Who said campfire food had to be bland? (mynameisharsha)
Blog Words : Food & Drink | 10 August

Campfire cookery: three meals to share around a fire

Camping in the wilderness doesn't mean soggy bread and cold beans for supper. Check out these top recipes from new book 'Campfire Cookery' for wholesome meals around the fire

"Bananas Foster" Pancakes

Provides 4-6 portions

As the bewhiskered Swiss philosopher Henri-Frédéric Amiel wrote, “each new dawn signs a contract with existence.” Although we prefer our male companions to be clean-shaven, we cannot help but agree with this sentiment. For our part, we often choose to celebrate the dawn’s new contracts as we do any successfully completed paperwork – by serving something sweet.

These pancakes, fragrant with spice, are brilliant on their own, or with toppings more austere than our concoction of bananas, walnuts, maple, and rum.

Any version makes for the start of a smashing new day.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp unsalted butter, add more if necessary

Sauce (optional):

4 tbsp unsalted butter
3 bananas, peeled and sliced into rounds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup grade-B maple syrup,
1 tbsp dark rum

1. Prepare a medium-high-heat fire, with the flames occasionally licking the grill grate. Let the fire burn steadily for 30 minutes. Place the skillet upon the grill to preheat.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, sour cream, egg, and vanilla. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Fold the batter together with a spatula or wooden spoon until few lumps remain.

3. Drop one tablespoon of the butter into the skillet and let it melt. Carefully pick up the skillet and swirl it about, coating the bottom. Cooking three pancakes at a time, drop three heaped tablespoons of batter into the skillet. Allow the pancakes to cook until bubbles form on the surface, two to three minutes. Use a heatproof spatula to flip the pancakes and cook for one minute longer. Transfer the pancakes to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm while one prepares the remaining pancakes, adding more butter to the skillet as necessary.

4. After the pancakes are made, prepare the sauce in the skillet. Drop in the butter, and once melted, add the bananas, walnuts, and maple syrup. Stirring occasionally with a long-handled spoon, allow the fruit to brown and the syrup to thoroughly warm, about five minutes. Transfer the skillet to a resting place to cool slightly, then stir in the rum.

5. Top the pancakes with the sauce and serve them hot.

Pine-smoked and maple-glazed wild salmon

Provides 4 portions

For all the robustness of the ingredients of this dish, the end result is notably delicate. One might ask, “Oh, but won’t the bracing scent of pine make the dish taste of Christmas fir or, worse, freshly waxed parlor?” It will not. The smoked needles impart a light, balsamic flavor akin to rosemary (indeed you could substitute a bundle of that herb in this recipe), and the light glaze allows the pine flavor to shine through. The overall effect proves an excellent complement to the moist, flaky fish this cooking technique yields. Should one desire a more intensely flavored glaze, one might make a bit extra to brush over the fish before serving.

Ingredients:

Up to 2 large handfuls green pine needles
1/2 cup bourbon
1/2 cup grade-B, freshly tapped maple syrup
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons freshly milled black pepper
Four 6-ounce salmon fillets, patted dry
Pinch of salt, to taste
One 9-inch round wire cooling rack

1. Prepare a medium-high-heat fire, with the flames occasionally licking the grill grate. Let it burn for at least 30 minutes. Whilst the fire heats, soak the pine needles in the bourbon.

2. In a bowl, whisk together the syrup, mustard, and pepper. Season the salmon generously with salt and coat with the glaze.

3. Place a large cast-iron skillet upon the grill grate. Let it heat until very hot. Using tongs or one’s own gloved hand, press the needles into the bottom of the skillet, taking care not to drizzle combustible bourbon into the flames, and place the rack on top of the needles. Place the fish on top of the rack and cover the pan. Cook until the fish is just opaque, about 15 minutes for medium. Serve, brushed with additional glaze, if desired.

Darkly Bitter Chocolate Spice Cake

Provides 6-8 portions

The insatiable desire for spice launched an armada’s worth of sailing ships in search of the most precious commodity of the age. And when those rakish privateers returned bearing chocolate as well, they truly had the world at their feet. This densely dark and piquant cake is a tip of a tri-cornered hat to culinary explorers everywhere.

Ingredients:

5 tbsp unsalted butter, plus additional for greasing the metal bowl
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2/3 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
6 oz dark chocolate, crumbled or coarsley chopped
4 smooth stones or tea towel for lining the pot

1. Generously butter a medium metal bowl and set it aside until ready to bake. Prepare a medium-high-heat fire, with the flames occasionally licking the grill grate. Let it burn steadily until glowing, ash-covered embers begin to form, about 45 minutes. Then use a coal shovel or other like implement to scrape a bed of embers to the side of the fire pit.

2. Drop the butter into a metal bowl and place it directly upon the grill grate. Allow the butter to melt, about one minute, and transfer the bowl to a resting place to cool slightly.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugars, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne. When the butter is no longer hot, whisk the sour cream and eggs into it. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Fold in the chocolate pieces. Scrape the batter into the buttered bowl.

4. Place the baking stones or tea towel in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Rest the batter-filled metal bowl on top of the stones or towel. Pour enough water into the Dutch oven to reach halfway up the side of the bowl. Cover the pot and rest it on the bed of glowing embers. Shovel additional glowing embers on top of the lid. Allow the cake to steam for 40 to 50 minutes or until it is firm to the touch and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to rest in the pot, uncovered, for 15 minutes before turning it out onto a platter. Cut it into slices and serve.

Recipes have been taken from Sarah Huck and Jaimee Young's new book Campfire Cookery: Adventuresome Recipes and Other Curiosities for the Great Outdoors; packed full of delectable dishes to savour around the campfire and available to buy now

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