The Backcountry Epicure

Day One: Innovation Within Reason

Jul 16, 2001
Outside Magazine

Seattle legend-in-the-making Monique Barbeau looks to expand the boundaries of trailworthy cuisine

One of the reigning queens of the current Northwestern culinary scene is Monique Barbeau, head chef of Seattle's acclaimed Fullers restaurant. "I just try to be innovative without going over the edge," says the 31-year-old French Canadian, whose award-winning creations capitalize on her region's bountiful palette of salmon, shellfish, mushrooms, and berries. When she's not creating new masterpieces or globe-hopping for ideas, Barbeau helps plan recipes for her sister's Vancouver-based adventure travel company—adhering, always, to the same artful logic she employs at Fullers: fresh, local ingredients with a generous splash of imagination. "These dishes can be considered gourmet," she says, "but they're also quite easy to do on the trail."

Breakfast: Crunchy Nutty Granola

1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. cardamom
1 tbs. orange peel
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and roughly chopped
1/2 cup pumpkin seed
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup chopped dried apples
1 cup raisins

Before leaving home: In a saucepan, heat oil, maple syrup, and honey until boiling. Reduce heat. Add vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, and orange peel, and simmer for 15 minutes. In a bowl, mix oatmeal, wheat germ, coconut, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, and almonds. Pour the liquid on top and stir well. Spread the mixture onto two ungreased cookie sheets and bake in a 325-degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool. Toss in remaining ingredients. Store in resealable plastic bags.

Barbeau likes to get moving in the morning, and this heavenly sweet power pack requires zero trailside preparation—you'll have already concocted it before you hit the woods. "Just add strawberries or some other fresh fruit," she recommends, "and you're set to go."

Lunch: Spiced Chickpeas with Cucumber Salad

2 tsp. cumin seed
1 small onion, julienned
2 tsp. chopped garlic
1 tsp. fresh ginger
1/2 cup diced tomato
5 cups canned chickpeas
2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 cup canned tomato sauce
splash Worcestershire sauce
4 cucumbers
3/4 cup yogurt
1/4 cup chopped reD onion
1/4 tsp. chili flakes
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp. chopped fresh mint
6 loaves pita
3-4 tsp. olive oil

Before leaving home: Coat sauté pan with oil and cook cumin seeds over medium heat until they pop. Then add the onions and cook until they're soft. In a blender, puree the garlic and ginger with a quarter-cup of water until smooth. Add to the onion mixture along with the diced tomato and cook until the liquid evaporates and the mixture resembles a paste. Add the chickpeas, spices, and tomato sauce. Season with Worcestershire sauce and salt. Pack in a Nalgene container.

At camp: Cut the cucumbers lengthwise in quarters, slice, and generously dust with salt. Let stand for 20 minutes and then rinse well under cold water. Place all other ingredients in a bowl, mix in cucumbers, and season with salt and pepper. Brush the pita with olive oil and grill until warm and well marked. Cut into quarters. Warm chickpeas in frying pan over low heat, then place a heaping spoonful in middle of each serving plate. Spoon cucumber salad on top. Place grilled pita on the side.

Mindful that there's still an afternoon of hiking yet to come, Barbeau is thinking light here. "This isn't going to slow you down," she explains. "And it's not really that complicated to put together."

Dinner: Salmon Taco with a Curry Yogurt Sauce

1-1/2 lb. fresh salmon filet
1 cup yogurt
4 tbs. chopped shallots
1 tbs. biryani paste
1 tbs. lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper (to taste)
2 tbs. chopped mint
1-1/2 cup of chopped mixed greens (spinach, green leaf lettuce, escarole, red chard, frisee)
1/2 cup raisins
1 pack of 12 papadoms (an Indian flatbread that can be purchased in packages like pita or tortillas)

Before leaving home: Combine yogurt, shallots, biryani paste, lemon juice, and one tablespoon of olive oil in plastic container. Mix and season with salt and pepper. Freeze until just before trip. Double-wrap fresh salmon in resealable plastic bags, cover in newspaper, and pack in a brown paper bag. Keep on ice until you reach the trailhead.

At camp: Season salmon with salt and pepper, coat with oil, and grill to desired doneness. Set aside. Once cooled, shred into small pieces. Soak raisins in warm water until plump. Mix chopped greens and raisins in bowl. Set aside. Grill the papadoms separately, constantly turning them as they begin to brown and puff up. This will make them pliable. Hand-mold each papadom into taco shape while still hot. Place layer of lettuce and raisin mixture in each papadom, add portion of salmon, and spoon on the curry yogurt sauce. Garnish with fresh mint before serving.

"Tacos are just fun to eat," says Barbeau. "Especially outside." And especially if you can land the filling yourself. Trout, pike, or bass, she notes, can be substituted for the salmon, but even confident anglers should plan a backup. "I bet I could catch a fish if it was the only way to get dinner on the table," she says."But it's wise not to count on it."

Snack: Moroccan Spiced Almonds

2 cups slivered almonds
zest of one orange
1 tsp. cardamom
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. clove
2 tbs. butter
1/2 tsp. salt

Before leaving home: Grate orange zest and dry in a 200-degree oven for five minutes. Pulverize each spice individually in a spice grinder. Mix all spices together. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add almonds and cook for three minutes, stirring often. Add spices, toss, and pour out onto a cookie sheet to cool. Season with salt.

Filed To: Culinary

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web

Not Now

Got Wanderlust?

Escape your daily grind with Outside’s best getaways.

Thank you!