Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Spicy Dutch oven breakfast strata

Classic breakfast strata consists of cubed or torn bread, layered with shredded cheeses and bound together with whisked eggs. Meat and vegetables are optional. The mountain man breakfast is a common Dutch oven strata in camp. 

My first thought was to replicate a breakfast strata that we prepared for Mercy Chefs last week in Middletown, California. (I deployed with Mercy Chefs to Middletown to provide quality meals for victims of the Valley Fire.) I was going to layer scratch buttermilk biscuits, sausage, cheese and eggs into the 10-inch Dutch oven and bake for dinner.

Then I though why not use the beef taquitos from the freezer as the base? So, a layer of taquitos fit in the bottom of the Dutch oven. After spooning my salsa rachera over the taquitos, a mixture of crumbled chorizo with green chiles and onion went over the top. Ten eggs with cheddar and jack cheeses made up the final layer. After baking with charcoal for 35 minutes, we are ready to eat.

Cut the taquitos to fit into the Dutch oven. I began by arranging them in the fashion of a wheel spoke, but quickly realized the taquitos would blend into the final dish. Settle on complete coverage, not presentation in this case.
Mixing the eggs and cheese together gives you the best distribution of the cheese. Don't worry when the chorizo mixture rises to the surface. It's all good!
Let the cooked strata rest for about 10 minutes. Resting allows the proteins and starches to set, making the strata more stable before you cut into it. 

You will need to cut the taquitos to fit in the Dutch oven. Arrange them as desired as they will blend into finished dish.

10-12 frozen beef taquitos
1/2 cup salsa
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
6 ounces pork chorizo, casing removed
10 large eggs
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Lightly oil (or coat with pan spray) a 10-inch Dutch oven. Arrange beef taquitos in the shape of a wheel spoke. Evenly spoon salsa over the taquitos.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and chilies until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add chorizo and cook, crumbling with a spoon, until browned. Drain off excess fat.

Meanwhile, crack eggs into a bowl. Add cheddar and jack cheeses and season with salt and pepper. Whisk eggs and cheeses until blended. Evenly pour egg and cheese mixture over taquitos. Place lid on oven.

Bake with coals for 350 degrees until puffed and golden, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. To serve, cut into 8 pieces. If desired, serve with your favorite hot pepper sauce or salsa and sour cream on the side.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Baked steel cup oats with fresh berries

My introduction to steel cut oats came several months ago when I purchased a box by mistake. Steel cut oats quickly became my favorite hot breakfast cereal. After enjoying its nutty flavor and chewy texture, I thought that there had to be a better way to enjoy these oats.

Several Internet searches led me to baked oatmeal. The idea of its rustic texture, browned with molasses or brown sugar, fascinated me. Baking the oats would add interest and appeal over traditional cooked oatmeal.

Then a culinary student at the Christian Culinary Academy presented individual bowls of baked oatmeal with strawberries last Thursday. The texture was amazing. Rustic and deep brown, her dish was a welcome change from cooked oatmeal. The oatmeal resembled a moist homemade granola.

Camp baked steel cut oats will add interest to any breakfast next to a roaring campfire this summer. It's the perfect meal to prepare in the evening, rest in the cooler overnight and bake in the morning. Before retiring for the night, measure dry ingredients into a bowl. After measuring the wet ingredients, marry the two, cover and place in the cooler. Be sure to place the ice chest in a secure location in bear country.

In the morning, light the charcoal briquettes in a charcoal chimney. Remove the bowl from the cooler, stir and pour into an oiled 10-inch Dutch oven. Brew the morning coffee as the oats bake and you ready yourself for the days activities. By the time everyone awakes, you'll enjoy a rustic breakfast made for the outdoors.

My purchase goof has opened my eyes to a new flavorful way to prepare oats in the morning. I plan to bake larger quantities for Oakland Feather River Camp this summer. Testing for a 12 by 20-inch hotel pan will begin in May. In addition to baked oats in the forest, larger quantities for the camp will enhance the breakfast meal.

Baked steel cut oats with fresh berries

I adapted this recipe from a 2013 blog post at Alexandra's Kitchen. Her recipe includes instructions for baking in individual dishes. My scratch-made syrup stood in for genuine maple syrup. I used a mixture of blueberries and raspberries for the test run.

3/4 cup steel cut oats
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cups fresh berries
2 cup milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a small bowl, mix together oats, nuts, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a second bowl, whisk together milk, syrup, egg, butter and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture over the oat mixture. Stir to combine. Store mixture in refrigerator or camp cooler overnight.

In the morning, scatter berries into a lightly oiled 10-inch camp-style Dutch oven. Pour milk-oat mixture over berries. Bake with coals for 375 degrees (18 coals under oven and 6 on lid) for 60 minutes or until the oats are firm and milk thoroughly absorbed. Bake several additional minutes for a crispier crust. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Serve with fresh berries and cream or milk. Makes about 6 servings.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Oakland Feather River Camp needs cooks and dishwashers for 2015 summer season

Oakland Feather River Camp posted this job advertisement for summer food service staff yesterday. To apply, follow the link to the SF Bay Area Craigslist post and click the 'reply' button in the upper left corner of the page. An application can be found on the camp website. A companion ad has been posted to the American Camp Association job board.

I am returning to the camp in April as the chef and food service manager.

Oakland Feather River Camp is looking for skilled, flexible, friendly, accountable and mature summer staff for our Family Camp. The staff of Oakland Feather River Camp creates the atmosphere in which campers develop memories that will be treasured for a lifetime.

