Friday, April 29, 2011

Pineapple-Coconut-Banana Upside-Down Cake

      You must be getting tired of reading about pineapple upside down cakes but honestly, this one is so incredibly good that I just had to share it with you.  I can only describe it as a moist banana bread dripping with melted butter, sugar and sweet coconut.  In a 10 inch oven it did not rise as high as a boxed cake mix but it is so rich you won't feel deprived.  It baked with 10 coals on the bottom and 16 on the top and was done in 25 minutes. The whole back yard smelled of cinnamon and bananas.  Be sure to rotate it halfway through cooking time and if you can wait that long, let it rest for 15-20 minutes before serving.  Another keeper from Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2005

Pineapple-Coconut-Banana Upside-Down Cake
4 Tblsp. butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 15 1/2 oz can pineapple slices in juice, undrained
1 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 banana)
2 Tblsp. vegetable oil
1 large egg

     Line a 10 inch dutch oven with parchment paper.  Melt butter and pour over parchment.  Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar.  Drain pineapple slices over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup juice.  Arrange pineapple slices over brown sugar.  Sprinkle evenly with coconut.  Set aside.
     Combine flour and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl.  Combine reserved juice, banana, oil, and egg, stirring with a whisk.  Add pineapple juice mixture to flour mixture, stirring until combined.  Pour flour mixture over coconut.
     Bake at 375 degrees with 10 coals on the bottom and 16-18 on the top for 25 minutes, rotating halfway, or until pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Let cool for 15 minutes before removing and inverting on plate.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Makes 6 servings.

Layer toppings of butter, brown sugar, pineapple and coconut

Smooth batter over topping

Ready in 25 minutes

This could easily become your favorite new dessert

Toad In The Hole

   In honor of today's Royal wedding I am posting a British classic, Toad in the Hole.  It was originally invented to be made with leftover scraps and pieces of meat but the more contemporary version is made with sausage.  The sausages are browned then baked in a light, fluffy Yorkshire Pudding batter.  I have been making this Yorkshire Pudding recipe with a standing rib roast every Christmas for as long as I can remember, it's almost foolproof if you follow the directions.  I have made this in my 12 inch regular oven and found the pudding browned a little too much on top.  In the 12 inch deep it baked perfectly.  If you make it in a shallow oven just keep a close watch on the temperature.  Preheating the oven is a must and don't raise the lid for at least 15 minutes after you pour in the batter, you need a hot oven for it to rise and puff.  You could make this with any kind of sausage you like, breakfast, Italian or even Bratwurst.  From Great British Cooking: A Well Kept Secret by Jane Garmey.  Best wishes to the happy couple on their special day and may they enjoy a long and happy life together!

Toad in the Hole
6 good quality sausages
2 Tblsp. olive or vegetable oil

3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1 Tblsp. water
2 eggs

     Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.  Make a well in the center and add the milk and the water gradually, beating with a wooden spoon or wire whisk.
     In a seperate bowl, beat the eggs until fluffy.  Add them to the flour mixture.  Beat until bubbles rise to the surface.  Pour the batter into a pitcher and refrigerate it for 1/2 hour. 
     Heat coals, you will be needing enough to cover the bottom and top of your oven completely, maybe 30 or more.
     Brown sausages in oil over a full spread of coals.  When browned on one side, turn them over, put the lid on the oven and completely cover it with coals.  Your goal is to heat the oven to around 450 degrees.
      After 5-10 minutes spread bottom coals in a ring around the bottom.  Rebeat the batter and pour it evenly over sausages in hot oven.  Replace lid.
     After 15 minutes (no peeking) rotate oven and remove enough coals to maintain a 350 degree temperature.  Bake for 20 -25 minutes more or until batter is puffed, golden and cooked all the way through in the middle.

