Cooking On The Go
By Janet Groene, F47166
The best thing about motorhome travel is that we have so many dining options. If it’s rainy, cook and eat in the coach. When it’s sunny, pull into a roadside stop, spread a blanket at the beach, or take a picnic basket and folding chairs to an outdoor concert. No matter how large and luxurious your coach is, there’s still magic in eating outdoors. Try one of these recipes for your next picnic.
For a change of pace, dice leftover roasted or grilled pork and make it the centerpiece of a hearty, whole-meal picnic salad. Every family has its favorite barbecue sauce, so make this salad sweet or tangy, hot or mild, depending on your tastes.
1/3-cup barbecue sauce
4 cups cooked pork, diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 medium red sweet pepper, finely diced
Red tip lettuce, cut chiffon style
Whisk together the mayonnaise and barbecue sauce. Toss with the pork, onion, and peppers. Set out four plates or shallow bowls and cover with a bed of red tip lettuce cut into narrow strips. Divide the pork mixture among the plates. This makes a knife-and-fork meal, but also can be served in sandwich buns using one or two whole leaves of red tip lettuce. This recipe serves four to six people as a main dish salad, or makes up to eight sandwiches.
This recipe is from Satisfying Soups, by Phyllis Hobson ($16.95, Storey Books). This cookbook is the only one you’ll need for a lifetime of soups, bisques, chowders, gumbos, and stews. The author’s recipes do not include shortcuts, however, so the book is best for from-scratch cooks or those who are willing to find substitutes for homemade stocks.
This recipe is quick to make when you need a soup course to warm up a picnic on a chilly day. Real, freshly cooked and flaked crabmeat is tastiest, but imitation crabmeat is a good second choice and, in a pinch, canned crab can be used. Throughout the book, the author calls for soft margarine, which I have never liked for cooking. I substituted 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil for her 4 tablespoons of soft margarine.
4 tablespoons soft margarine
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
4 cups low-fat milk
2 cups cooked, flaked crabmeat (1 pound)
1 cup half-and-half
Salt, freshly ground white pepper to taste
Dash cayenne pepper
In a spacious soup pot, melt the margarine and saute the onion until it’s transparent. Blend in the flour. Gradually add the milk and cook until thick, stirring frequently. Add the crabmeat and half-and-half. Stir well, season to taste, and serve. This recipe makes six cups of soup.
Tortellini Salad With Pine Nuts
This recipe is from DeeDee Stovel’s book, Picnic ($9.95, Storey Books). Filled with tempting recipes, the book describes various picnic scenarios and the recipes for them. This salad is better when chilled, so make it the night before or on the morning of the picnic and keep it in the refrigerator or cooler.
2 pounds fresh tortellini pasta
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped and seeded
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped and seeded
1 cup scallions, chopped, with some green tops
1/2-cup pine nuts, chopped
1/4-cup fresh dill, chopped
1/4-cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4-cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
Freshly ground pepper
3/4-cup peanut oil
Cook the tortellini according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl with the remaining salad ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients; pour over the tortellini mixture and chill. The author suggests completing the menu with teriyaki chicken wings, shredded carrot salad, and sour cream chocolate cake, all of them described in her book.
A dollop of this relish adds a colorful splash to a meal of plain sandwiches. It’s crunchy and tangy, and a nice change from the usual pickles or baby carrots. This relish keeps for several days in the refrigerator.
2 15- or 16-ounce cans whole kernel corn
1/3-cup lemon juice or lime juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Hot pepper sauce and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2-cup sweet onion, diced
1 small tomato, seeded and diced
Half a red sweet pepper, seeded and diced
Half a green bell pepper, seeded and diced
Approximately 1/2-cup fresh parsley, snipped
Drain the juice from one can of corn, but do not drain the other can. In a roomy carry-serve container, mix the lemon or lime juice, vinegar, sugar, salt, hot pepper sauce, and pepper. Add both cans of corn, including the remaining juice; the other vegetables; and the parsley. Mix well; chill; and mix again just before serving with a slotted spoon.
Microwave-convection recipe of the month
This recipe was tested in my Dometic microwave-convection oven. Times will vary depending on your oven’s size and brand.
This meaty pie, a traditional Christmas Eve dish in French Canada, can be served cold as picnic fare. This recipe makes a 9-inch pie to serve six. The cloves give it a distinctive flavor.
