Poffertjes – Perfect Pint-Sized Pancakes

poffitjesI fell in love with poffertjes in Holland (during my misspent – I’d argue well spent – youth). Poffertjes are miniature pancakes. You will need to buy yourself a poffertjes pan, but it’s really worth the investment. Alternatively, you can buy them ready made from Lidl (a dutch food shop) and just heat through in a normal pan. Fresh is far better though.

What are poffertjes? Miniature pancakes which the dutch serve in a heap with castor sugar and a knob of butter. Have these as a desert or breakfast(for breakfast, substitute maple syrup as a topping).poffertjes

Poffitjes are normally made with buckwheat flower, but when camping you may not wish to carry around all the ingredients (including eggs which aren’t fun when they crack in your rucksack) and opt for a ready made pancake mix instead. Check the label on these mixes as some need you to add eggs and milk. The Betty Crocker brand contains powdered egg and milk and is ideal, meaning all you have to add is water.

Don’t forget the butter, castor sugar or maple syrup. For easy carrying, put the dry ingredients in freezer bags (making a note of how much water to add to the pancake mix) and the maple syrup in a smaller plastic bottle. The special pan isn’t a necessity (but does give you perfect little pancakes and you can cook 15 at a time). If packing light is important just your normal camp frying pan and pour dribbles of batter (or hell, make giant ones!).

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Meat without a fridge

Wild camping and camping on a site where you’re not using the owner’s fridge or don’t have electronic hookup (and a portable fridge) requires a little creativity when it comes to ensuring meat and fish doesn’t spoil. You can shop each day, but there are alternatives! A little planning gives you more swinging time!

Fresh meat: If you’re camping for a couple of days, take a cool bag stuffed with ice packs and frozen meat to help avoid salmonella. The meat should defrost in the first day, but still remain sufficiently chilled for the second. Keep the bag in shade and don’t leave it open. Also, make sure your food containers aren’t left on the ground. Hand the bag from a tree and make sure food containers are air tight and the bag sealed to prevent insects or larger critters having a banquet at your expense.

If there’s a stream near you, you can use this as an impromptu chiller. Ensure the meat is in a waterproof container – either an air (and water) tight tupperware container or sealable freezer bags. If using freezer bags, tripple bag the meat. Remember the water may contain parasites and bacteria like giardia or be contaminated by agricultural chemicals. Weigh down the container or bags with a smooth stone to stop them floating away. Nature’s natural refrigeration, and good to keep soft drinks, milk, wine and beer chilled too!

There’s no reason why you can’t take home prepared beer can burgers for the first night. These and potato grenades will leave you stuffed!

Something about sausages: You may be a traditional Brit who believes the great British banger is the bees-knees. Bear in mind many of those household favourites may say they contain meat, but gristle and skin is a closer description. Many years ago, I took a call from a factory wanting mincers that could manage “5 tonnes of trotters and snouts a day”. Their sausages are packed with salt and fat for flavour, but don’t provide much in the way of nutrition.

kangarooOur favourite shop bought British bangers to cook on the barbecue are Sainsbury’s pork and sweet chilli sausages. Sharpen a stick, pop the stick straight up the middle, and everyone can cook their own (also a good way to barbecue on a campfire if you forgot the grill). Pre-soaking the sticks in water before using them as skewers helps prevent them from going up in flames. Take long bamboo skewers as an alternative (metal ones can leave you with hot fingers).

The Sainsbury’s sausages have got a little competition now though. We recently discovered kangaroo sausages sold by Iceland. My daughter said they’re the best sausages she’s ever had, and I’d almost agree, but do love a Polish sausage (see the next section). Well worth a try though and fun for the kids to tell their friends they’ve eaten kangaroo. Nice one Skippy!

Cured, pre-cooked or dried sausage: salamis, chorizo, hot dogs, and smoked sausage (for a UK version, think Mattessons). These can be barbecued, added to pasta dishes or stews.

sausagePolish sausage: The increase of available Polish cuisine in supermarkets should be seized upon, as our Polish friends know a thing or two about sausages! Make sure you visit that section in your Tescos or Asda!

