Monday, June 30, 2014

Program Director

Program Director Aaron Ross fuels up with hot dogs before leading afternoon activities at Oakland Feather River Camp.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Baked asparagus frittata with basil and Swiss cheese

Set-up for baked asparagus frittata with
basil and Swiss cheese.
Two weeks ago I prepared baked asparagus frittata with basil and Swiss cheese for the Feather River Adult Art Camp. The process is the same that I used during the 2013 season (click for recipe).

To begin, I cut one pound of asparagus for each 2-1/2-inch hotel pan. Next the asparagus with a splash of canola-olive blend oil went into each pan. Five pans were placed in a 325-degree convection oven for around 10 minutes.

Once the asparagus was a bright green color, I removed the pans and poured in three cartons of liquid egg, along with a handful of chopped fresh basil and parsley and grated Parmesan cheese. I returned the pans to the oven and baked until the eggs was almost set. Each pans was then topped with 15 slices of Swiss cheese and given another five minutes in the oven.

The frittata was a hit. One campers said, "I've never seen that up here." I find that one pan of frittata feeds 35 family campers at Oakland Feather River Camp. We also place a pan of plain scrambled eggs on the serving line for campers that don't like frittata.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Baked Dutch apple pancake recipe

I recently adapted a recipe for big Dutch apple from the January 2014 issue of Sunset Magazine. Thanks to a test by fellow chef Paul Kleiforth, I added caramelized apples to the original recipe. The result is a wonderful breakfast dish. It's a refreshing alternative to hot griddle cakes or French toast.

After testing Paul's baked Dutch apple pancake on staff at Oakland Feather River Camp last month, I introduced it to the adult campers of the art camp this week. They loved it. After receiving several compliments from the older campers, many in their sixties and seventies, I will place it on the menu every other week.


I prepared six 2-1/2-inch hotel pans of the baked apple pancake for around 140 adult campers Friday. The picture shows me portioning eight cups batter into each pan. Liquid eggs stand in for fresh eggs at Oakland Camp. Use 14 large or 16 medium eggs if you don't buy liquid eggs. To date, I've simultaneously baked six pans in the oven.

One pan will serve 25 campers. At Oakland Camp, we place a pan of plain scrambled eggs on the vegetarian line for campers that prefer them.

8 ounces butter
1/2 can sliced apples, drained, juices reserved
2 ounces sugar
1.5 pounds eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup reserved apple juice
2 cups milk
Toppings: nutmeg, powdered sugar, lemon wedges and honey

Place butter in a 12 by 20 by 2-1/2-inch hotel pan and set on lowest rack of oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees in a conventional oven or 375 degrees in a convection oven. Combine apples and sugar. Remove pan from oven and place apples in pan. Return to oven and cook until lightly caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes.

While the apple caramelizes, quickly mix batter. Put eggs in a blender or food processor and whirl on high speed for 1 minute. With motor running, gradually pour in milk and juice, then slowly add flour; continue whirling 30 seconds. (Or, in a bowl, beat eggs until blended; gradually beat in milk, then flour.)

Remove pan from oven and pour batter over apples. Return pan to oven and bake until pancake is puffy and well browned, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. When working with multiple pans in the oven, rotate from top to bottom shelves if necessary for even cooking.

Dust pancake with nutmeg if desired, then powdered sugar. Cut as desired and serve with more powdered sugar and lemon wedges, plus a drizzle of honey if you like.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Simple cheese spread

For a simple, yet flavorful cheese spread, mix Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, Parmesan cheese, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper into cream cheese. I'll leave the amounts to you. When I prepared it for a function at Oakland Feather River Camp yesterday, I eyeballed quantities. Taste before serving and adjust seasonings to suit. Chop fresh parsley and green onion and spread over the outside of the cheese ball. Enjoy ...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Old 'school' pizza

In the days before frozen pizza shells came in the market, sheet pan pizza was common in school dining rooms and military chow halls. I suspect that many camps still produce 'school' pizza. More efficient when feeding large numbers of campers, I prefer sheet pan pizza over frozen pizza shells. Using a basic dough recipe, four to eight sheets will feed 100 campers one or two slices per person.

The last meal of staff training week at Oakland Feather River Camp featured old 'school' pizza. Unlike last year, where we used 12-inch frozen pizza shells, this pizza was prepared from scratch, using a basic formula with 58 percent water and active dry year. While I generally favor instant yeast, we are using active dry yeast that I inherited from my predecessor.

We didn't mix the yeast, sugar and warm water until 10 a.m. Not one to be deterred by a late start, the dough was fermenting in the mixer bowl at 10:25. One hour later the baker divided the dough into five balls. Four of the dough balls weighted 2 pounds, 7-ounces. The smaller one came in at around 12 ounces.

After resting 10 minutes, each dough ball was rolled into a rectangle, sized to fit in 18 by 26-inch sheet pans. The smaller dough ball was rolled out for a half-sized sheet pan. Following instructions in Armed Forces Recipe Service card number L-165, each pizza was par-baked in a 450-degree convection oven for about 7 minutes.

After cooling briefly, we spread one quart pizza sauce over each pizza. Do not forget to dock the dough before baking (as we did!). Each pizza was then topped with about 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese and other toppings. Each pizza was returned to the oven for eight to 10 minutes.

Once removed from the oven, the pizzas cooled for 5 minutes before slicing. The larger pizzas were cut into 24 servings (4 by 6); the smaller one was cut into 12 servings (3 by 4). We prepared the following pizzas:
  • Ranch dressing with roasted garlic, shredded chicken and vegetables
  • Meat lovers with diced ham, bacon and Italian sausage (middle picture)
  • Italian sausage combination (top picture)
  • Cheese with mozzarella and Parmesan
  • Vegetarian (half sheet pan)

Picture of the week: Freezer lock at camp

Okay, I don't really have a picture of the week. But this one is worthy of a couple words.

This picture presented itself to me as I walked in the kitchen yesterday morning. Staff who placed the ice cream into the walk-in freezer Thursday evening after the ice cream social incorrectly "locked" the door. It must have worked. There was no loss in temperature overnight. The unit was running around minus 10 degrees. However, it did take a good, strong pull to open the door.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Chef under pressure

Credence Clearwater Revival song melting in the CD player? Oven alarm sounding? It's not a problem for this chef. Note his steady hand as he calmly sprinkles sugar and cinnamon over the baked apple pancake.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Seabee grill cooks

My Seabee battalion (NMCB-17) spent time at Camp Shelby in 1986 on a similar field exercise. I returned in 1992 for Seabee Crew Served Weapons School, where I was the platoon chief petty officer (equivalent to a Marine platoon sergeant) for platoon of M-60 machine gun students.

CAMP SHELBY, Miss. (June 15, 2007) - Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Rick Watson, of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 23, helps Culinary Specialist Seaman Joshua Abshire and Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Frederick Kline as they prepare pork chops to feed about 1,000 Seabees. NMCB-23 is conducting Operation Desert Heat, a graded field exercise to sharpen the battalion's combat and contingency construction capabilities.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ja'lon A. Rhinehart (RELEASED).

Sunday, June 01, 2014