Monday
Jul042011

Our Favourite BBQs

Rio Stone BBQ - Masonry BarbecueSummer wouldn’t be the same without a good old British BBQ; they’re the talking point of many summer weekends and can sometimes be the subject for light rivalry between neighbours. Some believe it’s all about the way you cook your food that makes a barbecue; some prefer a gas BBQ, others a charcoal.

However, at Notcutts we believe they are all as good as each other and are proud to offer our customers a fantastic range of all types of barbecue, as well as all the accessories from barbecue covers to tableware.

It can be tricky to choose the right barbecue for you. So to make life a little bit easier, we have selected our favourite BBQs that we think will impress your guests and have you cooking some mouth watering dishes.

Gas Barbecue

Salsa 3 burner Gas BBQ – Medium sized and impressively built, this barbecue not only offers three burners, a griddle plate and a stainless steel hood, for the time being it’s half price! This spectacular gas BBQ is now only £249.99 or just £224.99 for Sage members.

Why not take a look at our full range of gas barbecues to see what else we have available for you?

Charcoal Barbecue

Weber One Touch Original Charcoal BBQ – This classic charcoal barbecue is manufactured by the well respected brand Webber and operates a very clever system. Webber’s patented one touch cleaning system opens all three vents, which gives you control over the temperatures inside the barbecue and ensures easy cleaning as it catches the ashes onto a removable plate.

Not the right barbecue for you? Why not view our full range of charcoal barbecues?

Masonry Barbecue

Tuscan Stone BBQ - If you’re looking to make your BBQ a focal point in the garden, this is the perfect barbecue to have. Not only is the Tuscan Stone barbecue aesthetically pleasing, it also produces mouth watering food. You can even customise it so it fits in with the rest of your garden furniture. Simply paint the exterior to match your garden and you’re ready to get your barbecue season going.

There is a great range of masonry barbecues for you to view that can cater for most requirements and budgets.

Notcutts

Saturday
Jul022011

Barbecue Recipes

bbq recipesTo help your summer sparkle we have brought together some brilliant BBQ recipes from across the world. Ditch the dull supermarket bought sausages and burgers and instead throw some locally sourced fresh fish, home-grown vegetables and even fruit onto the grill. With these fantastic recipes you can be outside and enjoying the sunshine quicker than you can say ‘barbecue’.

BBQ Fish recipes

Why not find out how flavoursome fish can be when you put it on the barbie with these recipes? They’re simple, but will always make an impact when served onto the table.

Salmon with soy and brown sugar marinade

Ingredients

1 tbsp lemon zest                                     1 tbsp garlic (finely chopped)

Freshly ground black pepper                      5 tbsp soy sauce

4 tbsp dark brown soft sugar                     5 tbsp water

4 tbsp vegetable oil 700g                           Salmon fillets

Method

  1. Mix all of the ingredients listed above (apart from the salmon) together in a bowl until sugar is dissolved.
  2.  Place the fish in a large resealable plastic bag, along with the marinade and seal. Make sure the marinade is covered on both sides of the salmon.
  3.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours until ready to BBQ.

Stuffed Red Snapper

Ingredients

3 tbsp butter                                               5 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs

1 spring onion (chopped)                             1/8 tsp salt

1 stalk celery (diced)                                   1 clove garlic (finely chopped)

110g cooked prawns                                    110g cooked crab meat

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley                        Fillet red snapper

1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper       

Method

  1. When making the stuffing, melt 2 tbsp of butter in a frying pan and then add the breadcrumbs. Sauté and stir the mixture over medium to high heat until the breadcrumbs are browned and put into a mixing bowl.
  2. Melt the rest of the butter in the frying pan and sauté the spring onion, celery and garlic until tender.
  3. Add them to the mixing bowl with the breadcrumbs and add the prawns, crab, parsley, salt and pepper. Toss gently.
  4. On a cutting board lay foil on the surface area and place the fillets of red snapper on top. Mould the stuffing on top of the fillets and curl up the edges of the foil.

