Our latest cooking gadget is a Toasted sandwich maker or Pie iron made by TF Gear, but more commonly know as a “Ridge Monkey”.
The TF Gear iron is identical to the Ridge Monkey, so we have nicknamed ours “The Cheeky Monkey”.
I was hoping that this would be the camping nirvana after all the good reviews I had read. We don’t have an oven in the campervan, so it limits our possible menu.
I tried the Omnia oven, but I couldn’t get on with it and it was a little oversize for our campervan hob.
We have a similar sandwich toaster called “The Diablo” that toasts sandwiches, but they were small and you had towaste a lot of bread cutting it to fit the round shape. The TF Gear is a square shaped pie iron that makes toasted sandwiches using a gas hob, open fire or barbeque. It is very popular with fishermen who cook breakfast on the river side. So far I have cooked Bacon, Burgers, Eggs and a small Pizza, well warmed one up. As the cooking process is enclosed, the top gets a chance of being cooked.
A Chicago pie pizza approximately 3 “diameter fits nicely. I heated one side of the iron until hot then turned it over and placed the defrosted pizza on the unheated side. The theory being that as the pizza base was directly on the bottom of the iron, preheating the top would give the cooking of the pizza top a head start before the base burnt. It actually worked. I did turn it over once just to brown the top. I shall be asking the extreme knitter to make some homemade pizzas that fit the Cheeky Monkeys shape and size. If they are thinner they might cook quicker and more thoroughly.
I’ve tried McCann’s frozen oven fries as they were thin. These cooked perfectly. I think the trick with frozen food is to thaw it out first, so that your cooking time isn’t taking up having to defrost first.
The next try out was Toad in the Hole, an easy to make quaint English recipe that is basically sausages cooked in a dish of batter mix using a very hot oven. The batter would normally rise in an oven enveloping the sausage in a crispy Yorkshire pudding. Cooking it in the Cheeky monkey was going to be a challenge.
Start by cooking 3 or 4 sausages in the Cheeky Monkey. I like to butterfly mine to make sure they are thoroughly cooked.
While the sausages are cooking make your batter mix
1 cup of plain flour
A pinch of salt
300mls of milk
Whisk these ingredients until you’ve got a smooth liquid (without any lumps)
This will make approximately 450mls.
Boil some water.
When the sausages are cooked take them out and pour a good glug of veg oil in the Cheeky monkey and heat until smoking hot.
Pour a small layer of the batter mix into the hot oil that will seal the underside, them place the sausages in and pour some more batter mix over them. I used about 250mls. If the mix is too deep it will burn before the middle is cooked. I cooked it on a low flame for 20 minutes turning the Cheeky Monkey over regularly to stop the mix from burning.
Make a small amount of gravy using gravy granules and the water that you boiled earlier. (yes, I know, but we are camping so short cuts are allowed).
Much to my amazement it worked out and tasted good. I didn’t rise as it would in an oven, but because it was thinner it cooked all the way through.
The batter mix could be made at home before setting off on your camping trip to save time.
If you’ve been paying attention you’ll be asking what about the 200mls of batter mix that I had left?
Well that’s for pudding, three Pancakes to be precise. Even though it was Sunday I like a Fat Tuesday
These can be made in the Cheeky monkey by pouring in a small amount of veg oil and pouring a third of the mix on top. They can be made sweeter by slicing some bananas into the mix or possibly pineapple chunks. The beauty of the monkey is that you just turn it over to cook the other side.
The experimenting goes on.