Tag Archives: dutch oven

No Knead Artisan Bread


Let’s be honest, who *doesn’t* love a good loaf of bread? Who doesn’t love the smell of it as it bakes in the oven? Who doesn’t love the sensuous feeling of warm bread dripping with butter melting on your tongue….

Okay, sorry, I got lost in a fantasy world for a second daydreaming about bread.

In case you can’t tell, that’s the topic of today’s blog! 🙂 Easy bread, to boot! As most of you know, I have possessed a Lodge enameled cast iron dutch oven since last winter. Best. Purchase. Ever…in case you were wondering. Anyway, I am always on the lookout for things to make in my dutch oven. It is AMAAAZING for braising ribs, I recently tried an Irish beef stew in it (it was so delicious!), often make soups with it, you name it, I use the dutch oven for it. So as you can imagine, when I came across this little beauty on Pinterest, I pinned it right away with the intention of trying it VERY SOON!

And then school started up again, I got bogged down with homework, the usual stuff. The bread idea was placed on the figurative back burner and all but forgotten. But a few days ago, my best friend finally got her first dutch oven! She was so excited! I was so excited! OMG YAY DUTCH OVENS ARE EXCITING! She wanted suggestions for things to cook in her new toy, and while linking her various recipes I remembered: THE BREAD! “Ohhh yeaaaaah,” I thought “I want to make this too!” So I did.

As many of you know, the eastern seaboard has yet again been graced by Father Winter, who is cranky and stubborn and just doesn’t seem to want to leave this year!! Last Wednesday, it snowed…didn’t stick, just snowed and looked menacing, and it took me more than two hours to get to school for a 50 minute class. I was very, very upset. So last night, I decided that I wasn’t going anywhere today if the flakes started falling, and then school closed, so I didn’t have to worry about it anyway. Given that this particular bread requires 12-18 hours of rise time, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to make it. Start it yesterday, let it sit overnight, finish it up today, watch the snow, smell the bread, be warm from the oven – perfection!

The only trouble was, I needed more whole wheat flour. UH OH! I went to the store and got some, but not before experiencing the mad house that is Maryland people before a winter storm. For some reason, snow = end of days in this state, and everyone panics and buys everything from the grocery store the day before. It’s stupid – GUYS, I PROMISE: THE SNOW WILL MELT AND THERE WILL BE NO SHORTAGE OF FOOD. Thankfully, since everyone was at Giant panicking, I was able to get in and out of Target at a relatively good speed. Remember that next time you can’t park at a grocery store the day before snow, folks – Target has a grocery section. They sell flour. 😛 Nyeh nyeh.

And so the process began:

I don’t have any photos of the ingredients, but know that you will need 6 cups of bread flour, 1/2 tsp of instant or active dry yeast, 2.5 tsp of salt, and 2 & 2/3 cup of cool water. I subbed 3 cups of whole wheat flour for 3 of the cups of bread flour. Mix the dry ingredients together and then add the water.

For not the first time yesterday, I found myself wishing I had a KitchenAid mixer. Doesn’t everyone want one of those at some point? Ugh, I needed that bread paddle yesterday (though a much cheaper alternative that I am going to look into is a danish dough whisk. It’s $10 to the KitchenAid’s $400). Let it be known, though, that the puny dough hooks and wimpy motor on my hand mixer actually worked long enough to incorporate the dough. I didn’t have much faith in it to start, but as long as I nursed it along patiently, it did well. I finished up by wetting my hands (the dough was ever so slightly too dry) and getting the rest of the dough ball mixed up. I had to add one extra tablespoon of water to get the right consistency (I find whole wheat to be a “thirstier” flour).


Okay, so maybe it’s not the most glamorous thing in the world, but let’s face it, folks…It’s a ball of dough. YIPPEE. I then covered it with plastic wrap and set it on top of my fridge (it’s the warmest spot in my kitchen and also out of the way of fur balls that think it’s okay to walk on the counter tops).


It is supposed to rise for 12-18 hours….Look at that bad boy go! I was curious, so I peeked while I was making dinner. I couldn’t help myself!


