29 April 2009

Big Basin Getwaway: Part II, The Food

As promised, here's the foof-y, foodie part of our 'glamping' weekend in Big Basin. What is it about cooking over an open fire and eating under the sun and moon that makes everything taste so good? The menu was planned around good, simple, healthy food, and easy prep and clean up. And everything except the salmon preparation was already an 'indoor standard.' All recipes serve four people.

Lanterns and romantic candlelight

I found these very 60's-pool-party battery-operated "Japanese" lanterns in Longs' seasonal aisle and we packed a box of canning jars because they're great for tea candles and for hot and cold drinks. And I brought my iPod and speakers and so did Donna and Dan.

Camp kitchen set up for lunch; frico (just before they completely disappeared...)

Friday Lunch

Italian Turkey Sausage and Peppers
Almost slice through four sausages lengthwise and roughly slice one onion and one green pepper and saute all in olive oil heated in a hot skillet over medium flame until the sausages are browned and the vegetables are caramelized. Salt and pepper vegetables and warm whole-wheat buns and plate.

Red Cabbage and Pear Cole Slaw:
I recently made this for dinner when my dear friend Dena visited from 'Gene, OR, and she featured the recipe on her great food blog, Dena's Recipe Exchange. You should definitely click through her great posts. My blog hits your screen because she did so much to encourage me and physically make it possible.

Crabcakes cooking away in the cast-iron skillet and plated with aioli and lemon

Friday Dinner


This couldn't be easier: heat a cast-iron skillet until hot with a little olive oil over medium-high flame and distribute a handful of parmesan or asiago cheese across the pan. Flip so it's golden brown on both sides and remove to a plate to crisp and cool for a moment and then break into pieces and pass around. Repeat.

Dice one celery rib, two scallion bulbs, one shallot, and one small carrot and mix with two cans crabmeat, one teaspoon mustard, two tablespoons mayonnaise, two tablespoons whole-wheat breadcrumbs or panko, one egg, and salt and pepper. Form into four cakes and bread with additional crumbs, chill, and brown in hot oil in a hot pan over medium flame and plate with aioli and lemon wedges.

Mince one clove garlic and mix with the juice from one-half lemon, one tablespoon olive oil, and two tablespoons mayonnaise.

Salmon glazed and skewered, and cooking away in the firepit

Glazed Salmon
Mix one tablespoon olive oil, one tablespoon balsamic vinegar, one teaspoon mustard, one teaspoon agave syrup, one teaspoon minced fresh dill, one minced scallion bulb, and salt and pepper and coat four salmon fillets. Skewer or place on grill until lightly charred and done to taste and plate with lemon wedges

I had been thinking about cedar-planking the salmon, but I decided that skewering them and cooking them vertically in the firepit would be a lot easier and just as fun. Donna completely thought the fillets would fall in the ashes, but balls of foil stabilized the skewers and the fillets, and it was great fun to do, and they came out perfectly cooked.

Secondo piatto: salmon plated with couscous and braised endive and radicchio; pears braising in prosecco in the cast-iron skillet

Braised Radicchio and Endive
Trim the stems of six small heads of endive and/or radicchio di treviso and slice lengthwise in half and place cut-face down in a hot pan with hot olive oil over a medium-low flame. Salt and pepper and drizzle several tablespoons of stock, wine, or water and let brown. Turn and brown, and plate.

Whole -Wheat Couscous with Shallots and Dried Berries
Mix one- and-a-half cup of whole-wheat couscous in a large covered serving dish with a small handful of dried blueberries, currants, cranberries, raisins, and/or other dried fruit. Add one-and-three-quarters boiling water , stir, and cover for five minutes. Add one minced shallot, salt and pepper, and one tablespoon olive oil and fluff with a fork and serve.

Wild Arugula with Citrus-Caper Vinaigrette
Add two tablespoons olive oil, two tablespoons balsamic vinegar, juice from one-half lemon or orange, one teaspoon mustard, one-half teaspoon capers, one small shallot minced, and a drizzle of agave syrup to a jar and shake until emulsified.

Pears Braised in Prosecco
Slice three pears in quarters and core (with skin on) and place cut sides down in a hot pan with melted butter over a medium-low flame. Sprinkle half teaspooons of lemon zest and grated ginger, drizzle a teaspoon of agave syrup and several tablespoons of prosecco and brown. Turn and brown, and plate with drizzled cream or yoghurt.

