Top 5 Must Have Kitchen Tools

I have been asked time and time again, Kate what are your top 5 kitchen must haves although it seems to change every once in a while I have a solid list of items I always get for wedding shower gifts, new home gifts or what I use in our camping trailers. Enjoy!

1. Cuisinart Precision chef Digital Kitchen Food Scale Stainless Steel

2. Farberware 3pc Essential Poly Cutting Boards White 

3. KRUPS Electric Coffee Grinder, Spice Grinder, Stainless Steel

4. Stainless-Steel Restaurant Mixing Bowls, Set of 5 

5. KitchenAid KHB2561 Architect 5 Speed Hand Blender

I hope these 5 must have kitchen tools help you outfit your kitchen or give you a fantastic idea for a wedding gift. Out of all the items above, that KitchenAid hand blender is my personal favorite. I have one in our trailer and one in our home, food prep is effortless. I can puree soups, chop tomatoes, onions and jalapeños for salsa, whip fresh whip cream for a cobbler or pie. Another fantastic feature is the measuring cup, I can simply measure out ingredients in the chopping bowl or the pitcher.

Food prep should be simple and easy, thats where these 5 items come in, a scale for weighing your baked items, cutting boards to keep your raw protein in a safe place, multiple size mixing bowls for food prep a spice grinder to always have fresh ground spices for your next meal. Then my favorite, the hand blender, for its countless food prep options.

If you are looking for recipes to go along with all those tools, then my cookbook The Campground Gourmet is exactly what you need. Enjoy!

What a Dream…

A Dream Come True.

I have an announcement, something that I have been holding in and protecting for some time now. It started with a dream then it moved over to a wish and then it turned into something real, something I have been able to shape, contour and cultivate for months now. Yesterday morning November 12,2018 it all changed for me, that wish connected me ever so slightly to chef’s and cooks I have looked up to and learned from for years.

Julia Child the Master of French Cooking, Edna Lewis and her soul feeding food, Ina Garten and her flawless simply elegant meals, Ree Drummond and her lifestyle nourishment. Samin Nosrat and her explosion of the four food flavors. Gordon Ramsay and his Military perfection in the kitchen, Rachael Ray and her ease of preparation, Martha Stewart and her determination of home cooking perfection. Bernard Clayton and his layered pastry, Alice Waters and her dedicated seasonal movement, Americas Test Kitchen and their persistence to find the perfect recipe, Rick Bayless and his flavorful pallet of spice. Ruth Reichel and her passion with food, Jack Gilmore and his dedication to the Texas farmer, Steven Raichlen and his ability to tame smoke and fire. All the above names and countless others have one thing in common they are cookbook authors and as of yesterday I joined that list too.  I am a published cook book author!

I give you, The Campground Gourmet, Simple, Delicious Recipes for Dining in the Great Outdoors. Available now on Amazon.

 

 

I can not begin to tell you the amount of work that went into this project however, I can tell you about all the amazing and dedicated individuals that have helped me put all the pieces together. Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi creators of RV Family Travel Atlas, they are my editors, they have spend countless hours editing, creating and guiding me along this adventure. I am truly grateful to the both of you and your belief in me, this cookbook and our friendship, thank you so much.

Steven Dunbar, my love and champion. You have always, always encouraged me to take adventures and just go for it. I can not think of a single time in our 12 years of marriage (13 on Friday 11/16) where you have asked me not to do something, you have never said no. But, I’m certain when I am in the thick of it you wish you had. I love you husband, thank you so much for all your help, encouragement and the strongest shoulder I could ever rest my head on when I was too tired to go any further. Oh, and for cleaning up when that raccoon destroyed my photo set on the patio, you are a saint.

To my children, you were my first true recipe taste testers, I made all your baby food when you could eat solids. I found out by trial and error what all your favorite cookies, meals, smells and tastes are. I have watched all three of you grow up and develop new tastes and favorite food memories. I love when you ask me to make your favorite meals, even if it is a box a macaroni (Paige) or a beurre blanc sauce (Andrew) or a perfect pan seared steak with a fried egg (Sean).

