Chef Jason’s World Famous Camp Side Kebobs

Chef Jason’s World Famous Camp Side Kebobs

 

Who doesn’t like kebobs? Warm up with these around the camp fire or on the patio. Just because it is winter doesn’t mean we can’t grill, does it? And kebobs are just plain fun. The key to making these special is in the marinade. Of course there are countless marinades you can do. You can play mad scientist and come up with all manner of concoctions. The idea here is to have fun with it and experiment.

 

Major Players

 

  • Beef cubes – Don’t use stew meat here. London broil is really great, but sometimes I even use New York Strip or rib eye (my personal favorite). Just make sure it’s cut into 1-inch cubes. 4 to 5 per kabob, so you’re looking at about 3lbs for 7 to 8 servings
  • 1 ½ cups plain yogurt
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus 2 to 3 tsp for tossing veggies with
  • 1 Tbsp Salt and 1 Tbsp course ground pepper (white pepper if possible)
  • 6 or 7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of chopped rosemary (Now, you’re not using the dried stuff in little plastic jars, are you?)
  • Finely chopped (leafy) fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon, marjoram, cilantro, etc…)
  • 3 to 4 medium-size button mushrooms per kebob
  • 1 large onion, quartered and layers separated into petals
  • Wooden skewers

 

OK, the fun stuff:

First we’ll start with the marinade. Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic, and rosemary in a blender and blend until smooth. Add beef cubes to a gallon-size zip-top bag and pour in the marinade. Push out as much of the air as you can and seal the bag. Massage contents gently to make sure every piece is coated. Store in the refrigerator or icebox for at least 3 hours and up to 12. Also, soak the skewers in water at the same time, for a good 3 hours. I don’t like handling raw meat at the campsite so I prefer to assemble these at home and transport them in disposable aluminum baking pans covered with foil.  Its also easy to make a few meatless ones for your herbivore friends. 

 

Drain away marinade and discard. Toss mushrooms and onion petals with 2 to 3 tsp olive oil and salt. Use 3 to 4 beef cubes and 3 to 4 mushrooms per kabob, alternating, with onion petals separating the beef and mushrooms. Leave at least an inch of skewer on each end for handling. Cook over medium heat on all 4 sides until browned and slightly crisp. It should be about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove from heat and immediately sprinkle with the fresh-chopped herbs. Let cool for at least 5 minutes. Crowd-pleaser? I think so…

Questions/comments/requests/suggestions/limericks/thoughts on life/childhood stories? Feel free to drop me a line at jasonr@pahaque.com.

Cooky Jason’s September Recipe – Lamb Burgers

010115_mediterranean-lamb-burger-recipe_largeWell the end of summer draws nigh. But that’s OK. Soon we’ll all be drinking/eating pumpkin-spice EVERYthing. And football is gearing up which brings its own genre of cookout favorites (as long as weather permits, of course) as mainstays such as hearty chili and beef stews have the dust brushed off their recipe pages. Until then, however, it’s time for one last summer hurrah…

You can’t go wrong with burgers at the campsite, right? The combination of beef and lamb here along with the magical basil sauce make these a bit unique, yet still easy to make, and guaranteed crowd-pleasers. Serve with watermelon wedges and a nice summer ale or fresh lemon-limeade and enjoy the last 3 weeks of summer while you can!

Major players

  • 1lb ground beef (80/20)
  • 1lb ground lamb
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp each of salt and pepper

Magical Basil Sauce

  • 1 cup chopped basil
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • Juice and zest from 1 large lemon

For the burgers:

OK, let’s do this. Using 2 different meats really adds a lot of depth profile in the flavor. If you can’t get ground lamb just use ground pork. Using your hands, thoroughly combine the beef and lamb in a large mixing bowl, then add the olive oil and salt and pepper and combine. You’ll get 6 to 7 burgers out of this, depending on how big you make them. Start by forming a giant meatball. Then slowly compress your hands while rolling it between your palms until a patty is formed. Then use your thumb to press an indent into the middle. If you’re taking these to the campsite, wrap them individually in plastic wrap or wax paper and keep chilled until ready. You can also freeze them if it makes them easier to transport for you.

