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Recipe: Black Pot Lasagna

This is the recipe that I used for our main dish entry in the Eighth Annual Klondike Dutch Oven Cook-Off today. It’s a slight modification of the Black Pot Lasagna recipe that appeared in the Winter 2008 edition of the Dutch Oven News, the quarterly newsletter of the International Dutch Oven Society.

I tend to like Italian dishes with more spices than are usually called for.  I’ve made references to the original quantities for those that don’t like the amount of spice.

Characteristics

Tried: Yes
Camp Friendly: With Preparation
Yield: 8 or more servings
Ovens Needed: One 12″ dutch oven

Ingredients

1¼ pound Hot Italian sausage cut into bite-sized pieces. The original says “sweet Italian sausage links”.
1¼ pound ground chuck
1 onion, chopped. I like sweet onions like Walla Walla.
5 cloves garlic, chopped. The original calls for three.
3+ tsp oregano, fresh from garden preferred. The original calls for 2 tsp.
2 tbl basil, from garden preferred. The original calls for 1 tsp.
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
6 Roma tomatoes, diced. (Original calls for one 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano. I use tomatoes and extra spices as listed here.)
2 15 oz cans of tomato sauce
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1½ cups small curd cottage cheese
5 oz grated parmigianino–reggiano cheese
2 tsp chopped parsley. (Original calls for 4 tsp.)
2 large eggs
~½ package oven-ready lasagna noodles
2 pounds shredded mozzarella cheese

Preparation

  1. Cook meat, onion, and garlic until meat is done and onions are clear. Drain.
  2. Add oregano, basil, salt, pepper, tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste.
  3. Bring to boil then let simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Beat eggs lightly in separate bowl.
  5. Add cottage cheese, parmigianino, and parsley. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Spoon ⅓ of the meat sauce into bottom of 12″ dutch oven.
  7. Cover the sauce with lasagna noodles. With the dutch oven being round, I break them up slightly to fill in the spaces.
  8. Spread half of the cheese mixture over the noodles.
  9. Cover with just under half of the mozzarella.
  10. Spread another ⅓ of the meat sauce for the next layer.
  11. Repeat noodle layer.
  12. Spread the remaining half of the cheese mixture over the noodles.
  13. Cover with just under half of the mozzarella.
  14. Spread final ⅓ of the meat sauce on top.
  15. Top with final thin layer of mozzarella.

Cooking

Cook at 350°F for 30-45 minutes until hot and bubbly. You can use ⅔ timing if you want the cheese on the top to brown slightly.

Serving

Let stand 10 minutes or so before serving. If you don’t let it cool and set a little, it’ll be a mess trying to scoop it out.

Notes

  • As always, please be aware that these are my personal notes. I may be verbose in places to remind myself of particular points on chemistry or methodology.

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Dutch Oven Recipe: Garlic Herb Stuffed Crust Pizza

What will command the attention of the kids faster than a pizza with a spiced cheese-stuffed crust? No more left over crusts piled on the plate… they’ll eat every bit.

There are scores of pizza recipes out there. This is the one that has evolved in our house to the point where the kids look forward to homemade pizza more than delivery.

Updates

20 March 2009
  • Fixed sauce ingredient list. I hope nobody really put a cup of water in the pizza sauce! Sorry!
  • Increased the amount of dough for thin vs. thick crust pizza.

Characteristics

Tried: Yes
Camp Friendly: Advanced skills (raising yeast dough)
Yield: Two 12″ thin crust pizzas
Ovens Needed: Two 12″ dutch oven

Crust Ingredients

Thin Crust Thick Crust
1 cup 1½ cups warm water
1 tbsp 1½ tbsp yeast
1 tsp 1½ tsp sugar
2-½ cups 3-3/4 cups flour
1 tsp 1½ tsp salt
½ tsp ½ tsp garlic powder
4 tbsp 4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp 2 tsp basil
½ pound ½ pound block of mozzarella cheese, not semicircle or non-block shape (I buy one-pound blocks and save half until the next pizza.)

