Hands up who resorted to sausages and beans on their last camping trip, simply because they couldn’t be bothered to cook something with a little more imagination? Come on, admit it! The humble sausage has long been the staple go-to taste of the camping trip, and it has its place. But it really shouldn’t be at the heart of every camping experience. Sausage surprise again? No thanks!
It’s time to move on. If you don’t mind taking a little more time to prepare and cook something different, you can transform your camping and caravanning trips into culinary adventures! All it takes is a little bit of imagination, a sharp knife and some willing victims! So, dispatch yourself to the farm shop and the fishmonger immediately and let’s have some gastronomic go-getting gorgeousness.
1. Authentic Breton crepes with goat’s cheese and honey
Which way do you go with crepes? Sweet or savoury? I like a sweet pancake, with lemon and sugar but then again, this way, with goat’s cheese, honey and a little fresh thyme, can be simply sublime. What better way to start the day than to mix up a batch of authentic Breton crepes? It’s easy too, and the kids will love you for it. Brownie points all round for this breakfast idea.
Mix 75g of buckwheat flour (get it from a health food shop) with 25g of plain white flour and a pinch of salt, then mix in a lightly whisked large free range egg and a dash of milk. Once mixed into a smooth batter, slowly add the remainder of half a pint of milk until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Heat up a frying pan or skillet, drop in a knob of butter and add a tablespoon of the batter, spreading it out with a tilt of the pan. Flip after a few minutes and remove from the pan. Add the goat’s cheese, a drizzle of honey and some fresh thyme and serve. Dee-licious!!!
2. Smoked mackerel fish cakes
Fish cakes, when made with smoked mackerel, are simply excellent, and have a unique smoky taste that you just don’t get with normal, boring old fishcakes. And they are a great way of using up a couple of leftover spuds too, if you have them in the fridge. Go for it!
Any white fish will do for this, but for the sake of the seas, let’s use sustainable haddock. A couple of small fillets, or one large one, will do. Steam it and break it up and then mix with 2 x cooked spuds (mashed), 2 flaked fillets of smoked mackerel, a tbsp of horseradish sauce, 1 tbsp capers and a few chopped chives. Shape into four fish cakes (use a ramekin and cling film if it’s easier) and then dip into a bowl with a beaten egg. Then dust with a mixture of salt, pepper, a pinch of chilli flakes and plain flour. Fry in olive oil for a few minutes each side until brown and lovely. Serve with a crisp green salad or fresh steamed veg.
3. Spicy bean burgers
When you’re pitched up it’s sometimes nice to have a little something in a bun that you can hold without making too much mess or washing up. This spicy bean burger is perfect for that. It’s wholesome and delicious and takes no time at all. What’s more, you can make it without needing too many fresh ingredients, which means you can get the tins in advance, stash them away and then whip them out when you’ve run out of ideas. So it’s a lifesaver!
Mash up a tin of drained kidney beans, butter beans and chick peas in a bowl, add a grated carrot, and a chopped red onion and chopped sweet red pepper, a pinch of chilli and some seasoning. Next, mix in an egg to the mixture, shape into four generous patties and leave to bind for 30 minutes. Before cooking sprinkle polenta over the burgers to crisp them up before frying in a few dashes of olive oil until they are golden. Serve with tomato slices, sour cream and green leaves in a white bun.
4. Coq au van
Well, if you’re going to cook in the van you might as well make it sound interesting! This dish certainly is. Not only because it makes a nice little joke, but also because it uses a lot of red wine, and can be cooked in a big pot over an open fire or on the stove top. Washing up is minimal and the WOW factor is high. Needless to say it’s a great winter warmer too. Just what you need on a wet weekend in the van in August!
Take 6 boneless chicken thighs, chop them roughly and brown them in a big pot in oil with about 250g of lardons. Remove lardons and chicken from the pot, leaving the juices. Add 2 chopped carrots, 2 chopped white onions, half a bunch of chopped celery, 3 cloves of garlic, a bay leaf and some fresh thyme and soften all for a few minutes (in the pot). Next, crumble a stock cube over the veg and mix in. Now add the chicken and lardons and mix again. Sprinkle with 1 heaped tbsp of strong white flour and mix. Then chuck in ¾ of a bottle of red wine, saving a little for yourself, and add water until everything is covered. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add a handful of small new potatoes and about 10 button mushrooms. Simmer for another 30 minutes, adding water if it’s gets a little dry (or taking the lid off to reduce if it’s too liquidy for your liking).
Serve with crusty bread. Soak up the applause…
5. Monkfish parcels with lemon thyme
Fire up the Barbie! It’s time to enjoy something truly lovely. A bit of barbecued fish! While you might dream of catching your dinner, you might have to get to the fishmonger to get your hands on a good sized (and therefore more sustainable) monkfish tail. Monkfish is good for the BBQ (or you could griddle it if weather stops cookery) because it’s meaty rather than flaky. And, of course, it’s very, very tasty.
Remove the flesh from the tail bone to leave 2 fillets. Cut them in half and then cut these halves half way through down the middle so you can open them up (and then fold them closed again like parcels). Season each one and then place a small bunch of lemon thyme (or thyme of you have none), chopped garlic and lime zest in the middle. Drizzle with a little olive oil, fold over and then wrap up with slices of Parma ham (or bacon if you have none). Chuck them onto the BBQ for about five minutes each side and the Parma ham is nice and crispy (you could griddle them if you have no BBQ). Squeeze the juice from the lime on them and serve straight away.
Signed copies of Martin’s books are available at martindorey.com
For more caravan and motorhome cooking tips and delicious recipes, join us at the Food & Travel Stage, live at the show.
Martin Dorey is the writer and camper van fan behind the best-selling books, The Camper Van Cookbook and The Camper Van Coast. He’s been on telly too, cooking for ’One Man and his Campervan’, a TV show that was made by the BBC. He was also a judge on BBC2’s Caravan and Motorhome Club ‘Caravanner of the Year’ show that aired last year. Martin’s third book, The Camper Van Bible, was published in spring 2016. Lately he’s been travelling for a new book, Take The Slow Road about touring Scotland in a motorhome.