In my never-ending quest to find new ways to cook delicious meals in the bush for the groups I cater for, I spend an inordinate amount of time in camping and disposals stores, junk shops and even antique stores, expanding my rather extensive range of camping gear.
Interestingly, not everything new is new. This is why I often find myself perusing antique and secondhand stores. Many modern products are just rehashed versions of our forefathers’ designs; usually made cheaper and flimsier to fit in with our modern throw-away society.
I find that the pots and pans made during the early to middle part of the last century were stronger and, as a result, more durable than the ones made today. I’m really yet to find a pan that is truly ‘non-stick’ and I’m thoroughly fed up with ‘scratch resistant’ cooking surfaces that fail to withstand anything more than a clear blast. In fact, I haven’t got one piece of cookware that has lived up to these claims and, believe me, I never spared a cent when it came to quality.
But, these days, we bandy the word ‘quality’ about like a politician does ‘integrity’. So when I found a cheap, collapsible oven, I thought I’d give it a go. It is suitably flimsy, not quite altogether sturdy, with parts that simply buckle under heat, but still… I wanted to see how it worked, with a view to making my own.
And for the average Joe, it’s fine. It actually does what it says it can do and the results have been fine. Durable? Will it outlast you? Probably not, but then, what do you expect from something so cheap?
The results (below) from it were great and I will make my own. It proved money well spent.
TUNA PASTA BAKE
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 5 medium mushrooms, chopped
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 3tbsp tomato puree
- 150g can sweet corn
- 300g penne pasta
- 185g can of tuna in sunflower oil, drained
- 25g pack of potato chips
- 100g mature cheddar cheese, grated
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat and saute onions for five minutes, then add the mushrooms and cook for another five minutes, until softened. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree and corn and simmer for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta until tender, drain and place in a baking dish. Stir in the sauce then flake the tuna and gently mix.
Set the oven to hot. Crush the chips in the bag and sprinkle them over the top, with the cheese.
Put the dish on a baking tray and grill for about five minutes until the cheese has melted and turned golden brown.
Serve with salad or greens.
ATLANTIC SALMON AND SEAFOOD PIE
CRISPY POTATO TOP
- 1kg potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 400g frozen peas
- 2 tbsp butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 200g Atlantic salmon fillets
- 200g shelled prawns
- 200g marinara mix, with squid removed
- 500ml (2 cups) milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large leek, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 1tsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup cheddar, grated
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
Steam potatoes until soft. Defrost peas with boiling water then process in a blender. Mash the potatoes and mix in the peas and butter, then season to taste.
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
To make the pie, place the fish, prawns, marinara mix in milk and poach with a bay leaf and thyme. When the fish is cooked, drain and set aside the milk, then flake the seafood into large chunks.
Fry the leek and carrot in olive oil over a low-medium heat, then fry the garlic until soft.
Add flour to the mix and slowly stir in the milk to create the sauce. Add the dijon mustard and fish mixture and mix, then stir in the cheese and lemon juice. Season to taste.
Place the fish filling in a baking dish and roughly top with the mash. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until it forms a crispy, golden top.
SMOKED CHICKEN WINGS
You can use a hooded portable barbecue for this. Wrap the wood chips in a couple layers of foil then poke holes in the top to release the smoke. Place the pack directly over the burner (underneath the grill).
- 1kg chicken wings
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1.5 tsp onion powder
- 1.5 tsp garlic powder
- 1.5 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
Soak three cups of wood chips in a large bowl of water for an hour prior to use.
Place the wings in a plastic bag and evenly rub olive oil onto each piece.
Mix the herbs and spices and rub onto the chicken wings, then let it sit for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 120°C. Add the wood chips to the box/tray in your cooker then place the chicken wings on the racks.
Heat for 45 minutes, flipping the wings and adding more chips if desired.
Increase temperature to 200°C to crisp the outer edge for 20-30 minutes.
Remove from heat and cover until served.
Stir in beans and zucchini.
Cover and simmer another 15 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender.
Remove from heat, stir in the spinach.
Cover and allow the spinach to cook in the steam from the soup for another five minutes or until tender.
The full feature appeared in Camper Trailer Australia #94 November 2015. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!