Friday Foodie: Dirty Kitchen Secrets

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If I ever find myself on death row (you never know, it could happen), and I made it all the way through to the last meal deal, I would choose Lebanese food. It is my end-of-the-universe, last-taste-ever favourite food. The care, attention and endless, yet impressively sociable hours people from this region are prepared to put into lunch is truly awe-inspiring. And the results? Indulgent in the best possible way, super healthy and criminally delicious. I just might kill for Lebanese food I love it so. (And that’ll be me on death row right there…)

It was with a squeal of greedy, great big joy that I  discovered Bethany Kehdy. A gorgeous, zesty Lebanese-American who now lives in the West Country of England. Yeah, well, strange things can happen to you too, you know.

Anyway, whisked away from the southern states of American to Lebanon, her and her father’s family distanced themselves from the Lebanese civil war in the mountains where her father established a farm. It was here Kehdy learned about Lebanese food right from watering orchards, harvesting fruits and chasing after chickens. She made cheese and milked cows. She really knows her stuff and she cooks with absolute delight.

There are hundreds of things I would make from this site, and plenty of recipes that will delight any fellow campers lucky enough to find themselves around your campfire when you serve up one of Kehdy’s dishes. Go Lebanese my friends. You will not regret it. Here are my camping-friendly faves:

Pomegranate & za-atar lamb riblets (pic above). Find the recipe here. 

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The recipe for rosemary & chilli ketchup is here.

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Lamburghinis with barberry and pistachio relish, recipe here

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Lebanese butterflied chicken, recipe here

dirtykitchen_13And tabbouleh, here.

Make them all.

Dirty Kitchen Secrets was launched in 2008 after Kehdy moved here from Hawaii and she has since spun her lovely blog into her first published cookbook: The Jewelled Kitchen. You can buy it here.

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Photographs via Dirty Kitchen Secrets.

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Friday Foodies: Farmette

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In a couple of weeks I’ll be hopping on board a big BA jet out of London and heading home to Sydney. It’s kind of weird to have this holiday looming up ahead of me. It’s a strangely emotional push-pull kind of thing. Am I going to love it? Is Sydney going to live up to the Sydney I have stored in my mind like a hidden treasure? Am I ever going to want to bring my kids back to a dark, cold, snowy UK winter? Hmmm.

It’s hard to work out where exactly you belong in the world: here, there or everywhere? Or indeed, whether you really have to belong anywhere ….. Anyway, while my head is full of all that, the kind of foodie blogs that appeal to me at the moment are those where women share my experiences of relocating and raising families in countries, kitchens and campsites (!!!) that aren’t the same as those in which our parents raised us. Farmette is right up my alley. Here’s me tossing and turning over the London/Sydney thing when Imen McDonnell went from a career in tv, film and advertising production in New York and LA, to falling in love with an Irish farmer and moving to a farm in country Ireland! Talk about a life change! (I tell you, these hearts of ours ….. don’t turn your back for a minute!) Blogging is her way of recording and working through her former life and identity being “replaced with a new set of circumstances complete with a pair of wellies.”

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Her food, which pulls heavily from newly mastered Irish traditions mixed with the odd American influence, really makes your mouth water. Like these hot-smoked wild Irish salmon tacos. Seriously yummy, right? Read the recipe here.

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farmette_13Or her wild Irish damson, kale and grapefruit linguine, which just makes me want to experiment when I’m camping next spring with whatever I can find around the campsite, like fresh wild garlic or elderflower.

farmette_14farmette_15McDonnell takes her own pictures, which are fabulous as you can see, and she has a really charming, friendly, natural tone. Her blog is a great read and just to warn you, you WILL begin to fantasise about heading to the Irish countryside and finding yourself a handsome farmer…

But best of all, while there are plenty of savoury dishes to fill you up and get you cooking like this wild chanterelle, caraway and buffalo cheese tart  (which would be divine to make ahead and take with you to devour while putting up tents and gathering firewood, no?)….

