Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sizzling Sausages and Grapes

     Leave it to the Italians to think of pairing rustic sausages with sweet, roasted grapes.  I was drawn to the simplicity of this dish, an easy one pot meal that you can toss together in your dutch oven.  Roasting the grapes heightens their sweetness, turning them almost into a jam-like consistency and when cooked with the spicy sausages, it's an unusual but very tasty combination of flavors. In my 12 inch dutch oven the casserole baked for one hour and fifteen minutes with 12 coals in a ring around the bottom and 28-30 on the lid.  It's not necessary to turn the sausages at the halfway mark but it will help them to brown more evenly. The polenta soaks up juices and a dash of balsamic vinegar right before serving helps this peasant dinner to really shine.  From Better Homes and Gardens the Ultimate Casseroles book.

Sizzling Sausages and Grapes
1 1/2 lbs seedless red grapes, stems removed and rinsed
1 16 oz tube cooked polenta, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 red onion, cut into thin wedges
2 Tblsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped OR 1/2 tsp dried
6-8 sweet and/or hot Italian sausages (about 1 1/2 lbs total)
2 Tblsp balsamic vinegar

     Lightly oil or spray 12 inch or larger dutch oven.
     In large bowl, combine grapes, polenta, onion, oil and rosemary; toss to coat.
     Spread mixture evenly in prepared dutch oven.
     Using a fork, prick each sausage in several places.
     Add sausage to dutch oven, nestling them into the grape mixture.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 60-75 minutes, turning sausages halfway, or until sausages are cooked through and grapes are slightly shriveled.
     Drizzle with balsamic vinegar right before serving.
     Makes 4 servings.

Nestle sausage in polenta, onions and grapes

Roast at 350 degrees for 60 to 75 minutes

Serve with a slotted spoon and drizzle with balsamic vinegar

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tanyard Farm Buttermilk Cake

     Other than the fact my mouth was watering when I read this recipe, what really drew me to it is the fact that you can mix all the cake ingredients in one bowl, a huge plus when you're baking outdoors.  Posted on the King Arthur Flour website, the recipe comes courtesy of a farm in West Hartford, VT.  The batter comes together as easily as a cake mix, you do need to melt the butter for the topping but other than that it's extremely easy to make.
     In my 12 inch dutch oven, the cake baked for a total of 45 minutes.  I started out with 12 coals around the base of the oven, 17 in a ring around the outside of the lid and 10 spaced evenly in the center.  After 20 minutes I rotated the lid and moved the center top coals to the outside of the lid as the cake was starting to brown in the center.  After a total of 35 minutes a tester came out clean in the center of the cake and I proceeded to add the topping.  After 10 more minutes the cake was done.  It is important to bake the cake completely before adding the warm topping otherwise it will sink in the center.  I allowed the cake to cool for a good hour before lifting it out of the oven however if you like it on the gooey side, serve it warm right from your oven. 

Tanyard Farm Buttermilk Cake
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
6 Tblsp butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 to 1 cup chopped pecans

     Lightly oil or spray 12 inch dutch oven; line with parchment paper.
     In large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together until smooth.
     Add the eggs, beating until smooth.
     Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla extract.
     Add the baking soda, salt and flour to the wet ingredients, beating until thoroughly combined.
     Pour the batter into prepared dutch oven.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
     Towards the end of the baking time, prepare the topping.
     Stir the melted butter and sugar together.
     Add the milk, pecans and salt; the glaze will be thick but pourable.
     Spoon the topping over the cake, completely covering cake.
     Return lid to dutch oven and continue to bake for 10 minutes.
     Allow cake to cool for one hour before lifting from oven.
     The topping will look very runny.
     You can eat the cake hot, with the glaze still gooey or let the cake sit at room temperature for a few hours, at which time the glaze will have set.

Pour batter into parchment lined oven

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

Spoon warm topping onto cake and continue baking
for 10 minutes

Allow cake to cool for one hour before lifting from oven

A definite died and gone to heaven coffee cake

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lemon-Rosemary-Garlic Chicken and Potatoes

     Having all my favorite ingredients, I couldn't resist trying this recipe from Southern Living in my my dutch oven.  Scaled back to fit in my 12 inch oven, you may want to follow the original recipe if you want to make it in your larger oven.  Very simple, all you do is combine the flavorings, toss in the chicken and potatoes and bake.  You do need to roast this in a hot oven, after placing 12 coals in a ring around the base of the oven with at least 30 on the lid, I left it alone and in one hour the chicken was golden and the potatoes were tender.  Be sure to serve it with a chunk of crusty bread to mop up the tangy, garlicky and very fragrant juices.

Lemon-Rosemary-Garlic Chicken and Potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon
3 Tblsp capers, drained
1 lemon, thinly sliced
8-10 garlic cloves, smashed
2 Tblsp fresh rosemary leaves OR 1 Tblsp dried
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6-8 pieces chicken legs and/or thighs
1 lb small red or creamer potatoes, unpeeled
Crusty French bread

     Lightly oil or spray 12 inch dutch oven.
     In large bowl combine first 8 ingredients.
     Add chicken and potatoes; toss well to coat.
     Spread mixture in single layer in prepared dutch oven.
     Bake at 450 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until chicken is done.
     Serve with sauce and French bread.
     Makes 4 servings.

