Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hoppin' John

     Eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day for good luck in the coming year is a Southern tradition.  As luck would have it, during the Civil War when Sherman raided the Confederate Army's food stores, his men left behind the salt pork and dried peas, just enough food for the Southern soldiers to survive the winter.  For the ultimate in good fortune, one must eat exactly 365 black-eyed peas, one for each day of the New Year.
     There are countless recipes for Hoppin' John, I liked this version from Food and Wine Magazine because it can be made in one pot.  I would suggest you prepare all your ingredients in advance and carry them outside on a tray, assembling the dish is easy if you have everything you need at hand.  Collard greens are usually slow-cooked over a long period of time however when they are sliced thinly and cooked with the rice, they are tender as can be and melt in your mouth delicious.  Just a quick tip, when you are cutting the greens, roll the tightly packed leaves together like a cigar and slice them cross-wise, it's called a chiffonade and will make your life a whole lot easier.
     If you're a vegetarian, use vegetable broth, omit the sausage and add a second can of black-eyed peas.  This really is an excellent recipe and a wonderful combination of flavors steeped in history and tradition.  If you can't venture outside to make this in your dutch oven, try it on your stove top. 
     Wishing you good luck, good health, happiness and many memorable meals with family and friends in the New Year!

Hoppin' John
3 Tblsp cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
4 scallions, white bulbs sliced and green tops cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large stalk of celery, minced
1/2 lb collard greens, tough stems removed, leaves washed well and shredded
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 lb kielbasa or other smoked sausage, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices
1 15 oz can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
3 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     Over a full compliment of coals, saute onions, celery and scallion bulbs in oil, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
     Add the collard greens, salt, black pepper and cayenne and cook, stirring, until the greens wilt, about 1 minute.
     Add the sausage, black-eyed peas and rice; cook, stirring for 30 minutes or until rice is well coated.
     Stir in the broth.
     Move bottom coals to a ring around the base of dutch oven and cover with as many coals on the lid as needed to keep broth at a strong bubble.
     Simmer for 25-30 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
     Remove from the heat and stir in the scallion tops.
     Makes 4-6 servings.

Saute celery, onion and scallions over a full spread of coals

Add collard greens and spices, cook until wilted, about 1 minute

Add kielbasa, black-eyed peas and rice, stir until well coated

Add broth, cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or
until liquid is absorbed

Celebrate the New Year with this easy, one-pot dinner

Monday, December 23, 2013

Gingerbread Apple-Streusel Coffee Cake

     A gingerbread mix from Betty Crocker makes this Christmas morning coffee cake an easy and festive way to start your day.  A crisp, buttery crust tops this moist, dense cake and the addition of chopped, candied ginger makes it especially good.  In my 10 inch, parchment lined dutch oven, the cake baked for 40 minutes with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom, 14 placed around the rim of the lid with 6 coals spaced evenly in the center.  It's worth making this cake just to smell the aroma of apples and gingerbread wafting from your oven. 
     Wishing you and your families all the joys of the season and a very Merry Christmas!

Gingerbread Apple-Streusel Coffee Cake
1 14.5 oz package Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cake and Cookie Mix
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 egg
2 apples, peeled and diced
2 Tblsp chopped, crystallized ginger (optional)
2 Tblsp butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon

     Lightly oil or spray 10 inch dutch oven; line with parchment paper.
     In large bowl, stir together gingerbread mix, water, egg and diced apples.
     Spoon into prepared dutch oven.
     In small bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon until crumbly.
     Sprinkle evenly over gingerbread batter.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
     Allow to cool for 20 minutes before lifting from oven.
     Serve warm or cold.

Sprinkle streusel topping over batter in parchment lined oven

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes

A coffee cake that tastes like Christmas morning

Friday, December 20, 2013

Eggnog Scones

     These delicious scones have all the flavors and fragrance of Christmas.  Brimming with cranberries, cinnamon and oatmeal, the subtle taste of eggnog really does shine through.  In my 10 inch dutch oven, the scones baked for 18 minutes with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom and 22 briquettes on the lid.  When you can smell the eggnog drifting from your oven, you'll know they're done.  Drizzle them with the thick, sweet glaze once they're cool enough to handle.  Eggnog only comes around once a year so take advantage of it while it's here and bake up a batch of these holiday scones.

Eggnog Scones
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup eggnog
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 Tblsp eggnog

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.
     With pastry blender or two knives, cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
     Stir in cranberries and oatmeal.
     Add eggnog and mix until just combined, adding more liquid if necessary to make a moist dough.
     Drop large spoonfuls of batter into prepared oven.
     Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or golden brown.
     In small bowl whisk together eggnog and confectioner's sugar.
     When scones are cool enough to handle, drizzle with glaze.
     Makes 8 large scones.

Drop batter by large spoonfuls into prepared oven

 Bake for 15-18 minutes at 425 degrees

Rich, eggnoggy and so good

Monday, December 16, 2013

Easy Cranberry and Apple Cake

     Ina Garten hit another one out of the park with this Easy Cranberry and Apple Cake.  Somewhere between a pie, a cake and a cobbler, the apples and cranberries bake on the bottom leaving a moist, buttery cake-like top layer.  In my 10 inch dutch oven, the cake baked for 50 minutes with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom, 14 placed around the edge of the lid and 6 spaced evenly in the center.  Using seasonal fruits, this is a great dessert for the holidays made better when topped with your favorite ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

Easy Cranberry and Apple Cake
12 oz fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 Tblsp grated orange zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
2 eggs
1 cup plus 1 Tblsp granulated sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt

     Lightly oil or spray 10 inch dutch oven.
     In medium bowl, combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon; set aside.
     In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes.
     With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla and sour cream; beat just until combined.
     On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.
     Pour the fruit mixture evenly into prepared oven.
     Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely.
     Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon; sprinkle over batter.
     Bake at 325 for 50-55 minutes or until tester comes out clean and fruit is bubbling around the edges.
     Serve warm or at room temperature.
     Makes 6 servings.

