This is a guest post by Madison Cowan, a chef, author, and restaurateur. In 2010 Food Network selected him as a contestant for their hit Primetime series, Chopped where he competed and won three consecutive episodes to become the first ever Chopped Grand Champion. He currently appears as a judge on Food Network's new show Extreme Chef. Most importantly, Madison is a hands-on dad to his daughter. Visit Madison's website at www.madisoncowan.com. Madison shares his suggestions for outdoor cooking as part of NFI's campaign to help dads "Get Out: Hit the Great Outdoors with Your Kids This Summer."
Summertime in the city! And everywhere else for that matter. Absolutely nothing beats getting out in the fresh air, whether a back garden, rooftop, stoop or in a kiddie pool with a water hose over your head. Wherever you decide to take in the lovely weather be sure to bring along a bit of sustenance. I can honestly say, without question, one of my favourite ways to relax with the family is hanging out down at the beach dining alfresco.
The thing is, knocking up a picnic lunch doesn't require much planning or effort. Throw a few salad leaves together with grilled peach halves, blackberries, prosciutto, crumble over a bit of blue cheese and lightly drizzle on both olive oil and honey. Salt and pepper to taste, done. Or whisk up a quick Thai sauce of peanut butter, soy, toasted sesame oil, red wine vinegar, chopped garlic and ginger and dried chili flakes. Then pour over cold soba noodles with cooked chicken pieces and blanched broccoli florets, season to taste and garnish with thinly sliced spring onions and sesame seeds for a perfect meal in the park under the stars.
Short on time? Pop round the shops for ready made sandwiches, fresh cut vegetables, sparkling wine and a seasonal berry tart. We caught an outdoor movie recently where takeaway sushi, homemade popcorn and a few bottles of bucks fizz was the order of the day. Alternatively, you can't go wrong with a crusty baguette, cheese, fruit, chocolate and a libation of choice (juice boxes for the young'uns of course). And by all means, use what you have to hand. So shut down the computer, put away the video games, pack up the kids, sunblock, the dog and some sport equipment....nature is calling. Above all else these simple pleasures give our children an abundance of lasting memories and a love of the great outdoors for the ages. Isn't that what matters most?