Monday, 13 August 2012

Ainsley BBQ Experience


Ainsley Foods, Cous Cous, barbecue
















This Summer can't be more indecisive. Shall I rain? Or shall I shed a bit of Sun? Lets do both! On the same day! I remember last year's Summer one of my neighbour had a barbecue every day in a week. I don't think I've seen them lighting a fire yet this year. So when I was invited to experience Ainsley's barbecue, I was uncertain. Will the weather settle for sun and cloud for me for a day to do this? The fact that we haven't sorted out our extractor fan yet means that we definitely can't do it inside when it rains. But the PR was very understanding and told me to do it whenever the weather allows.

When the hamper arrived, we were in shock. I know they mentioned the word 'hamper', but I wasn't expecting the above at all! There was a whole range of Ainsley's Cous Cous for us to try, 4 sets of barbecue dining set, wooden skewer sticks, fresh vegetables from M&S, and a selection of spices and Olive Oil from Waitrose, all to be used with Ainsley's recipes for some yummy barbecue food. All we needed was meat and Greek Yogurt, and some luck with the weather!


Ainsley Foods, Cous Cous, barbecue




And luck we had! Last Saturday the weather was lovely, with a bit of cloudy parts but mostly sunny with a comfortable breeze. We marinated all the meat the night before, and spent the morning prepping at our own pace. It was very relaxing, and we didn't start the barbie until 3:30pm!


Ainsley Foods, Cous Cous, barbecue









Ainsley Foods, Cous Cous, barbecue
















This is Ainsley's Fragrant Beef Koftas with Raita, which are really easy to make! I probably should have mixed the meat and spices a bit more evenly (I used a plastic bag), but they really smell very good! A bit like those koftas from restaurants. I didn't add enough salt but you can always sprinkle some on the top after they are cooked.

The Raita surprised me. I was never keen in yogurt dips, but this is so tasty! We ate it all up as a salad after we have finished using it as a dip! It's amazing how cucumber with excess liquid squeezed out can make yogurt feel so cooling! I think from now on if we do a BBQ, I must make this Raita! Watch that crushed garlic though, hubby had a mouthful of that haha!


Ainsley Foods, Cous Cous, barbecue














Ainsley Foods, Cous Cous, barbecue
















I almost forgot to skewer the Beef & Red Pepper Skewers, so I used all the skewer sticks provided on the koftas! Luckily I have some longer sticks at home. The recipe called for Sirloin Steak, but we decided on Rib Eye instead. If you want the meat softer, do go for marbled Sirloin. Also, make sure you cut the meat into equal sizes so each of them cook evenly. But you probably already know that. 

I had a cooked to perfection beef and it was really tasty!


Ainsley Foods, Cous Cous, barbecue
















I served our barbecue with Sundried Tomato & Garlic Cous Cous instead of the recommended flavours for each recipe, as the sound of it enticed me more. I must admit that I was never keen in the cous cous I've tried before, no offense to anyone who cooked for me! But the texture were quite grainy and I didn't enjoy the flavours. I've learnt that you should always give things a second try though, and well, the barbecue experience was too good to not do it! The Sundried Tomato & Garlic version was absolutely my favourite. And the secret to make it even more yummy? Add a knob of butter as suggested on the package! Not only did it add flavour and texture to the grainy cous cous, it bound them together as well, making them easier to eat. Did you know that butter is also the reason why Pilau Rice is much tastier in restaurants than at home?

We've also tried the Moroccan Medley, since Abby took most of the Sundried Tomato cous cous, but that wasn't quite my cup of tea. I opened a packet of Wild Mushroom flavour to try the next day, and it's quite nice as well. Both Sundried Tomato & Garlic and Wild Mushroom Cous Cous will be on our shopping list. 


Ainsley Foods, Cous Cous, barbecue











As this could be our only barbecue of the year, we didn't want to waste it, so we made more food, with plenty of left overs for a few more meals for us to enjoy.

We had Chicken Thighs and Wings, half marinated with Satay sauce, the other half with Soya Sauce and Sesame Oil. We also had Garlic & Herb Lamb Chops, Char Siu Pork Shoulders, Olive Oil & Basil Mushrooms & Cherry Tomato skewers, Corn on the Cobs and Italian Salad dressed with Mayo & Sesame Oil.

All that had fixed our cravings for food that are not boiled or steamed, which we have been having mostly for the past few weeks. Must. Fix. Extractor Fan.


Ainsley Foods, Cous Cous, barbecue





















We normally serve our barbecue with plain Ice water or fizzy drinks, but the cups they have provided has inspired me to make something special. I made a Jug of Elder Flower Cordial mixed with cold water and ice, and served them with diced srawberries. The strawberries turned the drinks into a pinkish colour, very sexy! If only if I had sparkling water!


Ainsley Foods, Cous Cous, barbecue
















Perhaps because of all the savoury flavoursome food, I was craving for something sweet later that evening. I made a simple Pavlova topped with softly whipped vanilla cream and strawberries. Delish!

We enjoyed our barbecue thoroughly, and Ainsley had made it even better by introducing cous cous back into our palette, easy and delicious beef koftas and raita to make, as well as inspiring me to make our drinks more fancy! Now lets hope that this bank holiday...


Disclosure: I was sent a hamper to experience; all opinions are honest and my own