Category Archives: Barbecues

Chorizo Meatballs

I am not a big fan of chorizo. I like the flavour, but it always makes me feel a little ill. I think it’s the combination of cured meat and the rich spices and flavours.

I thought if I took the basic chorizo ingredients – pork, garlic, paprika – and made meatballs I’d end up with a fresher take on it. I was right. These are delicious and contain far fewer nasties than your favourite chorizo sausage. Barbecuing or grilling them is a healthier option than pan frying too.

You could serve them in many ways: as part of tapas, in a paella, in a pasta sauce, with grilled prawns and salad, or make very small ones and serve with toothpicks as finger food. I like them with fresh ingredients to balance out the richness – pureed peas or broad beans for example.

Makes about 12 meatballs.

  • 500 grams pork mince
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 teaspoons good quality smoky paprika (get some from a market or specialty food store, it will be much better than the supermarket option)
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Form into balls of your desired size and cook on a hot barbecue, turning to cook on all sides. Drain on paper towel. I like a squeeze of lemon juice over them when done.




Butterflied Chicken, Barbecued Under a Brick

I’m sneaking this one in as a bit of a last hurrah to summer, as I suspect here in Melbourne we have just a few barbecuing weekends left. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, this would be a perfect spring weekend lunch.

This is how I like to cook a whole chook on the barbecue. First, butterflying it will ensure it cooks more evenly. Then placing it under a brick helps to speed up the cooking process. It takes about 45 minutes to cook this chook, almost half the time it would take you to roast it. If you rub the chicken with garlic, lemon and thyme, by the time it comes off the barbecue you’ll have your whole neighbourhood salivating.

I like to serve this with really simple things – roast potatoes and a tomato salad, a Greek salad, or a green salad and bread. It would also be fantastic with garlic mash and salsa verde drizzled over the whole lot.

  • 1 whole free range and/or organic chook, butterflied (ask them to do this where you buy it if you’re not DIY inclined)
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • zest & juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Wash the chicken, remove any excess fat from the ends, and pat dry. Butterfly the chicken by cutting down the middle on the back side of the chicken with a pair of kitchen scissors.

Spread your butterflied chicken on a board breast side up and press down firmly to flatten it out a bit.

In a bowl, mix the thyme, garlic and lemon zest with some salt and pepper. Rub it all over both sides of the chicken. Place the chicken on a clean, oiled barbecue grill, breast side up. Place a large plate on the chicken, and a brick on top of the plate. Cover, and cook on low to medium for about 20-25 minutes each side. You should only turn the chicken once.

When chicken is cooked (juices should be clear when pricked with a skewer) remove from the barbecue and squeeze over the lemon juice. Set aside for a few minutes, covered.

Serve with salad and roast potatoes or garlic bread.

Lemongrass Chicken Skewers with Coconut and Lime Glass Noodle Salad

Here is another ideal summer dish, perfect during this heatwave as you don’t even need to turn the stove top on. The salad requires no cooking and the skewers just go on the barbecue.

These skewers are terrifically tasty and tangy, and the cold noodle salad with a hint of coconut is the perfect pairing.

You’ll need to start a few hours before you want to eat, so the chicken can marinate.  Also, if you are using bamboo and not metal skewers, it’s a good idea to soak them in water for a few hours prior to use to stop them burning on the barbecue.

You could replace the chicken with firm white fish, or green prawns, if you prefer.

Serves 4

Lemongrass Chicken Skewers

  • 2 free range/organic chicken breast fillets, diced into approx 5cm cubes
  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • about 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • about half a tablespoon grated fresh galangal (from Asian grocers and some supermarkets – you can omit this if you can’t find any)
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (use lemon juice if you can’t find any)
  • half a lime

Slice the bottoms of the lemongrass stalks and peel away the outer few layers.  Grate with a fine grater into a bowl. A microplane grater is perfect for this, and you can use it to grate the other aromatics as well.  Put all other ingredients, except the chicken, in the bowl and stir to combine with a fork.  Add the chicken and coat well. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably a few.

