May 9, 2013

Lemony Couscous Salad and Other Recipes for Gourmet Outdoor Cooking
{Campfire Cuisine Book Review and Giveaway}


The summer camping season is almost here!
Why not try out a menu that goes beyond baked beans and weenies?
Camping provides new challenges and 
exciting opportunities for those 
who love to cook and enjoy great food.

Recently I had the opportunity to preview Campfire Cuisine by Robin Donovan (Quirk Books, ISBN9781594746284, April 30, 2013). Slim enough to slip into a backpack, but packed with creative recipes, this 191 page book is the ultimate guide for die-hard foodies and novice cooks alike. You can enter to win a copy at the end of this post.  

My girls' annual Girl Scout camping trip provided the perfect opportunity to try out a handful of recipes from Campfire Cuisine with a big group of kids and foodie parents.

Our group campsite was situated on a bucolic private pond.
The girls had fun observing the wildlife and wildflowers in the area.
They also enjoyed some traditional Girl Scout activities like soap carving.
Campfire Cuisine  contains more than 100 recipes for cooking in the Great Outdoors, which are divided into the following categories:
  • Salad Dressings, Sauces, Marinades, and more
  • Breakfasts
  • Sandwiches, Salads, and such
  • Snacks and Appetizers
  • Entrees
  • Cooked Vegetables, Grains, and other sides
  • Desserts 




The book also includes a chapter thoughtfully arranged with tips on gearing up, playing it safe, stocking your pantry, and planning your menu.

We have several vegetarians in our group, so I decided to put only meatless recipes to the test.  Campfire Cuisine is loaded with delicious and easy recipes that are completely meat-free. 

Here's what we tried:

For Starters:
Savory Cheese S'mores
The Verdict:  A big hit with kids and parents alike!

This is a savory twist on the classic S'more.  It's so easy and makes an incredible appetizer!  Small balls of fresh mozzarella stand in for the marshmallow.  Olive tapenade or sundried tomato pesto take the place of the chocolate.  The graham cracker is replaced by pita crackers and rosemary flatbreads. 

Make It Again? YES

My tips:  The mozzarella toasts best when it's dry.  Drain the mozzarella at home, then store in a jar lined with paper towels.


Eastern flavor:
Baba Ghanoush
The Verdict:  Loved it! This recipe is so easy and is the perfect way to bring some international flavor to your outdoor dining.

Why let hummus have all the fun? This traditional Middle Eastern Eggplant dip is a natural fit for outdoor cooking.  It starts by pricking a whole eggplant with a fork.  The eggplant is cooked over the fire for 15 minutes till soft.  It is sliced in half and the insides scooped.  The tender, smoky eggplant is mixed with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, tahini and spices.  We grilled up our pita bread before serving with our Baba Ghanoush.

Make It Again? YES

My tips:  It's important that the eggplant doesn't turn to charcoal on the outside before it has a chance to cook on the inside.  If you find that your eggplant is charring too quickly, find a cooler place in the fire or grill.  It needs the full 15 minutes to cook through to the middle.  For my spices, I used a 7-day pill box from the dollar store to transport a selection of spices, including salt, pepper, cumin and Za'atar.

On the side:
Lemony Couscous Salad

The Verdict:  Fresh, light and flavorful! Ready in a snap.

We were all amazed at how quickly this dish came together.  All we had to do was boil water and the added couscous was ready in 5 minutes!  This dish is so versatile.  You can add any vegetables that your family enjoys.

Make It Again? YES

My tips:  I chopped up my veggies and juiced and zested the lemons at home.  I placed everything in a single mason jar and stored it in our cooler.  That way, all we had to do at the campsite was boil the water and cook the couscous.  The whole dish was ready in under 10 minutes and was a real crowd pleaser!

Here's the recipe, compliments of Quirk Books:

Lemony Couscous Salad
serves 4

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup uncooked couscous
  • Juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 medium red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Bring the water, with the salt added, to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Add couscous, stir,and cover.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and allow to cool.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and serve.

A sweet ending:
Baked Chocolate Bananas



The Verdict:  Sensational! It's a great way to sneak a little fresh fruit into dessert too!

