Life on 4 Wheels, Cooking on 2 Rings
PUBLISHED: 11:21 23 July 2010 | UPDATED: 17:37 20 February 2013
North Devon surfer Martin Dorey has realised his literary and culinary dreams with his Camper Van Cookbook. We share some of his recipes – perfect for a Devon summer. Words Jamie Harper
Everyone has a book in them. Or so the saying goes. But very few of us even get round to realising what that book is, let alone writing it. Happily, Martin Dorey, a writer and surfer from North Devon, bucks the trend.
Martin spent last summer making his 20-year dream a reality. He combined a long-established love of good food and the great outdoors and wrote The Camper Van Cookbook a read that taps in to the romance of swapping the humdrum for the open road. In a VW Camper. Who hasnt dreamt of that?
It was amazing to have the opportunity to write a book that is the culmination of so much experience, Martin explains. It was really satisfying to write something for the love of the subject, and the love of writing.
In a nutshell, The Camper Van Cookbook is the ultimate guide to the camper-van lifestyle. Once youve cracked that nutshell, you can find out what food to enjoy it with by getting stuck in to some of the 80+ delicious recipes that are drizzled throughout the book. Each recipe (assembled and taste-tested under the expert guidance of Sarah Randell, the Food Director of Sainsburys Magazine and past editor of Delia Smiths cookery books) is included for its simplicity, scrumptiousness and suitability for the camper-van lifestyle. Camper-van hummus with pine nuts, anyone?
Martin lives in a small village in North Devon with his wife, Joanne, his two daughters, Maggie and Charlie, and a cheery black dog named Bob. His love for the great outdoors has long been evidenced in his hobbies.
The ideas in the book all come from my love of surfing. I also love hanging out in beautiful places and having the ability to wake up overlooking the sea or with a beautiful view doing something thats not everyday, something special.
But last year, Martins love of the great outdoors surpassed the recreational. Fed up with littered beaches, Martin set up the Beach Clean Network. Its a web portal dedicated to organising voluntary beach cleans across the South West. We are a bunch of people who love the beach and have decided that we just cant walk away from the growing problem of beach litter, Martin explains. We aim to help anyone who wants to put on beach cleans.
But its Martins affinity with the written word that has been his greatest ally in writing The Camper Van Cookbook. Its a skill that stems from eight years as a professional copywriter and ten years as a part-time writer before that. After a spell as Senior Creative at the local marketing and communications agency Bray Leino, Martin left to open
his own copywriting agency in 2006. Copy Monkey Ltd was born. The North Devon-based business has grown steadily and has written marketing materials, websites, advertising and newsletters for such household names as Barclaycard, Clic Sargent and Superdrug as well as many local clients.
It was a lot of fun writing the book, explains Martin, but finding the time wasnt always easy. Fortunately, having my own agency gives me the flexibility to work hard for my clients whilst also being available to accept other opportunities.
The result of Martins writing experience is a book that flows wonderfully from page to page. Its an easy, educating, entertaining read. It has already attracted significant interest; one reviewer describing the book as destined to reach camper van bible status.
Its really exciting to know that people will be reading the words Ive written, Martin remarks of his book being on bookshops across the nation. Hopefully people will enjoy it and have a laugh, and it will inspire people to get out and try camper-vanning for themselves.
Theres no reason why not. The Camper Van Cookbook is a celebration of the great outdoors; an upbeat page-turner that honours some of the simple pleasures that make Britain great. Its the beauty of escape and good food embodied in a lovingly compiled book, with beautiful photography and bundles of ideas for having a little fun.
In releasing the book in him, Martin has encountered trials and tribulations, adventures and escapades. He conquered them with so little damage to his enthusiasm that hes already plotting his second book and is currently in talks with the BBC about a TV series. Just dont ask him about fishing!
Fire-baked sea bass with
leeks, samphire and tarragon
Sea bass, the fishermans nemesis. Well, it is mine anyway. I have been on so many trips to try and catch sea bass that its getting silly now. I even paid someone to take me out in their boat. Did we catch any? No. Off to the fishmongers again. Its embarrassing.
If samphire isnt available use sprue asparagus, asparagus tips or fine green beans instead, they will only need 4-5 minutes cooking.
2 whole prepared and cleaned sea bass, bream or snapper, each weighing about 750g
Two lemons, one sliced and one juiced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
8 bay leaves
small knob plus 1 tbsp butter
4 leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 small tumblers of dry white wine or vermouth
4 generous handfuls of samphire (sea asparagus)
2 tbsp chopped tarragon leaves (or parsley, chives, dill or chervil)
1 Slash the skin of each sea bass on both sides. Season the inside and outside of each fish with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Tuck lemon and garlic slices and bay leaves inside the fish cavities and drizzle lemon juice into each one.