When ready to cook, heat and oil your barbecue plate, put about 4 or 5 pieces of chicken on each skewer, and barbecue for about five minutes on both sides, until cooked through.

Squeeze lime juice over when cooked.

Tip: invest in metal skewers if you don’t have any.  They help cook the meat from the inside as they heat up, and are more effective than bamboo (although I always keep bamboo skewers handy as they are perfect for checking whether a cake is cooked)

Glass Noodle Salad

  • 1 x 100 gram packet of glass noodles (also called rice vermicelli or bean thread noodles)
  • 2 shallots, sliced thinly
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted peanuts, pounded in a mortar and pestle
  • 2-3 tablespoons organic lite coconut cream
  • 1 teaspoon gluten free kecap manis – sweet soy sauce
  • juice of half a lime
  • a few drops of sesame oil

Reconstitute the glass noodles in a bowl of boiled water until soft. Drain. Place in a bowl, add the shallots, coriander and peanuts and toss through.  Put all the other ingredients in a jar and shake to combine, drizzle over the noodles, and toss.

Turkey Burgers

So you think burgers are off the menu if you are trying to be healthy and keep your weight down?  I refuse to accept that, especially with warm weather upon us and the barbecue crying out to be used.  Turkey mince makes a tasty and healthy burger.  You can get it at some supermarkets, or try poultry shops if you can’t find it there.

I made these at my mate Sam’s place last night and we had them with wholegrain buns, caramelised onion, rocket, avocado and tomato. Delicious!

  • 500 g turkey mince
  • 1/2 onion or 1 small onion, finely chopped (you don’t want the onion pieces too big or they won’t cook well)
  • About two tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, thyme and sage
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mixing well.   Roll into hamburger size balls.  Fire up the barbie (or heat the grill on the stove) and brush with olive oil.  Grill the burgers for about 7 minutes each side on medium-high, testing to ensure they’re cooked by pushing a knife in the middle of one and having a peek.  As with chicken, you don’t want undercooked turkey.

Lamb Burgers

All it takes to send Melburnians scuttling out of the hermetically-sealed capsules that are their homes in winter is an hour or two of warm(ish) sunshine. And so it was today, when the sun appeared, originally sporadically, but later for a glorious few hours in the afternoon, and I had my first whiff of spring.  Naturally my mind turned to barbecueing.  I don’t eat a lot of lamb, but from time to time, I enjoy these burgers especially as they are made with other Greek flavours – lemon and rosemary.

As well as having these as a traditional burger, I like to have them with cous cous, my roast vegetables – and  my yoghurt mint dressing, recipe below.

Serves 4 adults

Put the lamb mince, garlic, lemon rosemary, a dash of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl and mix thoroughly with a fork or very clean hands to combine.  Roll out four largeish burgers with wet hands, or if you’re making these for something else you can roll out a larger quantity of smaller balls.

Cook burgers on a medium-hot barbecue for about 5 minutes each side and drizzle a little of the lemon that was left over after zesting when they are cooked.

Slice the buns in half, place lettuce, tomato and cucumber on one side, a burger (sliced in half if they are not wide enough to fit properly on the bun), and top with caramelised onions and a drizzle of the yoghurt dressing.

Serve with a glass of red, or some ouzo if you have the constitution!

Stuffed Calamari

I was talking to my mate Campbel the other night, she recently moved to Darwin with her hubby Matt for work.  She’s an Adelaide/Melbourne girl and is missing winter comfort food, she told me. It was a timely reminder for me – don’t forget your northern friends and neighbours in winter!  So I thought with the imminent official arrival of winter, I’d take us right back to summer with a seafood dish that’s finished on the barbie. While this dish does sing of summer flavours and ingredients, I have to say it went down very well on a cold Melbourne night last night with a glass of red on the couch watching the footy.

This dish is incredibly tasty, and if you’ve been intimidated in the past by cooking calamari, don’t be. Its very easy.  Get your fishmonger to do the hard work of cleaning the calamari for you.