Cook on grill over medium-high heat about 3 ½ minutes per side. About a minute before removing from grill, add a slice of your chosen cheese. Mozzarella loves basil…

Serve on toasted sesame seed or ciabatta buns. Using good bread here really makes a hug difference, so it’s worth it to choose a higher quality bun to go with all the love that just went into the burgers themselves, don’t you think?

Magical Basil Sauce:

Blend all ingredients until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and adjust by adding salt and pepper if needed. You can do this several days ahead of time if you like. Just make sure it’s plenty chilled while transporting. Spoon over burgers and finish off with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, etc… Or leave them veggie-less and let the lamb really be the star. Perfection.

This is our last newsletter recipe of the summer and we’ve had a truly fantastic summer and I hope all of you did, too! Feel free to share/email me pictures of our recipes when you try them.

Questions/comments/requests/suggestions/limericks/thoughts on life/childhood stories? Feel free to drop me a line at jasonr@pahaque.com.

Cooky Jason’s June Recipe – Quesadillas

Quickin’ Quesadillas

As far as quick snacks go, you can’t get much simpler than the awesome quesadilla. In its most basic form it’s only two ingredients: a tortilla shell and cheese. And it takes about 3 minutes to make and costs less than a dollar. But obviously, we can’t just leave it at that. So let’s check out some simple variations. We’ll start with the simple version and go from there.quesadilla2

Major Players

One soft tortilla shell: You can pick up a package of these for only a few bucks. (Get the blue corn ones if you can find them. Trust me…)

Shredded cheese: Use ¾ cup for a standard size tortilla shell, 1 cup for a large one. I like to use sharp cheddar and shred my own because it’s cheaper. But sometimes buying shredded cheese is worth the convenience.

Heat a skillet over very low heat and lay in your tortilla. (Or heat the grill up to medium. Lightly coat each side of a tortilla shell with olive oil and salt.) Sprinkle in your cheese on only one half of the tortilla. Salt and pepper to taste and add a few pinches of garlic powder. Or scratch the regular salt and use garlic salt instead. Fold over the other half of the tortilla to make a half-circle. Give it about a minute per side and you’re in business.

Game Changer

Sautee ½ cup onions with ½ cup sliced mushrooms in 2 Tbsps olive oil. Also add in one finely diced dehydrated chipotle pepper (dried smoked jalapeño) with the seeds removed. You can find these at most grocery stores these days. They are not spicy-hot and have an amazing smoky flavor. Also add 2 Tbsps water to your skillet to help soften the chipotle. Let this go for about 4 minutes and remove from heat. When you add your cheese to the tortilla, add only half of it. Then spread your onion/mushroom/chipotle mixture evenly on top of the cheese, then add the other half of the cheese and fold over the other half of the tortilla. Again, we only need to go about a minute per side.

Additionally, how can we forget a little poultry? Marinate 2 to 3 chicken breasts in the juice of 3 limes, a Tbsp of chili powder, and about a half cup of olive oil for a couple hours, up to overnight. Drain and grill over medium heat until cooked through, about 5 minutes preside. Slice thinly and add to the tortillas between layers of cheese.

*Note: if you can’t find chipotles, feel free to use diced fresh jalapeño. There are endless variations you can do here. We can add tomatoes, bell peppers, fresh diced garlic, avocado slices, blah blah blah… You get the idea. You can even use store bought salsa or guacamole. The point is to get in there and try some things and find what you like. This whole process takes about 10 minutes for two quesadillas. These are perfect for that late night snack or serve them up at a party or at the campsite. Score.

