The Camping Kitchen

Roughing it never tasted so good. With a little help from our experts, go fish, forage and frolic to your heart’s desire and still bring your A+ cooking game to the great outdoors.

Styled by Kara Mickelson  |  Photographed by Shane O’Donnell


Peanut Butter Chocolate 
Espresso S’mores 

Makes 6 s’mores

Gloriously gooey, unexpectedly peanut-buttery, filled with rich, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate espresso ganache. Make the graham crackers and ganache in advance (can be frozen too) and assemble on-site with toasty marshmallows. 

  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup smooth peanut butter, without
    sugar or salt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon seeds from
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups whole-wheat flour
  • ¼ cup buckwheat flour
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate, 60% cocoa
  • 6 ounces heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 24 large marshmallows, or one jar of marshmallow whip, divided
  • 6 teaspoons peanut butter
  • optional: roasted, salted peanuts
    (whole or chopped)

To make the peanut butter graham crackers, cream together sugar, butter, peanut butter, honey and molasses in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until creamy. Add salt, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla seeds and extract, and mix well. Slowly add half of the flour and mix thoroughly. Add milk and then the remaining flour, and beat until combined.

Remove from mixer and form into a ½-inch disc between two pieces of parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes in refrigerator. Roll out between two sheets of parchment paper to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with a 4-inch fluted cutter and add vent holes with the back of a toothpick or skewer by lightly poking dough. Freeze overnight on a parchment-lined sheet tray. Preheat oven to 325º and bake 8 to 10 minutes, from frozen, or until edges start to brown. Cool and reserve.

To make espresso ganache, add chocolate chips to a large bowl. Bring cream to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in espresso powder. Pour hot cream over chips and let sit for 10 seconds. Slowly stir with a wooden spoon until thick and creamy. Pour into a 9×13 cake pan or rectangular vessel lined with a buttered piece of parchment paper. Chill overnight. (Can be made 3 days in advance.) Cover with parchment paper after chocolate sets. Cut ganache into 2½-inch circles or 3-inch squares, for a total of 6 pieces. (Cut and freeze up to 7 days.) 

To assemble s’mores, spread one side of graham cracker with 1 teaspoon peanut butter, sprinkle with nuts and top with a piece of espresso ganache. Toast marshmallows (4 per s’more) and place on the inside of the graham cracker top. Heat a few minutes on the grill or in the oven, on a foil-lined sheet tray or cast iron skillet. Carefully top each base with the gooey marshmallow. Serve.

Backwoods Style
Cast-iron skillets that harken back to pioneer days will set you up in style for cooking, serving and cleaning. They are heavy yet durable and if properly seasoned will clean up easily (no soap needed) and go directly from hot grill to table. They retain heat, so let everybody know they are hot and cover the handles and bottoms with cooking mitts or heavy kitchen towels. Use slightly warmed smaller skillets for individual serving instead of plates.






Grilled Mixed Lettuces with 
Radish, Tomato, Green Onion &
Sesame Kimchee Vinaigrette


Quick-grilled mixed greens still maintain side salad status, but the melted butter, smoky char and flavorful Sesame Kimchee vinaigrette make this a light, appetizing main course on a warm summer night. Make vinaigrette up to 3 days ahead.


Sesame Kimchee Vinaigrette (makes 1½ pints)

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced kimchee (found at specialty or Asian markets)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (or safflower or grapeseed)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ⁄8 teaspoon ground white pepper freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons water

Other Ingredients

heads of hardy lettuce (such as romaine hearts, radicchio, Little Gem, green or red leaf heirloom, ½ head per person) melted butter sliced cherry tomatoes, radishes, green onion, lemon wedges Alaea Hawaiian sea salt or flake salt

Combine all dressing ingredients in jar and shake. For best flavor, allow the dressing to marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving over your favorite greens. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.

Clean lettuce and then slice in half, leaving the stem intact. Use smaller heads that will result in manageable serving portions. Brush the cut side with melted butter and place on a medium-hot grill or in a cast iron skillet that has been heated on the grill or stovetop. Heat about 1 to 2 minutes on the cut side to create a nice smoky char.

Serve in tins or individual cast iron skillets with sliced cherry tomatoes, radishes, green onion, lemon wedges. Sprinkle with salt.

Get Creative


Double Duty
Add flavor-enhancing herbs, aromatics and seasoning spices to pre-made sauces, glazes, dressings, gourmet spreads and compound butters for quick, easy flavor. Think rubs, spice mixes, pickled condiments and toppings such as candied nuts that add flavor and limit the amount of ingredients you have to wrangle in your campsite kitchen. Go both raw and grilled. Recipes like grilled mixed lettuces can fill both you and your plate, eliminating an extra side dish. Fruits such as apples, pears or stone fruit sliced in half and grilled can be topped with browned butter, honey, nuts, coconut flakes, crème fraîche, melted chocolate and salted caramel for a quick dessert. And they are great fresh or grilled in salads or served with breakfast.






