A quick camping bbq

September 12th, 2010 Comments off

Well, it doesn’t look like I’ll be creating some more elaborate things from books, so I’ll just add an entry here and there if I made something quick and easy or something for a particular occasion or ingredient.

Last weekend we went camping in a large group of 7 kids and 6 adults, 3 families. We do this once a year and one family is responsible for one dinner. This has to be something that can easily be made on a campground and that most (if not all) the kids will eat. This year I decided to make flank steak with seeded sourdough baguette and fresh salad. In a way, you could call this an open or deconstructed steak sandwich I guess.

Our turn was Saturday evening, and as we got there on Fri already I kept my meat frozen and let it defrost in the cooler, cooling my other food items at the same time. I marinated the two flank steaks for an hour or two in baggies. My marinade was made of Worcestershire Sauce, fresh ground pepper, some unground lemon pepper (a “built in” grinder for this had broken), I think a bit of olive oil. I sliced some green onions as garnish.

Unfortunately the firewood we got at the camp site was soft pine wood, completely wrong for cooking, but I had somewhat expected that and brought a bag of charcoal. Not exactly campfire cooking, but certainly better than sooty meat with pine flavor :-) Once the coals were nice and hot I cleaned the grates and oiled them, then the meat went on over med/high heat. I plugged my meat thermometer into the thicker piece, figured once that reaches some 130 or so degree the other one will be a bit more done, so people can select more or less rare pieces. Once the meat was done and resting I warmed the baguettes over the fire and prepared the salad.

I had brought a head of Nappa Cabbage, a very quick fresh and crunchy salad that keeps very well with little refrigeration (a small cooler with a baggie of ice that I refilled at times). I’ve had other salads turn to slime in coolers. It’s also easy to prepare: hold it over your salad bowl (or a large camp pot in this case) and slice it with a sharp knife. Since the cabbage has a nice and slightly sweet taste, it’s also super easy to dress: some olive oil, some vinegar (I used cider vinegar this time, often make this with seasoned rice vinegar too), s&p and you’re done.

I sliced the rested meat against the grain into thin strips and sprinkled the green onion over it, served with the warm bread, salad, s&p and extra Worcestershire sauce if somebody wanted, and there you have it, quick and easy to prepare camp food that delicious and freshly made.

I love cooking over fire, next time I might bring some oak wood (if I find room in my truck) to cook over, but the coals worked just as fine and made a good fire starter for the camp fire later that night. And I’m soon going to buy a fire pit for our back yard and experiment with open fire and dutch oven cooking.

Categories: Camp Cooking Tags:

May 24th, 2010 Comments off

Well, time flies and May is almost over, hard to believe! We are “suffering” through just about the worst spring I’ve ever encountered in Northern California, I doubt we’ve had a single day in the 80es yet, lots of rain, cold wind, overcast skies. Not my kind of weather and certainly not inviting to cook anything much outdoors.

Lots of other things kept me busy too, the kids, art classes, photography, cooking was mostly some quick standards over the recent months. Not that that’s bad food, a quick standard can be anything from steak with potatoes and salad, curry chicken with naan bread and salad, variations on pork, etc. Just nothing out of the ordinary, but hopefully that will change quickly now!

The bad weather also kept me from the farmer’s market, or we were out of town, but during a recent stop at whole foods they had piles of fresh in the shell chick peas (garbanzo beans) and I jumped on them. I had recently read about them and thought about frying or roasting them, of course I could not find the recipe (magazine? recent cookbook? Old cookbook recently read?) and unfortunately they were a bit less fresh or older than I thought, so me and the kids spent quite a while shelling them. Not too much fun, I could shell fava beans for a day, but these are pretty cumbersome in comparison.