My friends and family who have been in the loop and truly kept my project safe and protected until yesterday when it was out there for everyone to see. Your encouragement, help and cyber cocktail time truly made this experience a magical gift. You helped me choose recipes, look at images and you also told me that when I made it big I owed all of you an Airstream or one heck of a vacation…I love each one of you and I appreciate your loyalty and friendship more than you could ever know.

I have always felt at home or in my comfort place at a campground, sitting in front the fire watching the golden coals smolder and send tiny shooting stars into the sky. The fire at a campground not only warms you up at the end of a long day of hiking or swimming in a lake, it feeds you. You can place a piece of cast iron over the coals and slip a fresh caught trout in that pan with onions, herbs some olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper and you have one of the best over the fire flavor meals anyone can create. It’s the fire, smoke and quiet, the total concentration of keeping the temperature there in just the right zone. It’s the laughter while watching a marshmallow swell with the heat of the fire only to spontaneously catch on fire and smolder away. It’s that crisp morning air and a rich hot cup of coffee in your favorite camp mug- it’s the great outdoors. There is so much my cookbook is about, the recipes are perfect for at home, at a park, sharing with your family at a celebration or sitting in Jackson, Wyoming under the peaks of the Grand Teton and all her beauty.

I’m Kate Dunbar, The Campground Gourmet, I tell stories through food and help individuals create culinary adventures with my recipes.

Kate's Curious Kitchen

Cheese Please!

It’s All About the Presentation

I love a beautiful cheese plate, I love it a bit more when I make it for my friends. In the camping group I belong to, Sisters on the Fly I am know for being the Sister who introduces many to the glorious flavors of  Mt Tam, Humboldt Fog, Triple Creme, Chèvre and many more. My key ingredients: soft cheese, hard cheese, dried fruits, fresh fruits, nuts, fresh herbs and good tasting crackers. Below I have everything broken down for you to successfully create a stunning cheese platter. Pictured is a bottle of Qupe Viognier wine, it has a light floral note along with a delicate peach and apricot taste which is perfect for all the flavors I have presented in this image.

Top Cheese Picks

Soft Cheese; Brie, Camembert, Chèvre (goat), Mozzarella, Cream Cheese. They are very soft, creamy and buttery in flavor.

Semi-Soft; Havarti, Munster, Fontina, Dorset. These cheeses have a soft earthy flavor they go very well with dried fruits and jams.

Medium-Hard; Gruyère, Gouda, Edam, Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Parmesan, Pecorino. These cheeses are sharp in flavor, low in moisture and have aged for a period of time.

Strong Flavor Soft Cheese; Blue, Gorgonzola, Roquefort and Stilton. These cheeses are salty, strong in flavor and tend to have a distinct musky odor.

Dried Fruits

I love dried fruit especially in the winter when everything is just about out of season. Turkish apricots, golden raisins, cranberries, dates and figs. If I have time I will take the dates, remove the pit and place a good dime size piece of gorgonzola cheese in them. That strong salty cheese is perfect for the sugary sweet date. If I really have some time I will wrap a piece of bacon around it and broil for about 15 min then drizzle with a good aged honey & fig balsamic vinegar.

Fresh Fruit

Sliced apples like Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Honeycrisp and Gala, are perfect for your cheese platter but make certain to follow this tip so they don’t turn brown when sliced. After you slice your apples place them in a bowl of cool honey water (2 c water & 1 Tbls of honey mixed well) for about 10 min then pat dry, they will not brown. Berries; raspberries, blueberries, strawberries. Grapes, my personal favorite are the Champagne grape, small and tiny clusters of very sweet grapes the size of a pea. Witches fingers taste amazing and look very much like a witches finger (kids love them). Figs; Brown Turkey, Celestial, Honey Fig, Desert King, White King and Red Italian. Melon; Cantaloupe, watermelon. Pears; Bosc, Asian, D’Anjou, Bartlett and Comice

Nuts

Pistachios from the Santa Barbara Pistachio Farm (we have them here in Texas!), seasoned pecans, almonds and if I can get them whole and walnuts. I place the walnuts in a bowl with some chopped rosemary, sea salt, cracked black pepper and I drizzle a bit of honey mix well and serve in a olive bowl.

Crackers

Water crackers, unflavored is my choice and they are the best serves with Brie cheese or your Blue cheeses. Herb toasts are perfect with Chèvre, multigrain are amazing with well aged cheddar and the crackers with dried fruits and nuts pair very well with Camembert.

