Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Christmas Turkey on the Weber - Chapter 4


After a week of snow and freezing temperatures, Christmas day promised to be dry, sunny and very cold. And that it was. The temperature fell to minus ten degrees C overnight and peaked at an invigorating minus four sometime during the daylight hours.

We planned to have our Christmas dinner at around 6pm, so the cooking was done in the afternoon. I was slightly anxious as I wasn't sure how to compensate for the extreme cold (no insulation in a Weber!). To avoid any fire starting delays I deployed the Weber Chimney Starter and loaded it to the top with good quality, dry lumpwood charcoal that I had been storing in the house. I had a total of about 4kg and was starting to worry whether it would be enough as it was seriously cold outside.

We went to a Christmas service in the morning, and then by the time we had done a round of present opening and had a bit of lunch, I lit the chimney starter at about 1:15pm. We had a 8.5kg (17 pound) turkey plus a layer of stuffing between the breast and skin. I'd looked up the cooking time for the bird weight at 3hrs 10mins plus a bit extra for the cold weather (I guessed a mere 10 minutes). As the stuffing is to protect the breast, it doesn't affect the cooking time of the thigh so I made no further adjustments.

The cooking and checking timetable worked out something like this:

13:15 hrs - Lit chimney starter
13:40 hrs - Turkey in Weber
14:00 hrs - Checked turkey/fire and took photo (top). Sizzling nice and gently, skin starting to brown, anxiety decreasing
15:05 hrs - Fire a bit low, so added a bit of charcoal to both fires
15:50 hrs - Checked, all ok
16:30 hrs - Added a bit more fuel (total fuel used approx 3-3.5kg)
17:00 hrs - Removed turkey and covered with foil (total cooking time 3 hrs 20 mins)

I let the turkey rest for about 45 minutes before removing an entire breast with its stuffing layer. This was enough to feed six hearty appetites and was on the table at 6pm as planned. Our vegetarian daughter had all the trimmings served with a vegetable stock and garlic gravy I made separately.

I served the turkey with the traditional accompaniments of stuffing, giblet gravy, pigs in blankets, roasted potatoes and parsnips, steamed carrots, brussel sprouts and home made bread sauce.

This left us with an entire breast (for turkey pie which we had yesterday), and the legs, thighs and wings for turkey lasagne. The carcass is currently simmering away in the kitchen and will provide us with some good stock for the lasagne and what's left will go in the freezer for soups, sauces and gravies.

For the original post have a look at Perfect Christmas Turkey on the Weber where you will find loads more detail, photos and links to other recipes.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Christmas Turkey on the Weber - Chapter 3


To complement my original article Perfect Christmas Turkey on the Weber and the recently posted photo gallery from our 2009 Christmas turkey, this is an ideal stuffing to layer between the breast and the skin. Don't worry if you make too much, it can be rolled into little balls and baked separately.

You can make the stuffing and stuff the turkey on Christmas eve and leave it in the fridge for cooking the next day. This really takes the sting out of kitchen duties when the kids are all desperate to sit around and open their presents.

I use a whole tube of good quality sausage meat, with about the same volume of fresh breadcrumbs (made in the food processor). then add the juice and grated rind of a whole lemon and lime, and plenty of seasoning. The stuffing just needs to be mixed well before working it between the skin and the breast. The stuffing layer can be at least an inch thick. It protects the breast from drying out beautifully and is a treat in itself.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Christmas Turkey on the Weber - Chapter 2


For the full story, method and cooking times, have a look at my original article, Perfect Christmas Turkey on the Weber. These photos are from our 2009 Christmas turkey experience at home in Oxfordshire (another 20 pounder) and will hopefully help to entice you further towards striking that match!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Perfect Roast Duck in the Weber

Cooking duck indoors can be a smoky affair, especially in the winter when the house is tightly closed up. Our local shop had fresh duck on offer, so I grabbed two, one for dinner and one for the freezer. It was only after bumping into a neighbour in the shop that the idea of cooking the duck in the Weber came about. She had recently roasted some duck legs and found the duck fat smell in the house fairly overpowering and long lasting.

