Lunchtime Noodles

 

Strictly speaking, these aren’t, of course, only for lunchtime; you can have them whenever you want. In fact, they’re particularly effective after a heavy night – or so I’ve been told. In fact, the recipe they’re based on is Nigella’s Drunken Noodles – not that I’m assuming that La Lawson would indulge in too many nights where she needs an appropriate cure but…now, I’m digging that hole deeper!

I like these because they’re quick and easy to whip up from ingredients that you probably have lying around from other meals, and leftovers that could be in the fridge. And, let’s face it when you’re on holiday you probably have better things to be doing with your time than faffing about with cooking a midday meal.

This recipe feeds 2 but will stretch to more if you throw in some veggies and cold meat. We had some leftover chicken from the roast chook the other night, plus snow peas and capsicum (peppers) that we’d used last night in a noodle soup. It, therefore, made a substantial lunch for 3. There’s no coriander in the version I cooked today because my 20-year-old daughter doesn’t eat coriander – that’s a subject for a whole other story – and, to be honest, with the snow peas it had plenty of green without it.

Speaking of which, Ms 20 – who doesn’t cook – has declared that she’ll be making this dish on those times when we’re away and she has to fend for herself. It can, therefore, adapt to a uni student’s attention to detail (and budget) and be made, in need, with garlic and ginger from a squeezy tube or a jar, and a squirt of lime from a bottle in the fridge.

Which reminds me – this is more of an idea than a recipe, so don’t get too hung up on the quantities and feel free to adjust the spicing to your taste.

What you need…

  • About 1/2 a packet (around 150g) dried rice noodles – like the ones you use in pad thai.
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sunflower oil
  • a chunk of ginger – peeled and grated (about 1/2 a thumb size)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated
  • 1 lime – zested and juiced
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce (I like ordinary soy sauce, but hubby likes the colour you get from the dark soy sauce)
  • a wok or frypan and a burner

What you do with it…

  • Soak the rice noodles in hot water for about 8 minutes and then immediately refresh in cold water and allow to drain in a colander.
  • While the noodles are soaking:
  1. Grate your ginger, garlic and lime zest and set aside
  2. If you’re adding extra meat or veggies toss them about in a frypan and some oil and set aside.
  3. Have on standby something to toss your noodles with – a spoon in each hand works.
  4. Mix the oyster sauce and water together and set aside.
  • When your noodles are done, you can start cooking. Heat the oils in your wok or pan and add the ginger, garlic and lime zest. Sprinkle over the chilli flakes and stir well.
  • Tip in the drained rice noodles and mix everything together – you’ll need to work quite quickly.
  • Add the watery oyster sauce, soy sauce and about 1/2 of the lime juice (I use a whole lime because I really like the zesty hit of the lime).
  • If you’re using additional veggies and meat, add this now. If not, serve immediately.
  • Have some extra soy sauce close to hand – and additional chilli flakes or sriracha for people (like me) who want even more chilli.

 

 

 

Clancy’s Sticky Chinese Pork

If you have a few hours spare (yeah right.., not with three kids to run around I hear you say), I strongly recommend this recipe. Served with rice and maybe a few Asian greens tossed about in a pan, this could quickly become a camp fave.

My protein of choice for this dish is pork belly (as the title would suggest), however, I’m sure it could be adapted for beef/brisket if preferred. Depending on your cut of meat allow some extra cooking time at a low low heat to get the meat mouthwateringly tender depending on your cut of meat.

Although this recipe takes some time to cook, there’s no marinating and no huge list of ingredients. The depth of flavour you get is from the slow cook.

Clancy’s Tip

  • This dish works really well as nibbles too – pop it into a plate and pass around the toothpicks and beers.
  • Any leftovers make a mighty fine jaffle/toastie filling!
  • If you’re feeling really fancy, pop it into some steamed buns with some mayo to turn it into pork bao. Naturally, sliders would work just as well.
  • The cooking broth can easily do double duty as a stock. Once the broth has cooled, skim off the fat layer and freeze (if you have that facility) or use it as the base for a very yummy wonton soup.

As with all leftovers, make sure that it’s stored correctly – getting sick is not on anyone’s agenda!

Equipment Used:

  • Cast iron camp oven (Dutch oven)
  • Cast iron fry pan
  • Ozpig/fire source.