Brown sausages in oil over high heat

Turn over sausages when browned on one side, replace lid and pile on coals

Pour Yorkshire Pudding batter over sausages in hot oven

Bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes

Pudding light and crisp, sausages browned and juicy

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chocolate Pudding Cake

     Chocolate lovers take notice.  This sinfully delicious dessert is indescribably good and is guaranteed to satisfy hard core chocoholics everywhere.  Somehow this mixture of sugar, water and batter transforms itself into the softest, brownie like cake floating in a syrupy sea of rich, chocolatey pudding.  Think warm spoonfuls of decadent wonderfulness.  It may seem a bit more complicated to make but it is so worth the effort.  I made it in my 10 inch oven which I preheated for 5 minutes with 10 coals in a ring on the bottom and 18 on top.  Once the oven was hot I then melted the butter before spreading the batter.  Pour the hot sugar and water mixture carefully over the batter as it does bubble and spit.  Rotate the lid halfway and check it after 20 minutes of cooking time.  Also, you can use any kind of milk you have on hand, I used skim.  The hardest part of making this heavenly dessert is waiting the 15 minutes for it to cool and the pudding to thicken and set.  Be sure to serve it with a big spoon so you can scoop up all the warm syrup from the bottom of the pan.  From Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2005. 

Chocolate Pudding Cake
1 cup all purpose flour
2 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup 2 percent reduced fat milk
1/4 cup melted butter, divided
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups water 

     Sift together flour, 3/4 cup sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt over a large bowl.  Add milk, 3 Tblsp. butter and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Set aside.
     Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar and water in a small saucepan or second dutch oven.  Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Remove from heat.
     Place a lightly oiled 10 inch dutch oven over a ring of 10 coals.  Add lid with 16-18 coals on top.  Preheat oven for 5 minutes.  Melt 1 Tblsp. butter in dutch oven and swirl to evenly coat pan. 
     Add batter, spreading evenly over pan.  Pour water mixture slowly over batter, do not stir.  Mixture will bubble.  Bake at 375 degrees, with one rotation, for 25 minutes or until cake is set.  Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. 
     Yeild 6 servings.

Spread batter over melted butter in preheated pan

Carefully pour sugar water mixture over batter

Cake firm to the touch and bubbling after 25 minutes

Sprinkle with a little powdered sugar and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Shrimp With Salsa Rice

     Some of the best recipes can be found at your fingertips on food company web sites.  They tend to use available and sometimes prepared ingredients, perfect for camping and outdoor cooking.  I adapted this shrimp, salsa and rice recipe from the Ortega company, it seemed tailor made for a camp dutch oven.  Just a few pointers, after you saute the rice and onion over a full compliment of coals, move them to the outside edge around the bottom of the oven.  This will prevent your rice from burning.  I used 18 coals on the lid of a 10 inch oven. The shrimp takes no more than 5 minutes to cook so don't add it until your rice is just about completely done.  You can cook the bacon in your dutch oven or do it ahead of time on the stove, but don't leave it out as it gives the dish a nice smokey flavor.  Use mild, medium or hot salsa depending on your taste.  Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro, a dollop of sour cream and dig in!

Shrimp With Salsa Rice
2 tbls. vegetable or olive oil
2 cups white rice, uncooked
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups ORTEGA Salsa - Thick & Chunky (Medium)
1 14 1/2 oz. can chicken broth
1 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 slices bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled

     Heat oil in 10 or 12 inch dutch oven over a full compliment of coals.  Cook onion in oil until soft and translucent.  Add rice and stir to completely coat with oil.
     Add chicken broth and salsa; stir.
     Cover and add enough coals on lid to bring liquid to a simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes or until rice is tender and most of liquid is absorbed.
     Place shrimp on rice; cover.  Cook for 4 to 6 minutes more or until shrimp are pink and fully cooked.  
     Top with bacon.  Serves 4-6.
Saute rice and onion in oil

Add salsa and chicken broth

Ready in about 25 minutes

Garnish with bacon and fresh cilantro

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mayonnaise Biscuits

     With just a few ingredients, a mixing bowl and a hot dutch oven you can dazzle your guests with these light, flaky biscuits.  Except for a ready made packaged mix, this is about the easiest biscuit recipe you'll ever find.  Drop them into your dutch oven with a spoon, brush with butter, bake and you'll be amazed by the down home flavor of these soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, golden nuggets.  Drizzle them with a little honey and you'll wonder how anything so good could ever be made with so few ingredients.  I baked these in a 10 inch oven with 10 coals in a ring on the bottom and covered the lid with 20-22 coals to bring the oven to 400 degrees quickly.