Sauce Ingredients

1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
½ tsp oregano
2 tsp basil
½ tsp garlic salt

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Topping Ingredients

With toppings, let your imagination go wild. The only constant that we count on is a pound of cheese and a 6 or 8 ounce bag of sliced pepperoni.

The following ingredient list is typical for our house, where we ordinarily make a double pepperoni pizza, and a multi-item pizza.

1 pound shredded mozzarella
1 8-oz. bag of pepperoni
½ pound hot Italian-style sausage, cooked
½ bell pepper
8 or 10 black olives, sliced
2 or 3 sliced mushrooms

Crust Preparation

  1. Mix warm water, yeast, and sugar in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Mix flour, salt, basil, garlic powder, and olive oil together. Be sure to crush the basil leaves between your fingers before adding.
  3. Work the oil into the flour until it has a consistent texture.
  4. Add yeast mixture.
  5. Knead bread for five or ten minutes.
  6. Set in a warm oven to rise for approximately one hour.
  7. Punch down dough.
  8. Divide into two equal halves.
  9. Roll out until approximately 2 inches greater diameter than dutch oven, about 14″. This overlap will be used to stuff the crust.
  10. Coat the bottom and side of the dutch over with a very thin layer of olive oil.
  11. Place the dough in the dutch oven.

    Stuffing the Crust

  12. Slice the block of mozzarella lengthwise, about ½” wide. Cut this slice lengthwise into thirds. The result should be a long piece of cheese with a square cross section, roughly ½” per side.
  13. Lay the pieces of cheese end to end on top of the dough, around the edge. The extra dough will lay on top of the cheese, hiding it.
  14. Pick up the cheese slightly and neatly tuck the dough underneath. I use a slight rolling motion.
  15. Cover the dutch oven again, and set aside in a warm place for ten minutes. (This is where I prepare the sauce and toppings.

Sauce Preparation

Easy peasy…

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Be sure to crush the basil leaves between your fingers before adding.

Final Preparation

  1. Evenly spread half of the sauce on one of the pizzas.
  2. Place toppings on pizza.
  3. WARNING!
    When you sprinkle the cheese on the pizza, ensure that all of it is inside of the stuffed cheese rim. If any cheese melts and touches the side of the dutch oven, it will stick terribly and make removal more difficult.
    WARNING!

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Commentary: Cheese on Top or Underneath?

This is personal preference. Experiment to determine whether you like to put the shredded cheese

  1. on top of the sauce, laying out the other toppings on top of the cheese in an aesthetically-pleasing manner, or
  2. last — on top of everything.

Personally, I like to put the cheese on top of the pepperoni pizza because some pepperonis have a tendency to curl. Turkey pepperoni that’s been in the refrigerator is notorious for this.

On the other hand, I find cheese underneath is more aesthetically pleasing with other toppings. You can play with making patterns or designs so it looks nice.

The verdict is suus quique… each to his own.

Cooking

Cook at 400°F for 30 minutes using ⅔ timing.

If you cook in dutch ovens in a conventional oven, leave the lids off. I also stack them in the oven by putting a cooling rack on top of the lower dutch oven, and placing the upper dutch oven on the cooling rack.

Some people suggest cooking with the dutch oven upside down. In other words, prepare the crust on the lid, then putting the oven on top (upside down). Unless you have a fancy dutch oven lid with its own legs, you’ll need to set the lid on a trivet to keep the whole assembly from tipping over.

The advantage to doing this is that you don’t have to monkey with getting the pizza out of the dutch oven. I’ve not tried this, personally.

Serving

If you cook this at home, cook in a cast iron skillet since the edges of an ordinary dutch oven are a little tall for easy extraction. With a dutch oven, I work a fork under one edge, then (using gloves) tip the dutch oven to let the pizza slide out onto a pizza pan or other large cutting surface to slice the pizza. After slicing, I slide the pizza to a cooling rack.

Others suggest leaving in the cast iron to keep it hot as people come back for more.

