Weeknight Cooking

How to Cook a 3-Course Meal on a Camping Stove

August 25, 2015

Izy Hossack from Top with Cinnamon joins us in New York to show us how to prepare a three-course meal—using only a pot and a camping stove.

Pulled Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

I'm lucky enough to have a well-equipped kitchen at home in London. Since both my parents love to cook, we're well stocked with ingredients and equipment they've gathered over the years.

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The panic of knowing I'm going to university this winter has made me realize that hardly any of the tools in the kitchen are actually mine. Once I start school, I'll be living in one of the "self-catered halls"—a flat of up to six people, all sharing a kitchen. There will be very limited storage space, probably just one cupboard per person.

After getting used to the luxury of cooking at home, it seems daunting to cut down on so much. 

Charred Corn Salad

I'm on a gap year at the moment and things have somehow worked out where I've been able to spend a month living in New York City. Due to a series of unfortunate events, however, the gas supply in the apartment I'm living in was switched off, leaving the oven and stove useless.

There's basically just a one-ring camping stove, a kettle, and microwave. Because I didn't grow up with a microwave, it's pretty useless to me (unless I'm making hot chocolate or melting butter).

More: With Izy's homemade hot chocolate mix, you can have rich, creamy cocoa without using the microwave.

Charred Corn Salad 

I saw this basic set-up as a "training" opportunity for what it will be like to live in a hall. I challenged myself by vowing only to use one piece of cookware (minus bowls) per meal. For this set of recipes, you'll only need one pot (rinsed out in between uses, obviously!).

Here's how I rose to the challenge (and how you can follow my lead if you ever find yourself with limited cooking equipment): 

1. I started by preparing dessert—this No-Churn Coffee-Cinnamon Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce, to be precise.

No-Churn Coffee-Cinnamon Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce

This recipe needs to be made ahead of time, so it's best to start it at least two hours before serving (or to make it a few days in advance). With Nigella Lawson's no-churn ice cream technique, you don't have to cook the base, which means the ice cream is fast to prepare and doesn't require a special machine. Since the recipe only uses a portion of a can of sweetened condensed milk, you'll have some left over; take that remaining condensed milk and cook it down with butter, sugar, and salt for a rich caramel sauce that's perfect for serving with the ice cream.


2. Once I had the ice cream chilling in the freezer, I started on the Charred Corn Salad.

Charred Corn Salad

This is one of those salads that you can serve warm or at room temperature, which means it's perfect for preparing ahead of time, before you start on the main course. The corn is charred straight on the cob (see—you don't even need the pot for this recipe) and then the kernels are tossed with lime juice and zest, paprika, melted butter, and fresh herbs. The bonus topping of crumbled queso fresco brings saltiness, and spinach makes this into more of a salad and less of a side dish. The end result is smoky, sweet, and, thanks to the corn, still a bit crunchy.


3. And for the main event, I made Pulled Chicken Tacos and Pineapple Salsa.

Pulled Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Because both the tacos and the salsa are easy to make, they're great components of a weeknight meal—whether or not you're cooking on one burner. The main task here is chopping all the ingredients for the salsa, but if you're armed with a sharp knife, you'll have it done in no time. This method of cooking chicken is my favorite party-trick because it's so effortless and delicious: You basically poach chicken breasts in a simple, spiced tomato sauce until it's shreddable, which takes 30 to 40 minutes (just leave it to simmer for that whole time). Once you shred the chicken, stir the meat back into the sauce and serve it straight away with tortillas, salsa, sour cream, and a mojito (well, the mojito is optional I guess).

Photos by Izy Hossack

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Passionate about cakes, roasted vegetables and anything involving Maldon salt or maple syrup. Izy is a student living in London, UK who spends her spare time blogging and rambling on topwithcinnamon.com