What you need

For the Pork:
  • 1kg pork belly with the rind removed. Cut the pork belly into slices about the length of your finger and cut each in half.
  • 4 ¼ cups chicken stock (preferably hot)
  • 1 piece of ginger – about the size of your thumb – finely chopped.
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped in half
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp sugar
For the glaze:
  • 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1 piece of ginger – about the size of your thumb – minced ie chopped super fine
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 red chilli finely chopped (optional of course). It’s up to you if you leave the seeds in or not…
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp lemongrass very finely chopped.

What to do with it

  1. Place the pork belly ingredients into the camp oven and bring to the boil. Place the lid on and reduce the heat source down to create a low simmer for approx. 2 hours.
  2. Take off the heat and drain the pork of the liquid. You can set the liquid aside and use it as a Chinese broth for another day – see Clancy’s tips.
  3. Chop the pork belly into bite-sized pieces
  4. Place the frying pan over heat and add 1 tbsp oil, the pork belly pieces, salt and pepper and fry on a high heat until the pork starts to turn golden.
  5. In a separate bowl mix together the glaze ingredients. Once combined, pour the glaze over the pork and continue cooking.
  6. Once it appears dark and sticky, take it off the heat.
  7. Pour some cold beer and serve

Clancy’s Steamed Pork Buns

Pic courtesy of deposit photos

This recipe is a must for when you are camping in the colder months. Not only will these warm your soul, but you’ll be sure to make new friends with little beauties around the campfire.

Don’t be put off by the amount of prep work to get these ready. The filling is easily prepared prior to your adventure and, once made up, travels well – refrigerated properly, of course. All you’re left to do is place your bamboo steamer into your cooking pot, pour some water into the base, and in 15 to 20 minutes you’ll be cracking open the wonderfully soft and fluffy sweet bread filled with the aromas of the sticky pork filling.

Pass the beer…stat.

What you need…

Equipment

  • A Dutch oven (camp oven)
  • Bamboo steamer – that fits in the oven
  • You can also place the steamer over a wok using the burner on your barbeque or gas stove
For the dough
  • 2.5 tsp dried yeast
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2.5 cups plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
For the pork filling
  • 300g finely diced pork
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce

What to do with it

The Filling
  • Place the sauces, wine, and sugar In a saucepan/camp oven/frypan – depending on whether you’re making at home or at your destination –  and mix well. Bring it to a simmer over a medium heat source for approximately 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has slightly thickened.
  • Whisk the cornflour with about a tbsp of water. Once combined, add this to the sauce and stir for a further few mins until the sauce is thick and smooth.
  • Remove it from the heat, add the sesame oil and chopped pork, and you’re done.
  • Cover the mixture and set aside in the fridge (or esky) until required.
The Dough

Okay, this can be a little bit tricky, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort.

  • Mix together the yeast with 3/4  cup of warm (not hot) water to kick start the activation process.
  • Add 2 tsp of the caster sugar, mix well and place it to the side in a warm place for 10-15 mins. It should start to show signs of bubbling or foaming.
  • Mix the remaining caster sugar, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and stir until it is all well combined. Pour into the yeast mixture and add the oil. Continue to mix until a stiff dough is formed. You might need to add a little more warm water if the dough becomes too stiff.
  • Continue to mix until the dough is smooth and slightly tacky. Take the dough out and lightly knead before covering in plastic and placing it in a warm spot to rest for an hour or so.
  • Once rested, take the dough and knead it lightly on a slightly floured bench.
  • Roll the dough into a thick log – approximately 5 cm thick – and cut into about 15 equal pieces of dough.

Putting it all together

  • Take a piece of the prepared dough and roll it out until you have about a 10cm diameter circle.
  • Place the dough into your opened hand and spoon into the centre about a tbsp of the filling.
  • Fold the dough over the filling and bring it together at the top. Twist the top to seal. Don’t worry about how pretty (or otherwise) it looks.
  • Place the bun on a piece of baking paper and cut to be slightly larger than the bun. Cut enough paper for all your remaining buns and repeat.
  • Place all buns (including the baking paper) into a bamboo steamer spacing them about 5cms apart, and cover with the steamer lid.
  • Place the bamboo steamer into your camp oven/pot/wok, add water – to just below the first layer of buns – and steam over a high heat source for 15 to 20 minutes. Keep an eye on your water level so it does not completely evaporate.

Kapitan Chicken

I’ve been cooking this curry for years – it’s one of Clancy’s faves – yet as good as it tastes on the stovetop, it tastes better in a camp oven over flames. If you are going to cook it on your next adventure though, blend the spice paste up before you head out. Alternatively, make a big batch and keep some in the freezer that you can take with you.

