Vanessa Gerbrandy is mum of two girls and a connoisseur of all things delicious and healthy. A regular contributor to our blog, Vanessa shares her ideas on traditional, children-friendly dishes you can prepare together that also make for beautiful table settings. Today, she brings us her special bbq recipes ideally suited for cooking with dad on his special day.
In Europe, this weekend we shall be celebrating Father’s Day and what better way to do so than cooking up a party in the garden. My husband is known for his delicious bbq’s so today I’m sharing some recipes we love to make together. And just as the sunny, dry weather can never be planned in Britain, the fish recipes I’ve included are just as good baked in the oven.
There is nothing better then the smell of freshly baked bread. True, it’s a slow process but it is well worth the wait. It’s always such a fun project with children and it’s equally therapeutic as you spend time kneading the dough. The results are always so satisfying and it goes so well with vegetables and meat on the fire. For our bbq we made these little white buns with wild garlic butter. These buns make a perfect first course with the smoked mackerel recipe which we’ve adapted from our days ‘braaing’ in South Africa. Traditionally, the apricot basting is used for the South African fish, snoek, but here in the UK we’ve found mackerel has a similar flavour and texture. For the main dish we loved making these salmon parcels. The girls really enjoy opening up their own packet and the smell bursting out of them is just divine.
White Bread Buns
Makes 15 small buns
Takes about 4-6 hours (including preparation time, rising and cooking)
400g strong white flour, set more aside for kneading
1 tsp dry instant yeast, from a sachet
1 tsp fine salt
300ml of lukewarm water
olive oil for greasing the bowl
Put the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and slowly pour in the water. Mix until you have formed a ball of dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Put the dough back into the bowl and very slowly pour olive oil around the sides of the bowl. This will help release the dough once it’s risen. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave to prove for 45 minutes in a warm place. (I usually make this dough on a Saturday morning with the children, take them to their dance class and return to it later in the afternoon. I find the longer you leave the dough the lighter the bread bun you get.) Once the dough has risen uncover the dough and turn out again onto a lightly floured surface. Cut into 15 small balls and place on a baking tray. We usually make a selection of buns, so for plain white buns gently brush with milk (this gives the topping lovely golden colour and a slight crunch) and if you wish, add a scattering of poppy seeds. We’ve also made little ‘focaccia’ style buns as we’ve gently pushed fresh rosemary leaves into each bun and drizzled olive oil over and sprinkled sea salt. The cooking time for both styles is the same, 220°C for 15-20 minutes.
Wild garlic butter
For those who aren’t sure what wild garlic looks like or where it grows, here’s a little guide. Wild garlic is called wood garlic because of where you’ll find it growing, in deciduous woodland and where you’ll find one plant, you will usually find masses of it together. The leaf of wild garlic is green and pointed and the flower is a pretty white head of tiny petals. You’ll be sure you know you’ve found wild garlic as you’ll be able to smell the stuff!
Makes enough for 15 bread buns.
4 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter
6 wild garlic leaves finely chopped
2 wild garlic flowers
2 good pinches of coarse sea salt
Ensure the butter is at room temperature as the ingredients will mix easier into the butter. Simply mix the chopped wild garlic leaves into the butter and add the salt. Just before serving sprinkle some wild garlic flowers over and serve with a larger flower in the centre. It looks so pretty on the table! If you can’t get a hold of wild garlic, substitute it for freshly chopped parsley and a small clove of regular garlic.
Mackerel with apricot and garlic baste
4 lightly smoked mackerel fillets
2 large cloves of smoked garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp apricot jam
Juice of a lemon
Coarse sea salt
In a small pan melt the chopped garlic and the apricot jam and mix until a liquid has formed. Add the lemon juice and season with the salt. Cut enough foil to make one large parcel for the mackerel to fit. Place all four fillets in the centre of the foil and baste with the jam mixture. Place on the bbq for 10 minutes or until the fish is firm and the jam is bubbly sticky. To oven bake cook in a 200°C oven for 15 minutes. Serve immediately with fresh bread.
Salmon Parcels with fresh herbs
Serves a family of 4
4 x Salmon Fillets or 1x salmon fillet weighing 500g
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Handful of fresh herbs (we use 2 rosemary sprigs, 1 wild garlic leaf, 6 blades of chives, a Handful of fresh parsley, 6 stems of purple radish)
salt and pepper for reasoning
(When bbq baking, we use a handful of beech smoking chips onto the fire and this gives the fish a perfect smoky flavour.)
Either make four separate packets or one large one depending on the size of salmon you use. Cut enough foil or non-stick baking paper for each piece of salmon to make a parcel. Place the salmon in the centre of the foil (skin down). Place the herbs over the salmon and drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Fold the foil over and then twist the edges to seal. Pop the parcels onto the bbq and bake for 15 mins or until the fish feels firm through the paper. To oven bake cook in a 200°C oven for 20 minutes.
Whatever the weather enjoy being together this Father’s Day helping each other cook up this feast and don’t forget to crank up the music with our fun, summery playlist.
Have a wonderful Father’s Day!
Vanessa Gerbrandy is a Mama of two girls living in Scotland and an educational consultant. Vanessa is also a regular contributor to the Babyccino Kids blog.
Follow Vanessa on instagram here #vanessagerbrandy