Skirt Steak with Black Garlic, Ginger & Chive Butter

Serves 6


Quick-cooking skirt steak lets you “chillax” outdoors with less time at the grill. Slather with rich, black garlic, ginger, chive butter for an easy burst of flavor.


  • 2½ pounds skirt steak, cut into manageable pieces* (2 to 3, depending on grill size)
  • vegetable oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground mixed black and white peppercorns
  • black garlic, ginger & chive butter, recipe below


Pat meat dry and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes to take the chill off before grilling. Rub grill grates with vegetable oil and heat grill to high. Lightly brush steak with vegetable oil and generously season with salt and pepper on both sides. Cook approximately 4 minutes per side. Turn when you can see the grill marks at the edges of the meat. Remove from grill. Add garlic butter to steaks and rest for about 5 minutes. Slice and serve with a heaping portion of garlic butter on top.

Doneness check: The meat should be medium-rare for the best flavor and will give when pressed with the tongs. As the meat continues to cook, it will yield less to pressure and become firmer.

*Break down steak into smaller pieces according to the grain pattern and slice against the grain for a tender bite.


Black Garlic, Ginger & Chive Butter

We love the complex, sweet and mild flavor of black garlic, although you could use roasted garlic instead. To roast garlic, wash the head, slice off the top. Seal with foil and roast in 400º oven for about 35 minutes.

  • 6 ounces (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 to 6 black garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced (found at specialty stores or online)
  • 5 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • 3 slices fresh ginger, 1/8” thick, finely minced

Combine all ingredients and roll into a cylinder shape. (Use a sheet of plastic wrap to create an even shape.) Chill overnight. Can be made a week in advance and wrapped tightly in plastic.

Keep it Simple


Be Efficient
Choose proteins such as meat with quick cooking times for outdoor camp kitchens. Brisket and ribs sound enticing yet will keep you monitoring the grill and limit opportunities to play and explore. With a decked-out trailer you can plan for some slow-cooked menu items that minimize cooking smoke from stovetop grills. However, choose an energy-saving Crock-Pot dish versus keeping the oven on for menu items with longer cooking times. Consider grill size and available space for cooking. Campsite grills are typically smaller. Plan your menus around a few cooking methods and limited amounts of equipment versus setting a menu and then assessing equipment needs.






Bear Claw French Toast

Serves 6 to 7

Kid-friendly, with creamy-tart labneh cheese and maple almond butter will have you out of bed before the birds start chirping. 

  • 6 extra-large eggs
  • 1¾ cups half and half
  • 1 vanilla bean, deseeded
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract pinch ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large loaf challah, frozen
  • 1 ounce unsalted butter vegetable oil
  • 1 cup raw almonds 

Almond Butter Filling

  • 7 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar
  • 1 ⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup unsalted blanched whole almonds
  • 1–2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • Place all almond butter filling ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Chill for 15 minutes. Reserve.

Paw Print Mixture

  • ¾ cup labneh cheese, found at Middle Eastern
    or specialty markets (or equal parts cream cheese and crème frâiche, creamed together)
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 325º or turn grill to mediumlow. Whisk together the eggs, half and half, vanilla beans and extract, liquor, nutmeg, and salt. Cut the frozen challah in 1- to 1½-inch thick slices. Carefully slice into the crust on one side and create a pocket, about 1½ inches wide and deep. Fill each pocket with 1 tablespoon of almond butter. Soak the slices (on both sides) in egg mixture.

Heat oil and butter in a very large sauté pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the soaked bread and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Sauté the remaining soaked bread slices, adding butter and oil as needed. Reheat French toast in the oven or on the grill with a lined sheet tray or cast iron skillet until cooked throughout.

Create the “bear paw” in the center of each piece with the mixture, using the back of a spoon. Using a spatula, place in warmed minicast iron skillets and add the almond "claws." Serve with maple syrup, fresh berries and confectioners sugar on the side.

What’s Brewing?
Campsite coffee and tea essentials will add to your outdoor experience. A small, battery-operated milk whisk creates the perfect froth for your cup of joe. Set out a few cinnamon sticks, some fancy sugar cubes and ground nutmeg to up your game. Fill a thermos with iced Vietnamese coffee, Thai iced tea or hot water to pour your own brew at leisure. It’s the perfect addition to a mini-day or short campsite getaway.

Special thanks to Antique Corral and Artistic Habitat in Redondo Beach for supplying props
and Even Peller for location scouting.