Cooky Jason’s April Recipe – Sunset Tacos

Chef Jason’s World Famous Sunset Tacosopen-face taco 2

This is an open-face taco, but you can fold it if you like. These are my version of tacos, that is to say these are unlike any other taco, but still quite simple to make. As with any dish, and especially tacos, there are countless variations and I always encourage experimentation in the kitchen (or campsite). The dollop of salsa or chili sauce on top is for the namesake.

Pictured are my version with chili-lime marinated chicken (and fresh-made limeade), but I also do them with a white fish such as halibut, tilapia, sea bass, etc… You can use any fish you like. After that, it’s the combo of white cheeses and herbs that send it home…

Ingredients:

  • 6 inch corn or flour tortillas, blue corn tortillas if possible
  • Chili-lime chicken breasts, figure 1 breast for two tacos (marinate 5 to 6 chicken breasts in 1 cup lime juice, ½ cup olive oil, and 2 Tbsp. chili powder for at least 2 hours)
    • Or the white fish of your choice, same marinade
  • Freshly chopped cilantro, about a cup
  • Red onions, thinly sliced and halved
  • Red cabbage, thinly sliced/chopped
  • White cheese combo – any of the following: feta, goat, parmesan reggiano, smoked Gouda, white cheddar, pecorino Romano, etc… Most grocery stores have a decent selection now, so try something new! I use a combo of 2 or 3
  • Pico de Gallo – Very simple. Minced tomato, onion, and cilantro, tossed with lime juice and salt. I add finely minced jalapeño and garlic to mine. I’m not listing amounts here because you can play with the proportions according to taste
  • Avocado, thinly sliced
  • Sour cream
  • Red chili sauce (you can buy this if you like, but just puree fresh tomatoes, 3 to 4, with a heaping Tbsp. of chili powder and a little minced garlic. Add hot sauce if you like.

These can be done 1 or 2 at a time on the stove top or in the oven or grill in quantity. As always, I suggest prepping as much of the produce at home as possible and transporting to the camp site in plastic bags or bowls.

Grill and thinly slice your chicken or fish and set aside. Coat 1 side of your tortillas with olive oil and place oil-side down on the heat. Use medium heat, you don’t want them to cook too fast because you need time to add the toppings.

While on the heat, sprinkle on a liberal amount of cheese first thing. Then add your chicken/fish, red onion, red cabbage, and cilantro. Top with a sprinkling of the cheese. Let them grill or roast for about 3 to 4 minutes. It won’t take long, but it’ll depend on how hot your grill is. If you’re doing this in the oven, 350 degrees for about 5 minutes. Just make sure that the bottom of the tortillas is only slightly browned or just barely beginning to show grill marks. As soon as they do take them off. Add, in this order, avocado, Pico de Gallo, sour cream, and top with chili sauce. Garnish with lime wedges.

Serve with limeade – 2 cups fresh squeezed lime juice, 1 and ¼ cups sugar, and half a gallon of water.

Questions/comments/requests/suggestions/limericks/thoughts on life/childhood stories? Feel free to drop me a line at jasonr@pahaque.com.

Cooky Jason’s November Tip – Stuffed Mushrooms

Cooky Jason’s Well-Known Stuffed Mushrooms

Mushrooms-on-the-grill

It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll never make enough of these, unless your group happens to be filled with monsters who don’t like mushrooms. (If that’s the case, time to get new friends…) Seriously, though, these are great because they’re super simple to do and there’s a thousand variations. As usual, this can just as easily be done at home in the oven as at the campsite on a grill or open fire with a grill grate. You don’t have to pouch these in foil necessarily, but it does help keep the mushrooms a little more moist. If you like them to be a little more fire-kissed and have the outside get that nice grill color and flavor, then feel free to uninvite the foil from the party.

