Guaranteed crowd-pleasers.

By Blake Bakkila
June 22, 2018

Sure, everyone loves hot dogs and s’mores. But there's so much more you can enjoy around a campfire. Here to spice up your next outdoor adventure is Emma Frisch, a finalist on Food Network Star and founder of Firelight Camps, a glamping destination in Ithaca, New York. In her debut cookbook, Feast by Firelight ($17, amazon.com), Frisch offers up simple recipes that are guaranteed to hit the spot after a long day on the trail (or a night under the stars). Below are three of our favorites: zero-degree chili, quinoa granola clusters, and foil-packet salmon with lemon, thyme, and blueberries.

Zero-Degree Chili

Serves: 8-10

1½ pounds beef stew meat, cut into ½-inch pieces (Note: If there’s fat on the beef, keep it for flavor!)

¼ cup sweet paprika

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons kosher salt

20 turns of the pepper mill

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1⅔ cups diced onions

2 bell peppers, seeded and diced

2 cups chopped potatoes (½-inch pieces)

2 medium carrots, diced

2 bay leaves

One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

4 cups beef broth

¼ cup cornmeal

½ cup plain yogurt or sour cream

Finely chopped fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish

PREP: In a ziplock bag, combine the beef, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper. Seal the bag, use your hands to evenly coat the beef with the seasonings, and then chill for up to 24 hours.

  1. In an 8-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter begins to foam (before it browns!), add the onions, stir to coat with the butter, cover, and cook until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the beef and all of its seasonings to the pot, turn the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef is browned and coated in a creamy sauce, about 5 minutes. The pan may seem too dry, but as the beef breaks down it will release fat. Add the bell peppers, potatoes, carrots, bay leaves, and beans to the beef and stir to combine. Stir in the tomatoes and their juice, breaking them up with a spoon, then pour in the beef broth. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until the beef is tender, about 45 minutes. Stir in the cornmeal and cook until the chili thickens, about 5 minutes.
  3. Ladle the chili directly into each camper’s bowl, topping with a dollop of the yogurt and a sprinkle of parsley.
  4. Serve immediately. Store leftovers in an airtight container, chilled, for up to 4 days.

Firelight Quinoa Granola Clusters

Serves: 4

½ cup quinoa, toasted

4 cups rolled oats

1 ½ cups unsweetened coconut chips

½ cup sesame seeds

½ cup sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons flaxseeds

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

½ cup olive oil

½ cup maple syrup

½ cup honey

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

¾ cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit (optional)

  1. Position two racks in the center and lower third of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the quinoa, oats, coconut chips, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, cinnamon, and cardamom. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, honey, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together until combined.
  3. Spread the mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheets, flattening it with the back of a spatula.
  4. Place the baking sheets on the prepared oven racks and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the sheets from the oven and toss and redistribute the granola with a spatula to help it brown evenly. Flatten it again—hard! Return the granola to the oven, switching the sheets to ensure both are cooked evenly, and continue to bake until toasted brown, 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the cranberries (if using) over the top of the warm granola. Let the granola cool completely, 15 to 20 minutes. Do not break it up earlier or you’ll lose those precious clusters! Once cooled, break the granola into smaller clusters and transfer to an airtight container or ziplock bag.
  6. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 month.

Foil-Packet Salmon With Lemon, Thyme, and Blueberry

Serves: 4

¼ cup fresh or frozen blueberries

2 teaspoons honey

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus 2 lemons, each cut into 6 thin slices

Four 6-ounce wild salmon fillets, frozen (see Note)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 thyme sprigs

PREP: In a lidded jar, combine the blueberries, honey, and lemon juice. Use the back of a spoon to gently smash and muddle the blueberries with the honey and lemon juice. Seal the jar tightly and then chill for up to 3 days.

Put four 12-inch square sheets of aluminum foil on a work surface. Lay 3 lemon slices, with edges overlapping like dominoes, in the center of each foil sheet and top with a frozen salmon fillet. Season the salmon with the salt and lightly dust with pepper. Top each salmon fillet with 2 thyme sprigs.

Fold up two sides of the foil to meet in the middle and fold the edges over each other to seal the top. Then fold the two open ends of the foil to seal the packet. Seal the salmon packets in a ziplock bag and then chill for up to 24 hours.

  1. Fire the grill to medium heat and position the grill grate 4 inches above the coals.
  2. Using tongs, place the foil packets over direct heat and cook for 8 minutes. Using two forks, open the foil seal along the top, allowing the steam to escape and preventing the salmon from overcooking. Use a thermometer to check that the internal temperature has reached 140°F. An easier way to check for doneness is with a fork; the salmon should be firm and easily flake apart. (If you see white juice seeping out—a protein called albumin—it’s overcooked. But don’t worry, the blueberry syrup will moisten the fillet.)
  3. Serve the salmon directly from the foil—fewer plates to clean!—and spoon the blueberries over the top. Store leftovers in an airtight container, chilled, for up to 1 day.

Reprinted with permission from Feast by Firelight, text and illustrations copyright © 2018 by Emma Frisch. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Photographs copyright © 2018 by Christina Holmes