I was introduced to Polish sausages in the 1990s while driving from Warsaw to southern Poland to stay with a lovely lady called Agni (met in a forest in Germany) and her circus performer friends. Motor way service stations were somewhat basic in the Soviet era, but they had these wonderful, grilled sausages which were heaven. My first introduction to kielbasa czosnkowa. Wonderful people, wonderful food, and many happy memories.

When you camp, take kabanosy  (a thin, dried sausage) or kiełbaski myśliwska (hunter’s sausage) to snack on, and frankfurters (try serdelki which are giant frankfurters) to barbecue or pan fry. Kielbasa jalowcowa (juniper sausage) is a semi-dried pork sausage made with crushed juniper berries which doesn’t need refrigeration. Kielbasa czosnkowa (a garlic sausage) is lovely with scrambled egg, as a cold cut, used in stews or grilled on your campfire (and is pretty good chopped up in a thai curry). Kielbasa krajana is ideal for grilling on a barbecue or campfire (a double smoked sausage made with chunks of pork rather than ground mince)… thick, juicy and packed with flavour! Kielbasa grillowa is another ideal for cooking on a grill.

Tinned meat: Take your pick, from corned beef (for a wonderful US style corned beef hash) to tinned tuna, salmon, spam… there are plenty of choices. That said, I prefer to eat something a little more tasty, and the line “You can eat it, but it takes like…” springs to mind (courtesy of Crocodile Dundee).

Hunting, foraging and fishing: Coming soon!

We may be adding a section from the Roadkill Chef, if we can convince him to write one! He’s famous for his smoked squirrel.

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Potato Grenades – Fire in the Hole

IMG-20150812-01094That first night on the holiday. You want something filling. You don’t want to spend an age preparing food. You  want something warming and full of flavour…

Welcome to the potato grenade (some call it potato “bomb”).

Now what is this culinary delight? Stuffed baked potato, but you can do the preparation the night before you leave for your campsite. Simply take an apple corer to a potato and stuff the hollowed out core with your preferred filling. Take the cored out centre, cut off the ends and use these as plugs to stop the stuffing from leaking up. Wrap your potato grenade in tinfoil and you’ve a perfect ready meal to cook on your first night bonfire.

Get your campfire going after your hammock is set up, throw the tinfoil bundles on the fire, and you’ll have about 40 minutes to potter or just chill out until a hearty meal is ready.

While baking potatoes are perfect to use, I prefer sweet potatoes, and as with anything in life, they’re better wrapped in bacon!

Our  favourite fillings:

  • garlic butter;bbqpotato
  • garlic butter and cheese;
  • stilton;
  • chopped jalapenos and cheddar cheese;
  • ham and cheese;
  • tinned chilli concarne;
  • Stinking Bishop cheese;
  • diced chorizo, cheddar cheese and garlic butter.

Let your imagination run riot.

Cooking time varies according to the heat of your fire. An easy way to check without burning your fingers is to squeeze the tinfoil bundle with your tongs.

If you come up with more creative filling ideas, please post a comment.

Did you know? Stinking Bishop cheese gets its name from Mr Bishop, who used to supply pears to the cheese maker. Cheese rounds are soaked in pear juice add to their flavour. Mr Bishop didn’t have an odour problem, but a rather intemperate disposition. If you haven’t had stinking bishop before, be prepared for a scent of teenage trainers which will contaminate your rucksack, car, fridge and anything it comes into contact with. Wrapping in cling film does little good, but “oh man” it tastes amazing.

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Smores the Merrier

toastingmarshmallowsMost of us will have enjoyed toasting marshmallows round a fire. Twenty years ago I remember a large biker (whose father was chief rabbi of Berlin) who’d manically shout “Daleks’ Brains” each time his marshmallow set alight and dissolved into a gooey mass. This was the same biker who gave me a mild concussion when someone dared to put vegetables on his barbecue. A corn on the cob hurled into the darkness found a target. Years later, whenever I toast a marshmallow I can hear his manic cry.

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Wing Yip Belly of Pork

wingyipNestled on the North Circular Road in London is a Chinese food superstore called Wing Yip. On the rare occasions I’m ‘doon sooth’, I meet up with a hedonistic old friend and we head there. This store supplies many oriental restaurants in the UK so you know when you eat there the food’s going to be good. Jerry and I tend to be the only ‘Westerners’ in there.

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