Fixin’s:

  • 20 to 25 crimini or white button mushrooms, stems removed
  • 8 to 10 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon, cilantro, time, etc… Stay away from rosemary on these as there isn’t enough time for the needles to soften, unless you have ground rosemary. But rosemary sprigs are good to throw right in the heat, or just on the grill racks by themselves. Not only do they make the campsite smell fantastic, but the smoke from the sprigs will infuse the mushrooms, just like using wood chips…)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ¼ stick softened butter (NO margarine)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, or truffle oil
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped pine nuts
  • ½ cup finely sliced green onions
  • ¼ lb ground sausage, beef, or lamb (cooked)

What’s great here is that you can do a lot of the work at home and transport to the campsite for only a step or two left to do, which I’m a big fan of. It’s a lot harder to clean dishes at the campsite, so I like to use as few as possible.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except the mushrooms. (You didn’t really have to be told that, right?) Make sure you mix thoroughly. If you want to leave the meat out, use ½ cup of bread crumbs instead. If you want to stuff the mushrooms at home, what you do is use a large plastic bowl with a lid and separate the layers with foil or plastic wrap. Keep them chilled in the fridge and transport in a cooler with ice. If you’re going to stuff them at the campsite, just transfer the stuffing to a large plastic zip-top bag or another plastic bowl with a lid.

This is a good one to let the kids in on. I think it’s easier to use a fork for this. Mushroom sizes vary greatly, but you’re going to be using somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of stuffing for each mushroom. The size of the mound past the brim on the mushroom cap should be about half the size of the mushroom itself.

You’ll need to have tongs for this: Place mushrooms over medium heat in rows. Cook time will be about 25 minutes. You can also carefully wrap them in foil, in groups, and seal. Make sure you leave an opening for steam to escape. It doesn’t matter which way you do it; it’s just personal preference. Remove with tongs and let cool for at least 5 minutes. Come ‘n get em!

Questions/comments/requests/suggestions/limericks/thoughts on life/childhood stories? Feel free to drop me a line at jasonr@pahaque.com.

 

 

 

 

Cooky Jason’s October Tip – Pie Iron Fixins’

Pie Iron Recipes from Cooky Jason

Recently I have received a few requests for some quick pie iron fixins’.  I’m not tagging these with my normal mantra of “Cooky Jason’s World Famous” because these are so very basic and common and have been around forever.  Although the recipes below have some of my personal touch, the idea here is just to give you some ideas to try.  Experiment or alter to taste.  Also, as always, I like to prepare as much as possible at home and transport to the campsite in air tight containers as to avoid handling raw meat at the campsite.  And these are a good way to get kids involved in the cooking.  If you don’t have pie irons, you should really consider them. They can be found very easily online and are inexpensive.  You can do these recipes over an open fire or a grill top. Enjoy!

Garlic Bread Melts

  • 5 to 6 garlic cloves
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 slices mozzarella cheese
  • ½ tsp butter
  • ½ tsp olive oil
  • 4 or 5 basil leaves, chiffonade (cut into ribbons)

I highly recommend against using garlic salt or garlic powder here. Fresh (ish) really is the way to go. The above quantities are per serving, but what I like to do is make the garlic spread ahead of time and simply keep it in airtight bowls and chilled. In that case you can multiply the ingredients based on how many servings you want to be able to make. Very simply, chop the garlic fine and then add salt to it right on the cutting board. Then turn your knife on its side and massage the salt into the garlic until you have a paste. Put the past into a bowl and stir in the pepper and olive oil. You can also just do this in a food processor.

Then when you’re ready, butter two slices of the bread of your choice (or even pita). Place bread slices into pie iron with butter side down. Then spread garlic mixture onto open face of bread and add mozzarella and basil ribbons. Close and lock pie iron. Cook over fire about 3 minutes per side. Excellent.

Tacos Anyone?

  • 4 heaping Tablespoons cooked ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder or taco seasoning
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Onions, green peppers, mushrooms, jalapeños, etc…

OK, so we’re using the term “taco” here kind of loosely. And normally I’m vehemently against using packaged seasoning mixes. But in this case we’ll make an exception in favor of short prep time. So again, the above quantities are per serving.