This is from Tessa Kiros’ “Twelve” book. I’vehalved the quantities and added my own touch at the end: throwing the calamari on the barbie to give them a chargrilled finish.   If you’re in warmer climes, you can do this all on the barbecue.  Just put the oven dish on the barbie, turned up to high, and close the lid for the 30 minutes of baking time, then remove the calamari and finish on the barbie as below.

  • 3 calamari with tubes about 15-20 cm long
  • 6 medium sized green prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 anchovy fillets, chopped into small pieces
  • About 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup white wine

Preheat the oven to 200 c

Ask your fishmonger to clean the calamari and separate the tubes from the tentacles, but keep the tentacles.

When you get them home, wash them well.  Discard the piece with the transparent bone, if the fishmonger has given you that as well.

Finely chop the tentacles and the prawn meat (you can pulse this in a food processor if you wish) and mix in a bowl with the breadcrumbs, garlic, anchovy and parsley.  Add some pepper, you shouldn’t need salt as the anchovies are salty enough.  Add the egg and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and mix well.

Stuff the mixture into the cleaned squid tubes with a narrow dessert spoon, and seal with a metal skewer.

Put a flameproof oven dish on the stove and heat the remaining olive oil. Fry the calamari on both sides until brown.  Add the wine and about half a cup of water and transfer to the oven.

Cook for 30 minutes and turn them over once.

Remove the skewers and brown them all over on the barbecue. Pour over any excess pan juices, and a squeeze of lemon.


This is absolutely gagging for a glass of reisling. A personal favourite is the Leeuwin Estate Art Series Reisling, which runs to about $20 at Dan’s. Lovely mineral and citrus flavours with well-balanced acid to cut through the richness of the prawns without overpowering the fresh lightness of the squid.

Another excellent and slightly cheaper option is Pewsey Vale’s Eden Valley Reisling, which can be had for less than $15. Slightly more floral than the Leeuwin, it’s also an excellent example of a minerally reisling with a lovely clean finish.

Crumbed Seafood Sticks

These are from one of my all time favourite cookbooks, Apples For Jam, by the wonderful Tessa Kiros. My sister gave me this book for my birthday a few years ago and I have loved it to death.   Everything Tessa Kiros does is beautiful and perfect, in my view. These skewers are so deliciously sensational, the first time I made them I scoffed down about five.  They are wonderful with the panzanella that you will find in my Salad section. The only thing I have changed is the addition of the lemon zest in the breadcrumbs.  Seemed a shame to waste it.

1 firm white fish fillet, weighing about 300 grams

200 grams peeled green prawns

1 small tube calamari

About 1 cup breadcrumbs

small handful of parsley, chopped

2 garlic cloves

1 lemon

Bamboo skewers, soaked in cold water for an hour

Extra virgin olive oil

If the fish fillet has any skin or bone, remove it and dice into bite sized squares. Slice the calamari into rings.  Wash the prawns and drain.  Place 2 pieces each of fish, prawns and calamari on skewers until there is no more left.

Finely chop one clove of garlic and toss it with the breadcrumbs and parsley.  Grate in some lemon zest (about half of the lemon’s zest will be fine). Coat each skewer in the breadcrumb mix and set aside.

Get your barbecue hot and very clean.  Oil it well, and have extra oil and a brush on hand.  Place the skewers on the barbecue, and cook for about 4 minutes each side, brushing with oil to stop the crumbs from sticking.  I find its best to slide them off with a spatula, rather than lifting them off with tongs and risk half the fish sticking to the barbecue.

While they are cooking, squash the remaining garlic clove a bit and put it in a jar with the juice of half the lemon you used for zesting, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Shake well, and pour over the sticks when they are cooked.

A tip about breadcrumbs: Never throw away stale white bread.  Whiz it into breadcrumbs in the food processor and freeze it. Breadcrumbs don’t need defrosting, they can be used straight from the freezer.  I try to always have breadcrumbs in the freezer because it makes dishes like this (not to mention schnitzel, meatballs, stuffing..) seem so much less of a bother when you approach them.

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