Although, living in Scotland, I no longer celebrate the 4th of July as such – it’s often a work day – it is fun to mark it with some kind of barbecue. If the weather plays ball that is. And so far so good on that score, if you don’t mind it a shade on the cool and breezy side. I know the 4th of July isn’t *just* about barbecues. There’s the whole ‘we are free from the Brits’ thing as well. Not really something that I can celebrate too enthusiastically under the circumstances.
But barbecueing I CAN do. But for the small matter of being on a plane to London I would be making this, as well as perhaps my grilled miso-butter corn and tofu and this slaw. There are loads and loads of great vegetarian and vegan barbeque ideas on the Internet, so I may be shouting in the wind a bit here, but I do think this one is quite good. I worked really hard on the marinade, tweaking and testing until I have it the way I want it: fragrant, complex, with a background smokiness from the unorthodox addition of chipotle chili. And crucially, I have it so that you will hopefully want to try it too. And did I mention that it is very quick and easy?
The heat in the marinade is completely adjustable. In fact, for Miss R’s exam-delayed birthday bash I did the marinade with no chilli whatsoever. This was probably not technically a jerk though, as jerks seem to require a modicum of fire, and that’s putting it mildly (ha ha). But it did have the other two must-haves: allspice and thyme.
For the party I made up these paneer and vegetable kebabs, as well as marinating boned chicken thigh pieces and baking them for half an hour at 180C. There was thankfully not a scrap of either leftover so I took that as a thumbs-up. But poor Miss R likes her food spicy so this was undoubtedly a great sacrifice for her (she probs doused hers in hot sauce when no one was looking). And there was only a scoop of leftover mac and cheese, which I did with a simple cheese sauce enhanced with nutmeg, Dijon mustard and turmeric. It is the forlorn and quite refrigerated lump you see on the plate! I hadn’t realised how rubbish that looked at the time of photographing… Anyway, I had enquired if I could put in a layer of cooked kale, but I was rightly rebuffed. Sometimes I am a bit *too* enthusiastic about the old plant foods. A daughter’s 17th is not the time to inflict kale on the unsuspecting. But I did inflict a bit of Mom-dancing before being escorted off the premises by a wiser and less embarrassing Mr A. She would’ve probably rather had the kale.
Have you ever embarrassed your children? Was it accidental, or a teeny bit on purpose? Do confess. I can’t be the only making some awful 80s shapes on the dance floor.
This Week in 2011: Courgette, Lemon and Elderflower Cake (not great images but it is really tasty)
This Week in 2012: Summer Berries Crumble Tart (this is a lot prettier than above)
Miss R’s Track of the Week:Gabrielle Aplin – Home (Acoustic)
Adjust this marinade to your liking – more heat (!), less, or no heat. This recipe make enough for two recipes of paneer and vegetable kebabs, or use the whole recipe for a half kilo (1 lb) of diced chicken thighs. It freezes beautifully and defrosts quickly, so no excuses for using shop-bought marinade.
Good ‘three-finger’ pinch of salt
*please use rubber gloves if you have them, or be incredibly careful.
a couple of shakes of garlic powder
*please use firm tofu or even boned chicken thighs if you wish, taking special care to ensure the chicken is thoroughly cooked, and juices run clear.
1. Toss the cubed paneer with the marinade and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour; overnight is fine.
2. Half and hour before you are ready to cook, soak the skewers in water. This prevents them from catching fire when on the grill. Also, go ahead and mix the oil and garlic powder in a small bowl.
3. When you are ready to cook, thread the paneer and vegetables onto the skewers, then paint the garlic oil over all.
4. Place over prepared ashy coals, or onto a hot griddle pan. The timing depends on your cooking method and the heat you have, so watch the kebabs. Turn carefully for even grilling, taking care not to scorch.
Serves 3-4 with sides (see below for pineapple salsa; pictured also with mac and cheese)
Pineapple and Mango Salsa
Chopped red chilli, optional
Toss together and serve immediately. This is very refreshing and goes well with all picnic, grilled and barbecued foods as well as in wraps. Add some cooked prawns or raw nuts for a protein-packed salad.
I am sending this over to Javelin Warrior’s Cookin’ w/ Luv Made With Love Mondays, as it is most definitely from-scratch and made with love. And it is very easy too. Which means I love it. More time for Mom-dancing!