And then I checked again before bed….JUST TO BE SURE THE YEAST WAS WORKING! (We have had yeast in our freezer for ages. By the way, if you’re going to use yeast that you’ve frozen, let it get to room temperature first, okay? Okay. Also, if you’re unsure as to whether it is still active or not, follow this simple instruction guide to tell if your yeast is still viable.)

IMG_20140303_085815936Good morning, snow day! I like what you’ve done with the place.


And here is that beauty this morning. Looks gooooooood. You will know your dough is ready when it’s all bubbly and smells super yeasty. To me it smelled like beer, so I knew it was good to go.


On a well floured surface, and with well floured hands, roll that bad boy out of the bowl and work it into a ball. Flour a piece of parchment paper or a tea towel and put the dough ball seam side down on it. Cover with another towel and let rise for 1-2 hours until it has doubled in size. I have a lot of homework to get done today, so in order to make sure I kept the correct schedule for this bread, I anal retentively set an alarm for an hour and 30 minutes.


Why an hour and 30 instead of 2 hours, you ask? Because for the last 30 minutes of the rising process, you’re going to want to place a dutch oven (or any heavy oven proof pot that has a lid) in a cold oven and bring it up to 425 degrees. If you’re not sure whether your dutch oven’s handle can…well…handle 425 degrees, wrap it in aluminum foil. I *think* mine is okay, but…just to be sure, I wrapped it anyway. Because I like my dutch oven and I want it to last for a long time.


Eeyup, I’d say that effectively doubled in size! (After 2 hours)

IMG_20140303_121115090Slide your hand under the parchment paper and flip the dough into the dutch oven. BE CAREFUL, IT’S HOT! DON’T TOUCH THE EDGES!! Now the seam will be up. Put the top back on and stick that bad boy in the oven for 40 minutes. Mmmmmmmm, do you SMELL THAT??? *drool*

IMG_20140303_125204350After the 40 minutes has passed, take the top off and cook for 10 more minutes to make a nice crust. HOT DAMN, LOOK AT THAT! I almost didn’t want to put it back in the oven!

IMG_20140303_130255477 But I did. And man was it worth it….It’s so beautiful! *tear*

IMG_20140303_130440649It is now going to take every collective ounce of self control and restraint available in this house to let this cool down all the way before we cut into it. Once the Ryan wandered out here and spied it, there might just be was mutiny (“What? Why do we have to wait? What’s this nonsense? I don’t know what you’re talking about!” *grumbles and walks away pouting*). But I will emphasize again: DO NOT CUT INTO IT UNTIL IT HAS COOLED! Doing so will ruin the bread’s consistency and make it gummy and dense. Nobody wants that, do they? Didn’t think so.


After hours of being pestered by the Ryan, the bread was finally read to cut. BEHOLD THE DELICIOUSNESS. I spread a little honey on mine. Mmmmm, good. 😉 The Ryan hasn’t spoken in a few minutes, so I will interpret that to mean he enjoys it.

Well, what are you waiting for? GO BAKE SOME BREAD!!!


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It’s finals week…time to get lazy!

Lazy in the kitchen, that is! Though not like you may think. Any self-respecting college student would spend finals week surviving off of Chipotle burritos, Chik-Fil-A, Dominos Pizza, and if you’re on the eastern seaboard, Wawa hoagies (ohmygodyes!). I, personally, am working and studying and maintaining a “normal” human being life this week, so my theme is going to be *drumroll* Fix-N-Forget. That’s right, something I can put together and walk away from, thus giving me precious time to actually study. I have two papers to write, four finals left to take, a test to make up and a slew of normal assignments, so as much as I’d love to stand in the kitchen cooking my heart out, it’s just not possible.

But that doesn’t mean I have to break the bank or pack in the calories. So bring out your dutch ovens and crock pots – it’s finals week.

I would seriously kill to be these guys right now!

I have a confession to make…I spent most of the afternoon in my chair at work browsing recipes on allrecipes, Pioneer Woman, and wherever else the lords of Google chose to take me. Not that I wasn’t working, mind you – just that when you’re scanning paperwork and waiting for images to decompress in Adobe, there is a lot of down time. Truth be told, I also had a study guide sitting on my keyboard which I was reading over…and over…and over again during the day while I did arbitrary tasks that required little brainpower.

