Saturday, March 31, 2012

Roasted Asparagus with Cherry Tomatoes

     The asparagus looked so fresh at the market today, I just couldn't resist taking home a bundle.  Roasting is an excellent way of cooking them and a good to way to insure their color and crispness.  I tossed in a handful of cherry tomatoes with olive oil and shallots and they were positively delicious.  I think the next time I prepare them this way, I'll cut the stalks into bite sized pieces then toss in some cooked pasta.  The tomatoes cook down and leave a sweetened sauce behind.  When you trim the asparagus, hold each one by the ends and bend until it snaps, each stalk will automatically break off in the right spot.  In my 10 inch dutch oven, they baked for 20 minutes with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom and 24 on the lid.  A great side dish and another vegetable that is perfect for dutch oven roasting, add a little more flavor with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Roasted Asparagus With Cherry Tomatoes
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1-2 shallots, finely chopped
2 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, if desired

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     Pile asparagus in prepared oven, top with tomatoes and shallots.
     Drizzle with olive oil; season with salt and pepper.
     Depending on the size of your asparagus, roast at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. 
     Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
     Makes 2-4 servings.

Toss shallots, tomatoes and asparagus with olive oil and seasonings

Roast at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes

Springtime on a platter

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ruth Reichl's Cream of Mushroom Soup

     I had every intention of posting a wonderful dessert recipe today but thanks to a stiff North breeze with gusts to 40 MPH I ended incinerating the cake I was baking in my dutch oven.  I should have known better, coals burn much hotter and faster in a cold wind, you've got to shield your dutch oven or adjust your temperature accordingly.  I'll save that recipe for a calmer day, however I was not to be defeated, I re-lit a new batch of briquettes and made this amazing Cream of Mushroom Soup from Ruth Reichl's book, Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table.  Ruth is just about my favorite food writer, she has a lifetime of experience as a cook, restaurant reviewer and editor.  If you have a chance to read any of her books you won't be disappointed, she's an incredibly gifted author.  When she was going through a difficult time in her life she made this soup every day, I can see why, it's comforting beyond belief and very easy to make in your dutch oven.  I placed my 10 inch oven over a mound of freshly lit coals then as the mushrooms and onions were sauteing I covered the pot with about 10 briquettes on the lid.  Once you add the cream bring it to a simmer and gently cook it for 10 minutes.  If you're going to try this recipe, don't skimp on the ingredients, you need the butter, flour and half and half to give it it's full bodied richness.  Undoubtedly the best Cream of Mushroom Soup I have ever tasted, try not to wolf it down too quickly, it's so creamy and good you should slowly savor every spoonful.

Ruth Reichl's Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced
4 Tblsp flour
1 cup beef broth
2 cups half and half
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 bay leaf

     Lightly oil or spray 10 inch dutch oven.
     Melt butter in dutch oven over a full spread of freshly lit coals.
     When foam subsides, add the onion and mushrooms. 
     Saute until onions and mushrooms are golden brown.
     Stir in the flour and then slowly add the broth, stirring constantly.
     Add half and half, salt, pepper, nutmeg and bay leaf.
     Cover with a handful of coals on the lid.
     Bring to a bubble and simmer for 10 minutes.
     Remove bay leaf and serve.  Makes 4 servings.

Saute mushrooms and onions in butter until golden brown

Stir in flour

Add beef broth and seasonings, stir until well combined

Whisk in half and half

Cover and simmer for 10 minutes

Truly sublime

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Impossibly Easy Chiles Rellenos Pie

     I woke up today hungry for Chilies Rellenos and since I didn't have the time or energy to make them from scratch this easy recipe from Betty Crocker proved to be a quick fix for my cravings.  Place canned chilies in the bottom of your 10 inch dutch oven, sprinkle with cheese, combine the egg and Bisquick mixture, pour into your oven and bake.  Mine baked with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom and 20 on top.  Melt more cheese over the top at the end of cooking time and you've got a yummy, good for any time of the day, dutch oven dinner.  Be sure to let it rest for at least 5 minutes after taking it off the coals and it will be easier to slice and finish the pie with your favorite salsa and a spoonful of sour cream.

Impossibly Easy Chilies Rellenos Pie
2 4 oz. cans whole green chilies, drained
8 oz. (2 cups) shredded Mexican cheese blend
3 eggs
3/4 cup Original Bisquick mix
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup chunky salsa
Sour cream for garnish

     Lightly oil or spray 10 inch dutch oven.
     Slit chilies lengthwise; remove seeds.
     Arrange chilies in single layer in bottom of prepared dutch oven.
     Sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese evenly over chilies.
     Beat eggs in medium bowl with wire whisk.
     Add baking mix, garlic powder and milk; beat until well blended.
     Pour over cheese.
     Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
     Sprinkle with remaining cup of cheese.
     Cover and cook for 3-5 more minutes or until cheese has melted.
     Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
     Serve with salsa and, if desired, sour cream; makes 6 servings.

