Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Top Tips on Looking After Your Barbecue

The summer barbecue season is almost upon us and it will soon be time to get the grill back in action and start brushing up on all those delicious outdoor recipes.

As being experienced suppliers of stone and masonry barbecues, Big K have provided these top maintenance tips which will help you get the most out of your barbecue and enjoy plenty of tasty outdoor meals right through the summer.

Clean Your Barbecue Before You Use It...

If you’ve bought a new barbecue, it can be tempting to fire it up and get cooking straight away, especially if the sun is shining and you and your guests are getting hungry. However, it is important to read the manufacturer’s instructions as they will often list some requirements for preparing your barbecue for its first use.

Whether you have just installed your barbecue for the first time or have recently got it out of its winter home, it’s important to always give it a thorough clean before the first use of the year. This applies even if you left it in good condition at the end of the last outdoor cooking season – insects, rust, dust and dirt could easily have made their way into your barbecue.

Put rubber gloves on and make sure you use cleaning materials appropriate for the problem. For example, use brushes with stainless bristles for hardened, baked-on food and warm soapy water for stains.

Don't forget to clean the barbecue hoods, covers and lids, as well as all cooking surfaces, food preparation surfaces and barbecue utensils.

...and Afterwards

After providing a delicious grilled meal for your family or friends, it’s easy to walk away from the barbecue thinking you’re now relieved of your duties, or to promise yourself you’ll return to clean it… before forgetting all about it as soon as dessert arrives. However, this approach will mean you’ll end up spending twice as long cleaning your barbecue than if you just deal with it soon after you’ve eaten.

After you have finished cooking, leave the heat for a few minutes so that any food or grease deposits will be baked into a hardened layer; you’ll find this is far easier to remove than liquid grease. This cleaning regime should be used after every meal you use it for; it is also a good idea to deep clean your barbecue every three months.

You can also steam-clean it by covering the grill in water-soaked old newspaper while the barbecue is cooling down and closing the lid. While it is best to clean your barbecue while it is still warm, it’s also important to let it cool down enough to removing any charcoal or ash from the grill. If you’re using a gas supply, don’t forget to disconnect it from the grill before you begin cleaning.

Big K supplies a special barbecue cleaner which can be used on all grills and cooking surfaces, including masonry barbecues. The spray-on product will cut through the grimiest of surfaces. We also stock cleaning kits with a pan, brush and spatula, together with a holder so you can dispose of any used charcoal quickly and efficiently

Minimise Mess with Oil and Foil

Tin foil can be used to line any ash pan; this makes it easier to clean out and helps make the barbecue more efficient by reflecting the heat back onto the food. Prevention is better than cure – if you use the oil to coat the food rather than the grill, this will help cut down the amount of deposits and reduce the amount of cleaning.

If you're cooking fish, sea food or other delicate foods, cook it in foil pouches to stop it falling apart and onto the coals. Likewise, if you’re cooking a roast or marinated meat, you can use an aluminium foil tray to contain all the lovely juices.

Keep it Covered

If your barbecue is a permanent or semi-permanent structure, it may be a time-consuming process to move it into the garage or shed all the time when it’s not in use. You can avoid long-term damage caused by the unpredictable British weather by covering it up.

Big K supplies a durable, weather-proof covers suitable for brick, gas, masonry and stone barbecues and up to two accompanying side tables, or for barbecues without a chimney.

Check the Instructions

Some types of barbecue may recommend using specific cleaning products. If you do not follow the manufacturer’s instructions, you may invalidate the warranty. For example, some manufacturers do not recommend using abrasive scourers, such as wire wool, as these can damage the surface of chrome-coated grills; sponge pads may be better.

Big K supplies a complete range of fuel for stone and masonry barbecues and other accessories. These include charcoal lumpwood and briquettes suitable for both commercial and domestic use, barbecue cleaners, and stainless steel tool and utensil sets. Follow the link above to view our full range of barbecue-related products.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Vegetarian Options at a Barbecue

You have chosen a date for a barbecue, the weather forecast is good, and everyone has been invited. But what do you do about the vegetarians among your guests?