I tossed some chicken from the freezer into the fridge this morning before I left, but our fridge is too cold to thaw it completely, and I knew it would still be frozen when I got home. I also knew I had an ass-ton of work to do tonight for finals, and was slowly starting to panic over what to make for dinner that wouldn’t be extremely time consuming…and then I stumbled over a recipe for chicken tortilla soup. CROCK POT…chicken tortilla soup. And that’s when it hit me – buy the ingredients, throw them in the pot, let the homework begin! I browsed over many different recipes and compulsively read a few hundred of the thousands of comments on the recipe I thought I’d choose. And as I did so, I realized that I didn’t really wanna follow that recipe to the T. But I would use it for a base. Especially since most of the ingredients were things I had laying around my house anyway. Easy-peasy.

So, on my way home from work, I flew by the grocery store, grabbed a few things, came home, and quite literally tossed all the ingredients into a pot. As I write this, the smell is absolutely permeating the apartment (wait, what? I’m not doing homework? No, I’m taking a break for a few minutes.) and I am desperately hoping that the Ryan, in all his California-superior-taste-buds glory will approve of this TexMex-ish recipe and eat the everliving daylights out of it. As someone who traveled to Mexico quite frequently during his tenure in Cali, I try very hard to get as close to authentic as I can for him, to remind him of home. 🙂

Behold, chicken tortilla soup:

Ingredients: Cilantro (2 tbls, fresh chopped), Salt (1 & 1/2 tsp), Pepper (1 & 1/2 tsp), Chili Powder (1 & 1/2 tsp), Cayenne Pepper (1/4 tsp), Cumin (1 & 1/2 tsp), Red Onion, chopped, Bay Leaves (2), Mexican Oregano (2 tsp), Red Enchilada Sauce (10 oz can), Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles (10 oz can), Pinto Beans (small can, drained – many recipes called for black beans, but pinto is the Ryan’s favorite), Tomato Paste (6 oz), Chicken Stock (2 cups), Corn (2 ears, kernels cut off the cob), garlic (6 cloves). Also, 4 breasts of frozen or thawed chicken. Mine was frozen, and I just popped it into the pot. I used a stock pot instead of the crockpot because I did not have enough time to let it sit for 4-5 hours as the recipes I had looked at suggested. I got home around 6 p.m. which only left me a few hours before bed. This way, I was able to make this in a much shorter time frame but still leave it for more than an hour so I could work.

Add the enchilada sauce, beans (remember to drain them), tomato paste, chicken stock, diced tomatoes & chiles, onions and garlic on top of the chicken and stir well.Turn on the heat to low and let it start warming up to cook the chicken.

Next, add the Mexican oregano, salt, pepper, cilantro, cumin, cayenne, bay leaves and chili powder.

Stir to incorporate and then turn the heat up. Bring to a boil for about a minute before turning the heat back to low and covering. Simmer for about an hour and 15 minutes.

About 30 minutes into the cooking process, I took the chicken out, popped it in the freezer for about 5 minutes, and then hand shredded it. If you have any tiny cuts on your fingers that you don’t know about, you will certainly find them while doing this! 😛 Stir it back into the pot and continue to let simmer about 20 additional minutes.

For garnish, I used sour cream, cheddar cheese, juice of half a lime in each bowl, a pinch of fresh cilantro and avocado (cubed, 1/2 in each bowl). I forgot to picture the tortillas here, but I bought corn tortillas and crumbled them up into the soup – hence chicken tortilla soup!

And voila! Chicken tortilla soup. 🙂 Complete with study time! Bon appetite!

P.S. – The Ryan really enjoyed this, and said it was very very good. *FLEX* Allriiight. 😉

EDIT: I worked out the calories per serving in THIS post. Have a look!

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Pork Ribs with Zing! Honey Soy Deliciousness.

Ooooooh, do you smell that? It’s cinnamon…five spice…soy sauce…Yesssssss. If you are looking for a fun, Asian flare to dress up regular ol’ pork ribs, go no further.

Veering away from the traditional smoked, barbeque ribs, these bad boys add a bit of zing to your taste buds and I promise you, will make them very happy. This recipe was actually given to me by an Australian “friend” (I use the term loosely..we dated a few years, it ended badly, the end), but despite the icky ending, the recipe is damn good. The Ryan is a huge fan of this dish, so I make it for us often.