Farmette_1…her real love seems to lie in satisfying everybody’s sweet teeth. I’m seriously going to make these Ballymaloe Balloons on our next camping expedition. They couldn’t be simpler, and what a great mid-morning treat to get everyone through a long, fun day.

farmette_8And I’ll bake-and-take a coffee swiss roll ….

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There’s a book, working title Farmette: Adventures and Recipes from Life on an Irish Farm, due out in 2015 which will be worth the wait no doubt.

I love the way McDonnell has embraced her new life and really jumped in with both feet. There’s a lesson there for all of us whose lives have taken a drastic turn for love! And while I’ve truly settled the country/city debate for myself, (we all go through it right? Especially with three boys: The space, the freedom, the big house with the even bigger garden!!!)... But really, I need a city. I know I do. The galleries, the cafes, bars and restaurants and plenty of people around. But it certainly hasn’t meant I don’t enjoy mentally dipping my toe in the idea that a life in the country would be like a year-long camping trip with benefits – like heating and hot baths. So I’ll be reading Farmette just to dip my wellies in some mental Irish mud every now and again! You should too. I highly recommend it.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Foodies: Island Menu

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There are people in the world who are lucky enough to find their place in it. That place that makes their heart sing, that makes them smile as they open the shutters on every new day. That place that is, in every sense of the word, home. I have two homes – my Sydney home and my London home. Both are different, both are places I love, but don’t ever ask me to choose, because I’m not sure I can. I feel at home in both places, and yet strangely not in either. All at the same time. It’s a bit of a mind flip this moving around the world habit, but it’s an addictive one that’s for sure.

Island Menu is a glorious little blog written by two friends, photographer Samuel Shelley and food blogger Catherine Miller,  who are in love with their place, their home. In Tasmania. And what lucky people they are. To have that sense of home, but also to have the talent and skills to show it to the rest of us in the way they do via their stunning photographs and lovingly created dishes. Theirs is food that make the most of the truly, truly sensational Tasmanian produce. (They even seem to catch most of it themselves!) Most people don’t know much about Tasmania. They don’t know how beautiful it is. How incredible the seafood, the livestock and the other bounty that island offers.

If you fancy a cyber-trip to the other side of the world, this blog is for you. Reading it makes me a little homesick, which is strange because Tasmania is not really the part of Australia that ever pulled on my heartstrings before. And now I can see that living in the UK has changed me. I will always love the bright, bursting blue brilliance of Sydney, but I have also made room for the gentler environments of the world. Like Tasmania. Like England.

These are my favourite recipes from Island Menu, all of which, with a few tiny tweaks and some pre-preparation, would all be fantastic on a camping trip.

Trevalla (or other sturdy white fish) and saffron soup (pic above), recipe here.

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Bluefin Nicoise with Lemon and Pepper Mayonnaise, recipe here.

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Mussels in saffron cream, recipe here.

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Dover grass fed beef stew with bacon, potato and carrots, recipe here.

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Cider battered oysters, recipe here.

Read this blog. And enjoy it. Wherever you may be ……

 

 

Friday Foodies: Happyolks

pizza_17Happyolks is a lovely, lovely food blog written by Denver based Kelsey Hayes. She writes movingly about her life, loves and friendships here and accompanies these posts with truly delicious recipes to “celebrate the experience of creating a wholesome meal and the happiness that inherently grows from it”. Kelsey doesn’t make a living from Happyolks, instead she pens it and whips up sumptuous dishes purely for the joy in it and she shares them because she’s very attached to being a part of a community that stretches around the world and the realisation that there are “thousands of people in this big crazy world who share similar passions, interests, and goals.”.

I adore reading her blog and meandering through the great recipes and images (all taken by her boyfriend-now-fiancé, Shaun). It has fast become one of my absolute favourites food blogs. She finds beautiful little quotes like this one below from the remarkable Joan Didion. I’ll include it here because Joan Didion rocks and because it’s a wonderful thing to have in your mind as we head into another weekend before another week, another month, another year …. :

“I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave’s a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that’s what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it.”