Spread berry mixture in prepared dutch oven

Spread thick batter evenly over fruit

Bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes

An orange flavored, tart, buttery and definitely easy dessert

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Couldn't Be Easier Brisket

     Over the years I have had great results wrapping pot roasts, ribs and corned beef in foil then slow roasting them in the oven.  Any meat cooked at 300 degrees for three hours is bound to be fall off the bone delicious.  This recipe from the Texas Beef Council really couldn't be easier and the clean up is definitely a breeze.  To be on the safe side, I wrapped a 2.5 pound brisket in two layers of foil and cut back a bit on the Coke as I wanted to thicken the sauce. 
      In my 10 inch deep dutch oven I started with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom, 15 around the outside of the lid and 6 briquettes spaced evenly in the center.  After the first hour I replaced the coals with fresh ones and left the brisket to cook for one and a half more hours.  Depending on the size of your brisket you may need to cook it in a larger oven for a longer period of time and refresh the coals more often.  This would also be good made in your crock pot, just be sure to serve some of the tangy, rich gravy on the side.
Couldn't Be Easier Brisket
3-4 lb boneless beef brisket
1 bottle chili sauce
1 can Coke
1 packet dry onion soup mix

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     Combine chili sauce, Coke and soup mix.
     Center brisket on a large sheet of aluminum foil.
     Pour sauce mixture over brisket, bring sides of foil together as if wrapping a package.
     Seal edges of foil securely.
     Wrap with a second layer of foil if desired.
     Place brisket in prepared oven.
     Bake at 325 degrees for 3-4 hours, depending on size of brisket.
     Carve brisket against the grain and serve the pan juices as a sauce.

Pour sauce over brisket

Wrap tightly in two layers of foil

Roast at 325 degrees for 3-4 hours

So tender and the clean up is a snap

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Comforting Potato Casserole

      I've been dying to make this recipe for the longest time, it just sounded so easy, creamy and good.  You definitely need a 12 inch dutch oven to make this recipe, otherwise the potatoes won't cook completely in the center.  Also, be sure to thaw the potatoes to prevent the casserole from becoming watery.  In my 12 inch dutch oven, the potatoes cooked for 75 minutes with 12 coals in a ring around the bottom and 28 on the lid. This luscious casserole feeds a crowd which is a good thing because everyone will be running back for seconds.

Comforting Potato Casserole
2 10 3/4 oz cans condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
2 cups (16 oz) sour cream
2 cups (8 oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
5 green onions, sliced
1 32 oz package frozen cubed hash brown potatoes, thawed

     Lightly oil or spray 12 inch dutch oven.
     In large bowl, combine soup, sour cream, cheese and onions.
     Add potatoes, toss to coat.
     Transfer to prepared dutch oven.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
     Makes 10-12 servings.

Spread potato mixture evenly in 12 inch dutch oven.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes

Incredibly creamy and perfect for a buffet

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cranberry Buttermilk Biscuits

      Here's a very tasty biscuit recipe to put on your holiday baking list.  Not as sweet as a scone, these tangy biscuits are made with only four ingredients and can easily come together at camp or at home.  I snuggled 14 small biscuits closely together in my 10 inch oven and they baked for 20 minutes with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom and 24 on the lid.  I used a full cup of buttermilk as I prefer a wetter batter that can be dropped into my oven but if you like to roll and cut your biscuits add a little less liquid for a stiffer dough.  For a real treat, serve them with softened butter and orange marmalade.

Cranberry Buttermilk Biscuits
2 1/2 cups Bisquick or your favorite biscuit mix
2/3 to 1 cup buttermilk
2 Tblsp brown sugar
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     In large bowl, combine Bisquick, brown sugar and dried cranberries.
     Make a well in center of Bisquick mixture.
     Gradually add buttermilk, stirring with a fork until a soft ball of dough forms.
     Dropping by spoonfuls, place biscuits closely together in prepared dutch oven.
     Lightly brush tops with more buttermilk.
     Bake at 425 degrees for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown.
     Serve hot; makes 14 small biscuits.

Drop spoonfuls of dough into well oiled dutch oven

Bake at in a hot oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown

Flaky, tangy biscuits that can be made in no time flat

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Campbell's Moroccan Spiced Stew

     When I saw the Campbell's Slow Cooker Sauces at the grocery store this morning, I thought, bingo, these would be great for camping and outdoor cooking.  They come in various flavors for pork, beef and chicken, from Korean Beef to Apple Bourbon BBQ.  I cannot vouch for the other sauces but except for this being a bit on the salty side, when served on a fluffy bed of couscous, the Moroccan Spiced Stew was pretty terrific.  Definitely spicy, if you're a curry lover you'll go for the heat.  All you have to do is light the coals, pour the sauce over your chicken and in one hour you've got a delicious dinner.  In my 10 inch dutch oven, they baked with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom and 20 on the lid, I didn't even raise the lid and in sixty minutes they were done.  I'm going back tomorrow to stock up on a few more packs, I hope you can find these in your neck of the woods, for convenience they just can't be beat.
Campbell's Moroccan Spiced Stew
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 13 oz package Campbell's Slow Cooker Sauces Moroccan Spiced Stew

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     Placed chicken thighs in prepared oven.
     Cover with Moroccan Spiced Stew sauce.
     Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until chicken is done.
     Serve over rice or couscous.
     Makes 4 servings.

Conveniently packaged for camping

Pour sauce over chicken thighs

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour

Flavored with green olives, lemon and curry