2 Cook the fish on a grill over a camp fire (or on a barbecue) in a barbecue fish basket for 20-30 minutes, turning halfway (the timing will depend on the heat of your fire and size of the fish). Alternatively, wrap each fish in a parcel of oiled kitchen foil and then two sheets of newspaper that you have (dampened by brushing with water) and place straight on the grill.
3 Heat a generous slug of olive oil with the knob of butter in a fireproof frying pan alongside the fish and cook the leeks for 8-10 minutes or until soft. Pour in the wine or vermouth and bubble until there are only a couple of tablespoons left in the pan. Stir in the samphire, cover and steam cook for 3-4 minutes. Take the lid off, stir in some freshly ground black pepper, the tablespoon of butter and the tarragon you wont need any salt as samphire is salty. Serve alongside the sea bass.
One-pan chicken (or rabbit)
with tarragon, lemon and garlic
This is a really fresh and zesty dish to have with your foragers salad or, if you havent the time to go searching for foliage, serve it with a leafy green salad instead. Rabbit will give it a gamey touch if you fancied it. And get some doorsteps in to soak up all those lovely meaty tarragon flavoured juices. Yum!
Knob of butter plus a tbsp
8 shallots, any larger ones halved
4 chicken legs (or rabbit portions)
2 small glassfuls of white wine
300ml chicken stock
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tbsp tarragon, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
finely grated zest of a lemon
1 Heat a generous splash of oil and the knob of butter in a large, shallow-sided pan. Over a high heat, brown the shallots in the hot fat, then scoop them out of the pan and onto a plate.
2 Next brown the chicken or rabbit: if you have enough room in your pan brown all four legs/portions in one go, otherwise brown them in two batches. They need to be in a single layer for browning and be a deep golden colour on both sides by the time you have finished.
3 Return the shallots to the pan to join the chicken or rabbit.
4 Add the wine and boil to reduce by half. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and dot the tablespoon of butter into the liquid and add some seasoning.
5 Leave the chicken or rabbit to bubble away, uncovered for 20-25 minutes the idea is the liquid reduces as the meat cooks, the chicken or rabbit should be submerged in the liquid. Five minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the cherry tomatoes and tarragon to the pan. Taste and add more seasoning if needed.
6 Mix the garlic with the lemon zest. Take the pan off the heat, sprinkle the garlicky lemon zest over the chicken, and tuck in.
Griddled vegetables with
mozzarella, chickpeas and plenty of herbs
A meal in itself and an opportunity to serve up something truly artistic. The griddled veg and mozzarella almost serve themselves they look so good. Who could resist? If you want to fire up the barbie you can do the vegetables that way too. Eat warm or at room temperature. Without the mozzarella it also makes a good side to serve 6 to go with sausages or griddled meats or fish.
1 large aubergine
2 red peppers
3 tbsp chopped mint
4 tbsp chopped basil
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for griddling and drizzling
1 fat clove garlic, crushed
1 x 410g tin chickpeas, drained
Crushed dried chili, to sprinkle
2 balls (each 125g) mozzarella
1 Trim and slice the courgettes and aubergines lengthways you should get 4 or 5 slices from the courgettes and 8-10 from the aubergine. Deseed and slice the peppers into strips. Pre heat a griddle.
2 Mix all the chopped herbs in medium sized bowl with the 4 tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic, chickpeas and a generous pinch or two of crushed sea salt.
3 Brush the griddle with oil and griddle the vegetables for 2-3 minutes on each side until charred and tender. As they are ready put them into the bowl.
4 Spoon half the chickpeas on a platter. Layer the griddled courgettes, aubergine and peppers on top (time to get artistic) in a pile, adding a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt and chili flakes as you go. (They can be quite fiery so proceed with caution, you can always add more as you eat.) Scatter the remaining herby chickpeas around the vegetables.
5 Slice the mozzarella and arrange the slices on top of the vegetables. Add a final drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle
The Camper Van Cookbook is published by Saltyard Books, priced 16.99, but has been discounted for Devon Life readers and will cost 14.99 + P&P if you call 01235 827702 and quote 'Devon Life' when placing your order. For customers wishing to place cheque orders they will need to make the cheque payable to Bookpoint Ltd and send cheque along with order to Mail Order Dept, Bookpoint Ltd,
130 Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4SB