Toss ingredients together then place in single layer in dutch oven

Roast in a hot oven for one hour

Lots of flavor in this one-pot dinner

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Marion Cunningham's Irish Soda Bread

    Since my father was conceived in Ireland and my grandparents emigrated to the United States from County Mayo, I owe it to my distant relatives to at least try, if not perfect, the art of baking authentic Irish Soda Bread in my dutch oven.  You can watch Marion Cunningham, a wonderful cook book author, making this bread here in a Youtube episode of Baking with Julia.  She makes it look so easy, I followed her recipe to a T and found the batter to be extremely sticky and a little tricky to handle.  I would suggest flouring your hands and work surface well in order to shape the dough.  If you're baking this on a muggy day, hold back a little on the buttermilk, you can easily go down to 1 3/4 cups of buttermilk with the same result.  The loaf is supposed to be craggy and wet so don't be alarmed.  I transferred the dough to my dutch oven using a plate and large spatula but if you form it on a round piece of parchment paper you can transfer it directly into your hot oven. 
     I pre-heated my 10 inch deep dutch oven with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom, 15 around the edge of the lid with 6-7 spaced evenly in the middle.  Once I added the bread, I left it alone and after 45 minutes it was golden brown and hollow sounding when I rapped the loaf.  Let it cool almost completely before slicing and if you have any leftovers, wrap it well and toast it the next day.  A great quick bread for campers, mix the dry ingredients at home and all you have to do is add the buttermilk when you're ready to bake.
Marion Cunningham's Irish Soda Bread
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more for shaping dough)
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven then light coals for baking bread.-
     While coals are heating, in medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt with a whisk or fork.
     When coals are ready, place hot coals above and below empty dutch oven.
     While oven is pre-heating, add the buttermilk and stir vigorously with a fork or wooden spoon just until the dough comes together.
     Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently for a minute (the dough will not be smooth).
     Form the dough into a round loaf shape about 6 inches in diameter.
     Transfer dough to heated dutch oven (use spatula and plate or parchment paper as dough will be sticky).
     With sharp knife cut an 'X' in the top about 1/2 inch deep.
     Bake for 45-50 minutes at 375 degrees or until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom of the loaf.
     Remove from dutch oven and place on rack to cool completely.
     Best eaten the same day, once cool, wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

Pre-heat dutch oven before baking

Transfer loaf to hot oven, dough will not be smooth

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes

Buttermilk and soda help this rustic bread to rise

Friday, March 7, 2014

Potato Stuffed Sausage Boats

      For those of you who love twice baked potatoes but don't want to go to all the trouble of making them, this quick and easy recipe from Hillshire Farm is a great substitution.  An excellent camping recipe and if you use the pre-made refrigerated mashed potatoes all you need is a bowl, a couple of utensils and a hot dutch oven to enjoy them outdoors.  In my 10 inch dutch oven they baked for a total of 25 minutes with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom and 22 on the lid.  After 20 minutes I sprinkled them with cheese and in a few minutes they were piping hot and ready to serve.  Dress them up with your favorite toppings or add more cheese, crumbled bacon and some of your favorite herbs to the potatoes before stuffing the sausage.  This one's a camping keeper, for a guilt free version use turkey Kielbasa with low-fat cheese. 

Hillshire Farm Potato Stuffed Sausage Boats
1 1 lb. package Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage (Kielbasa)
4 generous servings prepared refrigerated or instant mashed potatoes
2 Tblsp scallions, minced
2 tsp prepared mustard
1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
Freshly ground pepper to taste

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     Cut sausage into 4 equal pieces, slice lengthwise almost through to bottom and spread open.
     Place sausage in prepared oven, cut side up.
     In medium bowl, combine potatoes, scallions, mustard and black pepper.
     Spoon potato mixture evenly over sausages.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated through.
     Sprinkle with grated cheese and continue baking until cheese has melted.
     Garnish with your favorite baked potato toppings if desired.
     Makes 4 servings.

Top opened sausage pieces with potato mixture

Bake for 20-25 minutes then top with cheese

Very fluffy but filling too

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Bacon Wrapped BBQ Country Ribs

     Adapted from this recipe I found on the Just A Pinch website, these bacon wrapped ribs are seriously good and just made for dutch oven cooking.  Really, is there anything that doesn't taste better when wrapped in bacon?  Juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside, applewood smoked bacon paired with a hickory barbecue sauce made for a winning combination.  In my 10 inch dutch oven, I started with 10 coals in a ring around the base of the oven with 26 briquettes on the lid.  I left them alone and in spite of the wind and chilly temperatures, in one hour the steam was pouring from my oven and they were perfectly done.  This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, depending on the size of your oven.  Just be sure to bake them in one layer and don't cover them with too much sauce, you want the bacon exposed to the heat, otherwise it will become soggy.  

Bacon Wrapped BBQ Country Ribs
5 pork country ribs
10 slices uncooked bacon
1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     Cover bottom of dutch oven with half of barbecue sauce.
     Wrap each rib with two slices of bacon; secure bacon with toothpicks.
     Place ribs in single layer in dutch oven.
     Spoon remaining sauce evenly over ribs.
     Ribs should not be swimming in sauce.
     Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until bacon is crisp on top and ribs are tender.
     Recipe can easily be doubled and baked in larger dutch oven.

Wrap ribs with bacon and secure with toothpicks

Cover ribs in a light layer of sauce before baking

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour

Mmmmm, bacon keeps the ribs moist and juicy