- Roasting stick
- Bowl for mixing and serving
- Whole crimini mushrooms, stemmed if desired.
- Shallots, cut into quarters if they're very large, halved if small
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Skewer mushrooms and shallots, mixed, onto roasting sticks. Fit as many as you can, but leave space between each -- just like you would when barbecuing kebabs. Don't forget to leave plenty of space on your skewer...this isn't like barbequing when you can just throw the whole thing on the grill...you need room for your hands and space for your body away from the fire. (** OK, that warning may seem stupid. But you wouldn't believe some of the ridiculous fire behavior we've witnessed over the years...)
- Roast until shallots are caramelized and mushrooms are fully cooked. Shallots may blacken a bit -- but that's ok.
- Remove from fire and place in bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, and add tarragon, salt and pepper to taste.
2. BACON-WRAPPED FIGS. To die for.
- Roasting stick
- Raw bacon. Peppered bacon is even better.
- Fresh figs, any variety. Stay away from dried figs, unless you've rehydrated them already. WHOAH! WHAT IF YOU REHYDRATE THEM IN RED WINE?!? Wow. This is the way my unfocused and easily distracted brain works.
- Fresh rosemary, optional
- Wrap the figs in bacon
- Skewer one or two onto your roasting stick.
- Roast until bacon is crispy. Be careful with the dripping grease.
- Remove from fire, drizzle with honey, and add fresh rosemary, if desired.
3. AHI. Yes, ahi. The nice thing about ahi is that it's sturdy and best when served seared on the outside, raw (or nearly so) on the inside. This is a great, simple, and quick appetizer, or even the centerpiece of your dinner -- add some brown rice and a salad, and you have a complete meal. Plus the best part is that is isn't a hot dog. Not even close.
- Fork for removing cooked ahi
- Ahi - sushi grade is best, but unless you have a good Japanese grocer nearby (which I thankfully do), this can be difficult to find. Get the freshest, highest quality ahi you can, cut into very thick steaks if you can't get a tail section. By the way, depending on where you live, "ahi" may just be called "tuna," but there are several varieties of "tuna" that may be labeled the same, so you'll need to do some investigating.
- Spice rub. This can be just about anything you like. If you're unsure about what to use, try something like this: 2 parts chili powder, 1 part onion powder, 1 part garlic powder, 2 parts roasted sesame seeds, 1 part ground ginger, 1 part black pepper, 1 part kosher salt.
- Sesame oil and chopped, fresh cilantro for drizzling/topping, if desired.
- Extra sesame seeds, if desired.
- Cut ahi into sturdy, solid 1" cubes.
- Roll in spice rub.
- Skewer ahi, leaving 1" space between cubes.
- Roast, turning constantly, JUST until the outside is done. Depending on the heat of your fire, this can take anywhere from 2-8 minutes.
- Remove ahi from the skewer carefully with the fork. Drizzle with a tiny bit of sesame oil, and top with sesame seeds and cilantro, if desired.
4. STUFFED PEPPERS. You can make these as complicated or simple as you'd like. If you don't mind the extra work, rub the skin off after the roasting step. If that's too much for you to mess with, just skip that step.
- Roasting stick
- Peppers. Jalapenos can work, but I find them too spicy, personally. We grow awesome poblanos at home, which are still spicy but not nearly as hot as the jalapenos we get at the grocery store. Pasillas are my favorite, though any spicy pepper will work.
- Stuffing. The most obvious choice here is grated cheese, but you can use just about anything -- heck, use up your camping leftovers. Peppers may be stuffed with a quinoa/roasted vegetable mixture, or a cheese/salsa/cilantro/black bean mixture, or roasted sweet potato/bean/corn/basil mixture, or...? Whatever you can think of will work fine; just be sure you have some sort of binder, like cheese (even just a little works well) or, if you can't do cheese, try adding a little salsa or some other liquid that will help make it easier to stuff these peppers. The main point is that all your stuffing materials should be cooked ahead of time, because you'll only be reheating them over the fire.
- Sauce. Again, totally up to you. We like to use a mix of plain yogurt/chopped cilantro/garlic powder/lime juice and a tiny tiny tiny bit of feta cheese. You can even use your favorite salad dressing.
- Skewer peppers and roast until blackened.
- Remove from fire and allow to cool until you can safely handle them. Now you may either remove the skin or, if you just don't want to deal with it, go ahead and leave it on (but really, it's better if you remove it. Honest.)
- Slice pepper carefully lengthwise. Remove pulp and seeds.
- Stuff with your chosen stuffing material. Carefully close the pepper around your stuffing, and wrap in foil.
- Skewer the pepper again, through the foil, and roast again until the stuffing is hot.
- Remove from fire, unwrap, and add sauce.
5. CAMPFIRE JAMBALAYA. Well, sort of. But still, a much better alternative to hot dogs, and while not exactly authentic, it's extremely tasty and filling. And not hot dogs.
- Roasting stick
- Uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined. Leave the tail on, if you can.
- Andouille sausage, cut into 3/4" thick slices
- Bell peppers, cut into large 1" pieces
- Yellow onion, cut into 1" pieces (as for kebabs)
- Spice mix. Again, your call. If you don't want to wait for me to post a list of my camping spice mixes, try Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning. Or mix up 2 parts paprika, 1 part garlic powder, 1 part onion powder, 1 part salt, 1 part pepper, 1 part chili powder, 1/4 part cumin.
- Either rice or tomato soup, for serving.
- Chopped parsley, if desired.
- Coat shrimp in spice mix.
- Skewer shrimp, sausage, peppers and onion, alternating vegetables with proteins (as you would for kebabs. See my warning about leaving room for your hands, above)
- Roast until shrimp is done. Depending on the heat of your fire, this could be 2-8 minutes.
- If necessary, remove shrimp and allow peppers to continue cooking. Usually they will finish together, but if your shrimp are small, they may be done earlier than you'd prefer.
- Serve over rice, or drop into tomato soup. Top with parsley.
6. ECLAIRS. If you've never done eclairs over a campfire, you don't know what you're missing. I wouldn't ever call these gourmet -- in fact, although there are probably more rules around Eclairs Day than anything else program-related at the camp I run, and it's one of the first things people ask about when they're planning their week, the whole Eclairs Making Extravaganza thing really does nothing for me personally. However, everyone LOVES them, and it's a great alternative to the tired s'more. The amounts shown below will make about six eclairs.
- Long dowel, approx. 3/4" diameter
- Spoon for filling
- Knife or spoon for frosting
- Lots of napkins. This is disgustingly messy stuff.
- Pillsbury or other crescent rolls, unbaked and still in their tube
- Pan release, vegetable oil spray, or oil-plus-paper-towel (optional, but worth it)
- 2 cups vanilla pudding
- 1/4 cup chocolate frosting
- Spray about 6" of one end of the dowel with the pan release or vegetable oil spray, or use the paper towel to coat the end of the dowel with oil.
- Wrap one triangle of crescent dough around the dowel and over the end. Stretch it to make it fit, and be sure the seams are all sealed tightly, as the dough will shrink a bit as it cooks. It's best to keep it as even as possible, about 1/8" thickness all around, a little thicker over the end of the dowel.
- Roast until done over the fire, as in the cover photo for this post.
- When cool enough to handle, slip the dough tube off the dowel. Fill with vanilla pudding, and spread chocolate frosting across the top.