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). 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.
- 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
- If using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in cold water for 30 minutes or more before grilling.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.