Happily, there are plenty of tasty options you can offer them as many vegetarian food recipes taste just as good outdoors. At Big K our wide range of products means that whether you want a masonry barbecue, a concrete or brick barbecue or items for an ideal outdoor summer kitchen, we should be able to satisfy your needs. Our products can help you create delicious dishes for both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Here are some of the vegetarian options you could consider for your summer barbecue.

Better Burgers

If you do want to maintain the traditional feel and offer your vegetarian guests a burger, you can buy them ready-made from a supermarket, but it is often more fun to make your own. You could use grilled aubergine with halloumi and pesto as a filling. Beetroot and chilli offer a spicy alternative, but will need to be cooked on a gentle heat for about 10 minutes each side. Mushrooms can also act as the main filling for a burger, perhaps flavoured with garlic or mozzarella cheese.

Grilling Your Vegetables

Corn on the cob is something you can really get your teeth into. They are even tastier if you partly cook them in boiling water the day before – then all you need do on the day itself is barbecue them on a high heat for about five minutes, until the kernels have started to pop. You can serve them with melted butter, black pepper and Parmesan cheese.

Other vegetables which you can easily grill on a barbecue, and which can be served as part of a main or a side dish, include whole peppers, cherry tomatoes, onions, carrots and asparagus. We recommend that where suitable the vegetables are sliced first and cooked slowly; you can also wrap them in packets of foil and cook them directly on the hot charcoal.

Kebabs on Skewers or Sticks

Just because it’s a barbecue doesn’t mean it all has to be about burgers and buns. Grilled vegetable kebabs are an equally tasty alternative.

You can mix together onions, peppers and mushrooms, season them with an olive oil and herb mixture, and they only take about five minutes to cook on the barbecue. Another combination that works equally well is halloumi cheese, sage and new potatoes, although you will need to boil the last ingredient in water for about 15 minutes first.

Cooking vegetables, particularly smaller ones, on a skewer, can help keep them in one place, making them easier to barbecue. Serving them on skewers or a stick can also help your guests, as it can avoid the problem of sticky fingers, and it cuts down on all the mess afterwards too! At Big K we sell BBQ skewers complete with prongs and wooden handle.

Serving Your Salad

Even your meat-eating guests will appreciate a lighter, healthy option. Tomato-based salads are easy to put together. They can be accompanied with oregano or basil or, if you have a little more time, grilled avocado and mozzarella cheese. You will need to do them in advance, however, as these salads always taste better if they have been given an hour or two to chill properly. Chickpeas can also make an unusual alternative type of salad. Using a dressing of lemon juice and olive oil will help to soften them up, and they can be served with parsley and a sliced red onion for flavouring.

At Big K we sell a wide range of barbecue accessories, including fuel and tools, as well concrete, brick and masonry barbecues. Click on the link to discover more about our comprehensive range of barbecue-related products.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

10 Essential Tips for a Great Summer Barbecue

Once the warm weather arrives, there is nothing better than inviting family and friends around to enjoy some food in the garden. What better way to celebrate the summertime than holding a delicious barbecue? If you are planning on a get-together, Big K has a wide range of outdoor cooking equipment including masonry and stone barbecue sets.

All you need is some good food, great friends and our top 10 essential tips to make your outdoor catering go off with a bang!

Home-Made Sauce

Adding your own flavours to barbecue sauce can help to put your personal stamp on the occasion. It is a good idea to keep looking until you find a recipe that you like. Most traditional sauces have a mixture of ketchup and brown sugar, garlic and Worcestershire Sauce in them, and you can also add individual touches such as cola for a sweetener if you wish. There are lots of other ingredients which can be used too, so don’t be shy – make it a sauce to remember.

Meat Thermometer

Everyone knows the importance of having fully cooked meat at a barbie, and the best way to be sure you have cooked all your food right the way through is to invest in a meat thermometer. This will give you and your guests the assurance that everything they are eating is completely done and ready to be enjoyed.