Indian spiced sea food (Medium-hot)

Ingredients

Fish of choice (whole)                    1 tbsp red chilli powder

1 tsp garlic paste                           1 tsp ginger paste

1 tsp black pepper powder             1 tsp chaat masala powder

1/2 tsp gram masala powder          1 tbsp white vinegar

1 tbsp soy sauce                            1 tbsp lemon juice

Salt to taste                                   2 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. Wash the fish and remove the fins, leaving the tail and head intact and score the fish to the bone three times.
  2. Apply the ginger and garlic pastes between the fish cuts and leave to marinate for 10-12 minutes.
  3. Whilst you’re leaving the fish to marinate, mix the rest of the ingredients (apart from the olive oil) together in a mixing bowl.
  4. Now apply the rest of the spices to the cuts you previously made to your fish and leave to marinade, again for another 10-12 minutes.
  5. Before cooking rub olive oil over your fish.

Barbecuing Vegetables and Fruit

When you grill vegetables on a barbecue the flavour intensifies as the moisture evaporates and the sugars become condensed. Vegetables should be grilled on a medium heat until it has grill marks and is tender when pierced with a knife. The amount of time a vegetable takes to cook depends on the size and how it’s been prepared.

When it comes to fruit, you should wait until the coals begin to die out. It’s important to know that soft fruits such as bananas and plums just need to be heated and not cooked and benefit from having their skins still on as this prevents them becoming mushy. With hard fruits a great tip is to brush them with butter to prevent them from sticking to the grill. Again the time it takes to cook them relies heavily on the size and how it’s been prepared.

TOP TIP: Due to many fruits having a high level of water it’s a good idea to let them cool for a while, otherwise the fruit may cause serious burns to the mouth.

Cooking Techniques

When cooking fish people tend to wrap their fish in foil to help capture all the flavours and prevent the fish being burnt. However, there is another way that keeps your fish moist and makes for an interesting barbecue display – this technique is called Plank Cooking.

Plank Cooking

  1. Ensure you have a good set of wood planks (these tend to be cedar or alder) and give them a good wash.
  2. Before you use them lug some olive oil in the hollowed out areas to stop them from cracking and soak them for at least 30 minutes.
  3. When your barbecues reaches roughly 180°C (350°F) place the planks in and leave for 10 minutes so they can warm up.
  4. When your planks are warm remove them using tongs, place your fish and return to the BBQ to cook for roughly 15 minutes, depending on size.

Notcutts

Wednesday
Jun292011

In the Garden

in the garden in juneThe weather over the past few months has been splendid and I have been enjoying some wonderful weekends in the garden. Not only have I been tidying up borders and mowing the lawn, I have been entertaining family and friends by serving up, if I do say so myself, my best barbecue dishes. I think I have truly surpassed my barbecuing techniques (I might be blowing my own trumpet now), but I’m very proud of myself.

However, as the early flowering perennials have begun to stop flowering I’m going to be spending my time pruning them back to the base and hope I get a second round of flowering. With the spring starting to turn into the summer season, I can now begin to fill my borders with some summer plants that will really bring a burst of colour into the garden. I’m really looking forward to getting my clematis, pansies, marigolds and busy lizzies planted up as I’m sure they’re going to look magnificent.

Mrs McGregor’s roses are wonderfully trained up to the trellis, but to encourage further blooms I will deadhead a few of them and try not to go overboard. I will have to keep a watchful eye on them as during this time of year roses are prone to insects and diseases. Luckily there are no signs yet, but if you have noticed anything make sure you act quickly and treat them with a fungicide or systemic insecticide.

Other Gardening Jobs on My To-Do List

  • ·         Feed fuchsias weekly to encourage growth and flowering
  • ·         Continue to weed (my favourite job of all)
  • ·         Prune forsythia, weigla, philadephus and pieris
  • ·         Dig up and divide primulas

There is a lot to do in the garden this month and if the weather continues like this Mrs McGregor is sure to have a challenge getting me to come inside.

