Cooking on the Fire

One of my favorite things about summertime is having fires in the backyard. I love the smell of smoke. I love watching the embers glowing and the flames licking and lapping at the wood. I love the flickering light and the way it allows you to catch only bits and snatches of peoples faces as they sit round the fire with you. A smile here, a pensive expression there. There is something primordial about it all, something that seems to speak to some ancient part of me. Something that makes me feel right inside.

And then of course there is the cooking over the fire. We are too cheap for a grill you see, when a cookie rack propped over a glowing pile of coals will suffice (a poor man’s grill we call it). Β Fire just makes everything tastes so good – that secret and mysterious infusion of smoke and heat and the outdoor air. It is a flavor like nothing else, a flavor that cannot be improved upon one bit.

We had just such a fire cookout the other night – vegetable and halloumi cheese kebabs and flatbreads to wrap them up in. It was such a good meal, the type where you have juices running down your face and your fingers are sticky and there are bugs buzzing round your head, but you don’t care one bit. Life is just as it should be. It is one of the nights I will remember most when I think back on summer.

Vegetable and Halloumi Kebabs

Ingredients

  • 4-5 small, waxy potatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 8-oz container Halloumi cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 pint container cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 good handful fresh oregano, or 1 tbs dried
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes

Instructions

  1. If using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in cold water for 30 minutes or more before grilling.
  2. Put your potatoes into a pan and cover with water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce for a simmer for 8-10 minutes, until just slightly underdone. Drain and rinse under cool water, then add to a large bowl along with the cubed halloumi and the cherry tomatoes.
  3. Whisk together the olive oil, garlic, oregano, chili flakes, salt and pepper and then add to the vegetables and Halloumi mix. Allow to marinade for at least 10-15 minutes.
  4. If using a grill, pre-heat to high. If cooking over a fire, you want to get the flames going hot and then let most of the fire die down to coals before you start cooking. When you are ready to grill, rake a good pile of glowing embers together and place a wire cooling rack so that it sits elevated about 1-2 inches from the coals (you can prop the rack up onto two bricks set on each side if you need to).
  5. Thread the vegetables and halloumi onto the skewers, trying to get a variety of each onto each kebab. Cook over a medium grill, BBQ or hot coals for around 10 minutes, turning occasionally so that all sides are equally cooked. The vegetables and cheese should start to blister and even blacken in some areas when they are ready.
  6. Serve the kebabs with flatbreads or pita breads, plain yogurt and/or hummus, sliced cucumbers, greens - whatever takes your fancy. Enjoy.

Photos # 3 and #5 courtesy Shari from The Art of Seeing Things, my very special dinner guest that evening.

Comments

  1. Carolin says:

    I love your rustic approach across the board, summer living at it’s best!

  2. Christene says:

    Like you I love the smell of the open fire outdoors but have not done much if any cooking out there yet……….but you have inspired me yet again. Many thanks.

    • It’s strange how it can sometimes be so hard to remember to do the things we like best! This is only my third fire of the year which is definitely much less than I envisioned when summer first began, and I aspired to a fire every week or more πŸ™‚ But there is still plenty of summer left for us to make up for lost time (and lost fires)!

  3. What a lovely post πŸ™‚ I’m a lover of outdoor fires and smoke-flavored meals too.

  4. Beautiful new site Danielle.
    Your photos are lovely and, as always, I find my mouth watering with your evocative descriptions! We haven’t had any fires this summer with all the rain but still, I can look at your pictures and dream. πŸ™‚
    xx

    • Many thanks Lucinda, I’m glad you like the new site! I will try and send some of our sunshine and hot weather your way if you send a little rain back ours πŸ™‚

  5. my favorite herbalist, i have a question. after reading david wolfe and christopher hobbs talk about mushrooms, among other things, i wondered what your thoughts were. for example, jovial king steeps reishi and maitake in alcohol in her ‘immune tonic’. in addition, some mushrooms are available dried, some powdered. do you take mushrooms, do you have any favorite ways if they are not fresh? ok that’s all for now. take care, david

    • Hi David, I do think mushrooms are a most wonderful food and medicine with an amazing ability to strengthen, balance and protect our vitality in numerous ways, as I’m sure you’ve been exploring if you’ve been reading Christopher Hobbs.

      I don’t think it will come as a surprise that my favorite way to incorporate mushrooms into my diet is to eat them! I try to have several meals each week that involve various mushrooms – shiitakes, chantrelles, etc – that are either wild harvested or cultivated organically (mushrooms tend to soak up a lot of pollutants from the soil so it is imperative you choose organic).

      However, there are many great mushrooms that are not so very edible – such as reishi for example – and these I like to simmer for an hour or so on the stove with various veggies and herbs to make medicinal veggie stocks that I then use for soups and such. I do also use tinctures and powders at times – especially if I am needing something more acute rather than just a gentle tonic. I think tincture can be a little more potent and easier to assimilate as the alcohol has done much of the breakdown and extracting for you, though if you have a good digestive fire the powders are great too. I also really like the freeze dried capsules which I put on par with tinctures for potency – these often include some mycelium extract as well as the fruiting body which I think is good. I really like the host defense line by Paul Stamets as he is a brilliant mycologist.

      Hope this is helpful. Good luck on your mushroom explorations!

      • i make reishi tea, and, following jovial, i steep mountain rose’s dried mushroom’s. for their mushrooms that are powdered, i never knew what to do with them – except add them to food, water, etc. i haven’t bought any, chaga, for example, yet. anyway, thanks much. i’ll check out paul stamets right away. (i have heard rice wine is a chinese alternative to grape alcohol)

  6. marthasnail says:

    it was such a beautiful night…with delicious food. so happy to have this summer memory. thanks for inviting us. xo

  7. Nifty. I must confess I’ve reached well, well into adulthood without ever cooking on an actual fire (gas stoves don’t count.) Very inspiring.

    Michael

  8. Hello Danielle! I check your blog every so often as I come across it via Urban Moonshine or another blog’s link. It’s always a treat! I had to comment because I adore that last photo with the beeswax candles. It reminds me so much of Tasha and many wonderful memories of my own. Best greetings to you! Natalie from Tasha Tudor and Family and rookeryramblings.blogspot.com

Speak Your Mind