Don’t let the long list of ingredients fool you, this recipe is quick and easy. Pop the ribs in for a half hour, serve up with some rice and BAM! – dinner. As they bake, the smell will permeate your house and make your mouth water.

I took the opportunity to make these ribs because they are really supposed to be made in a dutch oven. I have made them many, many times before without a dutch oven, so I will mention the variation in the recipe. 🙂 More than anything in the world, I have been telling the Ryan (no seriously, throughout our entire relationship) how much I want an enameled cast iron dutch oven. I drooled over them on Saturday at Sur La Table…oh, to be able to afford Le Creuset. Maybe after college. Or for my wedding. Whichever happens to come first.

But I digress…my friend Deb (house-sitting for a kitchen goddess has its perks) has two dutch ovens (enameled cast iron, no less!) that I just couldn’t resist trying out. So without further adoo, honey soy ribs:

*A note for those of you who don’t do spicy: the chili flakes in this make it quite spicy – adjust to a smaller amount OR omit if you don’t want the heat; Also, the recipe calls for Oyster Sauce – if you’re allergic to shellfish, check the bottom of this recipe for substitutions*

1 Vidalia Onion, chopped, 1/4 inch Slice of Ginger, 5 Cloves Garlic, run through a press or minced, 4 Tablespoons Honey, 1 cup Chinese Rice Wine (Or Dry Sherry), 4 Tablespoons Light Soy Sauce, 1/2 Cup Oyster Sauce, 1 & 1/2 Teaspoons Chinese 5 Spice, 1 Cinnamon Stick, 1 Teaspoon Dried Chili Flakes, and 1 Cup Water. Preheat your oven to 335 (or 325 if you have a gas oven) degrees. (I know it’s an odd number – remember this was adapted from an Australian recipe. Celsius to Fahrenheit ftw!)

Arrange your ribs in the dutch oven. Mine were “country style boneless pork ribs” I grabbed at the store. Short ribs are much better for this recipe in my opinion, but this is what I had. 🙂 (If you don’t have a dutch oven, arrange them in a bake pan.)

Add the onion, garlic, ginger, cinnamon and chili flakes to a bowl.

Next, the honey, 5 spice and oyster sauce.

Finally, the soy sauce, rice wine and water. Whisk them together until the honey has dissolved.

Pour the mixture over the ribs in the dutch oven. Mmmm. Smell that?? (Again, if you don’t have a dutch oven, pour the mixture over the ribs in the bake pan.)

Bring to a simmer on the stove top, only for just a minute. (If you don’t have a dutch oven, just pop them directly into the oven to start cooking – cover with aluminum foil.)

After you have simmered the ribs, put the lid on and pop them in the oven. Bake them for an hour and a half. Do not touch them for an hour and a half. Your house will smell amazing and you will want to rip open your oven and eat them all RIGHT NOW, but trust me. It’s worth the wait.

Annnnnnnnd they’re done! 🙂 Don’t they look delicious? I’m sure you were smelling them while they were baking..and drooling. 😉

Jasmine rice goes quite well with these, and you will have plenty of sauce to pour over the ribs or the rice if you so desire. Voila! Enjoy!

Oyster Sauce Substitutions:

– There is such a thing (if you weren’t already aware) called Vegetarian Oyster Sauce – it’s made with shiitake mushrooms as opposed to oysters. To find out more, or find out where to get some, click here.

– I found this handy recipe for making your own substitute here: “Another option is to prepare a vegetarian substitute for oyster sauce. This will be more useful for vegans. All you have to do is to dissolve one mushroom broth cube in half a cup of boiling water. Add two tablespoons of brown bean sauce and one tablespoon of unprocessed sugar to the solution. Allow it to boil for sometime and then add cornstarch mixed with water (one teaspoon of cornstarch dissolved in one teaspoon of cold water). Stir the boiling solution, till it thickens. Your oyster sauce substitute is ready.”

Hopefully either of these will work for you, and you can include this in your recipe. 🙂 Other suggestions I found were thai fish sauce, or Hoisin sauce, but I have not tried either. If you happen to have one of those on hand, maybe give it a try and see!

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