Our normal winter Sunday evening roast is a fairly random rotation of chicken, beef, pork, lamb and gammon. The duck idea freaked the young ones out a bit, but when they remembered how they loved Chinese crispy duck pancakes they relaxed a bit.

The Weber is just ideal for cooking duck. The high starting temperature gets the fat melting and skin crisping up straight away, and as the temperature subsides during the hour and a half or so of cooking time, the meat cooks more gently finishing off soft and moist inside. I followed Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Meat Book as a guide. This included the giblet stock for the gravy, but I added a tomato to his stock recipe, and a spoonful of cranberry sauce to the gravy.

The Weber guides never tell you this, but I always use a rectangular roasting dish rather than just sitting the meat on the grill. This retains all of the fat which is a must for basting. I have a pyrex dish which is perfect for this.

I made a plan for the afternoon, working out at what time I needed to light the fire, put on the duck, prepare the other veggies and so on. I filled my fairly new Weber Chimney Starter with good quality lumpwood charcoal and a piece of newspaper. I had allowed 20 minutes for this, but the charcoal was in paper packaging and was stored outside (under cover) so had become a bit damp. The chimney starter took twice as long, and the meal time was bumped further away as a result.

The starting temperature is much higher in a Weber than the 200 degrees C oven temperature recommended, so the roasting started off with a real sizzle. After the first half hour, the skin was browning nicely and it looked like I wouldn't be needing to top up the charcoal at all during the roasting. In fact I was getting worried that the outside might burn before the inside was done. An hour in, the temperature was still high and there was a lot of smoky fat spitting away in the roasting dish. I gave the duck a good basting and let it get on. Another 15 minutes in and I was still worried. I gave the thigh a poke with a skewer and from the steam it was clear that the duck was still very moist. I just hoped that I hadn't put too much fuel in at the beginning. Luckily the fire did what it was supposed to do and eased off towards the end so that by the time the 90 minutes were up, it was an aromatic, gentle sizzle.

I took the duck out of the Weber and covered the baking dish with foil to rest before carving and set out to make the gravy from the giblet stock prepared earlier. Following Hugh's advice, the breasts were removed whole, and the legs and thighs separated from the carcass. The breast was sliced thickly and offered with either a leg or thigh when served.

I was really surprised as to how moist the flesh was and how tasty the crispy bits were. There was also the distinctive smoky taste from the Weber that reminded me of the Christmas Turkey we had last December. The breast was almost creamy in texture, and the legs moist and savoury.

We had our roast duck with steamed carrots, roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, peas, gravy and some shop bought cranberry sauce. And, the kids loved it.

I found a new home for the charcoal indoors so next time it should be nice and dry.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Aussie Damper Bread on a Stick - Chapter 3


And also our lovely Luca's ninth birthday. After igniting a fair sized box of fireworks in our friends Katie and Cai's garden, I spontaneously decided to make a batch of damper dough for the kids to bake on the fire in the brazier.

The simple mix of self raising flour, milk (or water) and a bit of salt was mixed in a bowl, kneaded to a light dough, and wrapped in foil for a while until the fire subsided to embers.

Cai's son Louis was sent on a mission to find sticks in the garden the thickness of his little finger and about 50cm long. He returned with some bamboo gardening stakes which were just perfect. Cai sawed off the ragged ends and washed the dirt off them before I worked a small ball of dough a bit larger than a golf ball onto the end of each one for the kids to slowly roast over the embers.

The kids took their damper and rotated them constantly and slowly over nice hot spots above the embers for about 15 minutes until the damper expanded to about double the size and was a lightly toasted colour on the outside. For the kids 15 minutes was an eternity, constant cries of 'mine's ready' were countered by me reassuring them that it would be worth the wait.

After being removed from the sticks, the dampers were broken open, buttered and topped with jam, Marmite, whatever. They loved them.

