Saturday, December 31, 2011

Quick Sausage Cassoulet

     For all of you Francophiles or those of you who have tasted a true, slow roasted Cassoulet, please accept my apologies for this quick knock off of a French classic.  An authentic Cassoulet is made with beans, salt pork, lamb, goose or duck, rendered goose or duck fat and several kinds of sausage.  It is a labor of love and may take up to a week to prepare all the ingredients in advance before assembling them into an, earthy, farmhouse casserole.  Someday I hope to attempt the traditional version but in the meantime this Quick Sausage Cassoulet from Land O'Lakes has the basic elements of this famous dish and can be made in your camp oven in 30 minutes.  This baked easily in my 8 inch oven with room to spare.  Saute the garlic, onion and carrots over a full compliment of coals.  Once the onions have softened, move the bottom coals to a ring of 8 around the outside, add the rest of the ingredients and bake with 12-14 coals on the lid.  In 25 minutes the beans were bubbling and my mouth was watering from the aroma of garlic and fresh thyme emanating from my dutch oven.  I didn't expect much from this shortcut Cassoulet but was pleasantly surprised and would highly recommend it for a filling campfire dinner.

Quick Sausage Cassoulet
2 Tblsp olive oil OR butter
2 medium (1/2 cup) carrots, chopped
1 medium (1/2 cup) onion, chopped
1 tsp finely chopped fresh garlic
2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans great Northern or navy beans, rinsed, drained
1/2 pound kielbasa, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp dried or fresh thyme leaves
2 Tblsp chopped fresh parsley
3/4 cup dried bread crumbs
2 Tblsp melted butter

     Combine parsley, bread crumbs and melted butter in small bowl; set aside.
     Saute carrots, onion and garlic in olive oil or butter over a full compliment of coals; cook until onions are softened (3-5 minutes).
     Combine kielbasa, tomato sauce, thyme and beans in a medium sized bowl.
     Add to vegetables in dutch oven, stirring until well combined.
     Sprinkle with bread crumb topping.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until bubbling and browned on top.
     Serves 4.

Saute onion, garlic and carrots over a full compliment of coals

Add kielbasa, beans, tomato sauce and herbs

Top with buttered bread crumbs

Bake at 350 degrees or until bubbling and browned

Short on preparation time but long on flavor

Friday, December 30, 2011

Breakfast Bread Pudding

     I had a loaf of Cinnamon Swirl Brioche from our local bakery in the freezer and thought it would taste wonderfully in this Breakfast Bread Pudding from Motts.  As far as bread puddings go, this one is relatively low in fat and the addition of applesauce keeps it moist, with the added flavor of apple you'll never miss the butter.  I cut 4 thick slices of bread into 16 pieces, it was just enough to make in my 10 inch oven.  After sprinkling with the oatmeal topping this baked for 25-30 minutes with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom and 18 on the lid.  After 20 minutes I moved the center coals to the outside.  I wanted the pudding to be thoroughly cooked in the center without being overly browned.  Serve it warm with a drizzling of maple syrup.  This is when dutch oven cooking really thrills the senses, stepping out into the backyard on a crisp winter's morning and being struck with the smell of cinnamon steaming from your oven will not only put a smile on your face all day but make you feel happy to be alive.

Breakfast Bread Pudding
1 cup apple sauce
1 cup 2% lowfat milk
2 large eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 thick slices cinnamon raisin bread, cut into cubes (about 4 cups)
Streusel Topping
2/3 cup quick-cooking oats
3 Tblsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

     Lightly oil or spray 10 inch dutch oven.
     Stir topping ingredients together; set aside.
     Combine apple sauce, milk, eggs and brown sugar in medium bowl; whisk until well combined.
     Gently stir in bread cubes until well moistened.
     Pour mixture into prepared dutch oven.
     Sprinkle with Streusel Topping.
     Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
     Serve warm.  Makes 4-6 servings.

