Last weekend, I had all my family at my house for my Mum’s 60th birthday.
I decided to go with a healthy BBQ with a bit of a gourmet twist and a few treats thrown in. Most of it was homemade, but there were a few shortcuts. Hey, a girl has to be realistic!
We decorated and catered on a budget. It was so lovely and relaxing to have it at home. Later in the night, when all the candles were on, it was magical sitting out on the deck.
My photos are not that great as I was running around like a chook with my head cut off! So, please excuse them!
I hope you enjoy the recipes. Most of these are our favourite things to eat.
First though, I will tell you a little bit about our decorations.
I had been stalking Pinterest for ages looking for some good ideas. They didn’t all come together exactly how I wanted them and I ran out of time to iron the tablecloth, but I was still happy.
Plain white tablecloths. Branches off the gum trees (was going to be hessian but Spotlight had run out!). Silver platters from the opshop topped with rocks and candles. Assorted natural looking things I already had. Loads of tealights in glass holders from Ikea. Glass vases and white flowers. Crochet doilies from the opshop. Hanging glass bubbles with tealights. Paper doilies with place names handwritten.
Now, let me tell you what we ate.
Pear, Brie and Prosciutto Forks. This is one of our favourite appetisers to eat, but we don’t eat it much anymore because of the prosciutto. It’s a rare treat and we thoroughly enjoyed it! I got the idea of putting it on forks for presentation from a Home Beautiful magazine. So this is how you do it: Cut a pear into thin slices and rub with lemon juice. Place a small wedge of brie (Jindi triple cream brie is sublime) and a small smear of Maggie Beer’s quince paste on the pear. Wrap a thin piece of prosciutto around the pear and spear onto a fork. Make as many as you need, arrange attractively on a platter and scatter with some fresh thyme.
Caprese Salad. So simple. Just layer roma tomato slices with bocconcini slices, sprinkle with fresh basil, drizzle with some good quality virgin, organic olive oil and some cracked pepper. Always make and serve at room temperature for the best flavour.
Beetroot, Lime and Apple Salad. Thermomix owners will be familiar with this one – but I change it up a bit! For those without a thermy, get a couple of fresh, peeled beetroot and a couple of green apples. Grate coarsely. Add 1/4 to 1/2 a finely chopped red onion. Add salt and pepper, good quality virgin, organic olive oil and lime juice to taste. I make this all the time. Love it.
Green Salad. I just made this one up. I wanted a green salad, but with a bit of colour. So, it’s a mix of rocket, spinach and tatsoi to which I added snow-pea sprouts, cucumber, radish slices and macadamias. We just served a simple vinaigrette with this made from apple cider vinegar, chia oil, mustard and salt and pepper.
Lemony Asparagus. Simple fresh, organic asparagus, with lots of lemon juice, salt and pepper quickly cooked on the BBQ.
Fresh prawns. You can’t be a Queenslander and not love prawns! We actually had these as an entree, in two large serving bowls on ice with some snowpea sprouts to decorate. I had warm water in finger bowls, lots of lemon wedges and two dipping sauces. Both sauces were based on my mayo recipe. To one, I added lime juice, garlic and lime zest to make lime aioli and the other I added organic tomato sauce and cayenne pepper to make a spicy thousand island sauce.
Crispy potatoes. These were going to be something more elaborate. But in the end, I just got some organic baby potatoes, tossed them in coconut oil, added pink salt and ground pepper and cooked in the oven on a high temperature for about 30 minutes. The leftovers were nice the next day, cut up cold with some of the lime aioli and tzatziki as a dressing.
Lime, Coconut and Chilli Chicken. This is a really yummy recipe I adapted from this one at taste.com.au. Blitz in your thermomix or food processor, the rind and juice of two limes, 1 green chilli, 3 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1/2 cup coriander leaves and 1/4 cup mint leaves. Rub well into 800g organic chicken thighs, cubed. Marinate 20 mins in the fridge (I don’t think you can do it for too much longer as the lime juice will ‘cook’ the chicken). Thread onto pre-soaked bamboo skewers. Cook on the BBQ 5 minutes each side. We served it with some tzatziki on the side, fresh coriander leaves and lime wedges.
Spicy Lamb Steaks. This is also a really delicious recipe. I adapted it from a cookbook I have called, Easy Mediterranean. Using 24 small lamb rump steaks, I marinated them overnight in a mix of eight crushed garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon of sweet paprika, 6 tablespoons of grapeseed oil, salt and pepper and 8 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves. I served it with a jarred vegetable relish, Ajvar (love this stuff). Everyone loved the lamb best!
Fresh Fruit Platter. What could be healthier or easier? It’s always very popular! Just select a range of seasonal fruit, find yourself a platter, cut and arrange artistically. I like to put the big pieces of fruit on the bottom (there was also pineapple hiding in there) and then add smaller pieces and then decorate with strawberries and grapes. Try to get a mix of colours for the best look.
Raw Mango Cheesecake. This was a variation of my berry cheesecake. The base was 2 cups organic almonds, 1 cup dates, 1 cup organic turkish apricots, 1/2 cup shredded coconut, 2 tspns vanilla and 2 tspns cinnamon. The filling was 3 cups organic cashews, 2 cups of chopped mango, 4 passionfruit, 1 cup coconut oil, 1/2 cup lemon juice and 3/4 cup xylitol. Please see the link for how to put it together. I took it out of the freezer a few hours before serving and topped it with some more chopped mango, passionfruit and mint leaves. It’s so yummy.
Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes. Okay, I confess, this recipe (from a Home Beautiful magazine) is not healthy. But it looked so yummy, I couldn’t resist making it for the ‘birthday cake’. My theory is that a few treats are good for the soul. I will give you the recipe because some of you on Facebook asked me for it. I used all organic ingredients, except for the champers! Cream 160g butter with 3/4 cup caster sugar. Add 3 eggs, beating after each addition. Sift 2 cups SR flour over, add 3/4 cup pink champagne and stir. Put into 24 cupcake papers (I got mine here) and bake in a moderate oven for 25-30 minutes.
Now, the original recipe called for butter icing mixed with champers, food colouring and flavouring, but I just couldn’t go that far! What I did was mix up a tub of marscapone cheese with a punnet of pureed strawberries and a good splash of the champers. Instead of cachous, I topped them with fresh strawberry halves. The little stars on wire were purchased from The Cheesecake Shop. The tower was easy to put together – you just get two plates, one smaller than the other and use an upside down bowl in between. Some fresh flowers tucked in between the cupcakes finished it off.
Okay, so that was our birthday BBQ! It was more than enough for 12 people and we had a few leftovers for lunch the next day – winner. Best of all, we all had a lovely time together as a family. We don’t often all get together in the one place, so it was pretty special.
What sort of things do you like to serve at a BBQ? Do you have big family get togethers?