27 Mar Cooking outdoors – a boredom buster for self-isolators
Home working and self-isolating is the norm. We can’t change it, so let’s embrace it. Cooking outdoors is a great way of getting outside whilst social distancing. Here are our top tips and suggestions.
First and foremost I want to stress that you must check and follow the latest government guidelines. They’re to keep you, your family and your community safe. Everybody’s garden is different. Before starting any outdoor activities please log onto the Government website to check latest advice and then apply the guidance to your own situation.
Fresh veggies cooked outdoors are nutritious, delicious and good for body and soul
What equipment do I need for cooking outdoors?
Essential outdoor cooking tools equipment
- A source of heat (eg barbecue, firepit, pizza oven)
- Clean work surface
- Heat proof gloves
- Cooking utensils – tongs, fish slice, knifes, baking trays, tinfoil
- Bucket of water or fire extinguisher (just in case things get out of hand)
- Good quality ingredients
- A relaxed attitude
Outdoor cooking doesn’t need expensive equipment. A disposable barbecue from the supermarket will do the job perfectly well. Although the more sophisticated barbecues do give you a lot more choices as to what you can cook and how.
“Nice to have” outdoor cooking tools
- A meat thermometer
- Pizza stone
- Chimney starter (for lighting charcoal barbecues quickly and efficiently)
- Charcoal baskets (to allow you to change between direct or indirect cooking)
- Smoker box – (for use with woodchips – great for adding different flavours)
- Herbs, spices and meat rubs
- A dedicated cooking area in the garden
My Favourite Barbecue Recipes
I have to admit that I’m a bit of a barbecue enthusiast. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is or what the weather’s like. I love the smell, the taste of the food, the possibilities and the relaxed style of cooking.
Some of my favourites include
A mix of cherry tomatoes, chunks of sweet peppers, onions, baby corn and aubergine marinated in a honey mustard sauce and barbecued for 25-30 minutes over hot coals. If I’m super hungry I’ll add halloumi for extra protein and flavour.
Top tip – be patient, if coals are too hot these will burn on the outside before the inside cooks through. Wait until the charcoal has turned grey. If you have a thermometer on your barbecue, the optimum temperature is 180-200 degrees celcius. Turn every 8 – 10 minutes to ensure even cooking
Yes, you can cook potatoes outside and these are super-delicious. Crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. A barbecue with a lid is probably the best equipment for these but you could also try putting an iron cook pot with a lid on top of the barbecue grill.
Peel the potatoes and cut them into pieces – as you would if you were roasting them. Melt a generous sized knob of butter in a foil tray (for lidded barbecues). When the butter starts to sizzle, put the potatoes into it and roll them around to coat them. Brown the potatoes in the butter, turning them from time to time. Once they are a nice caramel colour, pour some hot chicken stock into the pan – until the potatoes are half covered. Leave to cook for 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your potato chunks.
If you don’t have a purpose built pizza oven, a pizza stone is a must for this recipe. Pizza stones are heavy, circular stone plates that sit on top of the barbecue grill or fire pit. Cooking pizza outdoors takes it to a whole different level. I promise you, once you’ve tried it you’ll never go back to those quick-cook frozen jobs again.
Place the pizza stone over direct heat and get the BBQ to around 230 degrees centigrade.
Roll out your pizza dough (I like dough balls from the Northern Dough Company. I buy them frozen and thaw them out when I’m planning a cook-out) https://northerndoughco.com/
Put your dough circle onto a pizza paddle (no pizza paddle? Divide your dough ball into four and make smaller, more manageable pizzas.
Spread your dough with a good quality passata and then pop on your toppings. To make the flavour more interesting, mix your passata with garlic puree, dried oregano and a little sugar as well as salt and pepper. Top with Mozzerella cheese, pepperoni, chopped veggies, olives – you know what you like!
Place on the hot pizza stone, close the BBQ lid and leave it for 3-5 minutes. The pizza is ready when the base has a good colour, is crispy and the toppings are well cooked.
Dress with fresh basil leaves and enjoy!
Dedicating a part of your garden to cooking outdoors
Outdoor cooking is so much easier and more convenient if part of your garden is set up for it. My own garden is quite small, but I have a great cooking area in easy reach of the kitchen.
- Level hard standing. A patio is great
- Easy access to fridge, sink, etc – ie sited close to the kitchen door or with an all-weather path leading to the house.
- A work surface – I have an easy-clean worktop with a couple of handy shelves
- Shelter – my pergola keeps the wind and rain off me, helps me to regulate the temperature of the barbecue and shades me from the sun
- Lighting – So that I can keep on cooking when the sun goes down (or on dull winter days)
A nice little BBQ area built by Holland Landscapes. Tables and chairs can be moved onto the decking to give the chef more space.
Where to buy outdoor cooking equipment
For barbecue equipment, garden furniture and expert advice, I cannot recommend Riverside enough. At the time of writing the showroom is closed but they are offering a delivery service.
Take a look at their website, browse all the wonderful barbecues, smokers and accessories, order a few of their rubs and spice mixes and book a virtual appointment for a free, no obligation chat about your outdoor cooking plans.
How to organise your garden for cooking
Got the outdoor cooking bug but think your garden isn’t quite right? Contact Us for a free, 15 minute consultation with one of the designers at Tapestry Design Studios. We’ll help you to brainstorm ideas to get the very most from your garden.