Paper Towels & Wipes

This may not seem the most important thing to remember, but once everyone starts eating your delicious food, they will need something to wipe their hands on. If you stock up on wipes and paper towels, you won’t need to worry about washing a lot of cloth napkins. Paper towels can be easily disposed of once the barbecue is over.

Controlling Insects

Insects, and especially wasps, can be a real nuisance when you are eating al fresco. If you want to repel them without using insect repellents, then we have a couple of tips for you. Put lids on fizzy drinks and food which isn’t being eaten yet, and you could also put a sweet drink in a completely different area of the garden, well away from the food. This will give the wasps something to enjoy while forgetting about you and your friends eating. Another tip is to place a bowl of cloves on the table, as this will deter them from coming near the food.

Fire Extinguisher

Standing around the barbecue while cooking is something we all enjoy doing. It's fun to watch the meats changing colour, while we stand ready with our bread-rolls open. But if the food catches fire it could cause serious harm if it is not immediately extinguished. A fire extinguisher standing nearby could prevent all types of accidents happening and is a worthwhile investment for a safe barbecue.

Garden Furniture

Some people are happy to stand while eating their barbecue food, but others, especially children and older guests, may want to sit and eat at a table. You won’t need lots of tables, but a few chairs strategically placed could help to ensure that everyone enjoys their al fresco meal.

Outdoor Lighting and Heating

If you are planning an evening meal outside, then you may find that there is a chill in the air, once the sun has gone down. While the barbecue will obviously give off heat, you might also want to consider some other type of outdoor heating. A garden heater provides a wonderful focal point for the garden. Another tip is to place the lanterns in and around the trees, which will give your garden a magical atmosphere, and help to extend the evening even after the sun goes down.

Garden Games

Garden games are not just for the kids. Setting up an area for playing outdoor games such as croquet, bowls or skittles will keep everyone entertained, especially those who are rather competitive – and everyone will be hungry after playing these games.

Food and Drink

Preparing food ahead wherever possible can help to avoid too much work on the evening itself. If you are sticking to a budget, it could also help to ask guests to bring their own bottle. This will ensure that they all have the type of drink they want. Sometimes guests are also only too happy to bring along a dish they have prepared, such as a rice salad or a special pudding, adding to the variety of food on offer.

Don’t Stress!

The last essential tip we have for a top-class garden party is to enjoy it! Don't let your stress levels get the better of you, because, no matter what type of food is served, your friends and family will appreciate the time you have taken to entertain them. They will go home having had a great time, all given by you.

If you are looking for a high-quality masonry, brick, concrete or stone barbecue, Big K has a great range to choose from, as well as clay fire pits and chimneas. We also stock accessories and tools to complete your outdoor living requirements, as well as bbq fuels. Click the link to see our range of products and place an order.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Eight Fun Facts About Burgers

If you intend to make the most of the last few days of the barbecue weather, the chances are that burgers will be on the menu – whether that’s beef, chicken, vegetarian or ham. Burgers are a popular choice as they are easily obtainable, reasonably cheap to buy or make, and they make the perfect comfort food. They are also easy to cook, so your guests won’t have to wait too long before tucking in!

Are you a burger fan who wants to make most of your concrete bbq by cooking up a treat before the good weather ends? To whet your appetite, here are ten facts about this trusty barbecue favourite brought to you by Big K Products, suppliers of summer and winter fuel across the UK.

Burger Day – Did you know that there is a day dedicated to burgers in the UK? August 25 is National Burger Day - the brainchild of London based ‘Mr Hyde’ to encourage people to try new flavours. This year hundreds of people attended a big event in the capital, which featured all sorts of burgers including Thai and Indian varieties and even burger desserts! Scores of restaurants nationwide also jumped on the bandwagon by offering diners money off burgers on the day.

Oddest Burger –The aptly named chef 'Rentokil' hit the headlines a few years back with his pop-up London restaurant that served sweet chilli pigeon burgers topped with meal worms infused with cheddar. However, even if you are the most innovative of chefs, you might want to avoid serving these to guests – if you want to cook for them again next year!

