The Magic of Fire: Hearth Cooking: One Hundred Recipes for the Fireplace or Campfire
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2003 James Beard Award NomineeThe open hearth is where American colonials baked their beans, English families took their tea, French country families prepared their pot au feu, and Italian mothers stirred their polenta. THE MAGIC OF FIRE explores both the techniques of hearth cooking and the poetry of hearth and flame through the ages. The recipe collection offers a fascinating glimpse into the past with authentic renditions of Brisket Baked under Ashes, Pot Roast, String-Roasted Turkey, Stockfish Stew, Chocolat Ancienne, and Tarte Tatin. With its evocative and erudite narrative and extraordinary paintings by master realist Ian Everard, THE MAGIC OF FIRE is the definitive work on open-hearth cooking. ‚Ä¢ The first book to cover the complete range of open-hearth cooking techniques, including ash baking, ember roasting, hearthside grilling, string- and spit-roasting, and hearthside Dutch oven baking.‚Ä¢ Features 100 extraordinary illustrations of food and fire by master realist Ian Everard.‚Ä¢ Many of the recipes require no special equipment. Simply open the book, light a fire, and cook.Reviews"Definitive book on cooking." ‚ÄîPaula Wolfert, author of Mediterranean Grains and Greens, The Cooking of Southwest France"THE MAGIC OF FIRE is the most thoughtful and thorough study of hearth cooking I know of. His book is full of practical information (the section All about the Fireplace is a masterpiece), unconventional recipes, and fascinating historical references that link his modern perspective to this primitive art. It will inspire professionals as well as serious home cooks to recover the taste that only hearth cooking can deliver. " ‚ÄîPaul Bertolli, chef and owner, Oliveto Cafe & Restaurant, author of Chez Panisse Cooking"There is something fundamental about cooking over an open fire. I love the flames, I love the smells, and of course, I love the taste. William Rubel's THE MAGIC OF FIRE, is an indispensable guide to this lost art." ‚ÄîAlice Waters, chef and owner, Chez Panisse"THE MAGIC OF FIRE is a fabulous book! It's about flames and ashes; tripods and spider pots; campfires, hearths, and fireplaces. It's about ember-roasted vegetables, flat breads, stews, steamed puddings, salt cod‚Äîdeeply fundamental foods that will make you see the possibilities of your fireplace in a new light. Passion, experience, and good writing have met in a book that's good reading, with instructions that are clear as a bell." ‚ÄîDeborah Madison"It's a fun read, particularly for those who have always been fascinated by early American history." ‚ÄîThe Baltimore Sun "The bible of hearth cooking." ‚ÄîHouse & Garden "[An] enchanting, step-by-step, illustrated field guide." ‚ÄîThe Philadelphia Inquirer "A seemingly romantic concept that the author insists is quite practical." ‚ÄîSarasota Herald Tribune "If you're looking for something totally different, I'd dare say you probably won't find another book like this one." ‚ÄîNational Barbecue News The best instruction of skillful cooking on the hearth now in print.‚Äù ‚ÄîThe Journal of Antiques and Collectibles"
Why cook by the hearth when our modern stoves offer such convenience? William Rubel's remarkable The Magic of Fire provides unexpected answers to the question, not immediately apparent to those interested in pursuing live-fire cooking and the intense flavors it produces. To be sure, the book is definitive in its exploration of open-hearth technique; readers learn everything they need to know about equipment, methods (including ash baking, ember roasting, and hearthside grilling, among others), and even about fire itself (it has various life stages, each best for a particular cooking task). Rubel also provides 100 delicious hearthside recipes for fundamental foods like roasted red peppers, ember-baked fish, pot roasts, and desserts, including bread pudding and baked apples--formulas he conscientiously walks us through.
But the book's greatest--and most exciting--virtue lies in its presentation of fire cooking not merely as a "hobbyist" project but as a means for understanding cooking itself. It does this by revealing the relationship of fire to the things it cooks; in learning, for example, that a hearthside frittata requires "a moderately mature fire with gentle to moderate flames" to cook while simple toast needs "a new to moderately mature fire with moderate to high flames," we begin to see just how cooking works. For anyone interested in this everyday but still magical feat, this is thrilling stuff. With over 100 color illustrations of the required fires (whose preparation is thoroughly detailed); a discussion of alternative cooking "venues," including campsites; and a useful food glossary, this guide, both practical and illuminating, is an unexpected treasure. --Arthur Boehm
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