Notes

  • As always, please be aware that these are my personal notes. I may be verbose in places to remind myself of particular points on chemistry or methodology.
  • Raising bread is not hard, but the conditions are a little tricky. It’s like the three bears.
    1. Not too hot. The dough will gelatinize, meaning it will be hot and start to become a little runny, like a batter. Yeast doesn’t like it too hot either.
    2. Not too cold. The yeast won’t thrive, eat the sugar, produce CO₂, and cause the dough to rise.
    3. Just right. About 90°F or so. A very warm room.

    Yes, I’ve made all the mistakes and lived to tell the tale.

  • This recipe makes for a thin crust pizza. I’m experimenting to adjust the recipe upwards for a thicker crust pizza.
  • Be careful rolling out the dough evenly. If it’s uneven, there will be thin spots or holes in the crust. This makes a mess.

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Dutch Oven Recipe: Japanese Curry #1

Japanese Curry
While curry may not be a native Japanese dish, the Japanese have adopted it and given it their own flair. There’s no “standard” curry. People use it as a gravy base to which they’ll add many things: corn, potatoes, carrots, onions, you name it. They will put it on rice, udon (noodles), or bread. In this spirit, you can use this recipe as a base. Play with it. Experiment. Have fun with it.

Note that meat is optional. I prefer a good curry without meat. If the curry needs meat to taste good, it’s not a good curry… in my opinion.

2008-12-21 Update: I reworked this article slightly, including altering the recipe.

Characteristics

Tried: Yes
Camp Friendly: Yes with preparation
Yield: 6-8 servings
Ovens Needed: One 12″ dutch oven

Ingredients

2 tblsp butter
1 large Walla Walla (sweet) onion
2 cloves garlic (I use four)
1½ pounds pounds pork, chicken, or beef cut into small cubes. One may omit this for vegetarian style
1 package Golden Curry roux (8.4 oz)
1⅔ cups water
½ pound baby carrots, split length-wise
1 can corn, drained
2 potatoes, sliced thin
2 large green bell peppers
1 cup cottage cheese (optional)
2 cups plain yoghurt (optional)

Camp Preparation

  1. Bag #1: Finely chop garlic. Slice Onion thinly. Put into zip lock bag with butter.
  2. Bag #2: Meat. Put into zip lock bag.
  3. Bag #3: Vegetables. Put into zip lock bag.
  4. Bag #4: Cheese and yoghurt. Put into strong zip lock bag or other suitable container.

Cooking

  1. Put garlic, onion, and butter into dutch oven to start cooking. Cook until onions are transparent.
  2. Cook meat.
  3. Add water and curry roux. Heat until it starts to boil. Roux will dissolve at this point.
  4. Add other vegetables. Cook until meat is done.
  5. Add yoghurt and cheese mixture. Cook until cheese has melted, and potatoes are cooked.

Serving

Serve over white rice.

Notes

  • As always, please be aware that these are my personal notes. I may be verbose in places to remind myself of particular points on chemistry or methodology.
  • Note that the cottage cheese and plain yoghurt will tone down the spice tremendously. I used the hot curry roux, and it came out relatively mild. Yoghurt is not Japanese per se, but it does add a nice flavour.
  • There may be debate over whether this is “real” Japanese curry because it doesn’t have potatoes or corn, and it has yoghurt. I’m not going to argue. I’ve not had Japanese people protest.
  • This recipe is works for camping if you prepare ahead of time. Put things in zip-lock bags. This will reduce the mess of trying to prepare food at camp. If you camp in bear country like we do, minimizing food spillage is critical for not turning your camp ground into a bear magnet.
  • The sauce needs the mixture to be brought to a near boil. If the temperature isn’t high enough to break the chemical bonds, it’ll remain soupy. When it thickens, it should happen fairly quickly.

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Dutch Oven Recipe: Indian Curry

Some twenty years ago in college, my wife and I became friends with a number of the Indian graduate students. One friend, Bala, opined that American food was bland. My wife was raised on her Southern grandmother’s cooking and started exchanging spicy recipes. This is one of Bala’s recipes, the only one that I know we still have. Words that appear like this are her own words verbatim, including British spelling. She calls the curry a gravy. When you see the word gravy, think curry.

My personal favourite way of using this recipe is to prepare the curry, then stuff a whole chicken with it, and rub the rest on the outside of the chicken. Slow cook the chicken for a couple of hours until the bones slide out of the meat. The chicken should have absorbed the curry flavour.

Serve with plain yogurt. This not only tones down the spiciness, but also compliments the flavour well.

Recipe for a basic gravy, the meats can be varied. Each kind of meat gives a different flavour to the preparation.

Characteristics

Tried: Yes
Camp Friendly: Yes with preparation
Yield: Bala says 4 servings, but typically 6-8 servings
Ovens Needed: One 12″ dutch oven

Ingredients

3 Medium sized onions, chopped fine. The finer these are chopped, the thicker and smoother the gravy will be.
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine. If you prefer a garlicky flavour, increase quanitity.
½ inch piece ginger root, chopped fine. Peel the root before chopping.
2 Green chiles, chopped fine
The above stuff can be blended together in a blender. Makes the gravy very smooth.
4 Medium tomatoes, roughly the same size as the onions, or one can (15 oz.) of diced tomatoes. Diced tomatoes give a slightly sour flavour to the curry, for a variation can use stewed tomatoes. Or one 8 oz. can of tomato paste.
½ tblsp cumin seeds
5 tblsp Oil or butter or margarine. (Each gives a slightly different flavour)
1 tblsp salt
1 tsp red chili powder, not flakes. (Start with slightly less than this, can add more if required.)
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tblsp coriander powder
1 tblsp cumin powder
1 tblsp curry powder (optional)
¼ tsp nutmeg powder (optional)
¼ tsp clove powder (optional)

Camp Preparation

  1. Bag #1: Finely chop onions, garlic, ginger, and chiles in food processor. Run the result through the blender. Mmmmm… hot onion smoothie. ☺
  2. Bag #2: Remaining ingredients except cumin seeds. First run tomatoes through food processor and blender as above.

Cooking

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed container on medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds. Heat the oil till the seeds start popping.

Add onions. Fry them till slightly transparent. If they start sticking to the bottom of the pan, reduce heat to medium. Add a little more oil if required. Keep stirring. When onions become brown and really transparent (about 8–10 minutes), add the garlic, chilies and ginger root. Keep sprinkling with water if the paste starts sticking to the bottom of the pan or the oil starts smoking too much. Fry for another 2–3 minutes till the new stuff is nicely mixed up in the onions, and add the tomatoes.

Stir the mixture till the water from the tomatoes is nearly evaporated. Lower the heat to medium. Add the dry [ingredients] except nutmeg and clove. [See my notes below.] Fry till water evaporated and on pushing the paste to a side, with a spatula, the oil leaves the paste. If the paste starts sticking to the pan, sprinkle with water.

This is the basic stuff required for the gravy. Taste it at this point to see if the salt content and the chili is to your liking. If you add additional stuff, stir the gravy around for a minute for the [ingredients] to get fried into the gravy. If the gravy becomes too salty, don’t worry, the addition of the meat will balance the salt. I usually deliberately make the gravy slightly salty.

You have a choice of meats in beef chunks, chicken pieces, ground beef, pork chunks. If you leave the bones in, it ends up tasting nicer. For the amount of gravy you’ll get with the above recipe, you can add about 2 pounds of beef chunks, 8 chicken drumsticks, same amount of ground beef or even vegetables. The veggies can include cauliflower florets, carrots, potatoes, peas, green beans, corn, mushrooms, green bell peppers — just let your imagination run wild. Other variations are garbanzos (2 cans), red beans (2 cans) anything.

Add the meat or the veggies, stir the mixture till the pieces are all coated with the paste, fry for a minute or two. Add 2 cups of water and let the whole mixture simmer till the meat is tender. About half an hour for chicken, longer for beef or till the meat is as tender as you please. I usually remove the skin off the chicken I use. Cover the curry while it’s simmering, keep checking periodically to see water level. Add more if required. Stir it once in a while to prevent stuff from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

If you have a pressure cooker, the meat comes out tasting better because the pressure makes the flavour penetrate the meat. Add enough water to cover the mixture about ½ an inch over level of the mixture. I wouldn’t use a cooker for the veggies, they’ll go too soggy. One whistle on high heat, lower the temperature, another whistle on low heat, shot off and let it cool down, for chicken. Two whistles on high and one on low for other meats.

If the gravy is too watery to your liking, cook open on high for a few minutes till extra water teams off, if too thick, add desired amount of water and let it come to a boil once.

When done, turn off the heat sprinkle the nutmeg and clove on the curry, stir well, garnish with sprigs of coriander leaves, and serve on a bed of rice. The gravy can be made without the optional stuff also, but these things just add the the flavour

Serving

Serve over rice. Serve with plain yogurt. This not only tones down the spiciness, but also compliments the flavour well.

Notes

  • As always, please be aware that these are my personal notes. I may be verbose in places to remind myself of particular points on chemistry or methodology.
  • I always add all of the ingredients.
  • I double the garlic.
  • My wife likes things extra hot. 1 tablespoon of red chili powder, a big Anaheim chile and 3 jalapeños for her.
  • I put the nutmeg and cloves in with the other spices. Otherwise I find them too dominant.

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Dutch Oven Recipe: Creamy Chile Chicken

Creamy Chile Chicken (half batch in 12D skillet)

This is not a hot chile recipe. It has a rich and tasty sauce.

This can be served a number of ways, such as over rice, on flatbread, or in tortillas. It goes good in the large “soup bowl” style rolls.

Characteristics

Tried: Yes
Camp Friendly: Yes with preparation
Yield: 6-8 servings
Ovens Needed: One 12″ dutch oven

Ingredients

1/2 stick butter
2 cloves garlic
1 large sweet onion (e.g. Walla Walla)
1½ cups chicken broth
2-4 large green or yellow chiles. I prefer mild yellow chiles for their flavour. Note that in my opinion Jalapeño is the wrong flavour for this recipe.
1 cup milk
3 cups Colby Jack or mild cheddar, grated
8 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes
1 cup flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Camp Preparation

  1. Bag #1: Finely chop garlic. Slice Onion thinly. Put into bag with butter.
  2. Bag #2: Put flour, salt, pepper into gallon zip lock bag.
  3. Bag #3: Remove seeds from chiles. Slice and put into small zip lock bag.
  4. Bag #4: Cut chicken into 1″ cubes and put into zip lock bag.
  5. Bag #5: Mix broth, milk, and cheese. Put into strong zip lock bag or other suitable container.

Cooking

  1. Put garlic, onion, and butter into dutch oven to start cooking. Cook until onions are transparent.
  2. Put chicken into flour mixture, coat chicken completely with flour.
  3. Cook coated chicken with onions and garlic.
  4. Add broth, milk, and cheese mixture. Add chiles. Stir until thickened.

Serving

Serve over rice, with flat bread or tortillas, or try putting in “soup bowl” rolls.

Notes

  • As always, please be aware that these are my personal notes. I may be verbose in places to remind myself of particular points on chemistry or methodology.
  • This is not a hot chile recipe. The milk products counteract the heat, so look for chiles that have a rich flavour. Don’t try to amp up the heat by loading it full of hot chiles.
  • For the chile-phobic, substitute green bell peppers.
  • This recipe is works for camping if you prepare ahead of time. Put things in zip-lock bags. This will reduce the mess of trying to prepare food at camp. If you camp in bear country like we do, minimizing food spillage is critical for not turning your camp ground into a bear magnet.
  • The creamy sauce needs the mixture to be brought to a near boil. If the temperature isn’t high enough to break the chemical bonds, it’ll remain soupy. When it thickens, it should happen fairly quickly.

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Dutch Oven Recipe: Peach Cobbler

This recipe is really easy for camping. You can put the dry ingredients into a large zip-lock bag at home. Put the drained peaches into another bag. This will reduce the mess of trying to drain the peaches at camp. If you camp in bear country like we do, minimizing food spillage is critical for not turning your camp ground into a bear magnet.

At camp, add the water to the bag of dry ingredients, and squish until well mixed. Voilà! Instant batter with no bowls or spoons to clean!

Note the long cook time. Watch the charcoal to ensure they’re not spent. In colder weather you may need additional briquettes. Remember to rotate lid and oven every 15 minutes to ensure even cooking.

Characteristics

Tried: Yes
Camp Friendly: Yes
Yield: One cobler
Ovens Needed: One 10″ dutch oven

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
OR
¾ cup fructose
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup powdered milk
1 cup water
2 15-ounce cans of sliced peaches (drained)
½ stick butter or margarine

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat dutch oven to 350° (20 briquettes, 3 top/1 bottom ratio).
  2. Put butter in dutch oven to melt.
  3. Mix dry ingredients. (Camp hint — mix beforehand in large zip-lock bag.)
  4. Add water. (Camp hint — mix in bag.)
  5. Pour over melted butter. Do not stir!
  6. Put the peaches on top. Do not stir!
  7. Bake in 350° oven for one hour, or until top is golden brown.
  8. Serve with whipped cream on top. (Camp hint — canned whipped cream is convenient.)

Notes

  • As always, please be aware that these are my personal notes. I may be verbose in places to remind myself of particular points on chemistry or methodology.
  • Note that I have a family member who has a sucrose intolerance, so there’s an alternative for using fructose in place of sucrose (ordinary table sugar). It appears that the sugar is used in this recipe for texture as well as sweetness, so I’ve adjusted this recipe to ¾ cup of fructose instead of ½. It’s really sweet as a result, but is slightly off on texture. Regardless, it’s still delicious and most people will never know.

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Dutch Oven Recipe: Potato Rolls

Picture of Potato Rolls

This is a fair bit of work, but very rewarding. You could prepare everything ahead of time at home and transport the dutch ovens to an event during step 10. I assume you could simply replace the damp towel with the lids, as they’re fairly tight and shouldn’t let the moisture out. I have not tried this.

Updated 2008-10-12.

Characteristics

Tried: Yes
Camp Friendly: No
Yield: 32 rolls
Ovens Needed: Two 12″ dutch ovens

Ingredients

½ cup sugar, fructose, or other sugar
1 tbsp. yeast
½ cup instant potatoes
5+ cups white flour
2 eggs
1½ cup warm water
½ cup
(one stick)
butter or margarine, softened

Instructions

  1. Mix 1 cup warm water, sugar, and yeast. The sugar is food for the yeast. Splenda or another artificial sweetener will NOT work. Do not ajdust the quantity.
  2. Let the mixture stay warm; the water will tend to cool.
  3. Mix the other ½ cup of warm water and potatoes. Add to the yeast.
  4. Mix in butter, eggs, and 2 cups of flour. Mix really well. The consistency will be like cake batter.
  5. Cover with a damp (NOT wet) towel and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Scrub clean a large surface. Slowly mix in the remaining flour until not gooey. Sprinkle flour on the surface and knead for five minutes. Sprinkle flour on the dough so it doesn’t stick all over your hands.
  7. Take a stick of butter out of the refrigerator and rub it on the inside of a large bowl. Put the ball of dough in it, cover with a damp (NOT wet) towel and let it rise for 1-1½ hours in a very warm place. Note to self: See note on step #10 below.
  8. Take out of the bowl, and knead for a minute, sprinkling flour again so it doesn’t stick to everything.
  9. Divide the dough into equal halves. Each half will divide four times, for 16 rolls. Arrange in a greased 12″ dutch oven, spread out evenly. Repeat with the other half, filling a second dutch oven.
  10. Cover each D.O. with a damp (NOT wet) towel and let rise for 1-1½ hours in a very warm place. Note to self: Ensure the place is warm. One D.O. was in a very warm place, the other was not. Guess which one did not rise until placed in the very warm place?
  11. Bake at 375º 15-20 minutes, using ⅔ timing.

Notes

  • As always, please be aware that these are my personal notes. I may be verbose in places to remind myself of particular points on chemistry or methodology.
  • Note that I have a family member who has a sucrose intolerance, so there’s extra verbiage belaboring the point that this is a situation where the quantity of simpler sugars is important. If the yeast can’t eat, they can’t produce CO₂, and the bread won’t rise. Enough of that. 🙂

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