Mix bread cubes with wet ingredients and spread in 10 inch dutch oven

Sprinkle with oatmeal topping

Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees or until tester comes out clean

Like the best cinnamon French toast with a crunchy topping

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Skillet Baked Ziti with Puttanesca Sauce

     There are many myths as to how Pasta Puttenesca got it's start, the most popular being that in Italy, ladies of the evening lured their gentlemen callers with the fragrant aromas of this flavorful sauce.  Nobody knows the true origin of the recipe but one thing is for sure, the ingredients for this pungent dish can be easily found and stored in your pantry.  It's a great last minute kind of supper and a good camper's meal, except for the cheese, none of the ingredients require refrigeration.  I made this in my 12 inch dutch oven over a full compliment of coals and the lid covered with 24-26 briquettes, you need to keep it at a strong simmer for a good 30 minutes.  If you like the salty, strong flavors of capers, olives and anchovies as much as I do, you'll love this one pot pasta.  Add a half teaspoon of dried basil with the canned tomatoes if you can't find the fresh variety.  This simple and inviting dutch oven dinner is adapted from a recipe from Cook's Illustrated

Skillet Baked Ziti with Puttanesca Sauce
1 Tblsp olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
3 or more anchovy fillets, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
3 cups water
12 oz. (4 cups) uncooked ziti or penne pasta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
2 Tblsp capers
1/2 cup kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     Saute oil, garlic, anchovy and pepper flakes over a full compliment of coals for 3-5 minutes or until oil is fragrant and garlic has softened.
     Add crushed tomatoes, water and ziti.  Cover with as many coals on the lid as needed to bring sauce to a bubble.      
     Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until ziti is almost tender.
     Stir in Parmesan, basil, capers and olives. 
     Sprinkle Mozzarella evenly over ziti.  Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes or until cheese has melted and is lightly browned.

Saute garlic, red pepper and anchovies briefly in olive oil

Add pasta, water and crushed tomatoes

Simmer for 20-25 minutes then stir in olives, capers and Parmesan cheese

Top with Mozzarella and cook until cheese has melted and browned

Hot, salty and spicey

Monday, December 26, 2011

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

     This recipe from Betty Crocker for Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie is an easy and most delicious way to use up the mashed potatoes and vegetables leftover from your holiday dinner.  It is also a great way to clean out those half opened bags of frozen vegetables sitting in your freezer.  I used Brussels sprouts, roasted carrots and parsnips, broccoli and a cup of frozen diced vegetables.  You are only limited by your imagination, taste buds and Tupperware containers in your fridge.  Mix three cups of vegetables with one can of Cheddar cheese or mushroom soup, spread in the bottom of your dutch oven, sprinkle with French-fried onions then cover with mashed potatoes.  Bake until bubbling, add more onions and shredded cheese and cook until the cheese has melted and the onions are crispy and brown.  In my 10 inch oven, this baked with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom and 18-20 on top.  You could easily make this with canned vegetables and instant mashed potatoes if you're camping.  It's fluffy, smooth and an economical way to recycle those leftovers.

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
2-3 cups of homemade or instant mashed potatoes
3 cups leftover vegetables OR frozen vegetables, thawed and drained
1 11 oz. can condensed Cheddar cheese OR cream of mushroom soup
1 4 oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 2.8 oz. can French-fried onions
1/2-1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     Combine vegetables with condensed soup; mix well. 
     Spread vegetable mixture in bottom of dutch oven.
     Sprinkle with half of the French-fried onions.
     Spread mashed potatoes over onions.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
     Sprinkle with remaining onions and shredded cheese.
     Bake for 5-10 more minutes or until cheese has melted and casserole is bubbling.

