Recipes range from sweet to savory

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 1, 2008

By The Associated Press
Dutch ovens are a versatile tool in the kitchen. In addition to the usual roasts, soups and stews, they also can turn out fantastic baked goods, as in these rolls studded with cranberries and scented with orange zest.Orange Cranberry Rolls
Start to finish: 3 hours (30 minutes active)
Servings: 16
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
2 C. warm water, divided
7 Tbsp. sugar, divided
6 C. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
2 tsp. salt
1/4 C. instant nonfat dry milk
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 C. dried or frozen cranberries
2 tsp. orange extract
Zest of 2 oranges
In a small bowl, whisk together the yeast, 1 cup of the water and 4 tablespoons of the sugar. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, dry milk and remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar. Add the butter and cranberries, then use a rubber spatula to fold the mixture together. As you mix, pour in the yeast mixture, orange extract and orange zest.
As you mix the dough, be sure to scrape up any dry flour from the bottom of the bowl. Add the remaining 1 cup of water and mix well. Use wet hands to knead the dough in the bowl until elastic but not sticky, about 10 minutes.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 30 minutes, or until it doubles in size.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Punch down the dough and divide into 16 balls.
Place a 12-inch-round Dutch oven over low heat for about 30 seconds. Let the pot get just barely warm to the touch. Do not let the bottom get hot. Remove from the heat. Coat the pot with cooking spray.
Arrange the balls of dough in the Dutch oven; they will touch. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the rolls double in size and do not readily spring back when poked with finger, at least 1 hour.
Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cover the Dutch oven with its lid, then bake the rolls for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to bake until the rolls are browned, about another 15 minutes. Carefully remove the rolls from pot, cool and serve.
(Recipe adapted from Vernon Winterton’s “101 Things to do with a Dutch Oven,” Gibbs Smith, 2006)

Pears, wine and sugar have a happy marriage inside a Dutch oven, creating a tender, sweet dessert. Topped with applesauce and whipped cream, these pears make an excellent autumn dessert.
Roasted Red Pears
Start to finish: 1 hour
Servings: 6
1 Tbsp. salted butter
1 1/4 C. sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
5 Jonagold (or other sweet, crisp variety) apples, peeled, cored and chopped
3 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
1 C. red wine
1 cinnamon stick
1 strip of lemon zest
6 Bosc pears, peeled but not cored
1 pint heavy cream
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the butter and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Heat until the butter has melted. Add the apples, cover and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the walnuts. Set aside.
In a 5 1/2-quart Dutch oven, bring the red wine and 1 cup of the remaining sugar to a boil.
Add the cinnamon stick and lemon zest. Reduce heat to simmer. Slice off the bottom of each pair, cutting only enough to create a flat surface so the pears can stand upright.
Stand the pears in the Dutch oven. Cover and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until tender. Transfer the pears to a platter.
Increase the heat under the Dutch oven to medium and simmer the liquid until reduced to a thick glaze, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whip the cream with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
Divide the apple mixture between 6 serving plates. Stand a pear on top of the apples on each plate, then spoon some of the glaze over each. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
(Recipe from Julie Kramis Hearne and Sharon Kramis’ “The Dutch Oven Cookbook,” Sasquatch Books, 2006)

Making baked beans from scratch isn’t fast, but it is easy. Though the dry beans do need to be soaked overnight, then baked for a couple hours, actual hands-on cooking time is just about 15 minutes.
And the taste of the finished product is worth it.
This recipe from Marie Simmons’ “Things Cooks Love” is a great excuse to haul out your heavy Dutch oven. Dress these beans with sauteed cherry tomatoes, chopped fresh Italian parsley and pitted Kalamata olives.
Oven-Baked Cannellini Beans
Start to finish: 2 hours 45 minutes, plus overnight soaking (15 minutes active)
Servings: 8
1 pound (about 2 1/2 C.) dried cannellini beans (or other dried white beans)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, halved
1 bay leaf
2 to 3 C. water or unsalted chicken broth, or as needed
Coarse salt and ground black pepper
Place the beans in a large bowl, then add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
Alternatively, place the beans in a large saucepan, add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches, then bring to a boil, cover and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the beans stand in the water, covered, for 1 hour.
Use a colander to drain the beans.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
In a medium to large Dutch oven (4 to 8 quarts), combine the beans, garlic, olive oil, onion and bay leaf. Add enough water or broth to cover the beans.
Cover the pot and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the beans are tender. Remove from the oven and let stand, covered, for 30 minutes. As the beans cool, they will absorb most of the excess cooking liquid.
Scoop out and discard the onion halves and bay leaf. Use a mesh strainer to drain and discard any liquid not absorbed by the beans. Season the beans with salt and pepper.
(Recipe from Marie Simmons’ “Things Cooks Love,” Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2008)