The method I’ve given here is for a stovetop, but it translates just as well to fire. We last cooked it using the Oz Pig – mainly because it’s easier to control the heat and stir the sauce. If you’re using coals, you don’t need any on the lid.

Some notes on the ingredients

With regards to ingredients, as per usual adjust to your own taste – especially where the chilli is involved. We usually use a few large red chillis and leave some of the small ones with their seeds intact. The large red chillis won’t add a lot of heat to the dish, but they will make your paste more orange than yellow – not a big deal.

Candlenuts are something you might not have come across before – and something we’ve, in the past, left out to adapt the recipe for nut allergies. Sure, they add some authenticity to the dish, but on the other hand, they’re not really missed. If you can’t get candlenuts – which are available mostly at Asian supermarkets – macadamia nuts add a similar texture.

Belacan (Belachan) is another one you might not have come across before. It’s truly foul smelling stuff…when I say foul, I mean, really foul – another reason to mix up your paste before going on your adventure. You don’t want this stuff lying open in your tent/van/whatever.

It’s the sort of smell that seriously you wouldn’t know if it were off or not. Worse than smelly cheese, this doesn’t have the aroma of unwashed wet socks, but rather the stink of decaying shrimp. And that’s what it’s made from – fermented shrimp with a little salt. It’s then sun-dried and cut into blocks – although some stockists will sell it in a wet form that is also pretty manky.

Thankfully there are now some brands that are sold not only pre-roasted but pre-cut into individually sealed portion controlled sizes. Trust me, that is a breath of fresh air for the fridge.

So why would we cook with something that smells as gross as this? Simply because it adds that indefinable but absolutely necessary pungency to Malaysian cooking. (It’s also used widely in Thai, Laotian, Indonesian, Singapore and other South East Asian cuisines). It’s the belacan that gives sambal its potency, and the taste that allows the finished product to take you back to that Hawker’s Market in Penang.

Galangal is similar to ginger, but has a different texture and is more citrusy in taste. If you can’t get it, use more ginger.

Last night I couldn’t be faffed jointing a whole chicken (and our supermarket doesn’t sell free-range pieces other than drumsticks), so we used skinless thighs. If you are doing this, I would recommend taking the chicken out after the initial cooking period so that you have the time to develop the sauce in the way it needs to be developed. Then simply toss the chicken pieces back in for the final 10 mins or so.

Anyways, here is the recipe. It will serve 4 people easily with leftovers dependent on appetites.

What you need

For the paste:
  • 8 red birds eye chillis, split & de-seeded. We like chilli so leave the seeds in a few of these.
  • 3 shallots, sometimes called French shallots. If you can’t get them, use red onions – 1 large one should be enough
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2.5cm each ginger, galangal, and turmeric (peeled & sliced). Galangal is similar to ginger, yet tastes very different.
  • 5 candlenuts (These are hard to source in Australia, but macadamias are a good substitute. They taste like a combination between a mac and a brazil nut)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (the white part)
  • 1 tsp belacan*

Smash this all with your mortar and pestle, or whack it into a food processor and whizz until it is a smooth paste.

You’ll also need:
  • 1 whole chicken jointed (or about 1.5kgs chicken pieces) – we prefer free range chooks that have clucked and scratched their way through their (short) lives.
  • 1 tbsp oil – we use rice bran or coconut oil
  • 5 eschalots (sliced)
  • 400ml can coconut cream
  • Fish sauce to taste
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded, to serve (optional)
  • Coriander to serve (optional)

Putting it all together:

  • Heat the oil in a large frypan or camp oven and fry the paste over medium heat until it is brown and fragrant. This will take about 5 minutes, but trust me, you’ll know.
  • Add the shallots and chicken pieces and coat in the paste before frying for another couple of minutes.
  • Add the coconut cream, 100ml water, and cover the pan with a lid. Bring it up to a boil before reducing to a simmer for 20 minutes. (If you’re cooking it on a stovetop you might not need the extra water).
  • Uncover and simmer for another 5-10minutes – or until the chicken is tender and the sauce has reduced to a dunkable gravy.
  • Add fish sauce to taste, stir in the lime juice and scatter with kaffir lime leaves and (if using) coriander to serve.

Smoked Salmon and avocado salad

You know those weekend days when the skies are blue, the sun is shining and it’s almost warm enough to dip your toe in the pool, but absolutely beach weather? On days like that, you want a lunch like this. One that you can prepare quickly, that won’t weigh you down, that works brilliantly with white wine or water, and that, most importantly, leaves room for pizza or fish and chips at the beach for dinner.

