One Thursday in October, my family and I, feeling like we needed a change of scenery and a bit of a reset, piled into a rented RV and drove ourselves up the winding California Coast to sleepy, wonderful Big Sur. When we pulled into our spot at Fernwood campground, next to a robust creek and amidst 100-year-old redwoods, it was like being transported to another world.
We spent the next 4 days in peace and play, cooking over the open fire, hiking, making art, and enjoying each other’s company, uninterrupted by the usual digital river of emails, texts, and social media. My sister, who joined us, happens to be an incredible amateur chef (among other gorgeous talents like flower arranging, and making everyone she meets feel respected and cared for), and she spoiled us with some simple, elevated and utterly delicious recipes. I’m so excited to share them with you below...you’re going to want to bookmark this page and come back to it.
Salmon and herby potatoes
- Salmon filets
- Potatoes, baby or Yukon gold, thinly sliced
- Garlic - around 1 minced clove per salmon filet
- Thyme - a few tablespoons
- Salt and pepper - to taste
- Chili Flakes
- Olive Oil
Make individual aluminum foil pockets for the dinner to cook in, so when it’s finished, you can transfer to a plate (if you’re fancy) or eat it directly out of the aluminum foil pocket.
Thinly slice your potatoes. In a bowl, season with salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic and thyme.
Pat salmon dry and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
On aluminum foil, create a bed for the salmon with your potatoes. Sprinkle a little extra salt across the top of the potatoes, and then lay your salmon filet on top. Add in a few extra sprigs of thyme and fold the tinfoil over, crimping closed at the sides to create a seal. Cook over the fire for 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft and the fish is flakey.
- Chicken breast
- Garlic (whole smashed cloves)
- Rosemary // a few sprigs
- Thyme // a few sprigs
- Salt and pepper
Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
Warm the cast iron skillet over the fire. Add a few pats of butter and 3-4 smashed garlic cloves and let cook for a few minutes, mixing the butter with the garlic. Place seasoned chicken breast on top. Add in your rosemary and thyme and allow to cook until juices run clear when pierced with a fork or knife.
- Bell peppers (chopped into 1 inch pieces)
- Onion (diced)
- Olive oil
- Garlic (4 smashed whole cloves)
- Salt and pepper
- Bay leaf
- Harrisa (optional) // 2 tablespoons
- Paprika // 1 teaspoon
- Fennel seeds // ¼ teaspoon
- Cumin // 1 teaspoon
- Coriander // ½ teaspoon
- Ripe fresh tomatoes, chopped // about a pound
- 14 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
- Tomato paste // 2 Tablespoons
- Chopped fresh parsley
In a wide skillet or dutch oven, heat olive oil over the fire. Add the bell peppers, onion, bay leaf, and garlic and cook 5 minutes until onion is wilted. Add the harissa salt, pepper, paprika, fennel cumin and coriander. Cook for a minute, stirring constantly.
Add the ripe chopped tomatoes and the canned tomatoes and the tomato paste and move to a “lower heat” portion of the fire. Cook for 12-15 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
With the back of a spoon, create an indentation for 6 eggs in the stew. Crack the eggs into their little spots, season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, depending on how runny you like the egg yolk to be. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve with crusty sourdough bread.