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Summer Arrives!

      Summer has arrived with a bit of a heatwave and we've been enjoying BBQs with our Aldi Pizza oven and some Irish lump wood charcoal from The Irish Artisan Charcoal Company
      I have to admit we got both of these as gifts, my husband Tom who is connected with Aldi on the wine side was given the Pizza oven to test and due to a modicum of interaction and retweeting with Colin on Twitter he very kindly gave me a bag of charcoal at Litfest.ie in May.


      I put the oven together, it was relatively easy and when I looked at it I felt it was a bit low so I put it up on two cavity blocks, much better for our backs.

The cat inspecting the new addition!

        Now what to cook? First up some mini pizzas on the pizza stone, these will need a bit of practice as we got the bottoms to be crispy bit there wasn't much browning on top, but we will persevere. Then we removed the pizza stone and BBQed some free range pork chops and roast peppers, much more successful. The next night we spatchcocked a chicken and seasoned it with the Bharat spice mix below, this was a great success and it was as good cold for lunch next day.

         We had, well Tom had used different fuels apart from the charcoal the first night. He'd had some trouble getting the charcoal started, but Colin came up with a good tip, dip strips of the paper bag the charcoal came in in vegetable oil and add that to the kindling. With the last of our charcoal we cooked these burgers and an aubergine for a tasty supper on a warm evening. 

BBQ, burgers and aubergine slices.

Spicy Lamb Burgers

This recipe is one I have developed for the Summer cooking camps I do at Brennan's in Cork, it makes 6 small burgers and while it has spice it doesn't have heat, feel free to add chilli if you like things hot.

500g minced lamb
1 clove of garlic
1 small onion
2tsp baharat spice mix
1tbsp pinenuts 
1tsp salt
1tbsp olive oil

      Place the minced lamb in a bowl.
Peel the garlic and the onion and grate them. 
Add the grated garlic and onion and then the spices, pine nuts and salt.
Mix well and divide the mixture into six, shape each sixth into a burger and leave to rest on plate.
Brush the top of the burgers with oil.
Heat the grill for 5-10 minutes and then grill the burgers for 4-5 minutes on one side and turn them over and brush the other side with oil and for another 4 minutes.
Make sure they are cooked through and serve.

      These are even nicer cooked on a BBQ, timings will vary depending on the heat of your BBQ. A great accompaniment is aubergine cut into 2cm thick slices and brushed with oil and grilled on each side with the burgers.

The spices

Baharat spice mix

1tsp black peppercorns
1tsp coriander seed
2cm cinnamon stick
½tsp cloves
2 allspice berries
2 tsp cumin seeds
1tsp green cardamom pods
½tsp grated nutmeg 

      Put all the spices in a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle and grind to a powder.
Store in an airtight container for up to 8 weeks. Makes about 6 teaspoonfuls.
This is based on a recipe from "Jerusalem" by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi 

With tzatziki and salad.

Beetroot Tzatziki

Depending on the beetroot this can taste quite sweet.

1 small cooked beetroot
¼ of a cucumber
½ a shallot
1 small clove of garlic
12 mint leaves
¼ of a lemon 
salt & pepper 
125g thick yogurt

      Grate the beetroot onto a plate. 
Cut the piece of cucumber in half and scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon, grate the flesh onto the plate.
Peel and finely chop the shallot and the garlic and add to the beetroot and cucumber.
Roll the mint leaves up and very finely slice them across the roll, add to the plate.
Season the vegetables on the plate with the lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Put the yoghurt into a bowl and add the vegetables stir to mix well.

Taste and add more seasoning if you think it needs some.

Evening light!
Let us hope the good weather continues, it sure puts everyone in better form! 

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