Emma Frisch knows the secrets of outdoor cooking. She and her husband, Bobby, opened their glamping destination in Ithaca, New York, four years ago. Today they spend a good portion of their time serving up alfresco meals that will make you rethink taking anything boiled, bagged, or freeze-dried on your next camping trip.
And now Frisch’s new book, Feast by Firelight (Ten Speed Press), shares a collection of her favourite recipes and tips, refined over countless trips and adventures. Arranged by meal types (sandwiches and salads, happy hour, main events, sweet endings, etc.), the book also includes indispensable guides to packing an outdoor kitchen, arranging food in your cooler, and cooking over an open fire or camp stove. And while many of the recipes are not designed for backcountry campers (note the cooler above), there is something for everyone.
Gluten-free and vegetarian options feature large, while traditional favorites with new and gourmet twists also make appearances. There’s even a ‘no sweat sandwich guide’, complete with options for breads, spreads, spices, and stuffings. Additionally, each recipe is divided into “prep” portions (those you make ahead, at home) and portions made in camp, making this cookbook super easy to use.
With permission from the publisher*, we’ve compiled some of our favorites from Feast by Firelight below. The sheer variety of recipes made it hard to choose, but these three winners add a dash of deliciousness to any outdoor trip.
Photography copyright © 2018 by Christina Holmes.
Tiramisu French Toast With Strawberries
This is an Italian twist on a French dish originally designed to make use of pain perdu, or stale bread. For this recipe be sure to use a baguette, which when sliced into rounds and sealed in a ziplock bag, is space-saving and holds its shape; it’s also the best bread for absorbing the egg batter. Mascarpone, a signature ingredient in tiramisu, is a rich, creamy, spreadable cheese; bring extra for slathering on toasted bread with a drizzle of honey. Surplus baguette slices can be saved for pairing with dips and cheese at happy hour.
PREP: 10 minutes
COOK: 30 to 45 minutes
YIELD: 4 servings
1⁄2 cup mascarpone
2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee
1 teaspoon honey
2 pinches grated nutmeg
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch kosher salt
1 baguette, sliced into 1-inch-thick rounds
2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil
1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1⁄2 cup sliced fresh strawberries
In a food processor or in a bowl with a whisk, combine the mascarpone, coffee, honey, and 1 pinch of the nutmeg and process or beat until smooth. Transfer to an airtight container, seal, and then chill for up to 1 week.
In a lidded jar, combine the milk, eggs, vanilla, salt, and remaining 1 pinch nutmeg. Seal the jar tightly, shake vigorously until the custard is yellow and the yolks are incorporated, 10 seconds, and then chill for up to 24 hours.
- Place the baguette slices on a rimmed baking sheet and pour the egg custard over them. Use tongs to flip the slices and slather both sides with the custard. Let stand for 5 minutes to absorb the custard. Gently squeeze the slices with the tongs and flip them again to allow the bread to absorb more of the custard. Let stand for another 5 minutes.
- In a 12- inch cast- iron skillet or large sauté pan over low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Once the butter begins to foam (before it browns!), add as many baguette slices as can fit in a single layer and pour any remaining custard over the top. Cover the pan and cook until crispy and golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Flip the slices with tongs or a spatula and cook, uncovered, until the other side is crispy and golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining baguette slices, melting 1 tablespoon butter in the pan between batches.
- Serve warm directly from the pan as you finish each batch, or transfer to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Place three slices of French toast on each camper’s plate and top with a generous dollop of the mascarpone, which will melt like syrup. Using a fine-mesh strainer, generously dust each serving with cocoa powder and scatter the strawberries over the top. Tell your fellow campers to eat up; leftovers don’t keep well.
Photography copyright © 2018 by Christina Holmes.
Spiced Sweet Potato and Kale Tacos
GLUTEN FREE, VEGETARIAN
The secret in this simple taco lies in the method in which it’s prepared. For a truly Ayurvedic dish, use ghee (clarified butter), which is becoming more widely stocked in grocery stores and available online. And of course, don’t forget your toppings.
PREP: 15 minutes
COOK: 25 minutes
YIELD: 6 servings
2 large sweet potatoes, cut into1⁄2-inch cubes
3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, ghee, coconut oil, or olive oil
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1⁄2 tablespoons toasted coriander seeds, crushed
1⁄4 teaspoon garam masala or ground cinnamon
20 turns of the pepper mill
5 cups thinly sliced kale leaves
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
12 small corn tortillas, warmed (see Note)
Sliced avocado or guacamole, crumbled goat cheese or feta, plain yogurt or sour cream, chopped fresh cilantro, salsa or diced tomatoes, and/or hot sauce for topping
1 lime, sliced
In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or sauté pan over high heat, combine the sweet potatoes and enough cold water to cover. Bring to a gentle boil, then cover and cook until fork-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain and let cool.