Extras

Sometimes you need to fill in some space or make the plate look a bit dressed up, fresh herbs over flowers are my go to every time. I like rosemary, dill, parsley, thyme, chives and sage leaves.

 

A Lemon a Day

All right, its seriously grey here in Central Texas. Its like Eeyore has just decided to bring his gloomy attitude here and sit a spell. I sat there looking out the windows at the leafless trees, the dead plants from our two great freezes and I had to do something. I had a few lemons and right away I knew no matter what I was going to get the sun to come out. So I’m doing a 30 day lemon challenge! That’s right, every day I will make something to eat or drink that has lemon in it. I will be posting on my Instagram page “Kate’s Curious Kitchen”. Please join in and share your lemon creations too. The more folks/people/followers participating the faster winter might finally be chased away.

I long for Spring time here in Texas. It is magical, from the wildflowers, to the new tree buds, the birds and the precious longhorn calves. If you have never visited the Hill Country of Texas the area I am talking about is roughly 25 counties, which spans from San Antonio north to just above Lampasas, then Austin on the east side to Junction on the West. This area screams winter is over when the blue skies touch the ground here with one small cobalt to periwinkle blue and bright white tipped flower, the Texas bluebonnet. You can not drive down a road with out stopping. They say no Texas family photo album is complete until there is a baby picture with that little one sitting in the sea of bright bluebonnets.

 

So my challenge is simple. I need to use a lemon everyday for 30 days either by creating a new recipe or finding one in my over 500 cookbooks then cook! I’m going to call the sun out of its slumber with dishes like lemon ricotta pasta and grilled salmon with a white peppercorn and lemon sauce. I might possibly sip a lemon drop martini or make my smashed blackberry and bourbon cocktail with a lemon twist. Then I will coax that beautiful sun with my famous lemon bars (I was in Sunset Magazine for them) or my precious cafés signature lemon cake. Matter of fact that is where I’m starting! So join along with me in this bright, cheery and fun food challenge!

Enjoy.

Petite Revé Cafés Lemon Cake

 

INGREDIENTS

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 lemons zested and juiced, place zest in a separate bowl

3 1/2 cups cake flour, Swans Down is the best

4 teaspoons of baking powder, *recipe is below

1/2 teaspoon  kosher salt

6 large egg whites, room temperature

1 1/2 cups whole milk, room temperature

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Grease three 9-inch by 2-inch pans with butter or cooking spray, just not butter flavored spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the top of the parchment. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together, two minutes, scrape bowl down and add almond extract. Mix again for 30 seconds.

3. Add egg whites and milk together, mix with a fork until combined. Add lemon zest in and mix again. Set aside.

4. In a clean bowl add cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.

5. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix in until no traces of flour remain. Add in half of the milk mixture and mix until smooth. Add in another 1/3 of the dry ingredients until no flour traces remain followed by the remainder of the milk mixture. Add in the last of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, using a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl to make sure all the dry ingredients are mixed in.

6. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes for about 35 minutes or until an inserted cake tester come out clean. Once done, let pans sit on a cooling rack for 10 minutes then turn out and cool completely before icing.

 

*Baking Powder-single acting

2 Tablespoons Cream of tartar

1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1 Tablespoon baking soda.

Mix will and keep in a tightly sealed jar for up to 1 month.

 

Lemon Cream Cheese icing

2- 8oz bricks softened cream cheese

1 Cup unsalted butter, softened

3 Cups sifted powder sugar

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Zest of 1 lemon

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth.

2. Add in the powdered sugar and mix on low speed at first, then increase to medium speed and continue mixing for another 1-2 minutes until the mixture starts to come together.

3. Add lemon juice and lemon zest, mix well

4. Ice cake and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Community and a Hukilau

 

 

Ahoha, e como mai!

Translation hello, welcome, come on in. Our incredible Hawaiian vacation was coming to a close but I still had one destination to take my family to. On the far East side of the island of Oahu is a small town that back in the 1940’s became the focus of a famous song but it all started with tragedy…

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1881 built a beautiful church and social hall. The church was nestled among the coconut trees and taro fields in the small  little town of Laie. One day in 1940 that beloved church was engulfed in flames that could be seen for miles, the town of Laie was so small there wasn’t a fire station or a fire truck, just a volunteer fire department. They raced into action along with the other town member, the bucket brigade from the ocean could not save the beloved church. The only structure that survived was the social hall which was not big enough for the congregation to meet. After the flames were put out, the damage was assessed a decision had to be made, rebuild or not.

