1. Recipes for Fourth of July - what an ex-pat misses

    Our resident American food blogger at Great British ChefsMonica Shaw, is from Chicago, but will be celebrating 4th July in the UK.  We asked her for some thoughts on some of the food she’d be eating in the US and some of her favourite foodie family traditions for the occasion.  She shares her Cabbage Salad recipe, often requested by her UK friends when having a barbecue & bringing back memories of Fourth of July in the US.

    Photography & blog post by Monica Shaw

    Independence Day, aka the Fourth of July, is less than a week away, and no doubt people across the United States are stocking up on American flags, fireworks and barbecue kit in ready for the celebration. Fourth of July is one of the holidays I miss most since moving from Chicago, and having chosen to settle in the UK, I find it someone ironic that I feel so nostalgic about an occasion that celebrates America’s Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776. True, the holiday may be all about patriotism, but for me it’s more about celebrating family and summertime over an epic feast and a few fireworks.

    My family has always celebrated Fourth of July with a big old barbecue and pot-luck. Looking back, I’m amused by how quintessentially American our Fourth of July parties were, and the same traditions seemed to follow year after year: Uncle Jeff cooking burgers, hot dogs and corn on the cob on the barbecue; Auntie Jo’s crock pot sloppy joes; Grandma Helen’s sherbet punch and “crown jewel” Jello mold.

    Following that comes the memory of the whole family, stuffed and bursting, lugging lawn chairs into town to watch fireworks under the stars.

    As us kids grew up, the dishes became a little more adventurous: tofu kebabs; grilled pineapple; strawberry and spinach salad. But one recipe has stood the test of time and that is my grandma’s “Oriental Cabbage Salad”, so called because its original incarnation included Ramen noodles, the instant kind you buy in a square packet.

    My grandma would add these noodles, uncooked, to the salad, and they’d absorb some of the dressing and get all soft but semi-crispy. I can’t deny that it adds a certain amount of joy to the dish, but I now leave them out as my brain has become stubbornly adverse to processed food.  Here is the recipe as I make it now: my friends always request this “cabbage salad” when I have a barbecue. For me, it’s a little bit of Fourth of July spirit here in my new home in Britain.   

    Oriental Cabbage Salad

    1/2 head cabbage, finely sliced or shredded

    4 green onions, sliced

    1 carrot, shredded

    1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

    2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

    1/4 cup of raisins

    1/3 cup olive oil

    3 Tbsp cider vinegar

    2 Tbsp sugar



    Combine the cabbage, onions, carrot, almonds, sesame seeds and raisins in a large bowl.

    Make the dressing by combining the olive oil, vinegar, sugar salt and pepper in a jar with a tight lid.  Shake really well.

    Toss the dressing with the cabbage mixture shortly before serving  (You may not need all the dressing, so pour on just enough to suit your tastes).

    Photography & blog post by Monica Shaw

    If you’re looking for recipes for Fourth of July parties, check out Great British Chefs Independence Day recipe collection.

    Which dishes would you serve at a 4th July party?  If you’re an ex pat living away from the US which dishes most remind you of Independence Day celebrations?  

  2. A Convert to BBQ Camping

    Calling all campers.  National Camping & Caravanning Week runs from 2nd to 8th June 2012. Even if you’re not taking part in this, soon we’ll have music festival season upon us with thousands taking to setting up tents and camping out for a few days.  If you don’t fancy queuing up for festival food or want something home made, Great British Chefs blogger Urvashi Roe (aka @BotanicalBaker) has some tips and recipes for barbecuing at camp sites.

    Blog post and photography by Urvashi Roe

    Camping is a new phenomenon for me.  I prefer to sleep in a bed with a duvet and preferably have easy access to very, very clean toilets. However, last year my husband eased me into the world of camping gently.  We stayed in a yurt with a proper bed and a password coded toilet block that had Molton Brown toiletries. It was rather nice.  ‘I can do this camping lark’, I thought.

    The next time we went, he packed a bucket. A regular looking metal bucket with a grille that looked suspiciously like the one from our old cooker.

    Into this he added some charcoal, lit it and in half an hour we had a lovely fire cooling off ready to cook.  He’d bought some mackerel fillets, red peppers, halloumi and prawns in the cool box along with some crusty bread and seasoning.  We ate as the sun was going down and it was a glorious meal – made even more delicious by the wonderful smells. 

    Mackerel with Lemon and Foraged Herbs

    Grilled Halloumi and Charred Red Peppers

    The best bit was that everything was eaten from the grill and all the packaging thrown in the bin so we had nothing except the bucket to store that evening in the tent. No hassle and little mess.