With my to-do list complete, I better hop to it!

Mr McGregor

Friday
Jun242011

June Deadheading and the Snail Stomp

June has arrived, as has the plentiful rain that I’ve been missing all spring. Whilst I was busily watering things like fury as young seedlings struggled to cope with the parched earth, the arrival of British summertime and tennis season spelled almost certainty for the country to be drenched in rain. This bountiful goodness is saving time in the garden in terms of watering, and it is also making foliage thrive and weed’s run riot…not to mention bringing those pesky slugs and snails out of their hiding places.

At this time of year, after the beautiful spring flowers such as Oriental poppies, foxgloves and peonies have faded, it’s important to set about deadheading in the garden to keep as much colour as possible. A plant’s natural biology makes it want to reproduce, hence creating flowers and setting seed. Therefore, if you remove as many faded flowers as you can, you’ll encourage many plants to create more and more buds to last the season. Whilst previous guides advised for roses to be cut back by two or three leaf nodes, it is now widely believed best to simply snap hips off at the stem base, and you’ll find this very easy to do. This allows as many leaves as possible to stay on a plant, allowing more photosynthesis and hopefully more flowers. Meanwhile, beautiful plants such as osteospermum can have their flower stems cut right back to the base, whilst bedding plants including geraniums should have each entire flower head and stem removed. Meanwhile, as you’re cutting back foxgloves don’t be too quick to pull entire plants up as, whilst biennial, you’ll find in many cases that plants will continue to grow.

When it comes to those molluscs, I’m not one to use chemicals and like to do everything as organically as possible. I’ve got into the habit of the nightly snail stomp and, as I go down to shut the chicken coop up for the night, I crush a few snails on the way. Slugs and snails seem to have a strange taste for their own, and if you leave a few crushed snails around you’ll find gatherings of pests on following nights. I simply use a large empty fabric softener bottle to collect them night after night before throwing the entire bottle away when it’s full.

Though the rain may be dampening summer a little, at least it’s making the garden thrive. And if you take care to keep the snails at bay and your flowers blooming, you’ll have beauty for months to come.

 

This post was written by Geoff Wakeling, author of the popular gardening blog; The Guide to Gay Gardening

Wednesday
Jun222011

Veg Of The Month

wimbledon strawberriesAs it’s June, the month of Wimbledon, my Veg of the Month has to go to the Great British strawberry, which technically means I should change the title of this blog to ‘My Fruit of the Month’. No Wimbledon tournament would be complete without a bowl of sweet and juicy Wimbledon strawberries finished with a lashing of double cream.

If you’re already growing your Wimbledon strawberries, you can begin to give them a weekly feed once they’ve produced fruit. I have found the tomato feed, Tomorite works wonders. It’s too late to sow your strawberry seeds now, but you’re just in time to plant some strawberry plants for an almost instant crop.  There are a few points you need to bear in mind when planting; the preferred condition, position and care.

Position

-          You need to plant your strawberries in a sunny, yet sheltered position.

Condition

-          Strawberries love a well-drained and thoroughly dug soil.

-          The soil mustn’t be water logged as this can attract mould disease.

Care

-          Strawberries are often susceptible to mould disease which can also be caused due to a wet summer. The best action I found to take is to having a cloche ready to protect them, otherwise remove affected fruits as they’re a source of infective spores.

-          Bed your strawberries down with either the traditional straw or a bundle of fleece if straw is hard to come by. This will encourage your fruits to ripen.

-          Water well through dry spells.

-          Feed your plants with Tomorite when they’ve produced fruits.

With my Veg of the Month I tend to give you a fantastic recipe to try out with your home-grown produce. However, as my Veg of the Month has turned into a fruit and it’s the season of Wimbledon, I think I have a good idea what you’ll be doing with your strawberry crops.

Let’s cheer on Murray,

Mr McGregor