Holidays are always over far too quickly, that’s a cliché, but it is a relief to be back in temperatures below 35C (I spent two weeks in south France, in over 40C), where barbecues are an idea you don’t run away in horror from.
Are you a barbecue snob? Are you forever twiddling the gas supply knobs, wielding several supersized pairs of tongs and not allowing anyone else to flip a single burger? Or are you the reverse snob adorned in an apron saying ‘Grill and Beer It’, not happy until everybody reeks of kerosene and the neighbours rush to shut all the windows when the smoke billows towards them?
The latter usually have to wait for hours till the barbecue actually gets going so by that time everyone is half starved and fully sozzled, happy to scoff half-burnt, half-raw Tesco Value sausages. But they usually have great fun, especially kids throwing garden snails on the embers.
The former lot tend to have a tray of meticulously home-prepared kebabs, fresh prawns threaded on wooden skewers, little parcels of foil-wrapped Camembert to throw on for afters and bowls of fresh salad waiting on cloth-covered trestle tables with proper crockery.
I don’t favour either option; in fact I’m a bit of a bbq denier: it’s great fun, but you’re not there for the food. Anything can be cooked better indoors. For that reason I used to be more in favour of the shambolic, charcoal burning option but to be fair, gas has its pluses: no wait, more control, and you can still be slapdash about it if you want.
There we go: I’ve already given you some barbecue ideas above even if you’re not at all snobbish about it but want to go beyond cheap Costco burgers. Homemade kebabs of various marinated meats don’t take long to prepare and they will be nicer than anything shop-bought. Make your own burgers too: either beef or chicken. Prepare thick slices of spicy aubergine or haloumi with grilled vegetables for vegetarians.
Go Greek: lamb koftas will be welcome on the menu and so will pork gyros. Bake your own pita breads to impress the party. If you are not feeding a crowd, try something less ordinary: veal T-bone steaks or Mexican carne asada. And either way, have lots of crunchy cabbage salad to go with the meats.
Ice cream for dessert? Blueberry parfait? Or my Greek take on Eton mess? Or the absolute all time favourite, blueberry and cream sponge cake? There's more if you dive into the content pages, and new recipes will drop into your inbox if you subscribe to the newsletter. And don’t let a trivial thing like the weather put you off having a barbecue!