    Nowadays we go camping a lot. My daughters love it and although not as glamorous as the actual bed in the yurt, we have a blow up mattress and I still get my duvet! I still also get awesome BBQ food enjoyed in the beautiful, quiet countryside. 

    We’re a little more prepared packing simple food that can be eaten by hand. 

    Tomato, Watercress and Mozzarella Frittata – cooked at home and eaten cold at campsite or you can warm it up on the BBQ if it’s wrapped in foil.

    Sweet Potato Hummus and some simple soda bread – made in less that an hour in the morning or the night before. Easy to carry and quick to eat.

    A few tips for those of you inspired to have a go…

    1.       A little planning goes a long way. Sounds simple but plan your meals so you have enough to fill you up otherwise you’ll be heading out to the nearest pub for some late night grub.

    2.       Prep as much as possible at home. Again simple but do things like filleting the fish or chopping the veg at home when you’re packing.  Chopped food takes up less space and there’s no need for taking kitchen utensils.

    3.       Pack come food that doesn’t need cooking on the BBQ too. If you try and cook everything on the BBQ you’ll be waiting ages for your meal. 

    4.       Take lots of skewers and cocktail sticks.  They come in so handy for picking food up and wrapping leaves around vegetables or fish.

    5.       Check you can put your impromptu bucket in front of your tent. Some campsites need you to use a specific BBQ area or raise your BBQ bucket off the ground using bricks so as not to scorch the grass.  We usually keep two bricks in the car just in case. 

    6.       Buy local. We usually take enough food for the first couple of meals and then have a little rummage around the local farm shops.  It supports the local community and gets you out meeting new people.

    7.       Forage. As long as you follow the foraging code of conduct, there is lots of delicious free food to be had! We wrapped these Prawns in Wild Garlic Leaves. They were amazing!

    I hope I’ve tempted you to have a go! 

    Blog post and photography by Urvashi Roe 

    Let us know some of the dishes that you’ve made at camp sites or on caravanning holidays.  Which are your family and friends’ favourites?  Share your camp site cookery stories over on Great British Chefs Facebook page.

  3. Making Vineet Bhatia’s Grilled Peaches with Cardamom Panna Cotta

    It’s the last day of National Barbecue Week, and the second day of the Jubilee Weekend. True to form, the weather’s gone grim in many parts of the country for the occasion, so Great British Chefs blogger Monica Shaw  wanted to cheer herself up and at least pretend it’s summer.  Discover how she did this Vineet Bhatia's dish

    Blog post & photography by Monica Shaw

    Enter Vineet Bhatia’s recipe for Grilled Peaches with Cardamom Panna Cotta. I’d been eying this recipe for a while and it seemed like the perfect way to brighten up this Jubilee / Barbecue Week double whammy. Plus, it would be a great way to break in my new barbecue, bought last week in the spirit of the now absent sunshine.

    Grilling peaches

    I’m not usually one for desserts - I’m not into cakes or pastry or anything overly sweet. But I do like fruit, especially peaches, and I was insanely curious about how they’d be on the grill. And the panna cotta sounded like a nice, light creamy finish to offset the tang of the peaches. So I dove right in.

    Grilling peaches

    In Vineet’s recipe, the pears get “grilled” in a wok, to which he adds butter, brown sugar, crushed fennel, cardamom and lemon juice. To adapt this to the outdoor barbecue, I melted the butter with the other ingredients and let it bubble until the sugar melted. I then cut the peaches in half and put them on the hot, oiled barbecue cut-side down. After a few minutes, I turned them over, basted the tops with the sugary butter, and grilled bottom-side down until the tops were bubbling and the peaches were soft.

    Grilled peaches

    I followed the panna cotta recipe to the letter, using silicone muffin moulds to set them in. This was my first time making panna cotta and it was relatively painless. I did have to do a little external research to figure out how to get them OUT of the silicone moulds. The answer: put some boiling water in a roasting pan, then set the moulds in them for a minute or two and the panna cotta slips out easily. It’s a bit tricky to handle, though - I found it easiest to plate them with my hands.

    Grilled Peaches with Cardamom Panna Cotta

    I didn’t make the white chocolate rabdi because I’m not a massive fan of white chocolate and I wanted this to be more about the peaches than anything else. I plated the panna cotta and the peaches and added a few almonds for garnish. And then it was time for a taste.

    Grilled Peaches with Cardamom Panna Cotta

    The peaches alone are outstanding. I couldn’t resist popping a peach half into my mouth straight off the grill, despite the risk of burning my mouth. I couldn’t help it: they looked so appealing bubbling away on the barbecue. And the aroma from the cardamom and fennel was intoxicating. I can already tell these will become a regular part of my grilling repertoire - a great solution for an easy pudding, to go with a bit of ice cream, or in this case, panna cotta, which was fun to make and a fairly easy way to make a very special dessert. And together, the panna cotta and grilled peaches certainly banished the rainy day Sunday blues.