First Burger – The first burger was said to have been invented by a Texan who ran a canteen in the late 19th century. It is claimed that he was the first person who ever served ground beef patties sandwiched between two sliced of bread (although there are also others that have made this claim).

Burger Consumption – In the US as many as 50 billion burgers are eaten annually. It is estimated that if you put this many burgers in one line, they will stretch more than 30 times around the globe!

Burger Toppings – Want to know what some of the most popular toppings are to include in a burger? These are: ketchup, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, mustard, mayonnaise, pickles, bacon and barbecue sauce - although you won’t want them all at once. However, if you are cooking burgers on your concrete bbq this year, it’s a good idea to leave a few of these topping out for your guests.

Expensive Burger – The world’s priciest burger was served in Las Vegas for $5,000 and was made with foie grass, black truffles and Kobe beef. As expected for a burger of this calibre, it was sold accompanied by an extremely upmarket bottle of wine.

Burgers v Sandwiches– If you compare the popularity of burgers versus sandwiches across the globe, burgers would win hands down. As many as 6 out of ten sandwiches that are sold worldwide are, in fact, burgers.

Biggest Burger – South London based Burgers at Blacks’ celebrity claim is that they served Britain’s largest burger to diners. Called The Whopper, it topped the scales at 7lbs and totalled just over 17,500 calories, if you include the chips as a side dish. Anyone who finished eating it within 60 minutes got added to their hall of fame. You might struggle to make this whopper on your outdoor barbecue!

About Big K

Big K Products (UK) Ltd sell a wide range of summer bbqs including masonry barbecues, concrete bbqs and Kamado Joes, as well as barbecue charcoal, lighting aids, tools and accessories. We also sell patio heaters, so you can feel comfortable outside, even on the chilliest of evenings. Just click on the link above to order today.

Monday, 8 August 2016

BBQ Recipe Ideas for a Brazilian Themed Party

Are you hosting a Brazilian themed BBQ to celebrate the 2016 Summer Olympics? Here are some Brazilian BBQ ideas to get your taste buds flowing.

In the 16th century, barbecued meat was the staple food for the cowboys of Southern Brazil, who cooked in pits in the ground. The popularity of the BBQ spread to the capital, and now there are restaurants all over the world that specialise in Brazilian barbecued meat, although the food is now generally cooked on big BBQ grills.

If you are enjoying this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, you may want to take advantage of this party-nation and host your very own Brazilian themed barbecue. To ensure that you’re the perfect host, we have put together some BBQ ideas – including a starter, main course, salad and dessert, so you can show off your culinary skills.

Of course, to get your guests into the carnival spirit, why not put on some samba music, decorate your tables in white and green (Brazil’s national colours), and put some beers and Brazilian bubbly on ice? Your guests will love all the effort you have made and will look forward to your next BBQ party.

Take Your Marks...

As your guests wait for the food to cook on your brick-built barbecue, it’s a great time to serve up the starters. One really refreshing starter is fresh, roasted mini red peppers with mango salsa. Just roast the peppers until they blister, and peel off the skin once they have cooled. Chop them length-ways into bite sized pieces and fill with cooked prawns and mango salsa. You can make the mango salsa by mixing finely chopped red onion, mango, and a dash of orange juice and lime juice to taste.

Get Set...

An uplifting salad is simple to make and is always a great hit at a BBQ. Combine four handfuls of baby lettuce leaves with a small, finely chopped red onion, 4 grated carrots, 4 finely chopped tomatoes and half a cucumber. Dress your salad with a combination of olive oil and lime juice, seasoned to taste. Then place a bowl of feta cheese on the side for people to help themselves to.

Go...

Marinate chicken pieces for two to four hours in a combination of lime zest, freshly squeezed lime juice, chopped garlic, olive oil and a generous handful of chopped coriander. Once fully marinated, thread the chicken pieces onto skewers and cook until done. Serve it with tortilla wraps, lime wedges and the above salad for a fabulous main course.

