Cook wild is not a new concept; cooking over anything other than a wood fire is a relatively new development for the human race. A recent study showed that 43 percent, or some 3 billion members, of the world’s population rely on wood fires for their primary source of cooking and heating. Gas or electric stoves are great but we are in danger of losing the knowledge and skill required to cook over a fire.
Author Susanne Fischer-Rizzi has preserved some of this knowledge in her new book Cook Wild. I have read a number of outdoor cookbooks and most of them share a number of identical recipes and techniques but Cook Wild is different. It’s not just another take on foil dinners – there’s some interesting techniques and really great recipes.
Cooking in a bottle? Never heard of it before but according to the author in describing “Fagioli Al Fiasco”;
This traditional method is probably the best way to cook beans. It comes from Tuscany and is a speciality of the city of Florence, where beans are prepared in a round-bodied bottle or demijohn (called a fiasco; if the bottle is sealed firmly with a cork during the cooking process, it can burst and that would indeed be a fiasco).
Traditionally, in the evening the beans in the bottle were placed in the warm embers, or in a wood stove after bread-baking, and by morning they were cooked.
Now where did I put my demijohn?
Fischer-Rizzi also shares more familiar techniques with great recipe ideas; Lebanese flatbread, couscous from Senegal, Russian woodcutters tree cake, and baba gahnoush to name but a few.
I am really excited about trying out these recipes and techniques. Fischer-Rizzi’s enthusiasm is contagious:
Cooking on an open fire is an activity that gives me enormous pleasure. It means spending time outdoors with family and friends… I may cook dishes from around the world or traditional dishes prepared according to old, almost-forgotten recipes. Nature is my kitchen – a kitchen so practical, original and sensual that any modern high-tech kitchen is dwarfed in comparison and the microwave becomes a soulless appliance…
Children need to experience an elementary, immediate and genuine closeness to fire, as well as to nature as a whole; otherwise they lose their awareness of the natural world…
The place where you cook and eat, even temporarily, becomes your home. So by cooking on an open fire nature and the wild cease to be surroundings… The further we move away from nature in our everyday lives, the greater is the healing power of time spent outdoors without pressure to achieve.
Cook Wild is available at Amazon
How about calzones on your next camping trip?
Calzone pizza pockets are ideal for a celebration or a party outdoors. Simply arrange the various ingredients on leaves as a buffet, so that each guest can create their own filling. I often make calzone pizza on my wildlife courses, and it is
always a success and tastes delicious.
For 5–7 pizzas
1 packet natural dry yeast (from a health food shop)
or 1/2 cube fresh yeast
500 g (1 lb) 3 3/4 cups flour
2 tbsp of olive oil
about 200 ml (6 3/4 fl oz) 3/4 cup water
1–2 mozzarella balls or finely diced cheese
3 tomatoes, sliced
herbs, e.g. basil, thyme, oregano (wild herbs are also good)
Mix the dry yeast and the flour well; or completely dissolve the fresh yeast in some warm water or warm milk, and then add the flour.
Add the salt, olive oil and water and knead into a smooth pizza dough. If the dough is too soft it may ooze through the grill. Form the dough into a ball, dust it with flour and leave to rest close to the fire for 1 hour in a bowl covered with a kitchen towel, until its volume has doubled.
Divide the dough into peach-sized balls and press flat. Put the desired filling ingredients on one half. Fold the other half over to form a half moon and press together thoroughly round the edges.
Place the filled pockets on the grill and bake above the embers for about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the dough. The calzone pizzas are done when you tap them and they sound slightly hollow. They can also be baked on a hot flat stone, clay oven or Dutch oven.
Instead of the tomato slices you can spread tomato purée or strained tomatoes on the dough before putting on the other ingredients.
A bowl; a grill with as little space possible between the bars or a flat stone.
A fire with a lot of mature embers and few flames.
Wild plant information
You can also fill the pizza pockets with wild herbs mixed with ricotta, quark or crème fraîche. Fresh thyme and wild marjoram give both variations an Italian flair.You can also season them with salt and pepper and perhaps nutmeg.