It requires no flames, no special equipment, and can be on the table in 10 minutes. We bought all the ingredients at our local farmer’s market that morning, but if you don’t have a farmer’s market nearby, everything is readily available from most supermarkets.

As an aside, this works just as well with prawns or leftover shredded barbecue chicken.

Finally, a note on quantities. This will feed 4 if it’s part of a shared meal, or 2 if it’s all you’re having.

What you need

  • 100g smoked salmon
  • a handful of rocket or other leaves
  • 1 avocado peeled and sliced
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
  • about a 10cm length of cucumber – seeded and sliced
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • coriander to garnish (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons plain unsweetened yoghurt

What you do with it

  •  In a large mixing bowl toss together the avocado, tomatoes, leaves, juice of one of the lemons, the olive oil and some salt and pepper to taste.
  • Mix together the yoghurt and the juice from half of the other lemon. Cut the other half into halves for serving.
  • Place the salad in a large serving bowl and arrange the salmon through it. If you don’t trust your dining partner to share, split it all into 2 dishes and split the salmon one piece for me, one piece for him…
  • Drizzle the yoghurt dressing over the top, garnish with coriander – unless you’re a paid-up member of the I Hate Coriander Club – and serve with the leftover lemon.
  • Sit back and tell everyone how healthy you are – knowing all the while that you’ll be blowing it when the 5pm nibblies come out!

 

How not to cook a stew…

The first time us Clancy’s went “camping” together things didn’t go exactly according to plan. We were staying at a family member’s property near Eucumbene – in the south of NSW near the Snowy Mountains. It’s about a 40-minute drive from Cooma and the same from Jindabyne and in the winter that means it’s cold.

We were staying in what used to be worker’s cabins from the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme. We sleep in sleeping bags so, in a way, it feels like camping – or at least glamping – so that’s what we call it.  There’s a bathroom inside as well as an outside dunny with no door and a view to the bush and any passing kangaroo. We have a television for DVDs – there’s no TV reception -and aside from one point just outside the kitchen window, there’s no mobile reception.

The plan was simple. Even though there is a kitchen inside, we weren’t going to use it. No inside cooking. Unless it could be cooked outside- either on the barbecue or in the “camp” fire, we wouldn’t eat it.  How hard could it be?

Part of the plan was inspired by pure laziness – if we didn’t use the stove/oven we wouldn’t need to clean it before we left. Part of the plan was inspired by the thrill of the great outdoors. Just how cool would it be to cook as if we were really camping and not just pretend camping?

Clancy was cooking his world famous lamb roast. Ok, it wasn’t world famous yet – after all, it was the first time he had tried this particular recipe – but it soon would be. His previous camp oven roasts had been spectacular. Apparently.

The fire had been built that morning and fed during the day. The pit for the camp oven had been dug and the coals carefully selected. We all sat around in thousands of layers of clothes, muffled by scarves and beanies, protected by gloves and jackets. The kids roasted marshmallows on the ends of sticks. The adults poured tumblers of red wine or fetched fresh beers and nibbled on cocktail hour.

When we finally decided our “oven” had been pre-heated to the guesstimated temperature of exactly 180C, Clancy heaved the cast iron camp oven into place. Then we waited. The kids went inside to watch DVDs.

The sun went down and the stars came out. More stars than I have ever seen. But still, the roast wasn’t cooking. We changed coals and sat back to wait. Obviously, the pit had a faulty temperature gauge.

Finally, it was sizzling and as the wind whirled around the fire pit, so too did the smells- lamb, rosemary and garlic. Our mouths watered. So we drank more (now chilled) wine.

The lamb that first night took almost 2 hours to cook. My brother declared that it normally took around an hour. It tasted as good as it smelled, although was a tad underdone for second-day sammies.

Sunday was our turn. Bacon and eggs on the barbie had to be finished inside when the gas bottle was found to be empty.  Not a good start. At least my world famous (I was convinced it would be spectacular) slow cooked beef stew would save the day.

Gravy beef, veggies, a few tins of tomato, a bottle of wine and enough garlic to scare away the kangaroos was thrown into the camp oven. Last night had made us cautious – we didn’t want this to cook as quickly as the lamb so contemplated using a tripod and hanging the camp oven from it. A strong, blustery westerly put paid to that idea.

So, it was back to the pit. The coals weren’t as good and it had been a struggle to maintain the fire. At 3pm it was sleeting and the wind chill had brought the ambient temperature to around minus a lot.