Happyolks is a sweet little sister blog for campfirestyle because she also loves camping and has loads of great things to try on your next expedition. Like this camp cobbler (be sure to watch the little movie, it’s really cute!) or this open fire scramble, which I’m definitely going to try next time I’m out in the wilds with a campfire, eggs & bacon ….

But my choice for this week’s FRIDAY FOODIES is her divine looking pizza on a grill. I’ve always had a niggling thought that pizza on a grill is a possibility. Perhaps not on an open campfire, but I often take my little Smokey Joe BBQ with us when we go camping. It’s tiny, works brilliantly, and could easily make a fabulous camping pizza stove. I’ll let you know when I try it.

Be sure to visit the blog and get the full recipe for her pizza on a grill here. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

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Friday Foodies: Green Kitchen Stories

Portobello_burgerI’ve been thinking a lot about how to generate useful camping-related posts here ever since someone hit the Autumn button in London and the temperature dropped rapidly. While I have camped in some chilly conditions before, I’m certainly not geared up for winter camping expeditions like, say, uber camper Martin Dorey. And I’m no Bear Grylls. I like to be warm and comfortable, as you can probably tell by my approach to camping!

So I have devised a loose plan to get us all through the northern winter. The next few months will be about stockpiling ideas and gear, inspiration and bits and pieces that will be ready and waiting for when we’re all ready to pitch our tents again. I’ll be cooking and sourcing fabulous camping food you’ll want to cook. And I’ll be seeking out the best, most stylish and incredibly useful gear for around the campfire.

What you’re reading now is FRIDAY FOODIES. I spend many an enjoyable hour cruising around the internet reading great food, design, architecture, travel, fashion and lifestyle blogs. I read a lot. But food is probably my favourite topic of late. And rather than attempting to recreate some of the already superb recipes I find, I’m going to curate a vibrant, delicious collection of them and introduce you to some of my most-loved blogs. They’ll be dishes you can eat now, but will always work on a campsite and over a campfire. Enjoy them and let me know what you think!

The first in this new collection is from Green Kitchen Stories. Created by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl, their blog, cookbook and Green Kitchen app are wonderful showcases for their stunning-yet-simple vegetarian food. They’re the kind of seemingly effortlessly calm and successful couple most of us can only aspire to be. What started on a small dance floor in Rome some years ago, has become a fulfilling and rich shared life revolving around their little daughter Elsa and glorious, brave, healthful and exciting food. These two lean heavily on their Swedish and Danish roots and if you don’t know anything about Scandinavian food, you’re in for a real treat. These people from the north seriously know how to eat!

Read their blog, buy their book and cook these divine burgers. Click here for the recipe.

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Photos by Johanna Frankel

Breakfast: Campfire toast with Tomato, goat’s cheese & honey

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABreakfast. It’s a big deal. Especially now, when we’re all girding our loins and building our energy levels in time for Back-To-School-Wednesday. This one may help. I literally just finished these and had to jump straight online – they are that delicious. And super simple. And very fetching!

I saw these on a lovely foodie blog called Love & Lemons. She used feta though, but ever since I had my kids, that cheese and I don’t seem to like each other so much. Weird I know. Anyway, slice the best tomatoes you can find (I used red heirloom and yellow cocktail tomatoes) and top with goat’s cheese and fresh basil. Then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, honey and a little black pepper. I’m planning one more camping expedition this month as we’re apparently in for an Indian Summer (fingers crossed) and these are definitely on the menu.