For the recipe look at Aussie Damper Bread on a Stick.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Ben's Built-in Braai - Chapter 3


Attended by all those who helped plus spouses and kids, this was a great night and one to be remembered. For his architect (me), his builder (Rob), his South African neighbour on a spade (Riaan), his South African friend on a spade (Dean), wives, young'uns and Riaan's sister who was visiting from South Africa, Ben and Tersia put on a proper feast and celebration.

Oxfordshire's autumnal weather kicked off with a heavy rain shower before the guests arrived, but the night stayed respectfully still, cool and dry for the occasion.

We could smell the wood smoke and spices as we approached his house on foot. When we arrived the braai was in full flame and the potjie was simmering gently with just a few embers below it. A hardwood fire was blazing in the back corner of the braai to provide warmth for the guests and a supply of embers for the potjie and braii tool (grilling rack) when needed.

We blokes hung around by the new braai admiring the set-up and talked long and hard about our barbeqeing memories. I obtained an insight into the long and sophisticated tradition of cooking with fire in South Africa. This is so unlike Australia where as a child I was often horrified at how grown up friends and relatives could so easily destroy my food. Fortunately Australia's barbequing culture has moved on since the 70's. It will although never have, in my opinion, the depth of the South African tradition as it has always been a suburban pursuit rather than a rural one.

Given the number of guests and the age range (11 adults and 8 kids) Ben deliberated long and hard about the menu for the milestone event. For the first course he made chicken tandoori kebabs served with poppadoms, home-made raita and salsa plus a sweet chutney. Boerewors sausage was grilled for the kids so they could get on to watch TV and play games.

The main course was a slow cooked lamb curry, spiced rice, saag aloo and naan bread. For dessert Tersia produced a gorgeous white chocolate panna cotta.

Chunks of lamb on the bone were meltingly tender and the handful of garam masala thrown in ten minutes before serving was Ben's special trick to intensify an already wonderful taste and aroma.

Under no pressure at all (yeah right) Ben has so generously provided his recipes because basically I gave him no choice.

Get yourself a local architect and builder and you can have one all of your own. Go on, you know you want to.

Tandoori Recipe:


1 pint of live natural yogurt
1 Tablespoon Cumin powder
1 Tablespoon Garam Massala
1 Teaspoon Coriander powder
1 Teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 Teaspoon Chilli Powder
Juice 1 lemon
8 cloves garlic - crushed
1 inch grated ginger
Red food colouring
4 pieces of skinless chicken on the bone
1 Lemon


Mix the spices, colouring, lemon juice and garlic and ginger up into a paste with a little water and stir in well with the yoghurt. Marinate for 12 hrs. Shake off excess marinade and place chicken pieces on skewers. Braai for 10-15 minutes and check the chicken is cooked by piercing the thickest piece with a skewer, if the juices run clear it's cooked, serve with a wedge of lemon.

Curry recipe:


2 kg of lamb stewing meat
Two tins of chopped tomato
3-4 Stems of finger length fresh ginger, peeled and grated.
5 cloves garlic chopped finely or crushed to paste
4 large onions sliced finely
4 large carrots chopped
4-5 medium potatoes cut in quarters
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
6 cardommom seeds crushed
4-5 Star anis pods
1 Cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons Garam Masala
3 tablespoons of Mild Curry powder
1 tablespoon Turmeric
3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Chilli powder to taste, half teaspoon for mild
Lamb stock 2-3 tomato tin full
Fresh Coriander for garnish
Chopped almonds if wanted for garnish


Brown meat in veg oil. Remove from pot. Brown onions with garlic ginger and all spices. Do not let it burn. Add meat and juices to onions and spices. Brown for a further few minutes and add tomatoes. Put two tomato tins full of stock in now as well. Cook slowly until meat is almost tender(1-1.5hrs). Add carrots and potatoes and add another tin of stock. If curry is to dry to your taste, add more stock. Season. Cook for another 30 min until potatoes are cooked. Take off heat for at least 25 minutes. Best to cook previous day. Garnish with Fresh Coriander and almonds.