Mix vegetables with condensed soup, spread in oven then top with onions

Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees then top with remaining onions and cheese

Bake for 5-10 minutes more or until cheese has melted

A great way to use up those leftovers

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

     Today I'll be making our Christmas dinner indoors, using a conventional oven seems somewhat anti-climatic after cooking so many meals in a dutch oven.  Cooking outside over coals or an open fire makes me feel connected to the past, from the pilgrims to the pioneers and even the three Wise Men travelling across the desert, camp cooking has spanned the centuries.  I want to take this time to thank you for following my blog, it means a lot to me to know viewers are reading my recipes and hopefully learning a little something from my postings.  I wish you all a Merry Christmas, a very happy holiday season and good times and great meals shared with family and friends.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hot and Sweet Gingerbread

     In the year 992 an Armenian monk, Gregory of Nicopolis took up residence in the French village of Pithiviers.  He brought with him a recipe for Pain d'Epices or Spiced Bread from his homeland in the East.  Living a life of simplicity and penitence, he  perfected the art of gingerbread making and generously shared his honeyed cakes and baking skills with visitors and guests until his death in 999.  And so began the European tradition of gingerbread baking.  This recipe for Hot and Sweet Gingerbread is another humdinger from King Arthur Flour.  The addition of chopped, crystallized ginger gives this moist gingerbread an extra dose of heat and the cream cheese frosting adds the perfect cooling contrast to this spicy cake.  Mine baked for 25 minutes in a 10 inch oven with 8 coals around the base and 18-20 on the lid.  Check it with a cake tester to make sure it's completely baked in the middle.  I baked the cake then let it sit overnight for the flavors to intensify before frosting.  If you're a gingerbread purist, skip the frosting and enjoy the bold flavors of this amber cake with a dollop of whipped cream flavored with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Hot and Sweet Gingerbread
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup molasses
2/3 cup boiling water
4 Tblsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose Flour
1 tsp each cinnamon and ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
Ginger Cream Cheese Icing
4 Tblsp (1/2 stick) softened butter
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

     Lightly oil or spray 10 inch dutch oven; line with parchment paper.
     In a large bowl, blend the sugar, molasses, boiling water and butter; stirring until the butter melts.
     When the mixture is lukewarm, add the baking soda, salt and egg.
     Sift together the flour and spices; add to the wet ingredients.
     Gently stir in the crystallized ginger.
     Pour the batter into prepared dutch oven.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes, or until it tests done.
     Cool completely before frosting.

Bake thin, spiced batter at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes

When cake has cooled frost with cream cheese-ginger icing

The flavors of Christmas in every bite

Friday, December 23, 2011

Julgrot, Swedish Rice Pudding

      There are many recipes and methods for making rice pudding, some custard-like and baked in water baths and some simmered on top of the stove like this Julgrot or Yule Porridge from Sweden.  Swedish tradition holds that a bowl of this sweetened porridge is left outside on Christmas Eve for the tomte or elf who looks out for the family and animals in the barn.  If the mischievous tomte is not given his Christmas treat, he may wreck havoc on the family in the coming year.  The nice thing about this lovely pudding is that it can easily be made in your dutch oven and has probably been simmered in cast iron pots by farmer's wives in Sweden for centuries.  I made this in my 8 inch dutch oven and started out bringing the rice to a boil over a full compliment of coals and the lid completely covered with briquettes.  After 10 minutes, or once the water has been absorbed by the rice, move the bottom coals to a ring around the outside.  After stirring in the half and half I left the pudding to simmer with the lid covered with coals for a good forty five minutes.  Be sure to give it a stir halfway through cooking time.  Light and creamy, this comforting porridge will warm you on the coldest nights.  Don't forget to hide an almond in the pudding before serving, the lucky person who finds it will see their dreams come true in the year ahead.  Recipe courtesy of Patricia Sannit, from a Food Network episode of Calling All Cooks.

Julgrot (Swedish Rice Pudding)
1 cup regular long grain rice
1 Tblsp butter
1 cup water
1 Tblsp sugar
4 cups half and half
1 tsp salt
1 Tblsp butter
cinnamon stick
1 whole almond
For garnish
warm cream

     In an 8 inch dutch oven, over a full spread of coals, combine rice, 1 tablespoon butter, water and salt.
     Cover with as many coals as you'll need to bring mixture to a boil.
     Cook, covered, for 10 minutes or until water is just absorbed.
     Add half and half, cinnamon stick, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon butter; stir well.
     Move bottom coals to a ring around the base of oven.
     Simmer for 45 minutes (stirring halfway) or until almost all of the half and half is absorbed.  The pudding should be creamy and tender, not mushy.
     Add extra cream for richness, if desired.
     Before serving, hide the almond in the porridge.
     Serve hot with warm cream, cinnamon and sugar.