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Friday Foodie: Lindsey Bareham – Monkfish, Squid & Chorizo Paella

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This entry from The Trifle Bowl & Other Tales is all about the paella pan. Earlier this year we went camping at Wowo, a firm favourite family-friendly campsite in Sussex. On the Friday night we made arrangements with a paella man, who delivered an enormous paella for our group. It certainly kicked off the camping weekend and it was actually kind of nice to have a night off working the campfire. Once we got the tents up, beds made, lanterns hung and kids sorted, we could really relax. Ever since, I’ve been yearning for a paella pan of my own to position over the campfire. It’s a great way to feed your camping buddies, and everyone can take turns with the stirring. This is a delicious recipe from Lindsey Bareham and one that can happily be transferred to a campfire. Just put the peppers over the flames to blacken rather than in the oven. It’s probably quicker anyway…. I imagine making this at a campsite near the sea where fresh seafood can be bought from the fisherman himself.

“Pretty much anything goes in the name of paella, but the favourite combination in my household is spicy chorizo with mildly flavoured, creamy and meaty monkfish or tender (and blessedly inexpensive) squid, with a few prawns to finish,” says Bareham. “A good tip from food photographer Jason Lowe – who cooked three paellas, each for fifty, for his wedding feast – is to cover the paella with spinach for its 10-minute (covered) rest before serving, then stir it into the paella with a pesto-style paste made with flat-leaf parsley, garlic, saffron and a slick of olive oil. This optional extra gives the paella a burst of vitality, livening up the look as well as the flavour of the dish.”

Here’s the what:

1 large Spanish onion or 400g tin of  Eazy onions

4 large garlic cloves, preferably new season

150g Iberico chorizo

2 pointed red peppers

4 tbsp olive oil

1 large beef tomato or 5 plum tomatoes

2 very generous pinches of saffron threads, softened in 1 tbsp hot water

1kg monkfish tail fillet or 500g

monkfish tail and 500g small prepared squid

350g Bomba, Calasparra or Arborio

rice

1 litre fish stock, light chicken stock or water

8 large shell-on raw prawns or 12 medium-sized ones

350g young spinach

2 large lemons

For the parsley paste:

60g bunch flat-leaf parsley

4 garlic cloves

2 generous pinches of saffron

threads, softened in 4 tbsp hot

water

3 tbsp olive oil

Heat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Keeping separate piles, peel, halve and finely chop the onion and garlic. Sprinkle the garlic with ½ teaspoon of salt and use the flat of a small knife to crush it to a paste. Run a knife down the chorizo and peel away the skin. Slice chunkily. Arrange the peppers on a roasting tin and bake for 10 minutes, then turn and repeat. Remove to a plate, cover with clingfilm, leave for  10 minutes, then remove the skin. Halve lengthways, scrape away the seeds and chop.

Heat the oil in a 35cm diameter paella pan or in two large frying pans placed over a medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook for 3–4 minutes before adding the chorizo. Cook for a further couple of minutes to release some of the fat and flavour from the chorizo. Pour boiling water over the tomato. Count to 20, drain and remove the skin. Chop the tomato. Add the peppers to the onion. Stir well, then add the tomato and saffron. Leave to cook while you remove any trace of the slimy membrane covering the monkfish and chop it into kebab-size pieces. If using squid, remove the tentacles from inside the sac and quarter the sac lengthways.

Stir the seafood into the onion mixture. Increase the heat slightly and cook for 5 minutes to seal the fish. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the unwashed rice and cook for a couple of minutes while you heat up the stock. Stir the stock into the pan, return to boiling then reduce the heat to a steady simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed into the rice and the grains are swollen and tender. If necessary, fold the food together rather than stir it, encouraging the paella to cook evenly. Push the prawns into the rice, and when they turn pink, cover the entire paella with the spinach leaves.

Cover with foil and punch a few steam holes. Weight the foil with folded newspapers and leave for at least 10 minutes. To make the parsley paste, blitz the parsley leaves, peeled garlic, saffron liquid and olive oil, adding extra water if too stiff. To serve, fold the wilted spinach and parsley paste into the rice. Serve the paella from the pan, with lemon wedges.

