The Camping Kitchen
Roughing it never tasted so good. With a little help from our experts, go fish, forage and frolic to your heart’s desire and still bring your A+ cooking game to the great outdoors.
Styled by Kara Mickelson | Photographed by Shane O’Donnell
Peanut Butter Chocolate
Makes 6 s’mores
Gloriously gooey, unexpectedly peanut-buttery, filled with rich, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate espresso ganache. Make the graham crackers and ganache in advance (can be frozen too) and assemble on-site with toasty marshmallows.
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup smooth peanut butter, without
sugar or salt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons molasses
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon seeds from
- 1 vanilla pod
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cups whole-wheat flour
- ¼ cup buckwheat flour
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 8 ounces dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate, 60% cocoa
- 6 ounces heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 24 large marshmallows, or one jar of marshmallow whip, divided
- 6 teaspoons peanut butter
- optional: roasted, salted peanuts
(whole or chopped)
To make the peanut butter graham crackers, cream together sugar, butter, peanut butter, honey and molasses in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until creamy. Add salt, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla seeds and extract, and mix well. Slowly add half of the flour and mix thoroughly. Add milk and then the remaining flour, and beat until combined.
Remove from mixer and form into a ½-inch disc between two pieces of parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes in refrigerator. Roll out between two sheets of parchment paper to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with a 4-inch fluted cutter and add vent holes with the back of a toothpick or skewer by lightly poking dough. Freeze overnight on a parchment-lined sheet tray. Preheat oven to 325º and bake 8 to 10 minutes, from frozen, or until edges start to brown. Cool and reserve.
To make espresso ganache, add chocolate chips to a large bowl. Bring cream to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in espresso powder. Pour hot cream over chips and let sit for 10 seconds. Slowly stir with a wooden spoon until thick and creamy. Pour into a 9×13 cake pan or rectangular vessel lined with a buttered piece of parchment paper. Chill overnight. (Can be made 3 days in advance.) Cover with parchment paper after chocolate sets. Cut ganache into 2½-inch circles or 3-inch squares, for a total of 6 pieces. (Cut and freeze up to 7 days.)
To assemble s’mores, spread one side of graham cracker with 1 teaspoon peanut butter, sprinkle with nuts and top with a piece of espresso ganache. Toast marshmallows (4 per s’more) and place on the inside of the graham cracker top. Heat a few minutes on the grill or in the oven, on a foil-lined sheet tray or cast iron skillet. Carefully top each base with the gooey marshmallow. Serve.
|Keep it Simple
|Choose proteins such as meat with quick cooking times. Brisket and ribs sound enticing but will keep you monitoring the grill for long periods. If you have a decked-out trailer, choose an energy-saving Crock-Pot dish versus keeping the oven on for menu items with longer cooking times.
|Cast iron skillets that harken back to pioneer days will set you up in style for cooking, serving and cleaning. They are heavy yet durable and if properly seasoned will clean without soap and go directly from hot grill to table. They retain heat; so cover the handles and bottoms with cooking mitts or heavy kitchen towels.
Grilled Mixed Lettuces with
Radish, Tomato, Green Onion &
Sesame Kimchee Vinaigrette
Quick-grilled mixed greens still maintain side salad status, but the melted butter, smoky char and flavorful Sesame Kimchee vinaigrette make this a light, appetizing main course on a warm summer night. Make vinaigrette up to 3 days ahead.
Sesame Kimchee Vinaigrette (makes 1½ pints)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 tablespoons finely minced kimchee (found at specialty or Asian markets)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds
- ¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1-2 tablespoons raw honey
- 1 cup vegetable oil (or safflower or grapeseed)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ⁄8 teaspoon ground white pepper freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons water
heads of hardy lettuce (such as romaine hearts, radicchio, Little Gem, green or red leaf heirloom, ½ head per person) melted butter sliced cherry tomatoes, radishes, green onion, lemon wedges Alaea Hawaiian sea salt or flake salt
Combine all dressing ingredients in jar and shake. For best flavor, allow the dressing to marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving over your favorite greens. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.
Clean lettuce and then slice in half, leaving the stem intact. Use smaller heads that will result in manageable serving portions. Brush the cut side with melted butter and place on a medium-hot grill or in a cast iron skillet that has been heated on the grill or stovetop. Heat about 1 to 2 minutes on the cut side to create a nice smoky char.
Serve in tins or individual cast iron skillets with sliced cherry tomatoes, radishes, green onion, lemon wedges. Sprinkle with salt.
|Add flavor-enhancing herbs, aromatics and seasoning spices to pre-made sauces, glazes, dressings, gourmet spreads and compound butters for quick, easy flavor. Think rubs, spice mixes, pickled condiments and toppings such as candied nuts that add flavor and limit the amount of ingredients you have to wrangle in your campsite kitchen.
|Go both raw and grilled. Recipes like grilled mixed lettuces can fill up you and your plate, eliminating an extra side dish. Fruits such as apples, pears or sliced, grilled stone fruit can be topped with browned butter, honey, nuts, coconut flakes, crème fraîche, melted chocolate and salted caramel for a quick dessert. And they are great fresh or grilled in salads or served with breakfast.
Bear Claw French Toast
Serves 6 to 7
Kid-friendly, with creamy-tart labneh cheese and maple almond butter will have you out of bed before the birds start chirping.
- 6 extra-large eggs
- 1¾ cups half and half
- 1 vanilla bean, deseeded
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract pinch ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large loaf challah, frozen
- 1 ounce unsalted butter vegetable oil
- 1 cup raw almonds
Almond Butter Filling
- 7 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 tablespoons muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar
- 1 ⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted blanched whole almonds
- 1–2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- Place all almond butter filling ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Chill for 15 minutes. Reserve.
Paw Print Mixture
- ¾ cup labneh cheese, found at Middle Eastern
or specialty markets (or equal parts cream cheese and crème frâiche, creamed together)
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
Preheat oven to 325º or turn grill to mediumlow. Whisk together the eggs, half and half, vanilla beans and extract, liquor, nutmeg, and salt. Cut the frozen challah in 1- to 1½-inch thick slices. Carefully slice into the crust on one side and create a pocket, about 1½ inches wide and deep. Fill each pocket with 1 tablespoon of almond butter. Soak the slices (on both sides) in egg mixture.
Heat oil and butter in a very large sauté pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the soaked bread and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Sauté the remaining soaked bread slices, adding butter and oil as needed. Reheat French toast in the oven or on the grill with a lined sheet tray or cast iron skillet until cooked throughout.
Create the “bear paw” in the center of each piece with the mixture, using the back of a spoon. Using a spatula, place in warmed minicast iron skillets and add the almond “claws.” Serve with maple syrup, fresh berries and confectioners sugar on the side.
|Consider grill size and available space for cooking. Campsite grills are typically smaller. Plan your menus around a few cooking methods and limited amounts of equipment versus setting a menu and then assessing equipment needs.
|A small, battery-operated milk whisk creates the perfect froth for a cup of joe. Set out a few cinnamon sticks, some fancy sugar cubes and ground nutmeg to up your game. Fill a thermos with iced Vietnamese coffee, Thai iced tea or hot water to pour your own brew at leisure.
Paying it forward.