Seasonal Warm Up: Cooking With Fire by Paula Marcoux
If you yearn for the days of circling the campfire with marshmallows on a stick, Paula Marcoux is a worthy guru. Marcoux is a food historian, archaeologist and chef. Her book Cooking with Fire (Storey Publishing, 2014) provides a comprehensive history of the ancient technique of wood-fired cooking, and adapts these techniques for modern use.
“Spending some quality time with fire,” Marcoux writes, “is a great way to understand this primordial element.” Her detailed explanations of tools and techniques are both entertaining and informative, and leave you feeling substantially smarter, and a little more in touch with your spit-roasting ancestors.
Cooks of every level of experience will enjoy Cooking with Fire. From the basics of firebuilding—selecting kindling, the difference between hardwoods and softwoods—to more involved processes like building a roasting hearth, Marcoux details every step. Recipes range from Beef Shanks with Chile and Cranberry Beans to Cream Scones. Later chapters feature complex techniques like smokers, cast-iron cookstoves and a section on building your own heat-retaining oven.
Marcoux leaves no stone unturned preparing you for a life as a wood-fired chef. On top of recipes for meats and breads of all kinds, there are less obvious but tempting options like the flip, a rum beverage made with a red-hot poker, and an almond meringue that cooks in a cooling oven.
“Today, sadly, the deepest most Americans delve into outdoor cooking is doing something they call ‘grilling,’” writes Marcoux, “that is, flame-steaming food over gas jets inside an expensive metal box.”
If you’d like to go beyond the expensive metal box, join Edible Rhody with Paula Marcoux on June 13 for a cooking demonstration on the beach at the Ocean House in Watch Hill. She and the Ocean House Food Forager will create a locally sourced meal without the use of modern cooking appliances.
Visit OceanHouseEvents.com for sign-up details.