    Blog post & photography by Monica Shaw

    Have you ever tried grilling fruit?  What did you grill & what did you serve with it? What are some of your favourite desserts to cheer up a rainy day? Let us know over on Great British Chefs Facebook Page

  4. Making Josh Eggleton’s Venison Burgers

    With a long Bank Holiday and summer on the horizon, our thoughts turn to barbecues. With so many good home made burger recipes around, why should we buy them ready made from the shops?  Great British Chefs blogger Chris Osburn tried his hand at making put Josh Eggleton from The Pony & Trap's tasty venison burgers.  Let's see how he got on ….  

    Blog post & photography by Chris Osburn 

    Aside from the joy of eating something yummy that I actually cooked from scratch myself, there were a couple of aspects about Josh Eggleton’s homemade venison burger recipe that I really liked. 


    One, the recipe showed how quick and easy it is to make my own pickled cucumbers. I always reckoned it was a pretty basic process but also assumed it would be time consuming and that I’d have to wait aeons before getting to eat my ‘tanged’ up cucumbers. Well, yes there certainly are those types of pickling recipes out there. But the essentially two-step pickling instructions Josh lays out for his burger take hardly any time at all and can be done very easily while going about completing the rest of this simple recipe.


    I was pleased with the results of my having a go at the pickles alone and continued nibbling on them for quite awhile after frying up the burgers. I’m all about DIY pickles now and hope to find a chance soon to ferment all sorts of other things. I’ll probably even try one of those ‘wait aeons’ recipes. Yay.


    The other thing I thought was so cool about making these burgers was that they had a robust and intriguing flavour. The minced bacon, the cumin, lots of coriander and parsley made for a bit of an exotic blend and gave the meat patties some flair without masking what makes venison so tasty.

    I’d recommend trying these burgers or your own variant of them at your next barbecue. But don’t tell anybody they’re venison. I think it would be fun to see what people think they’re eating and if anyone could guess it was venison upon first bite. I’m sure all would agree these are a lot more interesting than the everyday ordinary beef burgers we’ve all become accustomed to.

    As simple and delicious as these burgers are to make, there are a few things to consider before deciding to serve them. Obviously, venison isn’t something you can easily find to the same extent as beef. Make sure you know where to get yours well ahead of time. I had to scramble to find venison when what I thought was a reliable source fell through.


    Also, the recipe calls for four slices of streaky bacon, minced. Unless you’ve got your own mincer this might prove difficult to come up with. I simply diced my bacon into tiny chunks and was more than pleased with the texture and flavour it added to the burgers.


    One hundred grams of parsley and another hundred of coriander seemed like a lot to add to the recipe’s 720 grams of meat. It ended up tasting absolutely wonderful, but I found it a little challenging to form the sort of patties I’d hoped for without much green sticking out of them. Practice makes perfect I suppose … and this means more opportunities to eat these gorgeous burgers.

    Will I make these bad boys again? Oh yes. And I’m definitely taking my own advice and doing up some patties next time there’s a barbecue to attend. 

    Blog post & photography by Chris Osburn

    Have you made your own burgers?  What are some of your favourite ingredients and seasonings to add to them? Let us know over on Great British Chefs Facebook page.

  5. Chermoula marinated leg of lamb for BBQ Week

    Continuing our celebrations of  National Barbecue Week.  It’s a fact that not all of us have great rolling lawns and huge gardens to have barbecues in.  However that doesn’t need to stop you from having a BBQ.  Victoria Glass - new guest blogger to Great British Chefs shows how you can still cook delicious barbecued food in a flat.  She was rather inventive with her outside space though…..

    Blog post and photography by Victoria Glass - @victoria_glass

    Let’s be honest, barbecuing is a bit of a boys’ club. Maybe it’s got something to do with all the fire and all the meat, but barbecues conjure images of big, sweaty men, swigging from beer cans while prodding hot coals. Drawn, blinking, out of their homes by the promise of sausages they come, like hairy moths to a smoking flame.

