Monday, 30 July 2012

Camp Veggie Packets with Stick Bread

When the kids were small we spent a lot of weekends and vacations camping. The children always liked to 'cook' their own foods, so there were lots of weiners or kebab meats on long skewers, marshmallows, and bread baked on sticks - all cooked over a campfire. I discovered that vegetables were more likely to be eaten if they were also cooked on the fire, so we developed these foil wrapped veggie packets, which each person could create, using vegetable they actually like. They work because each vegetable is cut to make cooking time similar. For instance - carrots are cut julienne or very thin circles, and zuchinni in larger chunks, as they cook faster.You need a set of very long tongs for removing or turning these packets. I put in baking times from memory, it has been many years since we actually did this (1998), so trial and error are the rule.

Veggie Packets:
What you need: salt and pepper, butter, and a wide variety of fresh vegetables, including anything your family likes. We would have carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, peas, squash of any kind, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, turnip, etc. Cut vegetables, according to density and cooking time needed- as mentioned above, and place into individual bowls. each person picks the vegetable they want, from about 1/2 cup total to 1 cup total - depending on the person's age and size.

What you do:  place each portion of vegetables on a square of heavy duty foil, folded to double thickness. Sprinkle veggies with salt and pepper, and add a teaspoon of butter. Place sides of foil together, and roll over several times to create a seal.  Fold in ends several times as well. Place prepared packets on a rack over coals, or close to the edge of the fire. Turn over and rotate packets to ensure even cooking. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from fire, and allow to cool before eating.

Stick Bread:

What you need: green wood sticks for cooking, prepared bread dough or biscuit mix. (frozen bread dough from the grocery store works really well for this, as it serves as an ice block the first day or so, then can be eaten as it thaws out.

What you do: Cut dough into small portions, about 1/2 cup each. Allow each person to hand roll the dough into a 1 inch wide snake (just like playdough). Wrap prepared dough around a greased stick. Bake about 10 to 12 inches from coals, turning the stick often to ensure even baking all around. Watch carefully to prevent burns.  Bread dough bakes in 4-8 minutes, biscuit dough a little longer, about 6-10 minutes. If you make this for breakfast, you can spread butter, peanut butter, and or jam right on it while still on the stick. Kids like to eat it right off the stick, I prefer to remove mine. Twisting the stick usually loosens it enough to pull the stick out, leaving a bread curl.

Have fun, and enjoy.

Rouladen (Gluten Free)

This is a traditional dish from north western Europe - ( I know they eat it in Holland and Germany, but not sure of other places), and like other traditional foods, there are infinite variations. It is a cheaper, tougher cut of meat, which is why it is sliced so thinly, and cooked for a longer time to make a very tender flavourful meal. Wil and the boys love this served with boiled or mashed potatoes to soak up all the pan drippings. Many recipes call for pickles or other vegetables in the rolled steaks, but we stick with meat and onion.

What you need: 12 thinly cut rouladen steaks - ( you can buy these precut in the Safeway and Sobeys stores locally, but if they are not in your grocery store, you can ask the butcher to cut them. They are about one-quarter inch thick and cut from outside round steak); 1 medium onion, cut in half then sliced into 12 slices, 12 strips of bacon, mustard blend*, and salt and pepper or a spice blend such as Montreal steak spice; 12 toothpicks; 1- 1/4 lb block of margarine, or your favourite cooking oil.

* mustard blend - I like to mix classic Dijon, or Dutch mustard with some 'Bold and Spicy' and a little plain yellow mustard. You make a blend which is to your personal taste. As always I never measure, but just stir until I have about a third to a half cup.

What you do: Find a large flat surface to work on. Prepare mustard mix and stir in your spice blend or the salt and pepper, and slice onion. Stack all the steaks, and put bacon in easy reach. Spread each steak with the spiced mustard blend, then lay bacon strip along the length, fold if it is longer than the steak. Add onion to the widest end of steak, roll from that end toward the narrow end, and fasten with a toothpick. Repeat with all the steaks.
Heat margarine or oil in a large skillet to fairly hot. Add rolled steaks, and brown on all sides. Reduce heat to medium low. Add about a cup of water, and cover pan. Let simmer for 40 minutes to an hour, turning occasionally.
meanwhile, cook your potatoes, and a vegetable of your choice. To serve, place 1 or 2 steaks on a plate and add potatoes and vegetable. Add a ladle of pan drippings, poured over the rouladen and potatoes.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Easy Tomato Salad - (Gluten Free)

One of the great things about tomatoes, is that they are so high in acid, you can make a simple salad with only an oil based dressing. Even kids love this salad, and this one is so easy to make it makes a great first "cooking" experience for kids, too.