Brown 1 pound ground beef, pork, or turkey. Add taco seasoning mix and water as per package directions and cook as directed. Store in airtight container for transport.

Next, sauté whichever vegetables you’re going to use. Whatever you like for tacos is fine. I prefer to sauté everything together and make a “taco filling”. Store this in a separate container. Things like onions, fresh garlic, mushrooms, ets… (Leave jalapeños raw)

You can do this with tortilla shells or bread. Both work great. Just use a little olive oil for tortillas or a little butter for bread. In either case, oiled/buttered side always down. The spoon on your ground meat and veggie mix, careful not to over fill. Sprinkle on cheese. Close and lock pie iron. Cook about 3 minutes per side over open fire or grill. Delicioso.

Simple Pie Iron Pie

This one is really simple. Just butter two slices of bread and place in pie iron buttered side down. Then spoon in any canned pie filling of your choice. (I’m intentionally leaving out the quantity to use here because of varying sizes in pie irons and bread you might use. I’ll simply say to use the “correct” amount.) Close and lock pie iron and cook for about 3 minutes per side over open fire or a grill. You can also do this with peanut butter and jelly. You’re welcome…

Questions/comments/requests/suggestions/limericks/thoughts on life/childhood stories? Feel free to drop me a line at jasonr@pahaque.com.

Cooky Jason’s September Tip – Breakfast in Camp

Cooky Jason’s World Famous Herbed Egg Scramble

OK, I’ve been getting emails from you guys asking for more breakfast recipes. So we’ll start out with a simple scramble that can just as easily be done at home as at the campsite in a Dutch oven in a skillet on the grill. Of course everyone knows how to scramble eggs. The idea here is all the fun variations. Here are some of the ways I do it…

(This will make about 12 servings. You can of course divide the portions accordingly for less campers.)

Major Players

  • 1 lb pork sausage
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red and 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 ½ to 2 lbs shredded hash browns. (Yes, you can use packaged and frozen hash brown potatoes. But it’s easy enough to do yourself. Take 2 large russet potatoes and run them through a medium grater. The important thing after that is that you gather the shreds up in your hands and squeeze all or at least most of the moisture out of them. Very important.)
  • 12 eggs, beaten
  • 16oz shredded cheese (Again, this is where it’s fun. Havarti, cheddar, pepper jack, parmesan, mozzarella, etc… Or combinations are good, too.)
  • 1 cup freshly chopped herbs (Parsley, cilantro, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, tarragon, thyme, savory, or any combination you like)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Let’s get to it.

Over medium-high heat start by browning off the sausage and breaking it up. When it’s no longer pink (8 minutes or so) add the onion, garlic, and hash browns. After about 5 minutes the hash browns should be showing some color. Then add the bell peppers, and salt and pepper. You can also add some sliced mushrooms here if you want. After about 10 minutes, add the herbs and pour the beaten eggs over the top of the sausage/hash brown mixture. Cover your Dutch over or skillet and bake until eggs are firm, around 25 minutes. Then sprinkle with cheese and recover for another 3 to 4 minutes. Garnish with chives or green onions and serve. Come and get it…

Questions/comments/requests/suggestions/limericks/thoughts on life/childhood stories? Feel free to drop me a line at jasonr@pahaque.com.

Cooky Jason’s August Tip – Dutch Oven Cooking

Dutch Oven Cooking – by Cooky Jason

 So you picked up your very first Dutch Oven and cooked your first dish. To your dismay you find that the bottom was overdone and the middle was a bit mushy. What’s the secret to cooking award winning dishes with the Dutch Oven? Well in my opinion it all comes down to controlling the heat. Most folks will agree that regulating cooking temperature is the hardest thing to master when learning to cook in a Dutch oven.

