The Dutch Oven Cookbook: Recipes for the Best Pot in Your Kitchen

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Sasquatch Books

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Today’s busy lifestyles make it impractical to plan the kind of multicourse feasts one might wish. An easy and exciting solution is the venerable dutch oven pot. In this follow-up to their successful The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook, Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis Hearne show off the many virtues of this kitchen essential. The dutch oven excels at everything from simmering to baking, working equally well on the stovetop and in the oven. The book begins with an informative history of the pot, along with a discussion of various cooking methods. From there it moves into such mouthwatering dishes as Slow Cooked Pork with Smoky Barbeque Sauce and Slaw, Smothered Chicken with Sautéed Morels, Fresh Vegetable Estouffade, Northwest Bouillabaisse, and Ms. Kate’s Spoon Bread. Whether using a well-used and blackened garage-sale find, or the latest celery-green item from La Creuset, contemporary chefs can satisfy the most exacting palates with this entertaining cookbook.


Julie Kramis-Hearne
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Sasquatch Books
The Dutch Oven Cookbook: Recipes for the Best Pot in Your Kitchen
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Ever since Dutch settlers came to America, there have been Dutch ovens in this country. Today's cast iron Dutch ovens , although basically the same as those heavy black pots first brought here  by the Dutch, are  far more colorful, and are used, more often than not, in our modern day kitchens rather than on an open wood  fire.  The Dutch Oven Cookbook provides a good look at today's cast iron cooking, and it is not the venison stew of yesteryear.  

This cookbook is what appears to me to be Ms. Kramis' natural progression from her book The Cast Iron Skillet. Sharon Kramis is an accomplished writer with titles such as Northwest Bounty: The Extraordinary Foods and Wonderful Cooking of the Pacific Northwest, and Berries:  a Country Garden Cookbook among others to her credit.

This book starts with the basics of "what is a Dutch oven?" to purchasing and caring for your cast iron.  This section could and should have gone into a bit more detail of what to look for, and why prices vary wildly for different name brands, and the benefits of one brand over others.  Rather than do this the author dives right into the heart of the recipes.  

It begins simply enough with stews and soups; however these aren't the type of soups great grandma made. There are recipes here for both the culinary adventurer and the "just trying to make a nice dinner" crowd out there. How does Shanghai Dumpling Soup, or Kabocha Squash ( Japanese winter squash) Soup with Toasted Coconut, or perhaps Halibut, Corn and Smoked Salmon Chowder sound for starters? They sure tempted me.  
Since the Dutch oven can be used at oven temperatures as well as on the stove top,  many of the recipes call for baking.  One of my favorites is the Baked Short Ribs with Pasilla Pepper Sauce.  If you live in a rural area as I do, I admit some of the more exotic ingredients can be challenging to locate, but most can be found without too much difficulty.  This recipe, and several other recipes in this book, did present me with definite challenges though. One of the main ingredients Pasilla Peppers were nowhere to be found in the local supermarkets or specialty shops near my home in northern New England.  I did finally locate some in a store in our states largest city and, since they are dried, I stocked up for future use.

The authors must live in a metropolitan area where many of these more exotic items such as Kabocha Squash, Walla Walla onions , and fresh Manila clams are readily available. Oh course in today's internet world, a cook who wants to, could order anything he or she couldn't find locally if they so chose. I was able to find substitutes for all these items.  I used locally grown Butternut squash instead of Kabocha squash, Vidalia onions in place of the Walla Walla onions, and local Maine clams in place of the Manila clams.  Something you might want to keep in mind if you are rurally located as I am.  

The one real disappointment in this book however was the desserts section.  This is the smallest section in the book and having a great love of Dutch ovens and desserts, I know there are many other recipes that they might have considered for this section. What has been included however is adequate to quiet that sweet tooth.

Overall I liked this book. I would highly recommend this for someone who is getting a Dutch oven for the first time.  The recipes are easy to follow and have well written step–by-step instructions.  I would also mention that there are only 16 photographs placed in the middle of this book.  I would have enjoyed a few more pictures placed near the item to which they refer.  Those that are there are, I should say "true to life" photos. They highlight the dishes' beauty even if the dish isn't the most visually appealing one, and I commend the photographer on his efforts.  The food created by these recipes is not the usual run of the mill fare, but still has that homey familiar ring to it. I would encourage all Dutch oven owners out there to pick themselves up a copy.


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