Open chilies and place in bottom of dutch oven

Sprinkle cheese over chilies and pour in egg-Bisquick mixture

Bake for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees

Top with cheese and cook until melted

A fluffy, cheesy, chile pie

Friday, March 23, 2012

Danger Dogs

     The idea of wrapping a slice of bacon around a hot dog has been around for a long time but the newly titled, 'Danger Dogs' have become the unofficial official hot dog and street food of Los Angeles.  They have their roots in Tijuana where they were originally wrapped in bacon and deep fried.  Undoubtedly, consuming these somewhat questionable hot dogs from street vendors did pose a certain element of danger.  Since I first read about the rage on the West Coast I have been dying to try them in my dutch oven.  What better camping food and let's face it, everything tastes better when it is wrapped in bacon.  I cooked them in my 12 inch dutch oven over a generous amount of blazing hot coals, don't let the briquettes sit too long after you light them, you need them really hot to crisp the bacon.  I did put a dozen or so coals on the lid and kept my dutch oven covered while the dogs were browning, you don't really have to but I think it helps the food cook faster.  The traditional toppings are sauteed peppers, onions, charred jalapeno peppers, mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise.  Some aficionados also add chili sauce, salsa, sliced pickled jalapenos and even guacamole.  Just be sure to use a good quality all beef hot dog with enough girth to stand up to the high heat and longer cooking time.  These dogs are literally the bomb, I wish I could eat one every day.

Danger Dogs
2-4 all beef hot dogs
Slice of regular cut bacon for each hot dog
1-2 large onions, peeled and sliced
1-2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1 whole jalapeno pepper for each hot dog
2 Tblsp vegetable OR olive oil
Hot dog rolls
Mustard, mayonnaise and ketchup for garnish

     Completely wrap each hot dog in a slice of bacon.
     Pour olive or vegetable oil in 12 inch or larger dutch oven.
     Place sliced peppers, jalapenos and onions on one side of the oven, the wrapped hot dogs on the other.
     Place dutch oven over a full spread of freshly ignited coals.
     Cover with 10-12 coals on the lid and cook, stirring vegetables and turning hot dogs every 5-10 minutes.
     Cook until vegetables are softened and bacon is crisp on all sides.
     Place hot dogs in rolls and cover with onions and peppers.
     Serve with ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard and a blackened jalapeno pepper on top.

Wrap the hot dogs snugly in bacon

Saute over high heat, stirring and rotating hot dogs every 5-10 minutes

Cook until bacon is completely crisp and cooked on all sides

Hot dog Nirvana

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Quick French Onion Biscuits

      I sat outside this morning while these Quick French Onion Biscuits from Betty Crocker were baking away.  I closed my eyes in the warm, spring sunshine, a chorus of red-winged blackbirds and grackles serenaded me from the woods while the aroma of fresh baked biscuits lingered in the air.  It was a glorious way to start the day.  When I ran across this recipe, I just knew I had to give it a try.  It's one of those good, three ingredient camping recipes and you can change the flavor by substituting with your favorite dip.  I used French Onion Dip but while I was in the grocery store, other flavors caught my eye.  Try Bacon Horseradish, Salsa Grande, Garden Vegetable, Jalapeno Cheddar or White Cheddar Bacon.  They all sounded delicious.  Just remember to use French Onion sour cream dip and not the packaged dried soup mix.  The original recipe makes 6 larger sized biscuits but I made 10 smaller ones in my 10 inch oven.  They were ready in about 14 minutes with 10 coals in a ring around the base of the oven and the lid completely covered with briquettes.  You need to blast them in a 450 degree oven.  The biscuits were crispy on the outside and very moist on the inside, with just a hint of onion and the sour cream gave them a tangy flavor.  They didn't rise as high as your usual baking powder biscuit but they were super simple and if you gobble them up while they're warm and slather them with butter you'll be one happy camper.

Quick French Onion Biscuits
2 cups Original Bisquick mix
1 8 oz. container (1 cup) French Onion Dip
1/4 cup milk

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     Stir all ingredients together until soft dough forms.
     Drop dough by spoonfuls into prepared oven.
     Bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown.
     Serve warm.  Makes 10 medium sized biscuits.

