Campfire Cooking – Grilled Cheese in Hobo Pie Maker

Hey, no magic here, but we gotta start this campfire cooking segment off slowly, building up to a whole chicken crescendo.  Actually, those little “pie irons” or “hobo pie makers” are pretty awesome.  Don’t mean to slight ’em.  Wish I had the ol’ double trouble as shown left. 

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Published in: on October 26, 2010 at 2:29 pm  Comments (10)  
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Campfire Cooking

Today starts a good, lengthy series on cooking in a campfire.  Although this is something not everyone will have a chance to do, it is pretty cool, and a campfire has certain culinary advantages that other forms of cooking do not.  Most notably, campfire cooking is done primarily in aluminum foil, which forms a tight pouch for foods to slowly steam and retain their juices once the initial cooking process begins. 

But we’ll get into all that as we go.  First, we start our fire.  Pyromania!  Enjoy this series.  I promise we will go way beyond the s’more – going all the way to roasting a whole chicken over the open fire.   

Published in: on October 22, 2010 at 11:14 am  Comments (2)  
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Butter-Poached Carrots

Holy frickin’ carrots here people.  I know I know.  Carrots?  How can those be extraordinary? 

Well, they can be and are when cooked with this slow, butter-based method that yields the sweetest little carrots your mind could imagine.  Fully caramelize these things (and don’t salt them) and they could actually make an excellent dessert component.  Actually, when you really nail these to the fullest, and caramelize them all the way (not shown in video), they taste like butterscotch.  Pretty wicked. 

Turn the boring carrot into a true 3-ingredient delicacy (butter, salt, carrots) with the amazing alchemic power of outstanding cooking technique – the backbone of my culinary sermons…

Published in: on October 19, 2010 at 4:17 pm  Comments (11)  

Mesquite-Smoked Beef Brisket

Like good ol’ smoky barbecue?  Well, you don’t need any fancy equipment to make it.  In fact, you can make great stuff with a smoky flavor with a regular backyard grill.  No need for a separate smoker.  The following video reveals how you can do it, how to take the cheapest and most flavorful meat ever – beef brisket, and turn it into something divine, and all of that good stuff.  Yee haw! 

Published in: on October 14, 2010 at 3:09 pm  Comments (6)  
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Better Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is usually just a layered little dilly-ma-bob with mozzarella, tomato, basil leaves, and a drizzle of olive oil, balsamic, and maybe some fresh-ground pepper and sea salt if you’re lucky.  While it’s okay, the format doesn’t allow for the flavors to properly mingle and marinate.  Thus, making it like you’ll learn in this post is unquestionably superior…

Ingredients:

  • Diced water-packed mozzarella
  • Roughly-chopped basil
  • Several ripe tomatoes cut into wedges
  • 2T extra virgin olive oil
  • Lots of fresh-ground black pepper
  • Plenty of salt
  • 1-2T of balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients and let sit for several minutes to half hour to let the salt and vinegar start to draw the liquid out of the tomatoes.

Optional ingredients – Kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, diced salami, greens – particularly arrugula

And, if I failed to entertain you in the video and description above, you may prefer to try Coolio’s recipe.  He’s seems pretty excited about it (and he keeps his money spice between breasts, which I should try sometime to see if it enhances the flavor).  I wouldn’t let your kids watch this one.  Yeah, I know he’s just making a salad, but…  I clearly need to get a couple of “Sauce Girls” in my videos (Jenny?  Deb?).  Someday when I moves on up yo.  BTW, this is actually one of the funniest videos on the entire internet if you “axe” me.  Shaka Zulu!

Published in: on October 12, 2010 at 1:52 pm  Comments (5)  
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Yam Gratin in Traditional Cook Stoneware

In this post I’m killing two birds with one Stoneware.  First up, I was notified that Canadian Thanksgiving was soon approaching, and I wanted to become the first American ever to acknowledge Canada’s existence by cooking up my holiday favorite in preparation for Canadian Thanksgiving next week.  Hope this one becomes a Canadian tradition.  I leave it up to the dozen or so Canadians that will read this post to make this a viral holiday treat. 

Secondly, a big 180 follower and fan – and also a long-time Weston A. Price Foundation Chapter leader Maria Atwood of www.traditionalcook.com sent me a free piece of her amazing Stoneware.  This stuff is awesome.  I didn’t know what to expect, but the stoneware exceeded all my expectations.  This is far superior to any type of baking material I’ve ever used before, and there’s no way I’ll use glass Pyrex or Aluminum pans for baking ever again. 

The Stoneware is very heavy, which creates perfectly-even heating.  It also has a rough, sandpapery surface that keeps food like this gratin from sticking to the pan while giving it a crisper crust all in one shot.  Ooh, it came out so nice.  I highly recommend Maria’s stoneware, which is totally affordable and ships within just a few days.  CLICK HERE to view all the different stoneware pieces Maria has for sale and get yours before she runs out of her holiday inventory.   

Anyway, here is the video for my favorite starchy, seasonal holiday side dish – a savory, rather than marshmallowy and sweetened “sweet tater” dish that many of us fear having to eat at those holiday occasions.  Seasoned with cayenne, lots of salt, garlic, and ideally tarragon (damn you grocery store!), this does not have the grotesque sweetness of any yam/sweet potato dish you’ve been served in the past. 

Ingredients:

  • 5 yams or sweet potatoes, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 bunch chopped tarragon
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • Lots of cayenne pepper and lots of salt (more than you would think)
  • 2 cups chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Make the “sauce” by whisking the cream, half and half, garlic, and seasonings all together in a large bowl.  Add enough salt to where the cream mixture has a noticeably-salty flavor.
  2. Mix the cream mixture with the sliced yams/sweet potatoes until each slice is somewhat coated.
  3. Grease a Stoneware rectangle pan with butter.
  4. Pour in the sliced yams and cream, spread evenly throughout the pan, and pack down tightly.
  5. Add a little additional half and half if yams are not at least half submerged. 
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and poke a few holes in it before placing in the oven at 425 degrees F. 
  7. Bake for at least 45 minutes then reduce heat to 375 and bake for an additional 15 minutes or so, or until yams are fully softened. 
  8. Remove aluminum foil and pack the yams down again with the back of a large spoon or spatula.  Add chopped pecans and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until pecans are crispy.
  9. Remove from oven and let it cool and settle for at least 20 minutes before slicing into squares and serving. 

This goes great with just about anything, and is certainly not something I serve only on holidays.  In fact, having a baking dish full of nice squares of starch portions makes for very convenient meals throughout the week or on the go for work. 

Big thanks to Maria Atwood for this awesome baking dish!  www.traditionalcook.com

You can read more about why Maria is so into her Stoneware baking dishes at http://traditionalcook.com/Stoneware-Article.pdf

And about the virtues of Stoneware for baking here:  http://traditionalcook.com/more-stoneware-popup.shtml

Fire-Roasted Red Peppers

Nothing special in this post – just a nifty little trick that some of you with gas ranges might find to come in handy one of these days.  While oven-roasted and grilled whole red peppers are both fine and dandy, and I believe superior to fire-roasted peppers, there’s nothing more convenient and easy than this when you just need to roast a couple.  And it makes the kitchen smell unbe-frickin-lievable. 

Just slap ’em on the burner, and turn the flame on high – rotating until all sides are charred.  Finish by placing in a bowl and covering to let them steam until soft and tender – with easily-removable skin. 

Published in: on October 4, 2010 at 1:35 pm  Comments (2)  
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