Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Aug 13, 2007 01:52 PM

Menu under the trees

Sorry...I originally posted this in another board and I really think it belongs here instead...

I'm a chef with a new challenge -- I need a menu to be served in a very remote forested area, by a lake at 8000' elevation, and all materials must either be carried or rowed in 1/4 mile. Propane stove burners only, no oven, though I can prepare at home and transport later to the site. And no, I'm not kidding.

Weather will be warm and mild (CA sierra mountains), view is stunning, and dinner for 2 will be enjoyed under the pine trees. Difficulty is not an issue -- anything goes. Wine suggestions too...

Any ideas? Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. What you should do is frame the meal around ingredients that traditionally have not required refrigeration or cooking: breads, cured meats, cheeses and cultured dairy products, nuts, fruits (especially dried), I would not try to replicate a fine meal at a table.

    Are you bringing a cooler? That would affect recommendations, too....

    1 Reply
    1. re: Karl S

      Yes, cooler and stove will travel with me. Boat will be waiting to transport us to the remote site. Cooking on the portable propane stove is not much different than cooking over gas in the restaurant, although at this altitude things tend to take quite a bit longer to cook. Another option is to utilize an outdoor fire, though I'd rather rely on the predictability of the propane burners instead. All methods of preparation are possible except freezing and baking/broiling.

    2. I would plan for two different types of foods - those that don't need to be heated and can sit comfortably for a while, and those that can be cooked quickly on the propane burner you will have, and that aren't too fussy about exact temperature, etc.

      For the first category, assuming you'll have an ice chest, etc., I'd think about something potted or in a terrine - pate of liver or of vegetables, for example. You can unmold at the site. Another option is hot or cold soup in a thermos. Gazpacho or melon soup fits the bill on a hot day. Marinated shrimp are fairly portable (my mom used to do this in an old mayonaise jar!).

      For the second category, strips of marinated steak or chicken can be quickly stir fried - your fabulous marinade makes the dish fancy. Tuna steaks don't require much time but you'll have to get your pan very hot, which may not be easy on a propane stove. Shrimp or scallops sautee quickly. If your pan is hot enough, you can flambe with a bit of cognac or other alcohol - very dramatic and fancy!

      You'll have to serve something sparkly - champagne or prosecco - and having a thermos of hot coffee or tea for when the sun goes down would be nice.

      This is pretty fascinating. Let us know what you decide!

      1. What a challenge...

        Starter served with champagne
        Name: Prize Pickled Shrimp
        Serves: 10 (of course this will have to be adjusted)
        Key Ingredient: Shrimp
        Preparation: Cold
        2-1/2 Pounds shrimp
        4 Onions, sliced thinly
        8 Bay leaves
        1-1/4 cup salad oil
        3/4 cup white vinegar
        2-1/2 Tbs capers & juice
        2-1/2 tsp celery seed
        1-1/2 tsp salt
        Dash of Tabasco
        Cook shrimp in boiling ,salted water. Drain, cool, peel & devein.

        In a serving dish, alternate layers of shrimp & onion slices. Pour marinade over both & chill for at least 24 hours.

        Main served with a good pinot noir
        Cornish hens, marinated, grilled or baked
        Asparagus w/sauce
        Artichokes w/seasoned mayo**
        Rice pilaf type precooked, warmed on site

        Dessert served with a late harvest or port
        English Trifle

        **Artichoke can be a wine killer, depending on the wine.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Gail

          NIce menu, but your postscript brought to mind Julia Child's pointed barb, "There are those that say artichokes don't go with wine to which I say serve them plain water and there will be more for your glass".

          I can't match Gail's menu but might suggest that as most Sierra lakes are stocked with trout you might consider this to build your menu around. Of course you might find yourself living a bad fisherman's cliche but having it as an option would be a good idea. There is nothing like fresh caught trout cooked on a cedar plank over a campfire.

          1. re: ebethsdad

            And yes, this particular lake is definitely stocked. A fine idea.

            Though I do love cornish hens, trout is a much better solution, considering my resources and equipment options. In this vein, I could create a "camp" meal with class...twists on traditional outdoor cuisine.

            Perhaps Gail's marinated shrimp appetizer; some sort of nut-crusted trout (hazelnut or pumpkin seed, maybe, or roasted pine nuts, in homage to our surroundings) stuffed with tomatoes, tarragon and homemade goat cheese; a campfire-roasted baby beet salad; a pommes-Anna type potato tart that can be reheated there, and a rosewater marshmallow/gingered graham crackers/bittersweet chocolate something-or-other concoction, napoleon-esque, for dessert...classy s'mores (and being a lifetime Girl Scout, I do have the right to say that!).

            Thanks...any further assistance (especially with sides, now that I've got my trout centerpiece figured out) would still be greatly appreciated...