...A Winning Finish

In addition to ice-cream and fruit salad for afters, having a freshly cooked dessert is always popular, especially among the youngest guests. A baked banana pie is a great finish to a Brazilian barbecue, and is an ideal way to use up any leftover bananas before they become over-ripe.

This dessert is easy to make. Just peel the bananas, cut them in half lengthways, lightly fry them and place them at the bottom of an oven proof bowl. Next, separate six eggs and mix the yolks with 225gms of sugar and knob of melted butter. Pour this mixture on top of the layer of bananas. Use the remaining egg whites to make a meringue and pour this on top of the mixture. Cook your banana pie for half an hour at about 150C (less for a fan oven), and let it cool before serving. It’s bound to be a real hit with your guests!

Big K

Big K sell high quality barbecues, including big BBQ grills, brick barbecues and stone BBQs, as well as all the tools, accessories and summer fuel to make your barbecue party a success. Just click on the link above to order your products online for home delivery.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Ten Ways to Keep Wasps at Bay at Your Summer Barbecue

The height of the summer is the perfect time to enjoy home cooked food on your brick barbecue. But while a barbecue is a great excuse to invite friends and family round for a gathering, having swarms of wasps buzzing round your guests is the quickest way to call time on your party. Here are Big K’s top ten tips on keeping wasps at bay, so your all-day barbecue keeps running but your guests stay put!

Natural Deterrents

While there are a host of insect sprays on the market, it’s likely you’ll find the perfect wasp repellent in your kitchen. Natural ways to discourage wasps cost next to nothing but reap rewards, as they ensure your guests enjoy a relaxed, pest-free afternoon. One deterrent is to light the contents of a cup of ground coffee. However, if you are unsure about this trick, fill a small bowl with cloves, as this will have the same effect.

Salads

Wasps don’t like cucumbers, and they don’t like the smell of mint either. So one idea is to combine these two ingredients in a salad – that way your guests will be impressed with your culinary skills, and you can keep your table clear of wasps.

Scents

While spraying on your favourite perfume or aftershave is a great way to get ready for a party, wasps also appreciate the smell. Unfortunately, these irritating pests are also attracted to the scent of sunscreen and deodorant, so it might be a good idea to swap these in summer for non-scented varieties.

Clothing

Wasps are attracted to certain colours, such as white and yellow. So avoid these colours when you dress your table – and yourself too. As a host, no matter how much you like your yellow or white T-shirt, this is one occasion when you might want to give it a miss. You could always opt for red clothing instead as wasps can’t see this colour.

Rubbish

It may sound obvious but when the party is in full swing, try to avoid leaving rubbish lying around on tables and chairs, and check your bins are fully secured. This prevents wasps swarming on the remnants of sweet food and drink left on empty plates and cans.

Sealed Containers

Just as it is worth clearing the rubbish as you go, it is also important to keep food in sealed containers, especially if it is likely to be out for some time. Plastic containers are easily obtainable and can be bought from your local supermarket or kitchen store.

Glasses

While this trick won’t get rid of wasps, it will stops stings in unexpected places. It’s worth serving drinks in glasses, rather than cans, as this way your guests can see exactly what they put into their mouth and will prevent nasty oral stings.

Sweet Trays

If you have a small party, one tried and trusted way of keeping wasps off the table is to lay a saucer of fizzy drink away from your guests. This will help attract wasps to their own designated eating spot, so they don’t buzz around your group.

Fake Nests

A quick internet search will show you a host of different ways to build your own fake wasp nest to mark your territory. Fake nests, such as brown paper bags, work as a deterrent as wasps are likely to avoid areas inhabited by ‘other wasps’.

Wasp Traps

These are easy to build out of old plastic bottles, although there are a variety of effective readymade wasp traps on the market. These can be bought from your local garden centre, or you can buy more sophisticated ones from a pest controller in your area.

Now you know how to deter wasps, you can simply relax and enjoy cooking on your brick barbecue. With our top tips your guests will appreciate all the effort you have made to make them feel comfortable, and they will soon look forward to your next party.