    When I was growing up in the 1980’s, my mum did the majority of the cooking. This wasn’t down to any beliefs in following archaic gender roles - she was just better at it than my dad and had more of an active interest. But there was something about a hot summer’s day and a cloudless sky that would interrupt this status quo. On days like these, a man - whose usual culinary forays were rarely more adventurous than heating up a tin of beans - would wield a giant pair of tongs. And these tongs would turn him into Keith Floyd

    As a child, I thought barbecues were fun, but ultimately just burnt food eaten outdoors, with the soundtrack of occasional yells of “can someone tell me what colour this is, please?” My dad is colour-blind, so the different nuances in hue between a cooked and a raw chicken thigh are largely beyond him. Luckily, he’s improved in the years since and, though he’s still no Gordon Ramsay, he can cook a decent kebab and good banger, and it’s been several years since he last set fire to a tree.

    I know that my own childhood experiences don’t necessarily represent society at large. If they did, we would have a lot fewer trees. But I don’t think they are that unusual either. I’m not for an instant saying that men should step away from the barbie, I just wonder why more women don’t roll their sleeves up and get a little closer to the smoke too.

    Which is exactly what I did over the weekend. A weekend barbecue, you say? How lovely! How relaxing! Except for the fact that I live in a third floor flat with no garden. But this trifling fact wasn’t enough to stop me. Especially not in weather like this, which cries for meat and something cold and fizzy to wash it down with. I skipped down to Argos for a portable coal barbecue and proceeded to light it on the fire escape: strictly forbidden!

    This might not be the most suitable of arrangements, but at least it’s tree-free out there. The barbecue itself is, in truth, a bit poxy. The coals were poking through the grill because it was too small to fit them in properly, but it got the job done, even if it wasn’t quite perfectly. 

    I butterflied a boned half leg of lamb (this was dinner for two), stabbed it all over and bunged it in an overnight chermoula marinade with the added ingredient of fresh mint. I am a Brit after all, and when my thoughts turn to lamb, mint often follows. The lamb was pink and succulent on the inside with a perfectly charred crust on the outside.


    I parboiled some Jersey Royals and plunged them in ice water, before dousing them in oil, salt, pepper and more chopped mint. I threaded them on kebab skewers while the lamb was lying over the coals. I do love a spud, but there’s something extra special about a spud that’s been barbecued, so full of smoky, crispy, moreish goodness.

    I rustled up a simple salad of pea shoots, spring onion and courgette ribbons tossed in a lemon-y dressing to serve alongside it.

    The fear of a twitching-curtained neighbour calling the fire brigade on us was completely worth it. The lamb was so good, I wish I’d cooked a whole leg. So, man, woman or fish, there’s really no excuse not to fire up those coals for this fragrant and spicy delight, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a garden and a full sized barbecue to boot.

    Chermoula marinated leg of lamb

    ½ a leg of lamb, boned and all the sinew trimmed off (you can ask your butcher to do this for you)

    1-2 shallots, finely chopped

    2-3 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

    4 cloves of garlic, crushed

    A finger of ginger, peeled and grated

    The zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons

    1 tsp smoked paprika

    2 tsp ground coriander

    1 tsp ground cumin

    1 tsp turmeric

    A generous scattering of cumin seeds

    Salt and pepper

    A bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

    A bunch of coriander, finely chopped

    A bunch of mint, finely chopped

    A generous glug of olive oil

    Mix all the marinade ingredients in a dish and add the lamb, rubbing the marinade right into the flesh.

    Make sure the lamb is well coated on both sides, cover it and pop it in the fridge for at least 4 hours. The marinade is also delicious with chicken or fish.

    Before cooking the lamb, push a couple of skewers through the meat to stop it curling up on the barbecue and to help conduct the heat in the centre.

    When you’re ready to cook, place it fat down on the grill for 5 – 8 minutes before turning it. The meat should be slightly charred and brown, but not black.

    Leave the lamb to cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of your meat and how pink you like it.

    Leave the lamb to rest, tented in foil, while you barbecue your Jersey Royal kebabs, turning them every couple of minutes until temptingly brown.

    Blog post and photography by Victoria Glass - @victoria_glass

    Are you planning a BBQ for the weekend?  Let us know where you’re having it and what you’re cooking.  Send in some photos (add to our Flickr Group or send to social@greatbritishchefs.com and we’ll feature our favourites.  Thanks.

  6. Onglet Steak with Herbs by Tom Hunt

    Planning your first barbecue of the year?  You’re luck as it’s National Butchers’  Week so many butchers will be well positioned to show off their best cuts of meat.  However eco chef Tom Hunt, wanted to seek out some steak for his barbecue and wanted to use the less well known cut - Onglet. Find out how it wasn’t so easy to find.  All was well in the end and Tom kindly shared his recipe  for Great British Chefs readers here……

    Onglet steak with herbs

    Photography and blog post by Tom Hunt

    If you like your steak tender, packed full of flavour and still Mooing then forget fillet, onglet is much cheaper and has three times the flavour.

