Adventures in Outdoor Gourmet: Early Winter Day Trek

Today’s adventure is a day trek, high, high into the mountains of Northern New Mexico.

This one is simply a cooking adventure!


However, I do anticipate that where I am going will not have many people there this time of year. It’s getting cold at elevations now, and this one is at nearly 8,000 ft.


I’m leery of bears, especially with really yummy foods with me, but I plan a campfire. And also, aren’t bears hibernating this time of year?


I have a really complicated menu planned. Why?

I’m experimenting with making different dishes in the wild and experimenting with light and photographs and video.

(All of my photos turned out horrible, by the way. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚)

I’m learning. I will post some so you can all laugh too. ๐Ÿคฃ


This was the planned “experiments” menu:

“Breakfast”:

  • Vanilla Cinnamon French Toast
  • French Press Coffee
  • Scrambled Eggs with Lox and Fresh Dill

“Lunch”:

  • Salad Rolls
  • Chips

“Dinner”:

  • Chipotle in Adobo Braised Chicken Tacos
  • Avocado Crema
  • Pinto Beans

Weird menu, right?

Like I said, I’m experimenting with cooking – gourmet – over the fire and with my Coleman.


Anyway, here is how the day started: Coffee. This French Press Italian Roast is rich and smooth, heavy.

With a kick. Caffeine.


This is also probably the best photo on this blog, so enjoy. LOL!


Well, it’s almost 9:00AM – time to hit the road!

I’ve planned about an hour and a half drive, as I want to get pretty far into the mountains today, as I said.


Along the way, I stop along the Jemez river – this is early winter in Northern New Mexico. The colors are still glorious yellows and burnt auburns.

After about an hour and 1/2, here I am – pretty far into the mountains and at an elevation of almost 8,000 ft.

So still, I hear slight rustling of wind through the trees, every now and then a rodent scampering.

Serene.


On the way up were people in trucks, seeking to cut their perfect 2021 Christmas tree. The pine, spruce, and fir are fragrant with dank pine scent.

Most are misshapen bold survivors amongst the few Christmas-tree perfect figurines.


Unloading, I set up my table, Coleman, water jug, and get my fire going.

This is not going easily today due to the cold and dampness. See the snow on the ground? Luckily brought some of my own wood. Good thinking, Gray! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘Œ

Finally going really well now!


I make more coffee.


I don’t know if it was the flavor of my cast iron pan or that the butter melted too quickly over too-hot coals, but my french toast had the flavor of burned butter. Notes to self! Cooking over the campfire is a bit tricky!

I didn’t even bother with a photo. LOL.


At home, to redeem myself, I made french toast the next morning. Here’s how it’s supposed to look:

This one I drizzled with some amazing honey I found recently at No Bull Prime Meats. All of their honey is jarred and labeled by zip code. Talk about specialization!

Link is here:

https://www.nobullprimemeats.com/


As you can tell, even with the above, I am working on my photography skills, as I know these are not doing my food justice. Truly a learning curve.


Anyway, on to the scrambled eggs.

I’ll a post a link to the recipe in a bit, but essentially this is just soft scrambled eggs with cream cheese melted in, topped with lox and dill. Yum!


I’m going to skip along here, I’m starting to bore myself.

I did the salad rolls. They were my favorite thing of the day. Recipe forthcoming as well.

These are just finely chopped fresh veggies folded into a dressing of 1/2 mayo and 1/2 sour cream and then spooned into fresh rolls.

Very light and flavorful!


By the way, I am totally alone out here. There is no one out here except for a very occasional car along the nearby road. I am not afraid at all.

Daylight is not difficult for me at all – it truly is the night and the dark.


For some folks, reactions to trauma are like that – they remain isolated to the type of situations in which the traumatic event occurred. For me, it’s at night, when I am alone.

For others, reactions “generalize,” and extend to other types of situations. A panic attack at a train station turns into panic attacks anywhere in public. That’s actually quite common.

Tracking back to the original trauma may help, but also may worsen anxiety and avoidance associated with PTSD and in my opinion, should be done in the context of therapy.


I’m going to start my early dinner.

This recipe is very easy – in fact actually impossible to mess up – and I did not mess this one up today. ๐Ÿคฃ

I heat my cast iron skillet over the grill, add a touch of oil and then a large skinless chicken breast (2 medium work as well), which I have lightly seasoned with salt and pepper.