Charcoal – For starters always use high quality briquettes. Everyone has their favorite and my briquette of choice is Kingsford. Most Kingsford users will agree that the briquettes are packed tighter than most other brands which minimizes popping and spitting. Kingsford charcoal also burns longer than other brands. Kingsford charcoal will generate good heat for roughly an hour, so for recipes that take more than an hour to cook, remove the remaining briquettes and ash from the oven and replenish them with new briquettes. Since the Dutch oven is already hot, you will not need as many briquettes as when you started cooking. Removing 2-3 briquettes from the top and bottom of the Dutch oven usually does the trick.

Cooking Methods When Using a Dutch Oven
There are four different methods of cooking with a Dutch Oven over a campfire – each achieved by altering the source of heat. Remember not to rush the cooking process. If you allow adequate time for the oven to heat up before adding the food, and keep the coals manipulated to maintain the temperature, you will have great results.

Roasting – In roasting, the heat from your coals should come from the top and bottom evenly. You will place coals on top, as well as pulling the coals up under the pan to create an even heat. Place the same amount of coals on the lid as under the pan. Roasting is best achieved at high temperatures and short cooking times. This will seal in the juices.

Frying and Boiling – When frying and boiling, all the heat should come from underneath the pan. The temperature should be high and kept even during the cooking process.

Baking – Baking requires cooking mostly from the top. You should place the coals on the lid and underneath the pan at a three to one ratio, with most of the coals on the lid. You will want to watch baking foods very carefully.

Simmering and Stewing – Most of the heat should be from the bottom of the pan. The coals should be placed on the lid and underneath the pan in a four to one ratio, with the bulk of the coals underneath the oven. Regulate the heat in stewing and simmering by moving hot coals underneath the pan

Number of Coals to Use to Achieve the Desired Temperature
Here’s a secret that even most seasoned outdoor cooks don’t know: You can prevent burned bottoms, raw tops, and dried-out foods by using properly sized and spaced coals to control the interior oven temperature. Virtually all baked goods can be baked successfully at 350°, which is the ideal temperature for a Dutch oven.
The number and placement of the coals on and under your oven is critical.The optimal number of coals used for any oven is based on its diameter. For example, if you are using a 12-inch oven, you will need two coals per inch, a total of 24. More coals will likely burn your food and less may necessitate too long a cooking period. To determine how many coals go under and how many go on top, remember the magic number 2:
· 2 coals per inch of oven diameter
· place 2 more coals than the oven size on the lid, and
· place 2 less than the oven size under it.
Example: For a 12-inch oven, 12-2=10 coals under the oven, and 12+2=14 coals go on the lid, for a total of 24. The same formula applies to all ovens. A 10-inch oven should have 8 coals underneath and 12 coals on the lid. A 14-inch oven should have 12 coals underneath and 16 coals on the lid.
The placement of the coals is also an important part of proper heat regulation. The proper layout for coals or briquettes under the oven is circular. Coals should be approximately one inch apart in a circle under the oven. Never place coals directly under the center of the oven. If you do, you will create a hot spot and burn whatever you are cooking. By placing the coals in a circle, the natural conductivity of the oven will distribute the heat evenly and effectively.
The coals on the lid of the oven should also be placed evenly in a circle along the flange of the outer lid. However, four of the coals should be placed toward the center of the lid, two on either side of the handle. This coal placement will produce an even, consistent temperature within the oven of approximately 350° and maintain that heat for up to two hours.
In the event that you need to generate a higher temperature inside your oven, “cheat up” the coals. Additional coals placed two at a time, one on the lid and one under the oven, will add another 50°. Two additional coals top and bottom would bring your oven’s temperature up to 450°. It is extremely rare to need a temperature of 450°, and you should never need one higher than that.

Questions/comments/requests/suggestions/limericks/thoughts on life/childhood stories? Feel free to drop me a line at jasonr@pahaque.com.