Saag aloo recipe:


7-9 medium sized potatoes of your choice, cut into quarters
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
A few Cumin seeds and fennels seeds Teaspoon in total
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli/chilli powder (or more if you like it hot!)
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
Fresh spinach, a good few hands full, dont cut
Water for boiling
Vegetable oil for Frying


Par boil the potatoes. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat then add the garlic and spices. Drain the potatoes once they are ready and put them in the pan as soon as the garlic begins to turn brown. Turn up heat. When the potatoes are brown, add the spinach and once the spinach has wilted, turn off the heat.

Tandoori Chicken on FoodistaTandoori Chicken

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Ben's Built-in Braai - Chapter 2

The traditional South African outdoor kitchen in Witney, Oxfordshire has become a reality.

Ben sent me this photo from his mobile on the weekend to proudly show off his new toy for the coming winter. Over the past weeks we've had plenty of discussions about firewood, cooking pots, rotisseries, you name it.

In the traditional way, this braai will be used for grilling, slow cooking in a three legged pot (potjie - pronounced poit-kee) and baking bread using hardwood embers.

The design and construction team will be enjoying Ben's delights at a ceremonial party in just a few weeks, so watch this space.

Monday, 30 August 2010

The X-Grill Barbeque


Also branded as the Hotspot Notebook Portable BBQ, this has to be one of the most versatile pieces of charcoal fuelled outdoor cooking equipment I've ever come across. Lightweight and compact, it's a must have for camping and picnicking. I first saw one when we were camping with family and friends in Gloucestershire and decided to get one for a camping weekend in the Cotswolds. It folds up flat so it's easy to pack and has carry handles. The design is simple and it works.

With any charcoal barbeque I look for a couple of key features; adjustability in cooking temperature, air supply for the cooking fuel, and easy refuelling when cooking.

With any charcoal barbeque, varying cooking temperature is best achieved by concentrating the coals in one area so food or cookware can be moved around to areas of lower or higher temperature. For refuelling, I keep one end open so I can place extra coal on the fire using tongs.

Our first meal on the X-Grill was slow cooked pork with paprika cooked in a paella pan. The fire was kept to one end and I slid the grill rack to the side a bit to get better access to the fire. After the meal was finished, I closed up the open end, removed the grill rack and we used the X-Grill as a brazier for an open fire for the evening.

All in all, this is one of the best camping accessories I've bought. The only trade off is lightweight vs robust. It won't last forever like our trusty 'Go Anywhere Weber' so expect it to last only a couple of summers, but it makes up for it in every other way. So, my scores from 1-5 are:

Value for money - 5
Flexibility -5
Portability - 5
Longevity - 2

I've also discovered a larger stainless steel version at £35 which may well come up with a perfect score.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Rosé Wine Sauce with Sage Butter


This was invented for a summer dinner party to accompany spit roasted pork shoulder cooked on the outdoor rotisserie. The idea is based on a white wine sauce, but uses rosé instead and is flavoured with sage infused butter. The taste is unique and summery, and suited the slow cooked pork perfectly.

INGREDIENTS (for 6 people):

- 12 to 15 fresh sage leaves
- 50g lightly salted butter
- 1 heaped tbsp of plain flour
- 1/2 bottle of rosé
- 500ml chicken or pork stock
- salt and pepper


This sauce should be prepared a few hours earlier and then reheated just before serving. In a small saucepan, add the rosé, bring to the boil, and simmer until the wine is reduced to about a third of the original quantity. Meanwhile, gently heat half of the butter in a saucepan until melted and just starting to froth. Fry the sage leaves carefully for a few minutes being careful not to let the butter burn. Remove the sage leaves and stand on kitchen paper to use as a garnish later.