Drop wet batter by spoonfuls into well oiled dutch oven

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes at 450 degrees

Pretty tasty for a 3 ingredient biscuit

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Baked Eggs With Corned Beef Hash

     One of the best parts about cooking a boiled dinner is having the leftovers for breakfast the next day.  I usually make corned beef hash in my cast iron skillet but decided this morning to try it in my dutch oven.  It came out as good if not better than if I had made it on the stove.  The one thing you really need to do is pile as many coals as you can fit under your dutch oven.  Don't let the coals sit too long after you light them, they burn hottest when they are just lit and before they are covered in ash.  Saute the onion and pepper until translucent then stir in the seasonings, potatoes and corned beef.  Put 8 or 10 coals on the lid and it will help things to cook faster.  Once you drop the eggs over the hash, it is only a matter of minutes before they are set, maybe 5-6 at the most.  This recipe can easily be doubled and you can even try it with canned hash if you are camping.  I used my 10 inch oven but if you do double the recipe, use a larger oven, the potatoes will brown more evenly if they are in one layer.  Start your day with a hearty breakfast and don't forget to nibble on the crispy bits left behind in your dutch oven, they're the best part.

Baked Eggs With Corned Beef Hash
2 cups chopped, cooked corned beef
2 medium sized cooked potatoes, diced
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped red pepper
2 Tblsp chopped fresh parsley plus some for garnish
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tblsp olive or vegetable oil
4 eggs

     Saute chopped onion and pepper in olive oil over a full spread of coals until onion is soft.
     Add corned beef, potatoes, parsley and salt and pepper; stir until well combined.
     Cook for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes start to form a crust; stirring halfway.
     Carefully pour eggs over hash; cover and cook for 5 minutes or until eggs are set.
     Garnish with parsley; makes 2 servings.

Saute onions and pepper over high heat until softened

Add potatoes, corned beef, salt, pepper and parsley

 Cook hash for 15 minutes, stirring halfway, before gently adding eggs

Cover and bake eggs for 5 minutes or until set the way you like them

A feast fit for a lumberjack

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Indian Spiced Chicken Thighs

     If you like the flavor of curry, you'll really go for these Indian Spiced Chicken Thighs from Cabot.  Prepare them ahead of time, you need to marinate them for at least two hours in the spicy yogurt sauce.  You could even throw everything together in a large zip lock bag, pack them in your cooler and cook them at your campsite.  It's an excellent marinade recipe and would also be good on boneless, skinless chicken breasts then cooked on the grill.  If you don't have all the spices in your pantry, you could substitute with a couple of tablespoons of a good curry powder, just be sure to add the fresh ginger, garlic and lemon juice.  In my 12 inch dutch oven they baked with 12 coals in a ring around the bottom and 24-26 on the lid.  After 40 minutes I sprinkled them with the cheese and let them continue baking for 5 more minutes or until the cheese had melted.  The heat from the curry really penetrates the chicken and the zesty cheese melted on top makes them especially rich and good. 

Indian Spiced Chicken Thighs
1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
juice of half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 Tblsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tblsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
6-8 chicken thighs (bone-in)
1/2 cup grated Pepper Jack cheese

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     Combine yogurt, lemon juice, ginger, garlic and spices; whisk until smooth.
     Place chicken in large zip-lock bag; add yogurt mixture, turning to coat.
     Refrigerate for about 2 hours.
     Remove chicken from marinade and arrange in single layer in bottom of prepared dutch oven.
     Bake for 35-40 minutes at 400 degrees or until cooked through.
     Sprinkle with cheese, continue cooking for 5 more minutes or until cheese has melted.
     Serves 4-6.

Marinate chicken thighs for 2 hours before baking

Bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until cooked through

Sprinkle with cheese and continue cooking until cheese has melted

Dutch oven chicken with an exotic flavor

Bailey's Irish Cream Cake

May you always have...
Walls for the winds
A roof for the rain
Tea beside the fire
Laughter to cheer you
Those you love near you
And all your heart might desire

      In honor of St. Patrick's Day I decided to try this Bailey's Irish Cream Cake from  It is fairly simple to make from scratch and bakes into a deep, dark, chocolaty cake.  In my 12 inch dutch oven, it baked for 35 minutes with 12 coals in a ring around the bottom and 20-22 on the lid.  After 15 minutes I moved several coals from the center of the lid to a ring around the outside.  I was in a bit of a hurry so used canned vanilla frosting instead of the one that is given with the recipe and it took almost two cans to completely cover the cake.  I'm sure this whipped cream version is light and delicious and would be a good contrast to the dense, moist cake. Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with this rich dessert and as the Irish would say, "If you're lucky enough to be Irish, then you're lucky enough.".
Bailey's Irish Cream Cake
2 cups flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tblsp baking soda
1 egg
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup (1 miniature bottle) Bailey's Irish Cream
1 cup strong black coffee
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 to 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream or more to taste

     Lightly oil or spray 12 inch dutch oven; line with parchment paper.
     Sift dry ingredients together in large mixing bowl.
     In medium bowl whisk together egg, oil, buttermilk, Irish Cream and coffee.
     Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients; beat for 3 minutes or until well combined.
     Pour into prepared dutch oven.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
     Let cake cool in dutch oven for 15 minutes before removing.
     Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.
     Beat frosting ingredients together with mixer until stiff.
     After frosting cake garnish with chocolate curls if desired.