We will be hiring the following positions: Head Cook, Prep Cooks, Vegan/Vegetarian Cook, and Dishwashers. Ideal candidates are energetic and enthusiastic people who like to connect with others in an authentic way have experience camping or living out of doors, are friendly, helpful, organized and safety focused. All camp staff must have a desire to serve people while living in a rustic, natural environment.

Under the direction of the Food Service Manager these staff will prepare food for to ensure the timely service of quality meals with ample selection and nutrition for 250 - 300 campers daily. All cooks must be safety oriented, friendly, helpful, organized, knowledgeable about food and cooking and have experience working in a commercial kitchen.

Kitchen staff must be considerate of individuals with special diets and/or food allergies and will participate cooperatively as part of a supportive and cohesive team. Knowledge of a commercial kitchen and the health and safety procedures and regulations associated with food preparation is a priority.

Oakland Feather River Camp is located in Quincy, California, approximately 250 miles from the San Francisco Bay Area. The camp is located at 3,500 feet in elevation on 65 acres in the beautiful Plumas National Forest. In this pristine environment we provide family and youth campers with exciting and fun activities as well as opportunities for laid back relaxation. We offer rustic cabins and tent-cabins on platforms with nearby restrooms and hot showers, and three healthy meals a day. Campers come for as short or long as they like.

All camp positions require a combination of education and relevant experience that would likely provide the required knowledge, skills, certifications and abilities to successfully perform the duties required. Applicants shall be at least 18 years of age, have a valid drivers license and submit to required background checks.

All staff work six days per week. Salary is $325-$340 per week. Room and board are provided for duration of the summer season. The season for the cooks is May 7-August 15, 2015. Dishwashers work June 6-August 9, 2015.

Monday, February 23, 2015

German red cabbage video

While Chef Brett Hoffman's recipe for German red cabbage looks interesting, I'm partial to version. Red cabbage is know as blaukraut, or blue cabbage, in Bavaria, the birth country of my great grandmother Ella.

I limit my seasonings to whole cloves, salt and pepper. The chef adds bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. The key to Karoly red cabbage has to be the bacon, along with quality apple cider vinegar. I rely on the apples and apple juice to impart a bit of sweetness into the cabbage.

Chef Hoffmann's Red cabbage

1 or 2 heads of purple cabbage, quartered and chopped
1 large yellow onion chopped
2-3 Washington apples thinly sliced (applesauce is used in the video)
2 mandarin or navel oranges peeled
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3/4 cup bacon fat
1-2 cups white wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup red wine

Combine all ingredients except cabbage in a pot and cook down. Add ¾ cup bacon fat and cabbage to the pot with 1- 2 cups white wine vinegar and 1 cup water. Cook cabbage until tender but firm and then add sugar to taste and ¼ cup red wine.

Recipe credit: ABC15 Arizona

Chef Hoffmann's restaurant, Haus Murphy's (Glendale, Ariz.) website

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dutch oven meatloaf

Though meatloaf reaches back to Roman times, the invention of the hand-cranked meat grinder hastened its acceptance as classic comfort food. Topped a tangy ketchup glaze, meatloaf is the perfect centerpiece for the traditional American meal. For many, it brings back memories of one or two fat slices, served with a heap of mashed potatoes.

I prefer a traditional loaf, one made with sauteed aromatics, finely ground bread crumbs, ketchup or milk, eggs and two or three ground meats. Baking the meatloaf in a camp-style Dutch oven lets you enjoy a good meal in camp. If desired, you can mix the meat in the home kitchen, shape it into a round loaf and place in the ice chest for the trip to the campground.

Enjoy ...

Mold the meat mixture into a seven- to eight-inch round inside the 12-inch camp-style Dutch oven. If desired, shape it into a traditional rectangular loaf.
Many meatloaf recipes instruct you to brush the glaze on in the last 20 to 30 minutes of baking to avoid burning. I find that the moist environment in the Dutch renders this step unnecessary. Brush the glaze on the uncooked meatloaf.
Asparagus sauteed in butter and garlic and mashed Klondike Rose potatoes were served alongside Dutch oven meatloaf.

Most recipes (including this one) instruct you to avoid over-mixing the meatloaf. While giving the loaf a thorough mix is essential, mixing it longer than needed will yield a tough loaf. Mix the loaf just to the point where each ingredient is developed into a smooth texture. This will help the load hold together.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup carrot, finely grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup ketchup
2 large eggs, lightly whipped
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Pinch nutmeg

Pre-heat a 12-inch camp-style Dutch oven over a bed of charcoal briquettes or camp burner. Pour in olive oil. Add onion, carrot and garlic. Saute until onions are translucent. Do not brown vegetables. Place vegetables in a medium bowl and cool slightly. Wipe Dutch oven with paper towel.

Add beef, pork, bread crumbs, ketchup, eggs, salt, pepper and cayenne to bowl with vegetables. Mix with your hands, until thoroughly blended. Do not over mix. Mold meat mixture into a round, about 7 to 8 inches in diameter. Place into a 12-inch camp-style Dutch oven.

Combine glaze ingredients in a small bowl. Brush glaze over meat loaf. Place lid on oven. Bake with coals for 350 degrees (approximately 8 charcoal briquettes under oven and 16 to 20 on lid) about 60 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Bacon roses for your sweetheart

I thought this video appropriate with Valentine's Day around the corner. Like edible arrangements made from seasonal fruits and chocolate, nothing says "I love you" like bacon! My only advise: please share.

Video description: "Last minute gift for your Valentine? Give them a bouquet of bacon!"

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Dessert time

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Jan. 27, 2015) -- Culinary Specialist Seaman Apprentice Robert Metcalfe, from Baltimore, plates cake aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon (DDG 58). Laboon is underway conducting a composite training unit exercise with the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group in preparation for an upcoming scheduled deployment.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael J. Lieberknecht.