Magic of Fire: Hearth Cooking

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Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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. • 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.• Features 100 extraordinary illustrations of food and fire by master realist Ian Everard.• Many of the recipes require no special equipment. Simply open the book, light a fire, and cook.Reviews"Definitive book on cooking." —Paula 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practical information (the section All about the Fireplace is a masterpiece), unconventional recipes, and fascinating historical references that link his modern perspective to this primitive art.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. " —Paul 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." —Alice 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—deeply 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." —Deborah Madison"It's a fun read, particularly for those who have always been fascinated by early American history." —The Baltimore Sun "The bible of hearth cooking." —House & Garden "[An] enchanting, step-by-step, illustrated field guide." —The Philadelphia Inquirer "A seemingly romantic concept that the author insists is quite practical." —Sarasota Herald Tribune "If you're looking for something totally different, I'd dare say you probably won't find another book like this one." —National Barbecue News The best instruction of skillful cooking on the hearth now in print.” —The Journal of Antiques and Collectibles"
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Open-hearth cooking is probably the least-explored atavism in the modern kitchen. Culinary purists who unflinchingly butcher their own fowl or grind their spices with a mortar and pestle tend to draw the line at the hearth; even campers do what they can to make their fires more like stoves. But traditional cooking specialist Rubel's pursuit of "the poetry of fire" makes a compelling case for the allure of hearth cooking. Despite the prerequisites basic firebuilding technique and an arsenal of equipment that would not look out of place in a medieval dungeon Rubel's recipes are surprisingly straightforward. They run the gamut from delicate desserts (steamed custards, clafouti) to the inevitable roast beasts (wild duck, leg of lamb), and he describes the type of flame necessary for each dish (as in, "a mature fire with gentle to moderate flames"). The erudite and apparently well-traveled Rubel intersperses recipes for Gigot la ficelle and Ember-baked Trout with anecdotes that begin "when I was in Northern Kenya..." or "while studying mushroom cookery in China, near Myanmar...." He does not address the impracticalities of fireplace cooking (the hazards of unintended conflagrations, the purgatorial heat), merely recalling that a guest once had to remove his shirt in midwinter at one of Rubel's meals. Those brave enough to follow Rubel's footsteps will undoubtedly consider this book a classic work of its kind. It may also appeal to readers who want to take the manly art of barbecue to a new level, and it will be irresistible to slow-foodies. (Sept.)
Library Journal
This unusual book tells you everything you need to know to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal in your fireplace, should you be so inclined. Restaurants featuring wood-burning ovens have become trendy, and many people love to grill outside, but few of us cook on the hearth these days. Rubel, a longtime devotee of open-hearth cooking whose other interests encompass a wide range of subjects, from wild mushrooms (he's foraged for them all over the world) to bread ovens to homemade alcohol, makes a fascinating case for this style of cooking. His entertaining and thoughtful text provides a vast amount of information on history, technique, equipment, and so forth, and the recipe descriptions are likely to make any cook with a fireplace eager to experiment with this new/old method of preparing food. Highly recommended. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580084536
  • Publisher: Random House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/2004
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 12.28 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

WILLIAM RUBEL, a specialist in traditional cooking, travels the world studying food customs and gathering recipes. He lives in Santa Cruz, California, where he cooks most of his meals on his fireplace.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 8
How to Use This Book 10
Illustrated Equipment 12
Illustrated Methods 14
The Fire 16
Cooking Multicourse Meals 19
Appetizers 20
Beans and Soups 32
Fish, Poultry, and Eggs 46
Grains 86
Red Meat 98
Vegetables 130
Breads 156
Desserts 184
Beverages 210
Reference 238
All About the Fireplace 240
Equipment 247
Methods 254
williamrubel.com 269
Key to Cooking Venues 270
Unusual Foods and Special Techniques 274
A List of Suppliers 278
Bibliography 280
Acknowledgments 283
Index 286
Colophon 296
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2002

    The Magic of Fire Reveals the Secrets of Successful and Delicious Cooking With Fire

    'The Magic of Fire' is a beautiful book, with lovely drawings and photos. But it is so much more than an arresting coffee-table book. It offers the novice open hearth cook practical advice about how to get started and how to be successful. It offers the experienced open hearth cook an opportunity to both refine and expand techniques and repertoire. The title, 'The Magic of Fire', clues the reader to the other dimension of this book: the spiritual aspect of cooking over an open fire. Open fire cooking links our selves with cooks through tens of thousands of years. 'The Magic of Fire' manages well the delicate balance of being both pragmatic and inspiring. Recipes range from the traditional, such as skillet corn bread and chicken roasted on a string, to the more unusual, such as grilled porcini mushrooms and ember-roasted brisket. Cuisines from around the world are reflected in the chosen recipes. Each recipe usefully indicates which open-fire methods are suitable. And best of all, the recipes, when used, yield delicious results!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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