Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cranberry-Pear Cobbler

     Adapted from a Gooseberry Patch recipe, this cobbler is the perfect way to end your Thanksgiving dinner.  The pears and applesauce combine with the tapioca to produce a thickened, sweet layer of fruit and the topping of buttery biscuits melts in your mouth.  I could not find the smaller cans of pears so substituted with the larger 29 ounce size and only added half the liquid.  The original recipe calls for the syrup from both cans but it seemed a bit watery to me so I scaled it back.  The secret to any biscuit topped recipe is to have the bottom layer hot and bubbling before you add the biscuits.  The fruit also needs to cook long enough for the tapioca to work it's magic and thicken the sauce.  In my 10 inch deep oven, the cobbler baked for 25 minutes with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom and 22 briquettes on the lid.  Once the fruit was thick and bubbling I added the topping, in 12 minutes the biscuits were golden brown and ready to serve.  This needs to be eaten while it's still warm and the biscuits are fluffy and soft so be sure to save some room for a big helping of cobbler.  Have a safe, blessed and very Happy Thanksgiving! 

Cranberry Pear Cobbler
2 15 1/4 oz cans sliced pears in syrup
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 cup applesauce
1/4 c. instant tapioca, uncooked
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon, divided
1 cup sugar
1 12 oz tube refrigerated Grands Jr buttermilk biscuits
1/4 cup butter, melted

     Lightly oil or spray 10 inch dutch oven.
     Pour pears with juice from only one can into prepared dutch oven.
     Sprinkle with cranberries and tapioca; set aside.
     Combine applesauce with nutmeg and one tsp cinnamon, mix well.
     Spoon applesauce over pears and cranberries.
     Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbling.
     In a shallow dish combine sugar and remaining cinnamon; mix well.
     Separate biscuits.
     Dip each biscuit in butter, then in cinnamon-sugar to coat both sides.
     Arrange biscuits over hot fruit mixture.
     Continue baking for 10-15 minutes or until biscuits are golden.
     Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
     Serve warm; top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
     Makes 6 servings.

Spoon applesauce over pears, cranberries and tapioca

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until hot and
bubbling before adding sugar-coated biscuits

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown

Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Dried Cranberries

     The beauty of this roasted vegetable recipe from Ocean Spray is that, except for the stuffing, it rolls all of your side dishes into one.  I would suggest making it in your 12 inch or larger dutch oven so you can roast the vegetables in a single layer.  If you make it in your smaller oven, be sure to stir it a couple of times while cooking.  I cooked them in my 12 inch dutch oven for a total of 40 minutes with 12 coals in a ring around the bottom and 28-30 on the lid.  There's nothing like the flavor of vegetables roasted in your dutch oven, not only easy to make but they are a great accompaniment to your turkey or main course.

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Dried Cranberries
2 Tblsp olive oil
1 1/2 pounds medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 cup baby carrots
1 cup small whole frozen onions OR 1 medium onion cut into wedges
1 pound small red potatoes, cut into quarters
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary OR 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup dried cranberries

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     Combine vegetables, rosemary, salt and pepper in a large bowl, tossing to mix.
     Place vegetable in prepared dutch oven and drizzle with olive oil, stir to coat.
     Bake at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.
     Stir halfway through cooking time.
     Add dried cranberries and mix well.
     Makes 6-8 servings.

Toss vegetables with olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper
and place in single layer in dutch oven

Roast at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until tender, add
cranberries right before serving

Friday, November 14, 2014

Lemon-Thyme Split-Roasted Turkey

     Since I am not fortunate enough to own a large, deep Maca dutch oven, I have been searching for a long time for a way to roast a turkey in my regular 14 inch oven.  This recipe from Better Homes and Gardens seemed to suit my needs perfectly and I was more than happy with the results.  Starting out, I looked at this venture as more of an experiment and thought it might take me several attempts to get it right.  I always buy a fresh bird for Thanksgiving but since turkeys are cheap and plentiful right now I opted for a 10 pound frozen one for under seven dollars, a minor investment for my first try. 
     After thawing the turkey in the fridge for three days I was ready for the first and most challenging step, slicing the bird into two equal halves.  I unwrapped and washed my Tom then with a sharp pair of kitchen shears, easily carved out the backbone.  Hacking the breastbone in two proved to be more difficult, you'll need a large knife and a bit of leverage to slice through the bone.  If you don't feel like wrestling with your uncooked bird, ask your local butcher to halve it for you. 
     You definitely need a 14 inch or larger dutch oven if you are going to roast both halves of the turkey together, the deeper the oven the better.  You can probably get away with roasting one half in a 12 inch oven, so use two ovens if you are roasting a whole bird.  Also, you may have to tuck the vegetables around the turkey to allow more space between the bird and the lid of your oven.
     The trickiest part of roasting a turkey in a dutch oven is finding a way to brown and crisp the skin.  I decided to brown the bird under high heat right from the start then lower the temperature to allow it to simmer and braise in it's own juices.  In my 14 inch dutch oven I began with 14 coals in a ring around the bottom, with 4 briquettes placed in the center.  I covered the lid with 38 briquettes and didn't even raise the lid until it was time to replenish the coals.  After one hour and 15 minutes I tossed out the old coals and placed 14 newly lit coals in a ring around the base of the oven with 20 briquettes placed around the edge of the lid.  I let the turkey simmer and cook for another 45 minutes, or until it was done.  At this point I also started cooking the vegetables so everything was ready to serve at the same time.
     This recipe may seem like a lot of work but it's mostly in the preparation, once you place your oven on the coals the rest is easy.  The end result was a moist, juicy bird, flavored with lemon and thyme.  The buttery skin was golden brown and deliciously crispy.  So don't be intimidated like I was, put your fears to rest, fire up your coals and amaze your friends and family this year with a wonderfully roasted dutch oven turkey. 

