Spit Roast Experiment #2

Spit Roast Experiment #1 was in aid of Spit Roast Experiment #2, because we’d invited people over for #2 on the basis that we’d get all our issues sorted out from one test run.


Aim: Produce a good outstanding (let’s be honest) meal for friends using the spit roast.


  1. Spit roast
  2. Nino’s and Joe’s honeymoon roast – lamb with N&J’s homemade pork sausage stuffing (this could be apparently be construed as A Bit Rude but I don’t know what you’re talking about because MY MIND DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT)
  3. Salads from Sabrina Ghayour’s Sirocco
  4. Tart from Andrew
  5. Friends


  1. Learn from previous attempt and start the chiminea fire a bit earlier.
  2. Attempt to put the roast over the fire tray… have a bit of an accident and destroy the fire tray, so use the fire pit instead.
  3. Occasionally move more coals from the chiminea over to the fire pit.
  4. Admire the roast. And the fire.
  5. Construct two salads:
    • Potato, pea and spring onion: roast the baby potatoes and then smash them a bit; add dill, blanched then grilled spring onions, and peas. (I over-blanched the spring IMG_3769.JPGonions which was a bit sad, but it was ok nonetheless.)
    • Carrots and tahini: carrot, red onion, mint and meant-to-be-hazelnuts (I used pine nuts and almonds, because I forgot) with a dressing of tahini, lemon and oil.
  6. Serve with two bottles of 2006 shiraz.
  7. Have excellent conversation.
  8. When everyone’s done with main, serve a tart made by Andrew – a variation on a frangipane with alternating pear and raspberry on top.
  9. Bask in the glow of having accomplished your Aim.


IMG_3773.JPGYep; hotter and longer is the key to spit roast. Good to know. Also this was an excellent piece of meat to do in this way and we could definitely fit two onto the spit. Also very good to know. The meat cooked for about 3.5 hours; J thought this was too long, I thought it was fine, he’ll do it a bit shorter next time anyway.

A Sirocco Feast

Unknown.jpegWhen I got a copy of Sirocco from the publisher, I was incredibly excited. I adore Persiana, Sabrina Ghayour’s first cookbook, rather a lot: it’s like Jerusalem but slightly more work-a-day… and I think it’s a prettier book too, overall. I had no idea there was another one in the works, and there it suddenly was, on my doorstep!

I’ve cooked from it for the last week or so, but this weekend we had a friend coming over so I thought I’d go full Sirocco.

Main: roast chicken with vegetables.

The chicken has orange and lemon zest and za’atar slathered all over it. I just used the zester on the citrus; next time I would chop it a little finer, because it didn’t stay on the chicken quite as well as I’d hoped. But it was delicious, and I’ll be doing it like this from now on. I also put the zested lemon into the chicken cavity, as Nigella insists.

Souk-spiced root vegetables: turns out I had no cumin seed (?!), but in looking I discovered a jar of Moroccan souk spices that I’d forgotten which was basically what the recipe required. I used parsnip, potato, carrot and celeriac; it was my first time ever cooking (and, I think, eating) the last. Would do so again.

Beans: fried with mustard seeds, preserved lemon, garlic and some other spices. Was meant to have pickled chillies, too, but I couldn’t find what I thought were the right things.

Asparagus: just sat in boiling water for five minutes, then tossed with more preserved lemon, mint, and oil. Also meant to have preserved chillies. I didn’t use anywhere near the amount of preserved lemon suggested, and it was quite lemony enough; needed more mint but it was dark and cold when I went out foraging in the garden.

I think that this dinner will be made again.

Dessert: lime and basil cream

Not enough basil, sadly, but very tangy with the lime – zest and juice of two limes to 600mL of cream (2/3 of recipe). Was meant to be topped with a persimmon compote, but I didn’t realise it was persimmon season, so when I went to the shops and saw them I couldn’t recall how many I needed. Also, persimmons scary. So I did a little not-quite-compote with apples, lime and vanilla. It was very, very tasty; served in jars from Kate’s jams they looked amusingly bohemian. Because I didn’t think our martini glasses were big enough.


An average picture but a tasty meal.

It’s available from Fishpond. 

Camp cooking

Those are welding gloves, because that cast iron pot gets placed directly into the campfire. And then it has to be taken out again.

We quite like camping, of all varieties. We have more tents than would seem entirely sensible. We also have a Landcruiser troop carrier that we’ve recently kitted out with a frig, and a rather nice cooking set up. Because we also quite like cooking. The solution to either eating just Latina pasta or steak all the time, for my beloved, was this cast iron pot. Throw a mini roast in with some potatoes, a carrot, maybe a couple of shallots and as much of a tin of tomatoes and some water as will fit… put it onto the coals of the firepit you’ve had conveniently and cheerily smoking for an hour, and another hour or so later you’ve got dinner.

Things we didn’t realise: that the lid has one direction in which it sits flush. The other way around, it doesn’t. The theory is that this is for those occasions when you do want steam to escape, which I guess could be useful, but… it was frustrating when we didn’t realise.

We also didn’t realise how to care for cast iron, because it arrived sans any instructions about seasoning or care. So we found that out the hard way. Fortunately it’s not the sort of thing that can be easily destroyed, which I guess is the whole point with cast iron, right?

Anyway. The results have been… acceptable. We’ve only used it twice. Once while actually camping when we were quite pleased with how it turned out, even though frustrated by the lid. The second time was to check out how well we’d seasoned it, and that was somewhat less awesome. Partly it was because we used a larger piece of meat so it was squishier and therefore more bits of carrot ended up burnt on the side. Partly it was because cooking a la camping (we still used the firepit, in the backyard) just isn’t the same when you’re not, like, camping.

I think this is going to be a good addition to our camping experience. I think I have to find my recipe for damper as the next experiment.

Roast lamb

UnknownRoast lamb is an important part of my culinary heritage… but that doesn’t mean it’s sacrosanct. On the contrary: I have been slowly but surely trying new and interesting recipes for the cooking of the perfect lamb for a long time now.

And I’ll come right out, now, and admit that I am definitely in the Boneless is Better camp. I understand the bone does… something… but for ease of eating and time cooking, there’s really no going back from boneless.

Anyway, one of my favourite ways of roasting the dear little animal is courtesy of the only Jamie Oliver book I own, which was a present from a dear friend a while back: Jamie does Several Basically Unrelated Countries and Has His Photo Taken looking either Pensive or Manic. It’s in the French section, and involves first stuffing as much garlic, thyme and rosemary as you can into the meat – well, that’s my interpretation anyway. The meat then goes direct on to an oven rack, while underneath it goes a tray with pre-sauteed onion, garlic, leeks, a couple tins of white beans and a mound of herbs (oh and stock – enough that it’s not going to boil dry… oops…). Leave alone for a while. Done. You can mash the leek and bean dish a bit at the end, if you want, and then serve the meat on top.

Seriously brilliant.

No pics because we ate it too fast.