Camp + Cook: Lindsey Bareham – Persian Kebabs with Beetroot and Anchovy Salad

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I had a completely differently post planned for today. But it’s 25 degrees in London and no-one wants to think about woollen blankets from the Netherlands no matter how beautiful they are! So I’m skipping to our new Camp + Cook featuring recipes from the wonderful Lindsey Bareham’s new book The Trifle Bowl and Other Tales. I have enjoyed Bareham’s cooking since I bought her delightful book The Big Red Book of Tomatoes way back in 2000. This recipe is divine and a great one for the campfire this gorgeously hot weekend, or even for your backyard BBQ if you’re not lucky enough to be camping this weekend.

“It’s always intriguing to come across a recipe with a seemingly random ingredient that proves to be the making of the dish,” says Bareham. “That’s the case with these gorgeously meaty kebabs, and bicarbonate of soda is the curiosity. While its effect seems to encourage stickiness, you will get the best results if the mix of the minced lamb and beef is quite fatty to retain moisture and juiciness. The meat is seasoned only with grated onion, salt, pepper and the bicarb. It is kneaded like dough and ends up almost like a paste that is easily formed into big, fat sausages to thread on flat stainless steel skewers. As the kebabs cook, they are basted with melted butter seasoned with crushed garlic and a hint of lime. the last of the butter is mixed with chopped parsley to give a bright green finish to the Persian-style koobideh. Serve with rice, pickled green chillies, crusty bread, hummus and this agrodolce beetroot salad livened up with anchovies. The latter is also very good with hard-boiled eggs or feta cheese.”

Here’s the what:

2 medium onions

500g minced lamb, preferably shoulder

500g minced beef

2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

125g unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, crushed

a squeeze of lime or lemon

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

For the beetroot salad:

approx 900g medium-small beetroot

1 large lemon

2 red onions, approx 200g

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp dried crushed chillies

1 tbsp Belazu balsamic vinegar

200g sun-drenched/sun-blushed tomatoes in oil

10 pickled garlic cloves, from a jar

1 tbsp capers

100g Adriatic anchovy fillets

1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Here’s the how:

Peel and halve the onions. Grate on the large hole of a box grater into a mixing bowl. Add the minced meat, salt, pepper and bicarb. Mix, then knead with your hands for 5 minutes until smooth and almost like a paste. Leave for 15 minutes at room temperature, then, with damp hands, form into 10 or 12 small orange-size balls. Roll into sausage-shapes, transferring them to a plate as you go. Cover with cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. (I would do this before going camping and keep them in my cooler). Thread on to flat skewers when you are ready to cook.

Make the baste by melting the butter, then stir in the crushed garlic and a squeeze of lime. When the coals are ready (or the ridged griddle very hot), BBQ without resting the meat on the grill if possible, i.e. with one end of the skewer on the back edge and the other on the front. Baste with melted butter as you turn the kabobs, cooking until done to your liking. Mix the parsley into the last of the butter and smear the kebabs before serving.

To make the salad, cook the unpeeled beets in boiling, salted water in a covered pan for about 20 minutes, until just tender to the point of a knife. Drain, then slip into your Marigolds and rub off the skin. With fork and knife, trim away any stalk and cut the beets into kebab-sized chunks. Squeeze the lemon over the top and season with salt and the chilli flakes. Cook for a couple of minutes, then remove from the heat. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook briefly until syrupy.

Tip the tomatoes into a sieve to drain. Slice the garlic into think rounds. Add the prepared beets, tomatoes, capers and garlic into thick rounds. Add the prepared beets, tomatoes, capers and garlic. Stir, then tip on to a platter. Decorate with anchovy fillets and garnish with parsley.