It's as simple as slitting open a bunch of bananas and letting the campers fill them with chocolate chips and other goodies.  The bananas are wrapped in foil and are cooked for 10-15 minutes.  When they emerge from the fire, they are perfectly roasted and oozing with melted chocolate.  As we enjoyed our bananas, we fantasized about all of the possibilities for fillings we could bring next year.

Make It Again? YES

My tips:  If making baked bananas for a crowd, be sure to have a Sharpie pen on hand so you can label the foil-wrapped bananas.  That way, everyone is sure to get their own creation.


Some of the other recipes that caught our fellow-camper's eyes:  

  • Bananas Foster French Toast
  • Skillet Scones
  • Pan-Fried Bread with Blue Cheese Pears and Maple Syrup
  • Barbecued Peking Duck Wraps
  • Spicy-Cheesy Corn Cakes
  • Prosciutto, Fig and Goat Cheese Sandwiches
  • Foil Baked Yams with Spicy Chili Butter
  • Rum-Baked Peaches
  • Maple-Caramel Baked Apples

Bottom Line:  People who love to cook, eat great food, and enjoy the great outdoors should slip a copy of Campfire Cuisine into their mess kit.  Not only are the recipes quick, easy, and delicious for cooking outdoors, they're good enough to want to make once you get back home too.

GIVEAWAY
My friends at Quirk Books are giving away a copy of Campfire Cuisine to one lucky camper!  Enter below.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary review copy of Campfire Cuisine.  I have received NO compensation for this review.  All opinions are my own.  


This post has been linked-up with:
The BFF Open House @ The Answer is Chocolate
Tickled Pink @ 504 Main
The Backyard BBQ Blog Hop @ All Done Monkey
 

23 comments:

  1. Well I gotta say, this book was already on my wish list. The Tiny Party Food book looks awesome.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! I love Tiny Food Party! I've made several recipes from it, but my favorite is the mini bacon churros. They're amazing!!

      Good luck in the giveaway!

      Jenn

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  2. I Love this Giveaway!!!
    As far as the books Thomas Jefferson’s Creme Brulee looks awesome ! & So does Tiny Food Party ~

    thank you! ;D

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  3. What an awesome book! I must have this. Ramen only goes so far...

    Cheers, Hanneke

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  4. This book looks awesome! I'm going to make the couscous salad with dinner tonight since my kids are couscous fanatics! :)

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  5. Oops, and I totally meant to add that I'd love to get my hands on Quirk Book's "Craft a Day" book! :)

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  6. I aso like The Baby Owner's Manual.

    Nancy
    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

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  7. That sounds like a great book. I'm sure I could make good use of it.

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  8. Pure Vanilla looks like a great book!
    Lisa

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  9. There are some interesting books, but Campfire Cuisine and Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee keeps jumping out!

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  10. Campfire Cuisine sounds like a great book to keep with the picnic basket. We'll be trying some of those recipes this week. :^D

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  11. What a cool book! It would certainly spice up camping! I'd love to win it! :)

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  12. Who's on First...love Abbott and Costello.

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  13. My husband and I camp and sometimes we take our grandkids (who love trying new things). This cookbook sounds like just the ticket I would love to win. Thank you for the review.

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  14. I would love to get Campfire Cuisine--the recipes sound out of this world!!

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  15. Oh, I'm torn between Craft-a-Day & Thomas Jefferson's Creme brûlée...thank you so much for offering this giveaway!!!!

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  16. I love Quirk Books and I would be all over this one the most!

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  17. Craft a Day! I want it BAD!

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  18. We just got a vintage camp trailer, so you know where this cookbook will be stored.....

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  19. Wow, this is excellent! Excellent ideas! Thanks so much for sharing and also for linking up to the BBQ Blog hop. i have pinned this post on my summertime board.

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  20. Every single thing you tried sounds so good! We've done marshmallows with bananas, but have to try the coconut. I need this book! And maybe those melted mozz balls, yummmm. Great book review, Jenn!

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  21. I loved this book! As someone who can barely cook top ramen without burning the house down, it was amazing for me to see how quick and simple it is to make a truly delicious meal. I don't even go camping all that often, but all of the recipes in this book are adaptable for your kitchen at home. Recently, I made the Orange-Herb Salmon, which I LOVED!
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