Pack the sweet potatoes, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a ziplock bag or airtight container and then chill for up to 3 days.
Pack the onion and 1 tablespoon butter in a ziplock bag or airtight container and then chill for up to 24 hours.
Combine the cumin, coriander seeds, garam masala, and pepper in a ziplock bag or airtight container and store in a cool, dark place for up to 2 weeks.
- In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Once the butter begins to foam (before it browns!), stir in the spice mixture with a wooden spoon. Spread it evenly in the pan and let sizzle until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the onion-butter mixture, stirring until the butter melts, and sauté until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the sweet potato–garlic mixture, stirring until the butter melts once again, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the kale, toss with tongs, and cook until the kale turns bright green and wilts, about 2 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and toss in the salt.
- Serve the sweet potato filling warm, directly from the pan (be sure to warn your fellow campers that the pan is hot!) alongside the tortillas and toppings on a table so campers can assemble their own tacos, squeezing the lime over the top. Store leftovers in an airtight container, chilled, for up to 3 days. Add a splash of water when reheating.
NOTE: To warm tortillas on the grill, brush the tortillas with olive oil and grill directly over medium-high heat until lightly charred. To warm tortillas on the stove top, add them one at a time to a pan over low heat, flipping once or twice. Transfer to a plate and wrap with a damp tea towel to keep moist and warm until ready to serve; they will break less easily once filled.
Photograph copyright © 2018 by Christina Holmes.
Fire-Licked Steak With Mama’s Salsa Verde
The salsa verde in this recipe is the perfect complement to nearly any entrée or side dish, especially skirt steak. The affordable cut cooks fast on the grill, yielding a crispy crust and juicy interior. Leftover steak can be used for sandwich, taco, and quesadilla fillings. Keep extra salsa on hand for spreading on charred bread or spooning over coal-baked potatoes, eggs, and fish. If you’re using capers packed in salt, rinse them first.
PREP: 10 minutes
COOK: 10 to 12 minutes
YIELD: 4 to 6 servings
Mamma’s Salsa Verde
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, peeled
One 2-ounce can anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry
2 tablespoons capers
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1⁄2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1⁄3 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
2 pounds skirt steak (see Note)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
20 turns of the pepper mill
To prepare the salsa verde: In a food processor, combine the garlic, anchovies, and capers and pulse until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the processor bowl; add the vinegar, mustard, and parsley; and whiz while slowly drizzling in the 1⁄3 cup olive oil until smooth and bright green. Transfer the mixture to a lidded 8-ounce jar. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over the top to create a film that will preserve the lovely bright green. Seal the jar tightly and chill for up to 1 week.
Dry-brine the steaks by rubbing the salt evenly over the surface. (You can also do this 1 to 2 hours before cooking at camp.) Transfer to a ziplock bag and then chill for up to
- Remove the salsa verde from the cooler and let stand at ambient temperature for up to 2 hours before serving.
- Fire the grill to high heat and position the grill grate as close as possible to the coals or pile the coals high under the grate to maximize the steak’s proximity to the fire. Remove the steaks from the cooler and pat dry with a paper towel to eliminate moisture on the surface and ensure a crispy crust. Sprinkle both sides with the pepper.
- Place the steaks over the hottest part of the fire. Using long tongs, flip the steak every minute or so for even cooking; the cooking time will vary depending on thickness.
- Look for an evenly caramelized and browned outer crust to check doneness. Slight char is okay but don’t let the crust burn! Use a thermometer to check that the internal temperature of the thickest part of the steak is between 125° and 130°F for medium- rare to medium. You can cook longer for medium-well or well-done, though it will make the steak chewier.
- Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes so the juices can redistribute. Slice the steak against the grain into 1⁄2-inch slices.
- Serve directly from the cutting board. Stir the top layer of oil into the salsa verde just before serving and let campers add it to their steak directly from the jar. Store leftovers in an airtight container, chilled, for up to 3 days.
Note: Some recipes suggest trimming the steak’s fat to prevent flare-ups when the fat drips onto the coals. Skirt steak isn’t very fatty, but still, leave any fat on for flavor and just be prepared for flare-ups
*All recipes excerpted from Feast by Firelight by Emma Frisch. Copyright © 2018 by Emma Frisch. Photography copyright © 2018 by Christina Holmes. Published in the United States by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.