Lemon-Thyme Split-Roasted Turkey
2 medium onions, cut into wedges
2 lemons, cut into quarters
1 stalk celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 fresh thyme sprigs
8 cloves garlic
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup snipped fresh thyme
2 tsp finely shredded lemon peel
2 Tblsp lemon juice
2 Tblsp finely chopped shallot (1 medium)
1 Tblsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 8-10 pound fresh or frozen turkey, thawed if frozen

     Remove neck and giblets from turkey: discard.
     Rinse turkey; pat dry with paper towels.
     Place turkey, breast side down, on cutting board.
     Using kitchen shears, make a lengthwise cut down one side of backbone, starting from the neck end.
     Repeat on the other side of the backbone, remove and discard backbone.
     Turn turkey, cut side down.
     Flatten turkey as much as possible with your hands.
     Using kitchen shears or a large, sharp knife, carefully cut through the entire breastbone, creating two equal halves.
     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     Place onions, lemons, celery, thyme sprigs and garlic in single layer in prepared oven.
     In a medium bowl combine butter, snipped thyme, lemon peel, lemon juice, shallot, oil, salt and pepper.
     Rub herb-butter mixture over turkey on all sides, massaging some of the mixture underneath the skin.
     Place turkey halves, skin side up, on top or among vegetables in roasting pan. 
     Roast at 375 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until thermometer registers 175 degrees F. (The juices should run clear and drumsticks should move easily in their sockets.)
     Remove from oven, let stand for 15 minutes before carving.

Rub turkey halves with flavored butter and place on top of
or around vegetables

Roast at 375 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, starting with
extra coals to brown and crisp the skin

Fragrant, moist turkey, surprisingly crispy and
easy to carve too

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Peanut Butter Brownies

     Trader Joe's brings us an easy way to transform your favorite brownie recipe into something special.  Once your brownies have baked, keeping them on the coals, remove the lid of your dutch oven, add rows of miniature peanut butter cups, replace the lid and cook for a couple of minutes or until the peanut butter cups are soft enough to spread with a spatula.  Using a package of Trader Joe's Truffle Brownie Mix, the brownies baked in my 10 inch dutch oven for 20 minutes with 10 coals around the bottom, 15 placed around the outside of the lid and 6 spaced evenly in the center.  Fun and simple to bake, kids will love making these as much as eating them.

Peanut Butter Brownies
1 package brownie mix plus ingredients needed to make brownies
24 miniature peanut butter cups, unwrapped

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven; line with parchment paper.
     Prepare brownies according to package directions.
     Pour into prepared oven.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until brownies are done.
     Press peanut butter cups, bottoms down, into the warm brownies, making rows that cover the entire top.
     Place lid back on oven, continue to cook for one to two minutes or until peanut butter cups soften.
     Use a spatula or knife to spread softened peanut butter cups over brownies into a gooey frosting.
     After 15 minutes, lift brownies from oven using parchment paper, allow to cool.

Pour brownie batter into parchment lined oven

Bake at 350 degrees until done then lightly press peanut
butter cups into brownies

Replace lid and cook for 2 minutes until candy has softened

Spread softened peanut butter cups with knife or spatula

A peanut butter cup in every bite

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Baked Eyeballs Casserole

     If you're looking for a fun casserole to make for your Halloween party or dutch oven gathering, this recipe from Campbell's is surprisingly easy, somewhat creepy, very filling and good.  You do need to cook the pasta ahead of time but if you're assembling it away from home, all you have to do is drain it, toss it with a little olive oil and transport it in a zip lock bag or plastic container.  In my 12 inch dutch oven, the casserole baked with 12 coals in a ring around the base of the oven and 28 briquettes on the lid.  In 20 minutes it was bubbling, steaming and ready for it's 'eyeball' topping.  Add cooked Italian sausage or sauteed mushrooms to the pasta for an even heartier meal.  Kids of all ages will love this kooky dish and it's a tasty way to warm your belly before heading out to trick or treat with your hobgoblins.  Have a spooky and safe Halloween!