    I advise that you drop whatever you are doing, and track down a good butcher that stocks this desirable cut, go and light the barbecue now while the sun is out. I would bet that this steak will be your new favourite.

    Onglet or hanger steak is a little known cut of beef, that has been savoured in France for years.

    It is often ignored by chefs in the UK and left for the butchers pocket. I was shocked to find out that it gets thrown into the mincer for pasties, barmy! It seems that even some of our butchers are clueless about the identity and location of this marvelous cut. The first butcher I went to, tried to sell me a skirt steak, and said that it was best cooked well done.

    Onglet has a loose grain, that is very tender but only if it’s served rare. If you like your steak well done, then it would best to braise the cut for a long time.

    Waste not: Onglet has a tendon that runs through the centre which is hard to remove. If you are unsure how to prepare it, ask your butcher to trim it for you. Save the trimmings to render down into dripping.

    Ingredients - Serves 4

    1 onglet, trimmed and cut into four

    Herbs, I used marjoram but all herbs are delicious served with beef

    Salt, pepper

    Olive oil


    Marinade the meat 1 hour before you would like to eat it. Grab a liberal bunch of herbs, bruise them with your hands and rip them up. Season the meat heavily with the salt, pepper and herbs and drizzle with olive oil. Rub into the meat, and leave at room temperature.

    Light your barbecue.

    When the coals are white and searingly hot, and all your accompaniments are ready, place your steaks on the griddle. Sear each side for 2 minutes at the most. Then transfer your steaks to a warm plate to rest for 4. Serve. When eating the steak cut across the grain to ensure that it is at its most tender.

    What are your favourite cuts of meat for barbecues?   What do you like to serve with them. We’re asking this over on Great British Chefs’ Facebook page.

  7. Beer Can Chicken by Kathi Brandt

    Beer Can Chicken by BBQ Junkie
    Photo Credit: BBQ Junkie

    Over on Facebook we were discussing what food to have for a BBQ.  Ollie, our CEO, was talking to us about “Beer Can Chicken” over a team lunch on Monday and many of us thought he was making the concept up!  Mentioning this on Facebook, it turned out that Kathi Brandt also loves Beer Can Chicken.  So much so, that she took the time to send in & share her wonderful recipe for barbecued chicken using cans of beer.  Beer, in cans, and chicken!  What could be more amazing?

    Beer Can Chicken by Kathi Brandt

    Things you will need:

    12oz can of beer of your liking

    3lb Chicken

    2 cloves of garlic minced

    2 green onions sliced

    1tsp liquid smoke (optional - I really like it, when cooking in the oven)

    For the Rub

    Dash cayenne pepper

    1/2 tsp. garlic powder

    1/2 tsp. oregano

    1/2 tsp. black pepper

    3/4 tsp. kosher salt

    1 tsp. chili powder

    1/2 tbs. paprika

    1/2 tbs. brown sugar


    1. Open beer can & drink half :) (we like this bit)

    2. Preheat conventional oven to 375*F or a convection oven to 325*F

    If using the grill, grill indirectly over medium heat (approx. 350*F)

    3. Combine the seasonings and sugar to make the rub and set aside

    4. Clean out bird, removing excess fat. Rinse and dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle several teaspoons inside the cavity of the bird. Rub another Tbs. or more if needed on the outside skin.

    5. Remove the pull-tab from the beer can and open another large hole with a church key. Pour the remaining rub into the can. Add the garlic and onions and liquid smoke.

    6. Slide the beer can up into the chicken body cavity, keeping the body upright. Pull the chicken’s legs forward until it can stand on its own two feet (plus the can) Tuck the wing tips of the wings behind the chicken’s back.

    7. Stand the chicken up in a foil lined pie dish, in the oven. Cook until brown and cooked through, about 1 hour in a convection oven at 325*F or 1 1/2 hours in a conventional oven at 375*F. Using a thermometer make sure the legs and thighs have reached 165*F.

    Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes. Carefully slide the chicken off the can (extremely hot) and serve.

    8. If grilling outdoors, put the bird and can directly on the heated grill. Heat the grill on high until it smokes then turn down to Medium heat. Use a drip pan under the bird. Cover with lid, being very careful not to knock over the bird. Let cook until crispy and dark brown. Approx 1 1/2 hours.

    We have a little stand that helps to stabilize the bird and helps greatly. I have included a link to a company there in the UK that sells them. 

    Kathi thank you so much for sharing your fantastic recipe with us.  It’s certainly one we will be giving a try back at GBC soon - so look out for it on our Great British Chefs Team Lunches Flickr Group or on Facebook.