Pour thin batter into parchment lined 12 inch dutch oven

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until tester comes out clean

Finish with your favorite frosting

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mustard and Brown Sugar Baked Corned Beef

     With St. Patrick's Day right around the corner and corned beef on sale this week I was trying to find a different way to prepare it in my dutch oven.  I usually use my mother's foolproof stove top method of simmering the corned beef for hours but have friends who have baked it in the oven with great success.  This recipe is based on one from Simply Recipes and is similar to my Baby Back Ribs recipe in that it is baked in foil.  Not only was the corned beef the juiciest I have ever tasted but the clean up was a dream.  Just place the corned beef on a large piece of aluminum foil, frost with mustard, sprinkle with brown sugar and, depending on the size of your corned beef, bake for 2 to 2 1/4 hours.  If you want to caramelize the beef, unwrap the foil and let it cook under the coals for 5-10 minutes at the end of it's cooking time.  I think the flat cut corned beef works best with this method because it will cook more evenly.  I started out in my 12 inch dutch oven with 12 coals in a ring around the bottom and 22-24 on the lid.  I let them cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes then completely switched out the coals with new ones and let it cook for one more hour.  I used a spicy brown mustard with a whole grain Dijon but I'm sure you could use whatever mustard you have on hand, just make sure it has a bold flavor, the French's hot dog variety probably won't cut it with this recipe.  If you've never had corned beef baked in the oven, give this recipe a try, you will be amazed by it's moistness and intensity of flavor and the sweet mustard glaze is out of this world.

Mustard and Brown Sugar Baked Corned Beef
1 2 1/2 to 3 pound flat cut corned beef
1/4 cup whole grain mustard
1/4 cup honey, spicy, Dijon, OR brown mustard
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large sheet of extra wide aluminum foil

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     Open corned beef from packet and rinse well under cold running water and dry with paper towels.
     Tear a large sheet of foil from the packet, at least 3 times the length of your corned beef.
     Place corned beef in center of foil; frost with mustard then sprinkle evenly with brown sugar.
     Bring long sides of foil together over beef and roll as if wrapping a package.
     Seal and roll ends of foil so the beef is completely sealed.
     Place in prepared dutch oven.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 2 to 2 1/4 hours, replenishing coals halfway through cooking time.
     Carefully unwrap or cut open foil and let corned beef brown for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Frost corned beef with mustard then sprinkle with brown sugar

Wrap beef tightly in foil then bake at 350 degrees for 2 to 2 1/4 hours

Unwrap and brown under coals for last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking time

Probably the best corned beef I have ever had

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Six Can Chicken Tortilla Soup

      What can I say about this Six Can Chicken Tortilla Soup from Allrecipes except that it is a perfect camping recipe and surprisingly tastes like you made it from scratch.  I added cumin and chili powder to the recipe but if you opt to leave it out there is plenty of zest from the chilies to flavor the soup.  Place your dutch oven over a full spread of coals with enough on the lid to keep it at a steady simmer.  I like it on the thick side but if you like more broth, add another can of chicken stock.  I made it with the canned chicken and it wasn't bad at all but use a leftover rotisserie chicken if you want to give it more of a homemade texture.
     Like all Tortilla Soups, it's the garnishes that really make the difference.  I have been fortunate to have tasted the Tortilla Soup at Las MaƱanitas, a lovely old hotel in Cuernavaca, Mexico.  You dine outside there surrounded by beautifully manicured lawns, lush tropical gardens and squawking parrots.  Their Tortilla Soup is probably the best in the world.  After you are served your bowl of rich, clear chicken broth the waiter brings you a tray filled with garnishes of Mexican cheeses, roasted poblano chilies, fresh avocado and sour cream so thick you can stand a spoon in it.  This is a far cry from that delicate soup but still quite tasty, spoon it over a bowlful of tortilla chips and you won't be disappointed. My Dad even said, "I didn't think anything that tastes this good could come from a can."

Six Can Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 15 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained
2 14.5 oz. cans chicken broth
1 12 oz. can chunk chicken, drained
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, drained
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
tortilla chips
diced avocado
sour cream
chopped cilantro
shredded Cheddar cheese

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     Open cans of corn, chicken broth, chunk chicken, black beans and diced tomatoes with green chilies.
     Pour all ingredients into prepared dutch oven.
     Add cumin and chili powder; stir well.
     Simmer over a full compliment of coals for 20-30 minutes or until bubbling and heated through.
     Garnish with your favorite toppings.

Open the cans and pour them into your dutch oven

Simmer for 20-30 minutes over a full compliment of coals

Fill your bowl with tortilla chips before adding soup