Food & dining

Cook in your own fireplace

Red peppers are among the dishes that can be cooked over a glowing bed of embers in a fireplace.
Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff
Roasted red peppers are among the dishes that can be cooked over a glowing bed of embers in a fireplace.

It takes about two hours and eight logs to get a nice bed of embers for cooking. We learned this when a glowing red and white-hot bed remained after another lazy holiday fire was fed log after log. Surely this glorious heat could be used to cook real food — not just chestnuts and s’mores, but a cast-iron skillet of sizzling chicken, roasted red peppers close to the embers for peeling and turning into a sweet-and-sour Italian salad, a pot of quick baked beans with hot dogs.

And so the fireplace at home became the cooking hearth for certain things. Equipment included a favorite cast- iron skillet found years ago at a flea market, a couple of old cake racks to set on the log stand, fireplace gloves, and long tongs. The daily experimentation began.

We made grilled cheese sandwiches with Muenster and honey-baked ham in double-handled pie irons (from a camping trip), rotating them above the embers. We unlatched the hook to find perfectly toasted sandwiches.


A trip to the library yielded “The Kids Campfire Cookbook,” by Jane Drake and Ann Love. The recipes for hot dogs with a coil of homemade biscuit dough, for baked apples with cinnamon, and for bananas, split and stuffed with chocolate chips and marshmallows wrapped in foil, were all delicious.

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The volume often mentioned as the go-to source for cooking with fire is “The Magic of Fire: Hearth Cooking: One Hundred Recipes for the Fireplace or the Campfire,” by William Rubel, originally published in 2004. On Amazon a new copy is over $1,000, used $120.

Looks like we’re not the only ones with an interest.

Debra Samuels