We persisted. We estimated our oven to be at the perfect slow cooking temperature of 150C and oohed and aahed over the smells.

At the 20 minute mark, we checked it. Disaster. Not only had the camp oven boiled dry, but it had left a nasty charred mess where succulent beef was meant to be. And with the nearest shops 40kms away in Jindabyne…

Perhaps the coals had been closer to 500C? No problems, we could still make damper…

…which also burned to a crisp.

The kids toasted marshmallows.

In true invention test style, we cobbled together some pizza muffins for the kids and baked cheesy potato skins with a rough guacamole for us adults. Combined with cheeses, dips and some anti pasta veggies from a jar we had a feast. We prepared it using the stovetop and oven…which then had to be cleaned.

The lesson?

  • When the nearest shops are 40 clicks away it pays to over cater and have a back-up
  • no matter how well you plan it, you’re gonna be stuck cleaning a kitchen
  • Coals are tricky buggers
  • Cooking in a fire pit is not an exact science – who would have thought it?
  • As long as there are marshmallows to toast, all is not lost

Clancy of the Campfire

Who is Clancy?

For a start, he’s not the guy in the picture – although he has been known to don an Akubra and a Drizabone and gaze out into the sunset. Just not from the back of a horse. Clancy’s not much of a rider.

Clancy isn’t one man – or even one woman. Clancy is anyone who enjoys the great outdoors – and sees good food as part of that adventure.

Whether you’re travelling in a van, camping in the bush, in a tent by the beach, using the communal facilities of a caravan park, or just having a picnic in your backyard or in that park by the beach, Clancy is there. You’ll find Clancy cooking over a fire, a hot-plate, a gas-burner or a portable wood stove.

Clancy will spice things up with a fragrant curry, keep it traditional with a slow-cooked stew, serve up a roast with all the trimmings, throw together a simple (or not so simple) salad, or make the most of the catch of the day. Clancy might be in the mood for some flatbread, pasta bake, or want to tempt you with something sweet. And when it comes to family favourites or a date night under the stars with that special someone, Clancy will have you covered there too.

Clancy knows that nothing tastes better than a meal cooked and eaten in the great outdoors – except perhaps the meal that’s cooked and eaten in the great outdoors with family and friends. Add a campfire and you’ve made some pretty special memories.

How do we know? Because that’s who we are.

Clancy of the Campfire isn’t one person – he’s really four people. More, if you count the kids. We’re two families who love to get together and cook, eat, laugh and talk about cooking and eating.

Mitch and Jo are brother and sister and with their respective spouses represent two different sides of the Clancy story.

Mitch and his wife, P like nothing better than getting away in the bush with their kids. He’s at his happiest with a swag, a fire, a camp oven, his portable wood burner. Mitch is the accessories guy.

Jo’s family like the bush too – they’d just prefer not to rough it quite so much. They travel relatively lightly – as far as equipment is concerned – and are more about cooking on a hot plate or over a burner.

Two different approaches with one common goal:

To create memories through the sharing of good food in the great outdoors.

We know that food cooked outside doesn’t need to be bland or boring – it can be as full of flavour as the landscape that we’re eating it in is.

We also know that when you’re in the great outdoors, we don’t want to mess about with fancy techniques and we don’t (usually) have access to the sort of kitchen equipment that we take for granted at home. (Although if you’re the person who packs a blender and the mixer, hey, no judgement.) That’s why the measurements in our recipes usually use spoons, cups, or handfuls rather than grams or ounces. Given that we’re cooking with flames and other variables, the cooking times will also be approximate.

We’ll try and stick to the sorts of supplies that are readily available either in your pantry or at the local supermarket near your campsite. Occasionally we’ll make something a little more exotic for those times when it’s worth the effort of taking those ingredients with you from home. We’ll also help you out with ideas for your leftovers.

If we’re making a curry paste we’ll either smash it out in the mortar and pestle or whizz it up before we leave home. When there’s a recipe that calls for multiple spices, we’ll mix the blend in advance – who wants to carry all those little bottles with you. A little menu pre-planning goes a very long way.

On this blog, we’ll be posting our favourite recipes and sharing with you our successes and our failures. There’ll be tips and tricks and we’ll even road-test the occasional new product for you. Whether you’re cooking in the confined space of a caravan, or in an outdoor camp kitchen you can turn out tasty and inspiring meals for all the family. Hang out with us – we’ll show you how.

Clancy’s kitchen at Eucumbene