Camp + Cook: Rohan Anderson

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So here is the final Rohan Anderson recipe for my Camp + Cook series (yes, I’m calling it that!!). And it’s a beautiful thing. Arrabiata Fish & Chips. It might not be the first sauce you turn to when it comes to coating your BBQ’d (or baked) fish, but I can seriously recommend it. Seriously. You can find this recipe in his wonderful book Whole Larder Love: Grow, Gather, Hunt, CookGo buy it, you’ll really enjoy cooking from it.

Here’s the what:

1 x whole fish (any whole fish around 1 pound)

5 slices hot salami, chopped

4 slices prosciutto, chopped

3 x large mushrooms, chopped

2 x onions, chopped

5 x cloves of garlic, chopped

2 cups (500ml) passata

1 cup red wine

Knob of butter

1 handful parsley, chopped

1 handful black olives

Tabasco sauce

Plain flour

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

how ever many potatoes you need to feed everyone chips, roughly cut into chunks

1 tbsp dried thyme

Cooking oil

Here’s the how:

In the book the fish is roasted in an oven, which is great if you’re at home, but when camping BBQ it.

In a large pan, heat some olive oil and brown the salami and prosciutto on high heat until they get a little crisp, then turn down the heat to medium and add the onions. Cook them until softened.

Turn up the heat again, stir well. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping all the flavour goodness from the bottom. You should see a nice sauce forming. After the wine has reduced almost completely, add the passata, mushrooms, garlic, olives, parsley, and a splash of Tabasco. Stir all the ingredients well and season. Simmer on low for 20 minutes. If it reduces too much add a splash of water and stir through.

Wash the fish and pat dry. Dust both sides in flour. Heat the butter and a glug of oil in a new pan on high heat and brown the fish on both sides. We don’t want to fully cook the fish here, we just want to give the flavours a kick-start, so just a minute for each side. In the book Anderson pops a dollop of sauce in a baking dish, puts the fish on that and then spoons the remaining sauce over the fish. Then it’s baked for 20 minutes. If you are doing this while you’re camping (go you!), put some sauce in foil, the fish on top of that and ladle some, or all, of the remaining sauce on top of that. Close the foil and seal it tight. Then place the fish over the BBQ for 20 minutes.

To make the chips, parboil the potato chunks for five minutes, then drain. Heat about half a cup of cooking oil on high heat. When hot, place the potato in, and sprinkle over the dried thyme. Cook until golden brown.

When the fish is ready, pop it on a platter (I have a huge enamel one I take camping with me. It makes a great dish for loading anything and everything straight off the BBQ), pour on any remaining sauce , garnish it with parsley and place the chips around it to serve.

Yummo!!

And stay tuned. We have more fabulous recipes lined up for next week.

Camp + Cook

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As promised, more delicious food from this week’s Camp + Cook featured chef Rohan Anderson from his book Whole Larder Love: Grow, Gather, Hunt, Cook. (You can also order through Amazon if you’re in the UK). This Gardener’s Reward Breakfast is a brilliant camping recipe, not least because you could make it before you leave, and eat it the next day as it tastes just as good, if not better, a day later. But cooking it on site is a wonderful way to start the day. And it will certainly set you up for whatever the outdoors can throw at you.

Here’s the what:

1 x chorizo sausage

100g dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight and boiled until soft

Handful of kale, chopped

Handful of baby spinach, chopped

5 cloves garlic, diced

1 x chilli, chopped and seeds removed

3 cups tomato passata

1 bunch of parsley, chopped

1 tbsp smoked paprika

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Here’s the how:

Heat a glug of olive oil in a frying pan (medium to high heat). When hot, add the chorizo and brown for a few minutes which will release the animal fats (aka “flavour”). Now add the kale and spinach, stir and toss for over 5 minutes or until the greens have reduced in size. Add the beans, chilli, paprika, passata, garlic and chopped parsley and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with bread (toasted over the fire, or not), dress with olive oil and garnish with parsley and season to taste.

campfire tip:

If you’re making this dish when you’re camping, just bring along a tin of cannellini beans and skip the soaking and boiling.

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