Add the flour to the sage infused butter and whisk to a smooth consistency. Add the rosé wine reduction and the rest of the butter combining the ingredients with a whisk or a wooden spoon, season with salt and pepper and add the stock. Simmer and stir, tasting from time to time, until the sauce reduces and thickens to the right consistency. Cover the sauce until you are ready to reheat for finishing your pork or poultry main course.

Garnish with the crispy fried sage leaves, they are an intense delight that compliment the more subtle sage aroma of the sauce itself.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Pork & Paprika Over an Open Fire


Inspired by a gloriously hot weekend in the Cotswolds, this is heart warming, slow cooked camp food at its best. I served this with garlic potatoes cooked in foil over the embers.

The promise of endless sunshine was too hard to resist so we took Roxy, our beloved 1971 VW Dormobile, for a spur of the moment weekend at the camp site at Folly Farm in Gloucestershire, about 20 miles from where we live.

I raided the freezer for some pork shoulder I knew I had, then discovered an unopened spice jar of paprika in the pantry and only had to top up with the remaining ingredients on the day. This was also an opportunity to test our newly aquired X-Grill folding portable barbeque.

INGREDIENTS (4 big serves):

- 1.2kg pork shoulder off the bone
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 2 large capsicums, finely chopped
- 1 large tomato roughly chopped
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 small bottle of lager (or stock)
- 20g (4 heaped teaspoons) paprika
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste


First, cut the pork into large (5cm) chunks and mix in a bowl with a dash of olive oil and half of the paprika to marinate. Then prepare the onions, garlic, tomato and capsicums so everything is ready for when the fire is on.

Prepare a charcoal cooking fire suitable for a paella dish or flame proof pot, and once mature, sear the marinated pork while the heat is high in a dash of olive oil, then take it out and wrap it in foil. Add some more olive oil (I used the rind of the pork for the fat) and cook the onions until soft. Then add the capsicum, garlic and lager (or stock) and simmer it down for a while before returning the pork to the pan. Stir in the remainder of the paprika, cover in foil (or a lid if you have one) and keep an eye on it for a couple of hours until the pork is meltingly tender and the sauce nice and thick.

You may have to add a bit of water, beer or stock from time to time depending on how hot your fire is. The good thing about a charcoal fire is that it starts off hot, and then subsides steadily to give a constantly reducing cooking temperature.

I made a few customisations to the new X-Grill for this one. I kept one end open so I could easily access the fire, and kept the fire to the other end so I could move the pan along if the fire was too hot. This worked a treat and I was well impressed as to how versatile this new piece of cooking kit actually was. For half the price of a 'Go Anywhere Weber' the X-Grill won't last a lifetime (one summer if you are lucky) but it is a very practical and versatile open fire cooker. It also makes a great fire pit once the meal is done and the sun has set.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Garden Spit Roast - Chapter 4

This is a bit like putting a normal sized kebab on a photocopier and making it ten times the size. This experiment is actually the precursor for the giant goat kebab fantasy that I am promising myself will happen this summer.


- 1.9kg leg of lamb, boned and cut into about 6 fist sized chunks.
- 1 red onion cut in half
- 2-3 mixed peppers cut in half and de-seeded
- 1 tablespoon of freshly ground cumin
- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 handful of fresh coriander leaves
- 1 teaspoon of salt


Mix the lamb, olive oil, ground cumin, and coriander leaves in a bowl and cover for a few hours to marinate. Prepare the charcoal fire and let it mature whilst the giant kebab is being assembled. Good lumpwood charcoal is best, and keep the coals to the sides, not beneath the food.

On a 60cm spit, alternate chunks of lamb, onion and peppers and pack them tightly together. Season the surface of the lamb with salt. Start cooking the kebab when the charcoal is at its hottest, then let the embers burn down a bit, only adding small amounts of fuel every 30 minutes or so.

To get meltingly tender lamb, you need to let it cook slowly for 2-3 hours over coals that are just hot enough to create a very gentle sizzle on the surface of the meat.

