Saturday, July 17, 2010

Haute Campfire, vol. 1

How to elevate your campsite fare.

Alright happy campers, there is more to campfire cooking than weiners roasted on sticks, beans straight out of the can and s’mores. The beauty of campfire cooking is that everything you make tastes better. So if you are an alright cook at home, you will be awesome out here. To make life easier, I always pack little ziploc bags with spices. I make blends, my mexican blend with chilies, cumin and coriander, my imediterranean blend with oregano, rosemary, thyme, you get the idea. I also make little baggies of pancake batter, bannock dough, pizza dough and the like. You can mix all the dry ingredients, (including instant yeast) and the fat and then you just need to add water at the campsite. Be careful if you have to cross the border, there might be some ‘splainin’ to do.

One real quick meal is asian noodles It can all be done in one pan, and you can use whatever veggies and meats you have on hand. (at the folk fest camground, you can go get some veggies from our little porduce stand, a luxury you don’t have when camping in the deep dark woods) When I camp, I always like to bring a bag of frozen cleaned and deveined shrimp. It keeps your cooler cold, and can be turned into a light snack or quick meals. Those little tetra packs of tofu are great for the campsite as well.. To make campsite chow mein, slice up your veggies into bite size pieces. You want to take advantage of the campfire’s quick unpredictable heat so slice everything fairly thin. If you are using beef or chicken, slice it thin, shrimp is right out of the bag. tofu cut into ½ inch bricks. You can also crack open a can of chick peas or kidney beans if that is what you have. Heat you frying pan over the fire. Pour in a little oil. Quickly sautee your protein, add your veggies. If you brought ginger, garlic or chilies add it now. Now here’s the trick, you need to save those little pacakges of soy sauce you get with chinese takeout. Add some soy sauce to the pan and a little splash of ketchup (everyone always has ketchup at the campsite). The ketchup adds as little sweetness, some tang and that glossy chinese stirfry look. Now add your noodles. I like those little mini packs of steamed udon noodles, or those steamed chow mein egg noodles work great. Try to get a noodle that is already fully cooked. Even you instant ”mr. noodles” would work. Add a splash of water or apple juice to heat the noodles and make a sauce. Garnish your noodles with a little toasted peanuts, trail mix or everyone’s camprgound favourite “gorp” for a little texture.

I love to do Huevos Rancheros on the campfire. You use salsa to protect your egg from the inconsistent heat of the campfire. To make, heat salsa in a frying pan. When it comes to a low boil drop in one or more eggs. Poach to desired doneness. If it is getting too hot, remove pan from heat. It will continue to poach with its own heat. Heat up a toritlla on the side of the grill. Drop egg and some salsa onto the tortilla. Garnish with cheese, lettuce, tomato, green onion, or whatever you have.

For something more substantial, I make cast iron cassoulet. Grill sausages, whatever sausages you may have. Sautee bacon and onions in a cast iron pan. add a sprig of thyme or rosemary. Add tomatoes, the grilled sausage and canned beans. (you can use white beans, black beans or even libby’s brown beans). Season with salt and pepper. Then take some bread crumbs, or crumble up some stale bread and mix it wth butter. Sprinkle crumb on top of cassoulet. Classic french cooking over a campfire!

For dessert, here is a great cast iron rocky road brownie recipe. In a bowl mix 6 tablespoons cocoa, 1 cup sugar, and ¼ tsp salt (you could have this all done ahead in a little baggie) Mix in ½ cup vegetable oil or butter with 2 eggs. Grease your heaviest pan with oil or butter. I like to bring a cast iron pan camping, In the pan toast about ½ cup nuts. You can use walnuts, pecans, peanuts, whatever you have. Get the nuts nice and hot, because these will help cook the batter from the inside out. Spread batter into the pan. Sprinkle with with chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. If you have any caramel candies, throw those in as well. You can even add broken up cookies or chocolate bars. The whole thing is going to look like a mess, but will taste fantastic. Keep pan away from the hottest flame and when the batter is about half cooked remove from the heat and cover with a large plate, pizza pan or tin foil. Let the heat of the pan fininsh cooking the batter. Dig in!

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