Playing with fire


Hot news from Anna Hedworth, aka the Grazer…

I’m working on expanding my cooking on fire repertoire and took the opportunity to try a few new things on a short break in the Lake District, where I came up with the ideas on this page.

Fire makes me a bit more apprehensive than the safety of an oven, but it also allows you to be outdoors, and is a lot more exciting. I’ve been watching the new series of Chef’s Table on Netflix and one of my favourite episodes is from the first series about Francis Mallman, who has a restaurant in Argentina that focuses on Patagonian cuisine.

At one point Francis and his team are out in the snow on the edge of the forest, having dug a fire pit and set up whole lambs cantilevered over it, cooking all day. They set up a full table, rugs, furs, chairs, giant bottles of red wine and feasted in the snow – perfect. He has a small fishing boat with a little BBQ attached so he can float around on the beautiful lakes of Argentina, catching fish, putting them straight on the coals, relaxing and drinking red wine.

That’s where I’d like to get to – out in the quiet, fresh air, water, nature, fire, cooking and wine – a good life.

For now I’ve just got a small BBQ, and I’m thinking about where to dig the fire pit. It’s not all about huge chunks of meat either. Enjoy!

Read more from Anna online at and enjoy her home cooking at The Cookhouse, Ouse Street Newcastle, NE1 2PF

pea-podsBBQ pea pods
Take some fresh peas in their pods and put them on the BBQ early, while you’re still waiting for the coals to turn white, when it’s still a bit too hot for the meat. Lay out a layer of pods over the grill, turning them now and again until you get a good char on the outside, then take them off. The peas will steam inside their pods, so just sprinkle with lots of salt and suck them out – a lovely snack while the rest cooks.


potatoesBBQ new potato skewers
Par boil new potatoes, about 3 per skewer, depending on how big they are. Drain then leave them to dry in their own steam. Toss in olive oil and salt. Thread 3 or 4 onto wooden skewers (soak the skewers in water first so they don’t burn) and place them on the BBQ. Leave them for about 1 min on one side, then turn, and 1 min on the other, depending how hot your fire is, and they should take on a deep golden skin. Serve with lots of cold butter or a really good aioli.


bavette-steakBBQ bavette steak
Take a good 2kg piece of bavette, which is also known as the flank steak, to serve 6-8 people and marinate it, cook it quite quickly so it stays pretty rare, then slice thinly. Make the marinade first with some olive oil, a splash of sesame oil, a couple of centimetres of grated ginger, a clove of grated garlic, a splash of soy sauce, 1 tsp sugar, salt and pepper. Mix and adjust to your taste – more salt, more sweet, however you like it. Then cover the steak in it and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or so, or you leave it in the fridge overnight.

When the BBQ is hot, the coals white and the flames died down, put the steak on and give it 4 mins – don’t move it, this allows a crust to form – then turn and leave it alone for another 4 mins. To test it, just prod it with your finger – if it feels very soft it’s still very rare, but you want it when it just starts to firm up, like the bit of your palm next to your thumb feels when you prod it. Remember, don’t move it around, and just do the two turns. Take it off when you think it’s done and rest it for 5 mins, covered. This allows it to relax, keep its moisture and generally get over the aggression of the fire. Get a sharp knife and slice thinly to serve, about half a centimetreish (everything is a bit ish when it comes to cooking on fire, just practise and find your way, as I’m starting to – and enjoy it!).

Junk food
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