Baked Eyeballs Casserole
1 24 oz jar spaghetti sauce, divided
1 15 oz container part skim ricotta cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
1 16 oz box of your favorite dried short-shaped pasta, i.e. rigatoni, farfalle, penne or fusilli, cooked and drained
1 8 oz container small fresh mozzarella cheese balls (about 1 inch)
1 2 oz can OR 2 Tblsp sliced black olives

     Lightly oil or spray 12 inch dutch oven.
     Mix 1 1/2 cups of the sauce, ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and pasta in prepared dutch oven.
     Spread the remaining sauce over the pasta mixture.
     Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
     Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until hot and bubbling.
     Arrange the cheese balls randomly over the pasta mixture.
     Place a sliced olive on each cheese ball.
     Cover and let cook for 3-5 minutes or until 'eyeballs' have melted slightly.
     Makes 8 servings.

Top pasta mixture with remaining sauce and Parmesan cheese

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes before topping
with Mozzarella balls and sliced olives

Replace lid and continue baking for 3-5 minutes or until
'eyeballs' have started to melt

Tender pasta topped with gooey eyeballs, perfect for All Hallows' Eve

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bacon-Cheddar Biscuits

     A dutch oven cook can never have enough biscuit recipes, especially if they're loaded with bacon and cheese.  This recipe from Williams Sonoma may seem complicated but it's your basic biscuit formula, the only difference is the method for rolling out the dough.  Similar to making puff pastry from scratch, you roll out the dough, fold it in thirds then repeat the process again.  As you probably know by now, for the sake of convenience, I much prefer making drop biscuits in my dutch oven.  I must say, this recipe really does produce a flakier biscuit.  I patted the dough on a piece of parchment paper then lifted the ends of the paper to fold the dough onto itself, much neater and quicker than flouring your counter.  If you're camping and don't want to go to the trouble of rolling out the dough, add an extra tablespoon of buttermilk and drop the biscuits by spoonfuls into your dutch oven.
     In my 10 inch dutch oven, the biscuits baked for 20 minutes with 10 coals in a ring around the base of the oven and the lid completely covered with around 26 briquettes.  Brushing your dutch oven with bacon grease makes these peppery biscuits especially crisp and for a little extra kick, serve them warm with butter and hot pepper jelly.

Bacon-Cheddar Biscuits
6 oz bacon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tblsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 Tblsp (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 Tblsp butter, melted
3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 cup plus 2 Tblsp buttermilk

     In frying pan, cook bacon until crisp, about 10 minutes.
     Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate; reserve bacon fat in pan.
     Finely chop cooked bacon.
     Coat bottom and sides of dutch oven with warm bacon fat.
     In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and pepper.
     Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the cold butter until pea-size crumbs form.
     Stir in the Cheddar and Parmigiano -Reggiano cheeses and the bacon.
     Stir in the buttermilk until the dough just comes together.
     Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and roll out into a 9 by 11 inch rectangle.
     Fold the dough into thirds, rotate 90 degrees and roll out into the same sized rectangle.
     Fold into thirds again, rotate 90 degrees and roll out into a 9 by 9 inch rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.
     Using a floured 2 inch biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits and place side-by-side in prepared dutch oven.
     Gather up the scraps, reroll the dough and cut out more biscuits.
     Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter.
     Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
     Let cool for 10 minutes before serving; makes 8-12 biscuits.

Brush dutch oven with bacon fat before adding biscuits

Bake in a hot oven for 20-25 minutes

What could be better than flaky biscuits baked
in your dutch oven

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Polska and Biscuit Bake

     I mulled this recipe from Hillshire Farm over for a while, wondering if it might be a little too basic and not to every one's liking.  I love cabbage in any way, shape or form, especially sauerkraut and if you use the good, refrigerated variety that comes in a two pound bag, it really makes a difference.  This is a good camping recipe with few ingredients and easily assembled.
      I baked the casserole in my 10 inch deep dutch oven with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom, 15 around the edge of the lid with 6 briquettes spaced evenly in the center.  I used  a 12 oz. package of Grands Jr. Buttermilk biscuits, if you want to use the regular Grands, just be sure you're using a larger or deeper oven, I have found they sometimes fuse to the lid in a regular 10 inch oven when used as a casserole topping.  I forgot to buy Swiss cheese and substituted with Cheddar, the Swiss will probably remind you more of a Reuben sandwich.  Butter the biscuits and serve it with a bold and spicy mustard for a hearty, camper's, one pot dinner.

Polska and Biscuit Bake
1 12 to 14 oz package Polska Kielbasa
2 to 3 cups drained sauerkraut
2 Tblsp mayonnaise
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Swiss cheese
1 7.5 oz can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

     Lightly oil or spray 10 inch dutch oven.
     Cut sausage into 1/2 inch slices; set aside.
     Combine sauerkraut and mayonnaise in small bowl; spread in bottom of prepared dutch oven.
     Lay kielbasa on top; sprinkle with cheese.
     Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
     Place uncooked biscuits on top of cheese.
     Bake an additional 12-15 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.
     Makes 4-6 servings.

Layer sauerkraut, kielbasa and cheese in prepared dutch oven

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes then top with biscuits

Continue baking for 12-15 minutes or until biscuits are
flaky and golden brown

Basic but good camping fare