Mayonnaise Biscuits
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup milk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 Tblsp. melted butter

     In mixing bowl cut mayonnaise into self-rising flour with pastry blender until small crumbs form and mayonnaise is fully incorporated into the flour.
     Add milk and lightly stir until batter is sticky and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Do not over mix.
     Drop by tablespoons into lightly oiled dutch oven.  Brush with melted butter.
     Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes until lightly browned and crisp on top.
     Makes 12 biscuits.

Cut mayonnaise into flour with pastry blender

Add milk to flour mixture, batter will be wet

Drop into dutch oven and brush lightly with butter

Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees

Light and airy

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tater Tot Hot Dish

    This posting is dedicated to all my wonderful friends in Minnesota who were raised on their mother's comforting hot dishes.  For those of you who do not speak Minnesotan, hot dish is another term for casserole.  This is the classic Minnesota hot dish, served by ladies at church suppers, brought to potlucks all over the state and plated by loving mothers to hungry children after playing in the snow.  It has all your basic hot dish ingredients, meat, vegetables, cheese and the required whitening agent, canned soup.  You can doctor it up, adding more spice, altering the cheese blend, or even bring it into the twenty first century by adding roasted or sauteed fresh vegetables.  However you decide to make this, it is sure to please.  This warm, creamy, filling meal is like a hug on a plate.  In true Minnesota fashion serve it with a big spoonful of your favorite Jello mold on the side. 

Tater Tot Hot Dish
1 1/2 lbs. hamburger
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 10 3/4 oz. can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 10 3/4 0z. can Cream of Chicken soup
1/2 cup half and half or milk
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
1 2 lb. bag frozen tater tots (3/4 of a bag covered a 12 inch oven)
2 cups shredded Cheddar Jack cheese

      Saute hamburger and onions over a full spread of coals in dutch oven until onions are soft and hamburger is browned.  Drain.  Arrange 12 coals in a circle around the base of the oven. Stir in garlic powder, steak seasoning, soups, half and half and frozen vegetables.  Mix until well blended.
     Cover completely with tater tots.
     Place lid on oven and bake at 350 degrees, with 16-18 coals on top, for 25-30 minutes or until soup starts to bubble.
     Sprinkle with 2 cups of cheese, cook 10 minutes longer or until cheese has melted and hot dish is brown on top.
     Serves 6-8.
Cover soup and hamburger layer with tater tots
When hot dish is bubbling and cooked through, sprinkle with cheese

Golden brown and ready to serve

Comfort food at it's best

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Parchment Paper

     One of the greatest inventions known to cooks and bakers is parchment paper.  It is durable, non-stick, and heat resistant up to 425 degrees.  Compared to the dutch oven liners that are on the market today it is fairly inexpensive.  I often use it for baking, it makes removing your cakes and pies a lot easier plus clean up is a snap, especially when you're camping.  I used to tear off a piece and just tuck it into my oven.  The edges would stick out under the lid, trapping the ash and funneling it into my dish.  Now I use this simple method of cutting the paper to fit my oven.  First, measure a piece large enough to cover the diameter of your oven, allowing an inch or two of an overhang on each side. 
Once you've cut your piece of paper,
fold it in half then half again
to make a square.

Fold two more times from
the point of fold.

Unfold and press circle into
corners of oven.  Press firmly
to ensure pleats are flat
against sides.

Holding point in center of oven,
measure how high you want it to
cover the sides and cut.

     If you use a full circle of parchment paper it can leave crease marks in the sides of your cake.  This method of cutting and folding strips of parchment is used in cook-offs to prevent the wrinkling of the dessert and for easier removal of those delicate tarts and pies.  

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Peach Dumplings

     Copy this recipe to your hard drive and save it in your 'died and gone to heaven' file.  Peaches, butter, sugar and cinnamon all wrapped in warm, soft bundles of dough, what could be better than this?  I only wish I had topped them with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.  You can also substitute the peaches with apple slices and cover them with Mountain Dew instead of Sprite.  Either way, this scrumptious, easy to assemble dessert is guaranteed to keep you coming back for more.  I cooked them in a 12 inch oven with 10 coals in a circle on the bottom and about 20 on top.  They were done in 35 minutes.  I discovered this recipe in an online cooking forum.