The decision was simple, rebuilding the church was not only wanted it was necessary for the community. However, the town needed a way to raising money for the construction. The idea of having a Hukilau was meticulously thought out, tickets would be sold to fund all the construction costs. Fishermen threw nets into Laie Bay and pulled pounds and pounds of fish in for the men tending the fires to cook. It was a food feast, little grandmas made two finger poi and poi buns, fresh vegetables, coconut desserts, you could eat for days! The shock was not only did they sell every ticket, they had another thousand guests show up from all over the island! Here is the musical recount and tribute to that community food share.

The Hukilau written and sung by Jack Owens in 1948

What a beautiful day for fishing,
The old Hawaiian way
And the hukilau nets were swishing
Down at old Laie Bay.
Oh, we’re going to a hukilau.
The huki, huki, huki, huki, hukilau.
Everybody loves the hukilau.
Where the laulau is the kaukau
At the big luau.
We throw our nets
Out into the sea
And all the ‘ama’ama
Come swimming to me.
Oh, we’re going, to a hukilau.
A huki, huki, huki
Huki, huki, huki, hukilau.

Right there in Laie, across from the bay where that famous event took place sits the Polynesian Cultural Center. A favorite stop of ours and it should be on your must visit list, here’s an insider tip, your tickets allow you to come in a total of three visits. My children loved going from village to village learning all about the culture, playing traditional games, learning how to use musical instruments and then sampling the cuisine. I watched the time honored tradition of prepping the Imu for kalua pork. Layers of hot volcano rocks, banana leaves, ti leaves and wet burlap sacks were strategically placed in and around the pig for its slow 12 hour underground cook.  I might have gone back into an area that said employees only, but they were amazing and said I could stay and watch. Score one for me! For a special treat when you visit PCC make sure to visit the village of Samoa and go find Kap Te’O Tafiti, trust me he will surprise you!!!

Of all the lessons I have learned when I have traveled to the Hawaiian Islands I’ve learned this, food is the staple of the Hawaiian community. Truly, the amount of sharing between families, neighbors and friends always surprises me. The passed down recipes and stories that go with each dish melts my heart, I’m sharing a recipe that’s from the Polynesian Cultural Center. The night we ate at their luau and my daughter about jumped out of her seat with excitement when the basket of bright purple rolls appeared.  Purple is her favorite color so how could she not eat it, what she didn’t know was that the rolls were taro rolls. Yes, there is a sneaky way to add that ingredient to bread and honestly I could eat it all day long. Enjoy this recipe from the Polynesian Cultural Center and explore the other websites I have listed for you. In no way am I receiving compensation for providing the websites below. I hope you travel to Hawaii soon to explore the culture, food and magic that is Aloha.

Polynesian Cultural Center Taro Rolls

 

Photo courtesy of ploynesia.com

1 ⅓ cup warm water (90 degrees)

1 egg

1 cup poi*

½ cup softened butter

1 tsp purple food coloring**

1 cup sugar

¼ tsp salt

2 1/2tsp dry yeast

4 cups flour, added gradually

*Possible substitutions if you do not have access to poi include well cooked and mashed taro root, new potato, parsnips, sweet potatoes or yams

** You can omit the food color if you choose

Using a table mixer, combine all wet ingredients; then gradually add the dry ingredients.

Adjust the amount of flour depending on the stiffness of the dough. The texture should be smooth. (If your mixer does not have a dough hook, then remove the dough from the mixer before it becomes too stiff and add the remaining flour by kneading on a floured table top.)

Once the dough is smooth, then kneed on a floured surface.

Break off pieces of dough to knead and form into small balls.

Place in a greased 9 x 11 pan. Cover with cloth, place in a warm, dry area and allow to rise until doubled in size. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Buy your poi here

https://www.tarobrand.com/

http://staging.polynesia.com/luau-recipes.html#.WljCl5M-fUI

https://www.abcstores.com/

http://www.likolehua.com/

 

 

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