2 ready-made pie crusts
1 pound lean ground pork
1/2-pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2-teaspoon ground cloves
1/2-teaspoon dried sage
1/2-teaspoon black pepper
1/2-cup dried potato flakes
1 egg, well beaten
Allow the pie crusts to come to room temperature. In a covered microwavable casserole, cook the meat with the onion, garlic, and seasonings on high for five minutes, stirring and breaking up every minute until the meat is no longer pink. Stir in the water and cook for two minutes on high to heat thoroughly. Stir in the potato flakes to absorb the remaining juices. The mixture should be firm. If it is too stiff or too juicy, you may need to add more water or more potato flakes, depending on how much moisture was released by the meat. Set the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9-inch pie plate with one crust, add the meat filling, and top with the other crust. Flute to seal the edges and brush the top with the beaten egg. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, rotating halfway through for more even browning, until the crust is golden.
Although vichyssoise sounds elegant, it’s just cold potato soup that can be spooned from a bowl or sipped from a mug. Using instant mashed potatoes in this recipe helps save time. To keep the soup thin enough to sip without having to puree it, be sure to cut up the vegetables finely.
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 large leeks, white part only, cleaned and finely diced
Instant potatoes for six servings
1 quart chicken broth
1 quart half-and-half
Salt, white pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a large pot and cook the onion and leeks until they are soft. Don’t let them brown. Stirring constantly over low heat, add in the potatoes and chicken broth. Stir in the half-and-half and heat thoroughly, but don’t boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature, sprinkled with a pinch of chives. This recipe makes eight to 10 servings, and keeps well in the refrigerator. Leftovers can be served plain, or you can add cooked tuna, salmon, or lobster to make a full-meal cold soup.
Just Ducky Salad
Now that roasted duck breast is found in larger supermarkets, you can create a convenience meal with a touch of class. This salad also can be made with cooked, diced chicken or pork. Buy washed spinach that is ready to use, but remove any large, tough stems.
1 pound baby spinach
1-1/2 cups cooked duck meat, diced
1 small sweet onion, diced
8-ounce can crushed pineapple, well drained
1 cup blue cheese dressing
Cut the spinach into narrow strips. Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl and, using tongs, place the salad on plates. This recipe makes four servings. Complete the meal with cloverleaf rolls and a hand-held dessert such as caramel apples.
Here are a few tips to make your alfresco dining experience more enjoyable.
- Have you discovered Aladdin Stanley’s HeatKeeper Food Bottle? Instead of heating the soup, chili, or other liquid foods on the stove, you simply fill the bottle; microwave it; screw on the lid; and you’re off to the picnic.
- When you’re grilling, put on an extra steak or several boneless chicken breasts to chill, slice, and serve for tomorrow’s picnic. Use the meat to make sandwiches or to toss into bowls of salad greens.
- Serve whole, roasted chicken tonight and, at the same time, bake a half-dozen drumsticks to enjoy cold at tomorrow’s picnic. Whisk together a jar of baby food strained apricots and a tablespoon of soy sauce to serve as a dip.
- Turn your favorite Waldorf salad into a main-dish picnic salad by adding chunks of cooked chicken breast.
- Fill a wide-mouth thermos with hot sloppy joe filling and spoon it onto sandwich buns on the spot.
- To make bean burritos on the run, scatter tortillas with grated cheese. Put canned refried beans in a microwavable casserole, heat on high, and spoon onto the tortillas. Top with a little salsa. Let the tortillas soften from the heat of the beans, then roll them up and wait another minute for the cheese to melt.
- Core one firm baking apple per person, place each on a square of foil, and fill the center with raisins and chopped nuts. Bring up the corners of the foil and twist. Bake at 350 degrees until the apples are just tender and set aside. To serve at the picnic, open the foil just enough to form a bowl, pour on a little heavy cream, and eat out of the foil.
Books for cooks
The best barbecue cookbook ever is Hot and Sticky BBQ: Passionately Delicious Recipes for the Grill ($21.95, Alpha Books) by Ted Reader. Ted presides over the grill with great ideas for everything from appetizers through desserts. His recipes are not only innovative and luscious but are presented in plain language. The 400-page volume is the only barbecue cookbook you’ll ever need. Find it at bookstores and through online booksellers.
For those who can’t resist buying the myriad cooking appliances seen on TV, there is a new cookbook to help you make use of these gadgets. The As Seen on TV Cookbook, by Lori Baird ($16.95, Hatherleigh Press), is a barrel of fun, because it lets you prepare delicious dishes you’ve seen made on infomercials that sell these cooking gizmos.
Chapters are designed for the Donut Express doughnut maker; the George Foreman Grill; the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer; the Pasta Pro; the Perfect Pancake; the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie & Barbecue Oven; the Turbo Cooker; and the Vita-Mix blender. Many of the recipes also can be adapted for other cookers, too. It’s fun to take different appliances on every motorhome trip. This is the book to help plan your doughnut weekend or your rotisserie beach week.