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Sep 16, 2013
04:33 PM
Local Flavor

My Summer Food Highlight

My Summer Food Highlight

PHOTO BY OTEHLIA CASSIDY

This grilled flatbread with ricotta and broccoli tastes even better when cooked over a campfire

My summer was great, thank you, how was yours?

The other night my daughter asked me what I enjoyed most about summer. I admit that I was a bit surprised that my six year old asked me about me. Anyway, once I got over the shock, I thought for a minute.

I can tell you what I didn't enjoy. It's true; sometimes I'm a pessimist.

It was definitely not getting swarmed, and stung, by bees while on vacation in the Northwoods. And then running toward the car, while my aunt-in-law screamed “take your pants off!” at me while I was trying to get away from the bees. And looking back to see my daughter still standing by the nest, frozen in fear—and getting stung. And thinking what a horrible mother I was, but that my legs were on fire from the stings and I had to get away. Fear not, this ends well—mostly. My husband scooped her up, we ran to the car, got all the bees off and escaped with about six stings each. Nope, that was not the highlight of my summer.

Though in retrospect, the image of my aunt-in-law trying to pull my pants off me as I ran through the woods is admittedly hilarious.

So what was the highlight? Alright, alright I'll tell you! First, I got away with NOT taking my kids to the Dells. I know, horrible mother moment #2.

A close second is the multiple camping trips I took. I love camping. This year I decided to do more one-night camping trips, which I simplified by prepping some food ahead, packing it in a cooler and cooking it over a fire, or eating it cold. This omitted the need for a camping stove and pots and pans. I took each of the kids for a night of quality time, and then went camping with my friends for a night of much-needed girl time. (Our family also took a five-day camping trip to Peninsula State Park, but the food we made on that adventure was a bit more involved.)

Just because there wasn't a stove, doesn't mean the food suffered. We ate hot dogs and marshmallows, of course. And homemade pizza. Grilled, homemade, doughy, warm pizza. First inspired by La Fortuna's grilled flatbread, I have been a fan ever since. It is super easy to grab a bag of dough at the store, bring your favorite toppings, a cast iron griddle, or better yet a grill grate, and go nuts! All with only a campfire and a cooler. And a bottle of wine.

I heat the flat side of the griddle, or just place the cooking grate, over hot coals, oil it up, throw the dough on. When the dough is bubbly and slightly charred, flip it, top it, and cover briefly to melt cheese and warm the toppings. Eat.

Food as good as this doesn't really make up for the deflated air mattress, smoke inhalation or mosquito bites, but even if you are suffering, your camping menu doesn't have to.

RECIPE: Grilled Flatbread with Ricotta and Broccoli

INGREDIENTS

1 bag premade dough (my favorite is from Roman Candle, or Willy Street Co-op.)
Good quality olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
8 oz. Ricotta cheese
1 cup grated provolone and parmesan cheeses, mixed
1 cup steamed broccoli florets
Coarse sea salt

DIRECTIONS

Let dough warm to room temp. Heat griddle over hot coals until very warm (400-500), or place grill grate over hot coals. Brush a little oil on grill. Stretch dough in your (oiled) hands until it is fairly thin, but don't make holes in it! Place dough on grill, stretching it as you lay it down on the grill. Let it cook about 3 minutes, until slightly charred on bottom, bubbly and drying on top. Flip dough.

As it cooks, carefully drizzle olive oil, spread minced garlic. Spoon the ricotta evenly over oil/garlic. Top evenly with broccoli florets. Sprinkle on cheese, and salt. The pizza should be done by now; remove from heat onto cutting board or other large surface, and cover briefly with tin foil to melt cheese. Cut, eat and watch your neighbors drool.

Happy camping!

Makes one medium pizza

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About This Blog

Writing has always provided an anchor for my passions, which focus deeply on food, dance, environmental conservation and culture. I grew up “helping” my dad cultivate a prolific garden that produced too many radishes and watching my mom make almost all of our food from scratch, including horehound candy. Meanwhile I took my first African dance class in high school, which ignited my continuing quest to travel to West Africa, via Europe and South America, to study dance.

Through my travels, I learned that we are all connected by food, and our basic need to eat. Since moving to Madison in 1998 to pursue degrees in conservation biology and dance, I have developed an appreciation for the richness of our local food community, and a great desire to share it with others. What started as a personal food blog, A World of Flavors, has since grown into a business teaching cooking classes and leading local and international food tours.

I look forward to sharing culinary adventures with you through my Madison Magazine blog Local Flavor and monthly Dining In recipe column.

  – Otehlia Cassidy
Follow Otehlia on Twitter @madisoneats

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