What you need:  tomatoes -1 per person; olive oil; oregano, salt, and minced onion* or onion powder.
* if doing the sliced version, it looks really pretty to use a red onion.
What you do:  There are two way to present this salad - either sliced or chopped.

For chopped - cut the tomatoes into small bite sized pieces, and place in a bowl. Add about 1 Tbs of oil for each tomato. Sprinkle with oregano - (about 1/2 tsp dried leaves per tomato), onion, and salt. Cover and place in fridge to allow flavours to blend for about 1/2 hour before serving.

For sliced -  Slice tomatoes and onion,thinly, and arrange in a decorative manner on lettuce leaves on a serving platter. Drizzle oil (about 1Tbs per tomato) over slices. Sprinkle with oregano,  and salt as above. Cover and place in fridge to allow flavours to blend for about 1/2 hour before serving.

Serve and enjoy.

Surf and Turf Burgers

I got the idea for this from an Oprah show, but I tweaked the recipe they gave to give it some of my own style.

What you need:  
for the meat patties:   1 kg of lean ground beef, 1 egg, 1 cup bread crumbs, 1 small onion chopped finely, 1 tbs of garlic, minced, salt and pepper.  optional -1/2 tbs or more of sambal oelek;

for the stuffing : 1 small container, 250 gr, of cream cheese; 1 small can of salad shrimp; 6 -8 large chopped, cooked scallops; 1 cup grated cheddar cheese; 1 tbs parsley flakes.  if you want to be really decadent, you can add 1/2 cup of  cooked crab or lobster meat. seasoning of your choice - salt, pepper, etc.

buns, condiments, and things you like on burgers

What you do:

 In a medium bowl, mix all the stuffing ingredients. Taste and add seasonings. make a log of the cheese mix, about 3" in diametre. Wrap in plastic and place in fridge to chill for at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, mix the beef with other burger ingredients, and form into 16 balls. Press each ball between 2 small plates, or put into your hamburger press if you have one. Make the meat patties about 5 inch in diametre, and about 1/4 inch thick. 
Remove cheese/seafood log from fridge, and cut off 8 slices about 1/4 inch thick. (You may have more stuffing than you can use in 1 batch, but this stuff freezes well).
Assemble the burgers by placing 1 meat patty then a slice of the stuffing, then a meat patty. Press firmly around the edges to seal the stuffing mix in.

Cook on the grill until meat is completely cooked through. Place on your favourite buns and garnish as desired. As always -- enjoy.


Collette's Best Potato Salad - (Gluten Free)

I have a few friends who say this recipe is to die for, and the best potato salad they have ever had. But you be the judge.

What you need:
5 or 6  potatoes, (you can use any kind you like best, I usually use red potatoes, but have done this with Yukon Gold, new white, and russet also), washed,  (peeled if you like - remember that most of the best nutrients are in the skin), and cut into bite size pieces, and cooked until just tender, but not mushy. Time for cooking potatoes varies, you will know how long it takes for your region;
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped;
6-8 strips of bacon, cook crisp, and crumbled;
4 - 6 large dill pickles, chopped;
10 -12 spikes of chives, cut into tiny pieces - I take them right out of the garden and just wash before cutting;
1 batch of homemade garlic mayonnaise - (or 1-2 cups from a store bought);
about 1 Tbs of yellow mustard;
salt*, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder to taste; optional - a little hot pepper flakes, to taste-
about 3 Tbs dried parsley flakes, (or about double that of fresh chopped);
the secret ingredient -- 1 cup of sour cream.

* you can also use a commercial seasoning salt such as Lowreys.

What you do:   In a large bowl combine potatoes, eggs, bacon, and pickles. In a small bowl, combine all the other ingredients. Stir well. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your preference. When happy, gently fold sauce into the potato mixture. Chill well before serving.

Made some recently for a friend's birthday, and added a few ribs of celery, thinly sliced. It was a good option.