This recipe does not even require browning of the chicken, but I do move the chicken around in the skillet and flip once to ensure it is not sticking.

Then to the skillet I add a whole can of chipotles in adobo sauce and a cup and 1/2 of chicken broth – just enough to almost cover the chicken breast.

Covering tightly with aluminum foil, I let this cook over medium-hot fire coals.


After 40 minutes this is the result: Pretty blurry from my lack of photographic experience with the afternoon slant of fall sunlight, but you can see the chicken is cooked through and liquid evaporated. I do not like my chicken tacos soggy!

This chicken is pull-apart fork tender and I shred simply with my fork along with some of the chipotle (a lot today, as I’m a bit cold) and assemble my tacos. This chicken is spicy, flavorful, and so tender!


After warming my corn tortillas quickly on the fire, I fill with the shredded chicken and chipotles.

And today, I made an avocado crema (1/2 avocado mashed with 1/4 cup sour cream), with which I topped my tacos, and added a bit of diced red onion. Served with my pinto beans made at home and warmed over the fire – yum! Cheers!


Here’s how this looked when I made it at home earlier this year (without avocado).

And these beans – so yum! I cooked the beans at home, topped with a bit of red chile sauce, avocado, cheese, and a fried egg.


The fire is ebbing and I’m heating water and heavy cream to make my Mexican hot cocoa. I would spike this one with whisky, but it is time to head home once this fire winds down.

It’s rich and warms me through to finish this wonderful late fall day.

Best Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb

The best ever lamb dish is here! Easy and elegant, you CAN make this!

Ever since I found the wonderful local meat shop just a few miles from our house, I have been making all varieties of fresh meats – veal milanese, osso buco, saltimboca, bison green chile stew, and now rack of lamb.

All have been the best cuts of meat I have ever tasted, but this rack of lamb was the most tender and flavorful cut of meat I’ve ever had.

My local meat market is No Bull Prime Meats at https://www.nobullprimemeats.com/

If you are ever in Albuquerque, New Mexico, go see the owner, Brett. He is a kick! And the staff are very helpful.

This recipe, adapted from Ina Garten’s classic, is very easy – even if you are no whiz in the kitchen, as I said, you can make this!

Some like to serve rack of lamb with a tzatziki (Greek garlic yogurt) sauce, but I donโ€™t think this needs it at all.

That being said, I served this with a simple lemon and cashew rice, along with a salad.

** Cut recipe in 1/2 for 2 for an elegant date-night or super delicious two-person BFF dinner.

Enjoy!

Best Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Resting Time 15 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6

Equipment

  • Food Processor (optional)
  • Roasting Pan
  • Lemon Zester

Ingredients

  • 2 Racks Lamb
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil extra virgin
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cracked Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary fresh
  • 1 Tbsp Thyme fresh
  • 4 Tbsp Butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup White Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 Shallot minced finely
  • 3 cloves Garlic diced finely
  • 2 tsp Lemon Zest

Instructions

  • Allow lamb to rest at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours
  • Preheat oven to 450 F
  • Place lamb fat side up in a large roasting pan
  • Rub well with olive oil, then liberally salt and pepper
  • Roast for 10 minutes
  • Meanwhile, combine herbs, breadcrumbs, butter, shallot, garlic, and lemon zest and pulse until a course and sandy in texture, set aside
  • Remove lamb from oven and press herb mixture into fat cap and sides
  • Return to oven and roast another 20 minutes
  • Remove from oven and tint lightly with foil. Rest for 15 minutes
  • Carve into 1- or 2-chop portions and serve

Veal Osso Buco

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Veal osso buco is slowly braised in red wine and herbs, resulting in fall-off-the-bone tender meat with the best sauce you have ever tasted. This is an easy date-night dinner. Veal osso buco is truly one of the most romantic dishes you can make.


I made this between work projects in about 20 minutes and then let the oven do the magic. It is equally great for weeknight and date night!

My recipe is very traditional, but I do like to blend the vegetables into a smooth braising-liquid sauce that is then reduced slightly to intensify and finish the final flavor.

While osso buco is traditionally made with veal, you can use beef, which is easier to find and a bit less expensive.