This one of course was done on my trusty battery powered rotisserie which has featured since Garden Spit Roast - Chapter 2 (and still running on the same two batteries I have to add), but with proper dedication, it could have been done by hand in the same way many Italians cook capretto (roasted baby goat or kid) beside an open fire.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Ben's Built-in Braai - Chapter 1

This little project is from one of those bizarre connections that can only be put down to fate. A good friend who is also the local vicar (and well aware of my fire and food obsession) had put me in touch with a South African guy who was wanting to create a traditional South African outdoor kitchen, in the middle of Witney in West Oxfordshire and only a few streets from where I live. For the first time, my passion for cooking outdoors met completely with my professional life as an architect.

Most architects would see a project like this as either too small or uneconomic to take on. Not me, I embraced it as a necessary part of continuing professional development.

I'm fascinated by the way that South African's bring South Africa with them wherever they go. Ben cooks outdoors all year round and has been relying solely on his trusty Weber. His requirements were very specific as one would expect.

Local planning laws require permission to build anything in your garden that is made of masonry and connected to the house, so I was commissioned to prepare documents to support the planning application and to help get it built.

This built-in braai is to be made from reconstituted cotswold stone bricks, rendered concrete blocks, cast concrete for the work tops, and timber trellis for the screen. We have started the process of looking for tradesmen to do the work, so, hopefully, it should be fully operational some time this summer. I'm planning to document the construction process in subsequent chapters so watch this space.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Garden Spit Roast - Chapter 3


I am a fair way from ascending to my next fantasy of the Giant Goat Kebab, but a gorgeous Saturday invited me to put two boned shoulders of lamb on the rotisserie to feed an eager group of local friends for a dinner party.

The Giant Goat Kebab thing so far only exists as a bunch of sketches in my note book. I'm still hunting for readily available kid to experiment with before I inflict it upon my unsuspecting guests and friends.

Lamb on a spit however is less risky and has reminiscences of my fairly recent Janjetina experiences in Croatia. I procured two shoulders of lamb from my local supermarket and spent a disproportionate amount of time filleting them with a super sharp Opinel carbon steel knife before wrapping them together around my spit with some good kitchen string.

The filleted shoulders were first rubbed with salt, garlic and rosemary before being rolled up in the hope that the pure long-cook flavour from the whole-animal spit roast would be achieved. Two and a half hours over a medium charcoal fire did the trick. I wrapped the lamb in some foil before slicing off 25mm thick portions for my guests. The bones from the filleting exercise were pan fried before adding to the stock pot with celery, onion (skin on) and carrot. I also reduce a bottle of Spanish red wine to mix with the stock and a little flour to make a rich sauce to serve with the thick slices of slow cooked lamb.

Summer approaches and ideas for extreme fire food experiences continue to emerge.

Monday, 15 March 2010

The Fire Shop

1968-2000 (approx.)

From a recent visit to my old stomping ground in the east end of London emerged deeply fond memories of my favourite local haunt for simple, fresh, quality food. I re-walked the streets a couple of years ago and was devastated to find that the Gulistan Kebab House, New Road, Whitechapel was no more. Hoping to find its reincarnation at a different address I made local enquiries, none of which led to good news.

A humble shop front a few doors from the corner of Whitechapel Road, I affectionately named it the Fire Shop. Flickering flames from the grill behind steamed up glass acted as a beacon on dark London winter days and nights. There is a wide footpath in front of the London Hospital and as I walked it towards my east end flat from Whitechapel station (or from the London Hospital Tavern) the Fire Shop flickered away in the distance, luring me to treat myself to one of my treasured little snacks. I had to walk past the door, so I really had no choice.

For one pound fifty, two friendly men would work in perfect unison, one rolling and baking the naan bread in the tandoor oven, the other grilling two spicy lamb kebabs over the charcoal grill. Imagine the smell. The spicy minced lamb kebabs were pressed over fairly thick square steel bars, so the resulting kebab ended out hollow in the middle and not too thick on the outside. This also made them quite quick to cook. Two kebabs were then removed from the skewers and rolled in the naan with a little yogurt and fresh coriander leaves. Amazing smell, spiciness, freshness, and just the right amount for a moreish snack. Sometimes I’d be back for seconds within just a few minutes.