Peach Dumplings
1 29 oz. can sliced peaches, drained
2 cans of Crescent Rolls
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 12 oz. can Sprite or 7 Up

     Lightly spray or oil 12 inch dutch oven.
     Unroll and separate Crescent Rolls.  Place one peach slice on wide end of each section and roll to completely cover.  Place in bottom of oven.
     Melt butter and mix with sugar, don't worry about melting sugar, mixture will be lumpy.  Pour butter mixture over dumplings.
     Pour soda around the edge of dumplings.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until dumplings are puffed and golden.
     Serves 6.

Crescent rolls floating in butter and Sprite

After 35 minutes, browned and golden

Mmmmm, the only thing missing is ice cream

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tortilla Soup

     Dutch ovens delight our senses with simmering stews, mouth watering ribs, cheesy casseroles and sweet cobblers.  Unless we're riding the range 12 hours a day we certainly can't live on a steady diet of these rich, calorie laden dishes.  In an attempt to find some healthier, low calorie meals I stumbled across this amazingly easy recipe for tortilla soup.  It's a great way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken, you could even use the canned variety if you're camping.  Mix the ingredients in your dutch oven, simmer for 20 minutes and garnish with whatever toppings you like.  Use a good quality chicken stock and this quick and easy soup will taste like you've been slaving over the campfire all day.  From Better Homes and Garden's Casual Suppers.

Tortilla Soup
1 32 oz. carton of chicken stock or 2 14 1/2 oz. cans of chicken broth
2-3 cups diced or shredded,  cooked chicken
1 medium onion, chopped
1 4 oz. can chopped green chilies
1 Tblsp. chili powder
Dash ground red pepper
2 cups broken tortilla chips

Garnish with:
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tomato, chopped
1 avocado, diced
Sour cream
Chopped fresh cilantro

      In 10 inch dutch oven stir together the chicken stock, chicken, onion, green chilies, chili powder and ground red pepper.
     Cover and place over a full spread of 12 coals on the bottom and 20-22 on top.  Heat soup until bubbling and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
     Ladle into individual bowls.  Add a small handful of tortilla chips to each bowl. Garnish with cheddar cheese, chopped tomato, diced avocado, sour cream, and cilantro.  Serves 4.
     For added spiciness, increase the amount of chili powder to 2 tablespoons.

Mix ingredients in your dutch oven and simmer for 20 minutes

The garnishes really make this simple soup

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pineapple Upside Down Cornmeal Cake

     This moist dessert has the sweetness of an upside down cake with the surprising texture of cornbread.  I baked it in my 10 inch oven with 10 coals in a ring on the bottom and 18 on top, with one rotation halfway through cooking time.  It was done in just under 30 minutes. Made it without the pecans but I think they would have added a nice flavor and crunch.  You could substitute any dried fruit for the cranberries. This one is a definite keeper. From Better Homes and Gardens, Annual Recipes, 1999.

Pineapple Upside Down Cornmeal Cake
1 8 oz. can pineapple slices
2 Tblsp. margarine or butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tblsp. water
1/4 cup dried cranberries, tart red cherries, or blueberries
1/4 cup broken pecans, toasted

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp.baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup dairy sour cream
1/4 cup cooking oil

     Drain pineapple, reserving 3 Tblsp. of juice. 
     Melt margarine or butter and pour over parchment paper in bottom of 10 inch dutch oven.  Stir in 1/3 cup of brown sugar and the water.  Arrange pineapple slices, dried fruit and pecans in the pan.
     In a mixing bowl combine flour, cornmeal, 1/3 cup brown sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt.  In another bowl combine eggs, sour cream, cooking oil, and reserved pineapple juice.  Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture; stir just until combined.  Spoon mixture over fruit in pan.
     Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool in oven for 5 minutes.  Loosen sides; invert cake onto a plate.  Serve warm.  Serves 8.

Arrange fruit in bottom of dutch oven
Spread cornmeal batter evenly over topping
Enjoy cake while still warm