to place an old folded tea towel over the blade to avoid any mishaps to your hand. Put the crushed pieces back into the iced water for another 15 minutes. You then make the dressing as follows 1 tablespoon of shochu (Japanese whiskey, or sake, or just omit this ingredient as we did), 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Put it into a small screw top jar and shake vigourously. Drain radishes, dress and serve.

…….. Sorry about that I just had to pop outside and do some watering. You can see that rampant growth is the order of the day!

While I was getting my leaves TB decided to pick some baby carrots and beets which he boiled whole and then cut into smaller pieces after they were cooked. He dressed these with 2 parts olive oil to one part Vietnamese dressing. At least TB had the presence of mind to take a photo of his dish – I completely forgot to take any photos!

My final dish was a variation on the baked rhubarb I’ve made previously. Cut rhubarb into 2-3 cm pieces and place as a single layer in a baking dish. Pour over the juice of one orange and about half a cup of honey. Bake in a 180º C oven until soft (about 20-30 minutes). Eat with cream, ice cream yoghurt, whatever.