Big K – Click here to see our full range of barbecues including brick, masonry or stone bbqs, Kamando Joes, barbecue tools, accessories and summer fuel products.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Summer Cocktails to Sip by the BBQ

With the barbecue season now in full swing, why not try making some colourful cocktails from our recipes below, and impress your party guests with your presentation skills? Cocktails can be made in batches and served from a jug at parties, with slices of fruit added for a summery touch.

Mojito

Mojitos are perfect for summer, and are served over crushed ice with refreshing ingredients such as lime and sparkling water. Traditionally concocted with five ingredients, this cocktail is easy to make in batches and can be served in a tall glass with a straw. To make this cocktail you will need 1 ½ limes, 20 fresh mint leaves, 2 ½ tsp granulated sugar, a handful of ice, 65ml white rum, and a splash of soda water.

Place the lime, mint and sugar into a glass and crush with the end of a rolling pin to bruise the mint and squeeze the juices out of the lime. Add ice to the glass, pour over the rum and soda water, and stir well before serving. Enjoy!

Pimm's

This well-known summer drink has a reddish tint, and is often served in a jug with chopped fruit to add to the flavour. To make a Pimm’s punch, you will need a half a bottle of Pimms no.1, a litre of orange juice, a litre of apple juice, 350 ml of passion fruit syrup, 200 ml of lemon juice, and 30 raspberries.

Place the raspberries into a punch bowl, and add the Pimm’s no.1 to the bowl. Pour in the orange juice, apple juice, lemon juice and passion fruit syrup, and then adjust the measurements to your taste. Chill for three hours before serving to let the flavours develop, and then serve over ice in a jug or individual glasses while you dish up food from your brick BBQ. Additional fruit can be added as well, such as strawberries, oranges and limes.

Shirley Temple

This non-alcoholic drink is ideal for designated drivers, and also for children, to help them feel grown up and involved. To make a traditional Shirley temple, use 40ml of dry ginger ale, 40ml of pomegranate juice, 1.5tsp of sugar, and a wedge of lemon. You can either buy pomegranate juice from a shop, or you can extract the juice yourself from fresh pomegranates.

Measure all of the ingredients into a glass and stir until combined. Ice cubes can be added to keep the drink cool as you cook. For visitors that prefer an alcoholic beverage, you can add vodka or rum to create a "Dirty Shirley".

Gin and Tonic

Why not keep it simple and create a gin and tonic for your guests? Serve in a high ball glass with a slice of lemon or lime on hot days as a cooling drink before you dish out the food. This drink consists of just 3 ingredients: 25ml dry gin, 125ml tonic water and 10ml lime juice.

Ingredients can be adjusted to suit your personal tastes, and some people suggest that it should be made with equal parts of gin and tonic water. To make a gin and tonic simply fill a glass with ice, and then pour all of the ingredients over the ice into the glass. Garnish with lime or lemon wedges and you’re ready to serve.

Mai Tai

Let your outdoor party take on a tropical theme by serving Mai Tai cocktails. This alcoholic drink is based on rum, and matches well with a variety of meats such as chicken and pork, which can be cooked to perfection on your brick BBQ. To create a classic Mai Tai you will need 45ml Jamaican rum, 15ml orgeat syrup, 15ml triple sec, and 30ml lime juice. Some people also add a splash of Cointreau for extra flavour.

Combine all of the ingredients in a shaker, and add ice before shaking until cold. Strain the contents into a tall glass filled with ice, and garnish with a wedge of orange. The orgeat syrup will give the cocktail a noticeable almond taste, and this can be adjusted to suit the palates of you and your guests.

Woo WooM.

This simple drink is perfect for summer, and is made with vodka, peach schnapps and cranberry juice. Alternatively, light rum can be used to create a Georgia Peach cocktail. Measure out 2 parts of vodka to 1 part peach schnapps, and then add 4 parts of cranberry juice. Shake all of the ingredients together with ice, and then pour into a tall glass.

Big K - sell a variety of brick BBQ fuels to keep you going throughout summer, with fuel options for both modern and traditional styles of barbecues.