Second batch of pain perdu with sunnyside-up eggs cooking in the cast-iron skillet, and plated with homemade sausage, breakfast sweet potatoes, and orange and grapefruit

Saturday Breakfast

Homemade Turkey-Sage Sausage
Mix one-half pound ground turkey with one cup whole-wheat bread crumbs, one-half cup milk, two tablespoons olive oil, one teaspoon fresh or dried sage, a dash of red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Form into three by half-inch round patties and refrigerate or freeze until needed. Brown four sausage patties in a hot skillet with hot olive oil over a medium flame until cooked through.

Breakfast Sweet Potatoes
Slice two sweet potatoes into large cubes or thick slices (with skin on) and microwave for four minutes until they are fluffy and the flesh is sealed. Add to a hot skillet with hot olive oil over medium-high flame with one half sliced onion, two sliced scallion bulbs, one minced garlic clove, one tablespoon sliced sun-dried tomato and salt and pepper. Cook until potatoes are browned and vegetables caramelized and plate.

Brioche Pain Perdu
Slice eight half-inch thick brioche slices and cut slices diagonally to fit better in pan. Mix together two eggs, one cup milk, one teaspoon whole-wheat flour (for crispier pain perdu) a dash each of cinnamon, vanilla extract, and liqueur, and zest of one orange. Submerge slices briefly and brown in hot pan with hot olive oil over a medium flame, and plate with 10x sugar shaken through a sieve and accompanied by warmed maple syrup.

I always used to love to prepare a macedonia by supreming oranges and grapefruits; but since the fiber and pectin in citrus is really good for us, we always cut citrus into wedges now.

Chicken Tikka Masala and vegetable kabobs, and strawberry shortcake

Saturday Lunch

Donna and Dan made incredible Dagwood/Homer sandwiches for our strenuous hike (see my last post for the video replay) and for a special treat Donna had packed dried mango and Dan had found these great petite pickle packs (say that five time fast).

Saturday Dinner

Donna and Dan greeted us with Mango Screwdrivers and yummy cheese and crackers, and served incredibly tender and delicious Tikka Masala Chicken Kabobs (click on the small image on the right (think of it as an Indian Miniature...) to see Donna's full-size recipe) with vegetable skewers and Mango-Almond Rice, though she did try to kill me with all the cilantro in the marinade (Donna: "I can't believe you don't carry an EPI pen!"). As a special treat, dessert started off with my friend Kathy Wiley's Poco Dolce chocolate toffee crisps, followed by Dan's Strawberry Shortcake with whipped cream topped with chocolate shavings.

Sunday Breakfast

Donna and Dan made a great breakfast of blueberry pancakes and Aidell's Chicken-Apple sausages. The pancakes were incredibly light and fluffy; Donna swears by the Krusteaz batter mix, but I was insisting she must've meant Krusty's.

Thanks to Donna for many of the food photos from when I was cooking, and my apologies that I was too busy making food disappear when Donna and Dan were cooking to remember to take many pix.

General Camp-Cooking modus operandi

Donna and Dan do some of their prep in camp. I (surprise, surprise) like to prep all the dishes and have all the components bagged, labeled, and layered in the cooler, i.e. the crabcakes were formed in baggies with lemon wedges in a snackbag and aioli in a plastic container, salmon was sliced in a big baggie with the marinade ready in a snackbag and same for brioche and batter, pears were sliced and bagged with all the ingredients except the prosecco.

Everything except the salmon and the couscous was cooked in my trusty cast-iron skillet, which is especially easy to clean on a camping trip by boiling a little water in it and scouring out. If the menu's planned right, you can cook multiple courses without cleaning (i.e. frico > crabcakes > endive and radicchio > pears). Couscous' easy everywhere, and the pears were braised in prosecco because we had prosecco open for the meal...

Donna and Dan plate stuff; in our camp, salad for dinner and citrus for breakfast were served in baggies. I know, glasses not plastic cups, but baggies not bowls? Chacun a son gout...

We used recycled-paper plates and soy or potato compostable flatware, and foil is useful so many ways on a camping trip including keeping things clean and warm.


  1. OMG I'm totally kvelling -- this is so great! And I'm gonna have to feature this on my blog...the recipes are too good!!! (In fact, may need to make frico tonight...)

    This is a great post. Love it. Want more. Yum.

  2. and, i'm so excited to see what that feature will be like! hope the frico was great...


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