Start out by adding water, butter, salt and rice to dutch oven

Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes or until most of water is absorbed

Add half and half, more butter, cinnamon stick and sugar; stir until well combined

Simmer for 45 minutes or until creamy and most of half of half is absorbed by rice

Sprinkle with cinnamon, add more cream if desired and don't forget to leave some outside for the tomte

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Maple-Bacon Biscuit Bake

      We celebrated our family Christmas today and while the children were nestled all snug in their beds I was in the backyard at the crack of dawn baking these wonderful biscuits from King Arthur Flour.  I know I have shared many scone and biscuit recipes with you but this one by far takes the cake.  A syrupy topping of maple, bacon and brown sugar glistens over a base of soft, flaky biscuits.  They're sweet, salty, buttery and using maple flavored bacon sends these delectable biscuits right over the top.  The recipe makes just the right amount for a 10 inch dutch oven.  Lining your oven with foil or parchment paper will make removing them that much easier.  I baked these with 10 coals around the base of the oven and the lid completely covered with coals, they were golden brown and ready in 20 minutes.  Just be sure you don't overcook your bacon before adding to the topping mixture, it's going to continue baking with the biscuits and could easily burn.  If you're looking for something special to serve on Christmas morning, give these glorious biscuits a try.

Maple-Bacon Biscuit Bake

1/2 pound bacon, cooked until medium-brown
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tblsp melted butter
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces
1 cup cold milk OR buttermilk

     Lightly oil or spray 10 inch dutch oven; line with parchment paper.
     For topping:  Chop the cooked bacon into 1/2 inch pieces.  Combine the bacon with the remaining topping ingredients, stirring until well combined.  Spread in bottom of prepared dutch oven.
     For biscuits:  Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
     Work in the butter until mixture is crumbly.
     Add the milk or buttermilk, stirring to make a sticky dough.
     Drop the dough in heaping tablespoonfuls over the topping in dutch oven.
     Bake at 475 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
     Using parchment paper, lift biscuits from oven and carefully invert onto serving plate.
     Serve warm, pull biscuits apart to serve.

Spread topping in parchment lined 10 inch dutch oven

Cover topping with spoonfuls of biscuit dough

Bake for 20 minutes in a hot oven

Lift from oven and invert onto serving plate

Hot, gooey, flaky biscuits for a cold winter's morning

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Glazed Pork Roast with Carrots, Parsnips and Pears

     I have always known that meat can be roasted beautifully in a dutch oven, but until today I haven't actually given it a try.  All one has to do is look at the perfectly browned and juicy roasts entered in the World Championship Cook Offs to see how well a dutch oven can cook meats.  This recipe for Glazed Pork Roast with Carrots, Parsnips and Pears from a Dec. 2003 edition of Fine Cooking magazine hits it out of the park with a honey-mustard crusted loin of pork and crispy roasted vegetables.  The sweetness of the pears, carrots and parsnips combines with the honey to give just the right balance to the flavor of the pork.  I made this in my 12 inch dutch oven with 14 coals in a ring around the bottom and the lid completely covered with coals, at least 30 or more.  Without peeking, I left it to cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  My 2 1/2 pound roast was cooked through and wonderfully juicy, I can't remember when I've had a pork roast that was as tender and flavorful as this was.  The original recipe calls for fresh sage, I opted to use thyme I still had in the garden.  You may think it looks charred but the glaze is supposed to blacken and form a crunchy crust.  This gourmet dutch oven dinner is as economical as a weeknight meal but elegant enough to serve for a special occasion.

