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Sunday, March 20, 2011

So you wanna throw a barbecue...

This just in: winter is over.  Time to dust off the ‘cue for another summer of outdoor fun. 

Look how much Auntie Helen is having at my barbecue.  You too could be this happy!
“But how?” you may ask.  Well, keep on reading because I am going to tell you how to throw the perfect barbecue in 5 easy steps. The key to this party is its simplicity.  Close your eyes and imagine you are at a barbecue.  What are you eating? I bet its not grilled mahi-mahi with a pineapple salsa.  It’s hamburgers and hotdogs, right?  I have said it before and I will say it again, the food at any party should compliment the party, not be at the centre of it. (I’ve actually never said that before but it is true.)

So if food is the co-star, who is the main character? You! Your friends, family and fans (in my case) are there to spend time with you and not the empty space you should be occupying.  Why else do you think it is that at every party, your guests end up in the kitchen asking how they can help. 

This menu will ensure that you get to spend the whole party with your guests with just enough token jobs for them to feel like they “helped”.  You will not be cooking much, but enough to make you look good.  Really good.

The Menu
Hamburgers and hot dogs (this one couldn’t have been a surprise.)
Salad
Coleslaw
Asparagus (you could substitute green beans)
Guacamole, Salsa, and tortilla chips
Veggies and dip
Dessert & wine (let your guests bring it…they always ask “what can I bring?” So why not?  It will make them feel good and its less work for you)

The Shopping List
Note #1: The following is for 4 guests; you'll need to draw on what you learned in grade 7 fractions to figure out how much you'll need for your party.
Note #2: try to purchase local, organic products whenever possible.  Or better yet, try to grow some of your own.  Then you will really be a rock star!
1.     4 each of hamburgers, hot dogs, and buns for each
2.     2 cups of lettuce salad greens per person
3.     fresh herbs: dill, parsley, chives.
4.    Garlic
5.    Large container of plain Greek yogurt.  (If you can’t find Greek, drain plain yogurt)
7.     Arugula
8.     Lemon
9.     Coleslaw mix & the smallest container possible of creamy coleslaw from the deli or another good source.
11 Asparagus
12  2 avocados
13  Fresh salsa
14  Tortilla chips
15  A beefsteak tomato and red onion for garnish
16  Slices of good quality cheddar and Swiss cheese
17  Assorted veggies: people like sugar snap peas, carrots, celery, cucumber, different coloured peppers, and cauliflower. 

DO NOT buy disposable plates and cutlery.  
Show your guest that you love them AND the environment and use the real stuff.

1.   Step 1: Cook (sort of):
Guacamole:
Homemade guacamole
The chunks and lack of chemicals tell you guests you love them.
In a bowl, mash up the avocados and mix with 2 tbsp of the salsa, a handful of chopped arugula and about a tbsp of finely chopped chives. Season with salt to taste.

Asparagus:
This is what your asparagus should look like before going on the grill.
Snap the hard end off the asparagus, wash and dry well.  Put on a piece of tin foil with the sides rolled up a little.  Pour on 1 tbsp oil, 2 cloves of garlic, salt & pepper & roll the asparagus back and forth until evenly distributed. This will be grilled right on the tin foil when you BBQ the meat.

My version of Green Goddess dip:
In a food processor, blend the following: 1 cup Greek yogurt, ½ cup light mayo, ¼ cup each chives and dill, ½ cup arugula, juice and zest of ½ a lemon.  Season with s & p to taste.

Step 2: Prepare:
I am not going to go into detail here because if you don’t know how to do these things on your own, then you really need my help.  Let me know…
·      The buns in a basket
·      A plate for the cheeses
·      A plate for the burger garnishes: tomato, onion, and lettuce
·      The veggies and dip
·      A platter with the raw meat
·      The salad: mix the greens with some of the chopped herbs along with your favorite dressing
·      The salsa, guac., and chips
·      The coleslaw: combine the coleslaw mix with the prepared coleslaw.

Step 3: Have on deck:
·      Ketchup, mustard, etc
·      A clean plate for the cooked meat
·      Napkins, plates, cutlery, etc... for both dinner and dessert
·      Assorted drinks


Step 4: Let's eat!
                          Have your guests help you carry everything outside (their job is done!), have your (fill in the blank) cook the meat and asparagus, sit back, relax, and enjoy the best BBQ ever! 
My partner in barbecue (and life).

5.      Step 5: Let's eat some more!
      After dinner, satisfy your guests offers of help by having them bring their dinner plates in and the dessert and dessert plates out.  Make sure you go back to your guests, too; those dishes can wait ‘till later.

Ta da!  See how easy that is?  You can thank me by inviting me over for a barbecue!

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