The Daily Telegraph - Saturday

Easy ways to fire up your family dinners

Genevieve Taylor has a passion for outdoor cooking. Here, she shares her well-practised tips


You cannot beat the taste of food cooked outside. The high heat causes deep caramelisa­tion and creates irresistib­ly crispy, charred edges. Barbecuing also injects a little theatre into your life. It is my passion, and it allows me many culinary adventures; even so, none of these recipes are too taxing to shop for, or to cook. I have a range of barbecues of different shapes and sizes, from fancy to budget, hi-tech to basic, but all the recipes were cooked on a standard kettle barbecue with a lid.

One way to make barbecuing foolproof is to get ahead. Prep everything you need in the kitchen in one go, then have it lined up and ready by the barbecue before you begin cooking. The other way to make things easier is to practise. If you drag a dusty grill out of your garage twice a summer, it will always feel more challengin­g.

Barbecue a little more regularly and you will gain confidence each time you fire up – and with confidence will come a desire to experiment and learn more. I have been cooking this way for years and I’m still learning. I still get things wrong occasional­ly but, importantl­y, I have equipped myself with the basic skills to adapt and work with the heat I have. The fundamenta­l skill needed for barbecuing success is understand­ing how to work with the heat. There is no knob to turn up or down to moderate temperatur­e as there is in your kitchen – but you can create different heat zones. The easiest way is to learn the difference between direct and indirect cooking over the heat source. I explain this in more detail on page 9.

I try not to categorise certain things as “barbecue food”. Think of the fire in your barbecue as simply your heat source, just as you would your hob or oven. Once you grab hold of that mindset, you will realise that pretty much everything can be barbecued.

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