Glazed Pork Roast with Carrots, Parsnips and Pears
One 2 pound center-cut boneless pork loin roast
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tblsp Dijon or wholegrain mustard
2 Tblsp honey
2 Tblsp freshly chopped sage OR thyme
3 or 4 carrots, peeled and sliced into thick pieces
3 or 4 parsnips, peeled and sliced into thick pieces
2 firm but ripe Bosc pears, cored, stemmed and cut into thick slices
2 Tblsp olive oil

     Lightly oil or spray 12 inch or larger dutch oven.
     In small bowl, mix the mustard, honey and half of the sage OR thyme.
     Place vegetables and pear slices in dutch oven. Toss with olive oil and remaining sage OR thyme; season with salt and several grinds of pepper.
     Place pork in center of dutch oven; arrange vegetables around roast.
     Spread the top and sides of the pork roast with the honey-mustard mixture.
     Bake at 400 degrees for one hour and fifteen minutes or until pork registers 145-155 degrees in the center.
     Allow roast to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.

Surround roast with vegetables then cover with honey-mustard glaze

Bake at 400 degrees for one to one and a quarter hours

Be sure to spoon some of the sweet, mustardy juices over the succulent pork,

Monday, December 19, 2011

Reuben Biscuits

     These Reuben Biscuits from King Arthur Flour put the fun in funky.  Imagine biting into a hot biscuit and being hit by the flavor and aroma of a cheesy Reuben sandwich.  I give credit to the ingenious cook who thought to combine these ingredients because never in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought to put the two together.  As usual, I made them in my 10 inch oven with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom and the lid completely covered with coals.  Give them a peek after 15 minutes, mine took a full 25 minutes to bake, probably because it's been a cold and frosty day.  For those of you who cringe at the thought of sauerkraut in a biscuit, you'd never even know it was there.  Serve them hot with butter and/or Thousand Island Dressing, better yet, slap a slice of Swiss Cheese and corned beef in the middle and you will have an out of this world taste sensation.

Reuben Biscuits
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 Tblsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
4 Tblsp (or half stick) butter, cut in small pieces
1 cup diced Swiss cheese (1/4 inch dice)
3/4 cup diced ham OR corned beef (1/4 inch dice)
1/3 cup well-drained sauerkraut
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar.
     Work the butter into the flour until the mixture is unevenly crumbly.
     Mix in the cheese, ham and sauerkraut until evenly distributed.
     Whisk together the sour cream and milk, add to the dough, stirring to combine.  The dough should be sticky.
     Drop the dough by 1/4 cupfuls into prepared dutch oven.
     Brush with cream to help them brown more evenly.
     Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until they're golden brown.
     Serve warm, or at room temperature. 
     Top with Thousand Island Dressing if so desired.

Mix ham, cheese and sauerkraut with dry ingredients

Drop by large spoonfuls into dutch oven

Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes

For a tangy taste, serve these craggy biscuits with Thousand Island Dressing 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cheesy Wild Rice Casserole

Barbara Stanwyck learns to cook in one of my favorite holiday movies, Christmas in Connecticut

     Believe me when I tell you, this is one of those died and gone to heaven recipes that you've just got to try.  It's light but rich at the same time and even hard core spinach haters will devour this souffle-like rice dish.  Mix everything together in a large bowl or dutch oven, dot with butter and bake.  That's it.  I made this luscious casserole in my 10 inch camp oven with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom and 20-22 on the lid.  After 20 minutes give it a stir then let it continue baking for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is tender.  If you're watching your calories, you can substitute low fat cream cheese.  If you're looking for a swellegant side dish for your Christmas dinner or any time of the year, you can't go wrong with this amazingly easy, five-star, wild rice casserole.  From Out of the Ordinary, cookbook of the Hingham Historical Society, Hingham, Massachusetts.

Cheesy Wild Rice Casserole
1 6 oz. package long grain and wild rice mix (I used Uncle Ben's) with seasoning packet
1 4 oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained
2 1/2 cups water
1 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tblsp butter or margarine
2 tsp prepared mustard
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, cut into cubes

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     Combine all ingredients (except butter) in large bowl; mix well.
     Spread in bottom of prepared dutch oven.
     Dot with butter.
     Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes, stirring halfway, or until rice is tender.

Combine ingredients, pour into your dutch oven and dot with butter

Bake for 35-40 minutes at 375 degrees, stirring halfway through cooking time

Lighter than air, a creamy, dreamy casserole