I haven’t been able to find any photos, reviews or advertisements to immortalise the memory of the Fire Shop. I’ve had to rely on my own memory and in doing so I made these two sketches, one showing where it was, and one more detailed sketch describing the layout. You couldn’t get more basic than this, a tiny shop with room for maybe 6 people to eat at stools and a small table, and another room upstairs. I remember dark plywood panels on the walls that must have been there since it opened in the sixties.

(1 Charcoal grill - 2 Tandoor - 3 Woks - 4 Large curry pots - 5 Fridge - 6 Chair for the naan man - 7 Bar and stools - 8 Table and bench - 9 Stairs to dining room - 10 Front door - 11 Shop front window - 12 Sneeze guard - 13 Door to back room - 14 Bread prep - 15 Kebab prep)

A range of other curry dishes were also on offer. Four or five large aluminium pots sat on the counter containing chicken, lamb and vegetable curries. These would be ladled into hot woks and finished with a bit of fresh chilli, yoghurt and coriander leaves before serving with hot naan bread.

I moved from the east end in 1993 to another part of London, and made frequent visits back to the Fire Shop for a taste of a treat I haven’t been able to find anywhere else since. On one visit I was greeted by my friendly one time neighbours and noticed a new addition to the fit-out: A glass sneeze guard between the customers and the large pots of curry. A health inspector had obviously made his or her mark. Before the days of the glass screen I know of at least one one pound coin that settled to the bottom of one of those deep pots. The knowing smile and gentle ‘not to worry’ head gesture I received from the naan man told me that it wasn’t the first time! The depletion of the contents of each curry pot must have resulted in a trove of loose change.

I am hoping this article will be the beginnings of a shrine for this wonderful east end institution. I know there are others out there who will share my passion and I really hope that this leads to the creation of a new archive to truly immortalise the Gullistan Kebab House. Please, if you know of anything, or anyone that has connections with the Fire Shop, do the right thing and send it my way.


*Gulistan is a town of about 75,000 people in the Balochistan region of Pakistan, about 8km from the Afghan border. Elevation: 1,480m

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Croatian Lamb on a Spit

This month has seen few opportunities for any decent fire food experiences at home. Fortunately I spent a week on business in Croatia and was thrilled to find that the ultimate all year round local favourite is roasted lamb on a spit know as janjetina. Mostly seen at roadside restaurants, the wood burning ovens and spits on display are too enticing to be missed.

Slightly salty, meltingly tender and served simply with fresh bread and a leaf salad dressed with vinegar and olive oil, this one is up there with my all time favourites.

My mission this year is to do one in the garden for an as yet unspecified special occasion.

Having no decent photos of my own, I did some web research and came across a Croatian foodie's blogsite where there is a wealth of information about janjetina. This is where the photo came from. Maninas: Food Matters is a must see. The posting on janjetina is entertaining and informative. My compliments to the writer/photographer.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Things To Do With Firefoodie's Christmas Chilli

Since handing out dozens of jars of Christmas Chilli recently, I've been getting all sorts of comments and ideas on what can be done with it. At our house, it's on the table with almost every meal. Our favourites (and some from our friends) for this special condiment are:

- Bangers and mash

- Penne alla arrabiata

- Fishermans' pie

- Chinese stir fry

- Chilli con carne

- Curries

- Pizza

- Brodo

- Anything Mexican

Now, as an ingredient, it's another thing. Our 16 year old son Charlie expects it in his sandwiches every day, and I love it in cheese toasties. Use it in the classic comfort dish Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino for example and you can't go wrong.

Anything with cheese or potato seems to be an overriding theme. It has a distinctive taste and aroma, far more than just a chilli kick!

We're down to our last jar and it's only January. I can see another order being placed for a box of chillies at the local market before too long.
Related Posts with Thumbnails