I found the best local veal in New Mexico at No Bull Prime Meats, Albuquerque, NM. https://www.nobullprimemeats.com/

No Bull has an incredible selection of locally raised and all-natural beef, veal, chicken, buffalo, and lamb, along with exotic meats (yak, alligator), seafood, and other locally sourced products (NM honey).


I don’t serve my osso buco with gremolata (green herb sauce), in osso buco alla milanese-style, but typically accompany with mashed potatoes, risotto, polenta, or even corn bread.


Veal shanks are seasoned, then dredged in flour and seared until brown.

Removing veal to a plate to rest, a mirepoix (cooked celery, carrot, onion, garlic) is made rich with tomato paste and then red wine.

Shanks are added back to pan and nearly covered with broth, heated to boiling, then placed in oven for 2 hours until fall-apart tender.

The end result is a beautiful, tender, and flavorful dish. I spooned this with just a little sauce, but you can use much more if you like!

Enjoy and let me know how you serve your osso buco!

Veal Osso Buco

Veal shank slowly braised in red wine and herbs, resulting in fall-off-the-bone tender veal for easy weeknight or even date night dinner
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 2

Equipment

  • Dutch Oven
  • Blender, either immersion or regular

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 veal shanks about 8 oz each
  • 3 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 carrot peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk chopped
  • 1/2 large onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine dry, such as merlot or cabernet sauvignon
  • 2 cups beef broth full sodium
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325F
  • Season veal shanks lightly with salt
  • Dredge in flour, coating all surfaces
  • Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in pan until hot
  • Sear veal on both sides, about 4 minutes each; remove from pan and set aside
  • Heat remaining olive oil in pan, add carrots, celery, and onion and cook until soft and fragrant, about 4 minutes
  • Add garlic and cook for another minute, then add tomato paste and cook 2 minutes until browned
  • Deglaze pan with red wine, heating until simmering; pour in beef broth
  • Place veal shanks back into pan, along with thyme and bay leaf and adjust liquid to ensure broth is sufficient to nearly cover shanks
  • Add remaining salt and let liquid come to a boil
  • Cover and place in preheated oven; cook for 2 hours until meat is tender
  • Remove bay leaf and thyme and discard, and then remove meat to plate
  • Allow braising liquid mixture to cool slightly
  • Blend mixture with an immersion or regular blender until smooth, taking care not to burn yourself
  • Pour liquid back into Dutch oven and reduce for several minutes; adjust seasonings, adding additional salt and pepper
  • Spoon braising liquid sauce over shanks and serve over risotto, polenta, or mashed potatoes

Dinner Ideas for The Week After Thanksgiving

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted!

Not only I’m tired from the cooking, but I’m a bit carb over-loaded. And yet, I’m excited to continue the holiday spirit and yet chill at bit before Christmas.

After all, we still need to eat – and also think up dinner ideas.


I’ve always been really into cooking but coming up with menu ideas is challenging day after day. As my mom always said, “I’ll cook dinner if you just give me a new idea about what to make!”


Now that the “big meal” is over and we are between holidays, time- and meal-challenged, I thought I’d share a sample weekly fall menu with you all.

I’m not into complicated dinners, but do enjoy good food, and choose many that are high in protein after the carb-rich Thanksgiving.

None of these dinners are hard to make, and many can be made for any weeknight as well as for “date-night.”

Enjoy!

https://www.canva.com/design/DAExUM46m6Y/0HOO0ISTAJd634vegOcItw/watch?utm_content=DAExUM46m6Y&utm_campaign=designshare&utm_medium=link&utm_source=publishsharelink

I’ll be posting recipes for all of these soon, so stay-tuned.

Happy fall eating, and please share YOUR weekly menu ideas!

Sweet and Spicy Honey Chile Glazed Chicken

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A sweet and spicy honey-and-chile glazed grilled chicken dish, this one is so simple, yet delicious.

The first step in making this dish is to prepare a New Mexico red chile sauce. This is a basic chile sauce that may be used in many New Mexican dishes – over enchiladas, in posole, on eggs, in burritos, over beans.

Addition of honey makes a rich glaze that, when combined with the heat of the chile and a bit of salt from broth, makes a sauce that kicks up your typical barbequed chicken.

I make this at home, on my patio, and at camp, as it requires few ingredients and is portable, especially if you make the red chile in advance.

I like to serve this with “green” (cilantro-based) or other rice and a salad with a creamy dressing – Ranch or Green Goddess. Perfect for all seasons!