I decided to steam them until almost tender, then toss them in the frying pan with some butter, salt and a touch of cayenne. Came out really tasty, if I can find fresh shelled ones I’d get them and happily pay for the shelling. I used them as a side dish with bone in skin on chicken thighs with pesto and pancetta. Aside of the work the peas require, this is a quick mid week dinner. I used the already diced pancetta from Trader Joes, as well as their organic chicken. The pesto is from Costco, their Kirkland Cibo Naturals pesto. It comes in a large plastic jar and IMO is as close to home made as it gets. Certainly the best ready made pesto I’ve ever found. I squeezed some lemon juice in it too I think.

First I cooked the pancetta until browned, then I roasted some halved baby garlic that I also got at Whole Food. I love baby garlic, too bad it’s only around in spring! Once all that was browned I took the garlic out and added the chicken, which marinaded in a good covering of pesto. Cooked until nicely browned, I added some water to the pan, made sure all the good brown bits were scraped from the bottom and put the baby garlic on top to finish cooking through by steaming in the covered pan. This came out very tasty, takes maybe half an hour. I served some fresh red dandelion salad on the side with a lime dressing. And – as I finally remembered to take some pictures again – here they are:

fresh steamed chick peas

Pesto Chicken with Pancetta, Baby Garlic, Chick Peas and Dandelion Salad

The next larger project is my little one’s 3rd birthday party this weekend, hopefully the sun will return by then! I’m considering either a brisket or pork shoulder low and slow in the Big Green Egg and some brats and hot dogs for the kids, a big fresh salad and maybe something like fire roasted beets and onions.

Categories: Cooking, Dinner Tags:

Time to get cooking again!

March 6th, 2010 Comments off

Well, for several reasons my cooking has been on the down low lately, at least I did not get around to making anything out of the ordinary and never got around to posting. What I did cook a couple of times now is a simple Indian style curry chicken. I bought some very tasty curry mix in a Persian store, Madras Curry Powder and the brand seems to be Camel. Comes in a pretty green tin and only costs $3.99 for 500 grams! Can’t beat that. The mix is very pleasant with a wonderful “curry aroma”, not too spicy either, which is great for the kids.

To make my curry I first cook some onion in oil until translucent. Then I make a hole in the middle of the pan and dump in a good tablespoon of curry powder and let it cook up for 30 sec or so – the “hole” gets dry very fast and allows me to toast the spices in the same pan. Then I mix it all together and add chicken pieces, usually skin and boneless chicken thy as it’s cheap and tastes better than chicken breast. I cut them into bite size pieces. I let this cook and brown, scraping the nice browned bits back into itself, sometimes have to add a bit of water. Of course you can get creative here and add other things, last night I used up a container of mild salsa and once off the heat added about two tablespoons of sour cream, both left over from a burrito dinner last week.

I serve this with one of my kid’s favorite things, “yellow rice”. I add about a scant tsp of tumeric (or sometimes some saffron) to the rice and mix it in, add some butter once finished at times. Some salad or simply a handful of scallions cut into 1 or 2 inch pieces to nibble on – or sliced and sprinkled on top. A quarter lemon or lime to sprinkle over on each plate looks nice and adds some nice acidity according to each diner’s wish. Tastes great, the house smells fantastic, and it’s so easy that I’m wondering why I used to buy simmer sauces or things like that.

I’ve also added sliced mushrooms to the onions before, tomato paste, things like that. Variations are easy to invent for this quick and easy midweek dinner. Make twice the amount of chicken and you have some wonderful leftovers that you can turn into a great curry chicken salad – add some currants, a bit mayonnaise, things like that.

Sorry, no picture, but it should be easy to envision the yellow and green colors on your plate.

The weather seems to finally be turning towards the better here in Northern California and I have many plans for open fire cooking. For one on my big green egg, which is probably the single best cooker I’ve ever bought or used, but I also want to cook on a fire pit and fire up the good old weber really soon. Matter of fact, I think I’ll check the freezer now and see what we could make tonight :-)

More to come, I also plan to cook quite some food from Ad Hoc at Home, a fantastic book. Inspiration seems to be catching up with me again, the gray skies are gone, flowers start to bloom, hopefully we’re done with the winter gloom now. Farmer’s market tomorrow!

Categories: Cooking, Dinner Tags: