Saturday, February 19, 2011

How did I ever find the time?

Wow!  Life has been so crazy lately!  I'm thinking back to last year and I wonder how I EVER found the time to dutch oven every day.  I'm a little flabbergasted!  I couldn't do it now to save my life! :)  I'm having trouble with once a week!  Sunday dinner will be cooked dutch oven style so I'll have a new post for you on Monday or Tuesday.  Hopefully our snow storm will be gone by then!  Have a great President's Day weekend!  See you next week!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Superbowl Chili

I made this chili for our Superbowl party and it was a big hit!  I wish I'd made more because there wasn't a drop left by the end of the night.  This is the kind of recipe that can be made mild, or smoking hot by using fewer chipotles.  I chose a mild version since I was feeding little ones.  My favorite thing about this chili is that it calls for stew meat rather than hamburger, so the result is tender shredded beef.  This chili was tailor made for the dutch oven, and the hardest thing about it was replenishing the coals. So in other words, it was really easy and well worth the effort!

Superbowl Chili
12" dutch oven

3 pounds of stew meat
2 (15 1/2 oz) cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo  ( I only used about 1 1/2 peppers)
1 (28oz) can of diced tomatoes
2 large onions, diced
10 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, finely diced
2 tbs chili powder
2 tbs ground coriander (I didn't have any)
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tbs paprika
1 tbs oregano
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ancho chili pepper  (I had a hard time finding this, so don't worry if you have to leave it out)
1 tsp sugar
2 tbs tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup corn meal
1 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder

Season the meat with salt and pepper and put in a 12" dutch oven.  Cover the meat with 1 inch of water.  Bring to a boil over a full spread of coals and skim off any foam.  Add the onions, garlic, jalapeno and chipotles.  Stir in the remaining ingredients except the cocoa powder and corn meal.  Bring to a boil, then cover and move about 1/4 of the coals to the lid.  Allow to simmer for about 2 hours or until the meat is tender enough to be shredded.  Replenish the coals as needed to keep at a simmer.  Don't be afraid to add some water if it seems to be boiling down too much.  When the meat is tender, shred it with two forks or just smash it against the side of the pot with a large spoon to break it up.  Add the kidney beans and corn meal, stir well and continue simmering for 1 more hour.  About 5 minutes before serving stir in the cocoa powder.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Red Hot Chocolate Torte

My lopsided cake!

Welcome back everyone!  Its good to be cooking again.  Not that I ever stopped, I'm just back to doing what I love...dutch oven cooking.  Today I thought I'd share a Valentine's day recipe.  Something sweet for your sweetie!

Now, I have to tell you, me and layer cakes don't have a good history together.  I've made exactly 2 layer cakes in the last 10 years, and both times I had to fight them every step of the way.  Today's cake had many problems, not the least of which was that it sunk in the middle.  I'm not much of a baker, so I couldn't tell you what causes it, just that it happened.  So what was supposed to be a triple layer cake became a double layer cake. 

My next disaster happened while I was putting the layers together.  Since the cake was concave it was really hard to cut in half.  The center of the top layer was really thin and that didn't bode well.  When I went to put the top layer on the cake it fell apart.  So I pieced it together the best I could and hoped the ganache would hide it.  And it did to a point.

Once I had the top pieced together I noticed two things.  First that there was a ton of filling left (since my triple layer cake had been unexpectedly downsized), and second, that I had a big sunken well in the top of the cake.  So, not wanting to be wasteful, I took most of the leftover filling and filled the well to even off the top of the cake.

Next came the ganache.  Like I said, I'm not much of a baker and I've never worked with ganache before, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  Since I've never worked with it before the cake looked a little bit like my 5 year old had frosted it.  I had to come up with a way to hide it from all of you, so I quickly crushed up some red hots and pressed them onto sides and top of the cake.  Problem solved! 

Now I realized it isn't the most beautiful thing you've ever seen, but let me tell you, is is delicious!  It has just a hint of cinnamon flavor from the red hots, but its not hot at all.  You could even all a touch of cinnamon oil to the ganache if you wanted.  It was also nice that the filling isn't uber sweet.  Its a nice contrast to the sweet ganache.

If red hots aren't your thing, there are a lot of variations to this cake.  You could use crushed candy canes or starlight mints in the fillins and a 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract in the ganache, or use orange zest in the filling and orange extract in the ganache.  Both would be delicious. 

After hearing my horror story, what can you do to make it easier for you?  Try baking the cake in 2 12" dutch ovens or even in 3 10" ovens.  That way you wouldn't need to try to slice the cake into layers.   You could bake, fill and frost without the headache.  So give this a try is is really delicious! 

Red Hot Chocolate Torte
2-12" ovens or 3-10" ovens

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup boiling water


1 1/2 cup cold whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup finely chopped red hot candies
3/4 tsp. vanilla
red food coloring (optional)

In a small bowl, beat the whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff.  Fold in the red hots, vanilla and food coloring until well blended.


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup water
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

In a small dutch oven, over about 8 coals, melt the butter and add the cocoa and water.  Stir constantly until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and vanilla.  Beat with a wire whisk until smooth and spreadable.  Add more water, 1/2 tsp. at a time, if needed. 


In a large mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients.  Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, and mix well.  Stir in boiling water.  The batter will be thin.  Prepare your dutch ovens by greasing them, then dusting them with flour.  Put a parchment circle in teh bottom of each pot and spray with cooking spray.  Pour the batter into the ovens and bake at 350° for about 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Use 1 1/2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom.  Cool with the lid ajar for 10 minutes.  Remove the cake from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

When cool, spread the filling between the layers and top with ganache.  Garnish with filling squeezed from a pastry bag.  Keep in the refrigerator.

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