Enjoy!


Honey Red Chile Glazed Grilled Chicken

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 1/8 cup butter may substitute oil, but it is less flavorful
  • 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/8 cup New Mexico red chile powder heat level to your liking – mild, medium, or hot
  • 1 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup honey locally sourced if you can find
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 pound chicken breasts, thighs, or legs boneless recommended if you want a very even grill/grillmarks, but not necessary

Instructions

  • Heat grill or coals to medium.
  • In medium skillet over medium low heat, melt butter or oil.
  • To skillet, add flour and cook until flour, stirring, until evenly and lightly browned. Do not burn.
  • Add red chile powder and continue cooking until lightly toasted.
  • Pour in beef broth, increase heat to medium, and stir well to incorporate liquid.
  • Cook until silky and slightly bubbly, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in honey and salt to taste.
  • Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Reserve 1/2 of glaze in small bowl to serve alongside chicken.
  • If using chicken breasts, slice lengthwise so that breasts are about 1/2 inch in thickness. Place chicken on medium hot grill.
  • Grill 10 minutes and flip.
  • Baste with remaining 1/2 of honey red chile glaze and continue grilling, about 7-10 more minutes until tender to touch when pressing with finger or internal temperature registers 165F. Flip.
  • Baste up-side and grill 2 minutes, Flip.
  • Grill another 2 minutes just until glaze is lightly charred and remove chicken to plate.
  • Serve with reserved honey glaze mixture.

Miso Braised Spicy Eggplant & Noodles

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Spicy, creamy, rich and vegetarian, this miso braised eggplant dish is not your average eggplant dinner. What I love about this one is it is really hard to mess up! While there are steps involved, this recipe is not difficult and is perfect for a weeknight dinner or really, any occasion.


I know that many people just do not care for eggplant because of its earthy, slightly bitter flavor and because it can be spongy if not cooked thoroughly.

My son absolutely hates it, even after many rounds of yummy eggplant parmesan!

Having found this recipe in Bon Appetit recently, I had to beg to differ yet again, and this time, he actually ate it – all of it! I altered the toppings just a tad, with the addition of coconut.


Made with homemade squid ink Angel Hair pasta.

For those who don’t like eggplant for the above reasons, this recipe solves for both, ensuring the eggplant is richly flavored and also very tender, while also delivering the vegetable “main dish” heartiness that eggplant lends.


But if you STILL have doubts and don’t like eggplant, you may substitute zucchini. Zucchini doesnโ€™t taste quite as โ€œumami” in this recipe, but it will require a little less oil. I’ve made both versions and they are both good!


A final note: I love to change up the noodles used in this recipe – my favorites being homemade linguini or whole wheat spaghetti. I used homemade linguini in the featured photo, and it was outstanding!

Try this!


Miso Braised Spicy Eggplant and Noodles

A spicy, hearty and rich vegetarian dish adapted from Bon Appetit. This recipe adds coconut for a nutty topping and is delicious with a variety of noodles from homemade linguini to whole wheat spaghetti noodles.
Servings 2

Equipment

  • Skillet
  • Large pot
  • Small bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 one inch piece fresh ginger minced
  • 1 medium eggplant sliced 3/4 inch thick, skin intact
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 3 tbsp Gochujang may substitute red curry paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 scallions sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh coconut shavings

Instructions

  • Mix gochujang, miso, and 1ยฝ cups warm water in a small bowl until blended. Set aside.
  • Boil pasta in salted water on high until al dente. Drain.
  • Heat 3 tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high (I do not recommend cast iron for this, as eggplant will stick heavily).
  • Add eggplant and sear, drizzling with another 1 to 2 tbsp. oil.
  • Season eggplant lightly with salt and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown for several minutes.
  • Turn eggplant over and continue to cook until most of the eggplant are golden and becoming tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  • In same pan, reduce heat to medium and add remaining 1 tbsp. oil, garlic, and ginger to skillet, stirring often until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add tomato paste, stir, and cook until slightly darkened, about 1 minute.
  • Stir in gochujang mixture, combining well, and return eggplant to skillet.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is very tender, about 6 minutes.
  • To gochujang mixture add noodles and butter, seasoning with salt as needed.
  • Cook until sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove to plate or individual bowls.
  • Scatter noodles with scallions, coconut, and peanuts.