Cast iron cooking

I grew up with cast iron–and I still love it. I have some enamel cast iron cookware (Le Creuset), but I also use the plain black cast iron stuff that is a workhorse in the kitchen, for example, my griddleLodge is a readily available brand., likely even at your local hardware store.

Plain black cast iron is a great way to add some useful items to your batterie de cuisine inexpensively.  Sure, it does have some limitations, but lots of advantages, too. Sure, Le Cruset enameled cast iron is wonderful, colorful, but not an inexpensive way to get the advantages in your kitchen (and it also has some disadvantages).  One thing about cast iron: it is heavy! Seriously heavy–that’s part of what makes it desirable, but can make it difficult to handle; skillet-shaped pans can with dual handles rather than the long handle of the skillet can be a good idea if you are concerned about the weight.

 

There seem to be some misconceptions and myths surrounding this versatile cookware. The concept of “seasoning” seems to induce a particular hesitancy for some. Even though I’ve used it for a long time (not willing to give away how long) and feel comfortable with it, there is an online course with Clifford A. Wright (a favorite food person of mine) on cooking with cast iron (through Craftsy).

One of the things I’ve always liked about Clifford Wright’s recipes is the focus on flavor, without a bunch of frou-frou stuff–it’s like black cast iron–just the basics. He also stresses looking and tasting as part of the cooking so that you can learn to improvise as you cook what you want to eat as you like it. This orientation carries right into this course. If you need an introduction to the care and feeding of cast iron, this is worth every penny.  The recipes that are demonstrated are available to download as PDF document.

This really gets to the heart of single-serving, simple, delicious, easy cooking for one! One of my favorite “helpers” for this kind of cooking has become fused and infused olive oils.  I especially like Bull City Olive Oil as a source since I can taste the oils before I bring them home. If I’m unsure how I’ll like it in actual cooking, I’ll get a “mini”–just enough to try a few different ways in my kitchen: new addition for me is dill infused oil. I like dill, but it’s not a flavor that’s at the top of my list–so it will be interesting to see if I want (need) a bigger bottle of the oil–(I’m thinking just a drizzle to finish off griddled salmon).

Another thing I liked that there is no focus on high-tech equipment–the recipes are demonstrated using kitchen equipment like an old-fashioned, hand-cranked egg beater. You won’t watch the videos and then feel you need to run to the cookware store for equipment!

Basic techniques are explained and demonstrated very well, and recipes that are easy to adjust for cooking for one.  There are recipes from around the world to bring some adventure to your cooking for one–all this with inexpensive black cast iron.

(Disclaimer: no affiliation or monetary considerations from anything mentioned here–just personal opinion and my (opinionated) preferences here).

Improvise! A son gôut!

 

Just have to share this duck recipe!

I love duck breasts–it’s a great way to have duck when you are trying to do single-serving cooking since the breasts are readily available frozen from the supermarket. There are some in my freezer now, and one of my favorite citrus fruits is a lovely blood orange.

I was just perusing the WordPress and my FaceBook updates and saw this recipe for “Duck and Orange Salad with Duck Crackling”  from Mrs Portly’s Kitchen.  The pictures came very close to having me drooling all over by keyboard–such perfectly cooked duck and that jewel-like blood orange gel!

I’ve never tried cooking duck breasts without the skin–but that would make it much simpler than searing them with the skin on but this looks like it would be well worth every bit of effort. And the crackling–yum!

I think I saw blood oranges at The Fresh Market last time I was there!

4 Ways to protect ourselves from arsenic in rice — YayYay’s Kitchen

Arsenic in rice–Four ways to protect ourselves and our families

via 4 Ways to protect ourselves from arsenic in rice — YayYay’s Kitchen

Cabbage steaks

As a fan of cabbage in many forms other than coleslaw, I was delighted to find this recipe on Avocado Pesto for Vegan Cabbage Steaks with Tahini sauce. Try it–you’ll have a very pleasant surprise.

Addendum:  In reviewing my notes I realize I used only 2 teaspoons of mustard rather than 2 tablespoons  called for in the recipe. The dijon mustard that I have is REALLY potent. I think with 2 tablespoons that would have been the only flavor you’d get.

Parmesan, Chive and Truffle Madeleines and a Paris Snapshot

Despite Paris being so close to London – three hours on the Eurostar – we had never been with big A and little Z. Mr B and I had been on numerous occasions in the past both for work and…

Source: Parmesan, Chive and Truffle Madeleines and a Paris Snapshot

Braised lamb shanks

Continuing my freezer clean-out, I discovered two lovely lamb shanks that I must admit, I had forgotten were in there.  The weather that we’re having now just begs for comfort food, so I decided to make braised lamb shanks and the shanks beg for white beans to accompany them.

Starting with a recipe for braised lamb shanks and white beans that I knew worked well I still perused recipes from some other reputable sources (Williams-Sonoma, Food and Wine, and The New York Times). My lazy side came to the front and I decided that I wanted to do this all in one pot–so I went with the New York Times recipe–except I used thyme instead of rosemary and scaled the recipe for two lamb shanks.

Then I decided to follow a favorite principle of mine in cooking: never do on the stovetop what you can do in the oven (extremely hot weather will modify this). After bringing the pot to a simmer on the stovetop, I popped the pot into a 275°F oven for a few hours–low and slow since this is supper for tomorrow, likely with a grilled (well, broiled given the weather) cabbage wedge for a side.

Even for two shanks, this comes out to be a lot of food, so I’m looking forward to putting some into the freezer for another rainy day meal when I’m feeling indolent.

Because the scale never lies: Farro and Legumes Soup

I share those after-holiday feelings. I only discovered farro but considering how much I love legumes this looks just wonderful.

Flora's Table

Farro and legume soup Farro and legume soup

4 Servings

Hello everyone!

The Holiday season is behind us but our Christmas tree is still up and some of Santa’s presents (unwrapped) are still laying under the tree – mostly because they are so ugly I’m not quite sure what to do with them! 😜

Anyway, this year Santa decided to surprise me with something totally unexpected. Something you cannot really unwrap but you can see, feel and touch, something that makes your clothes feel tighter and tighter as the day goes by.

A magical gift? Not really! I’m rather talking about 5 pounds of sneaky and vicious fat spread out all over my body!

With my parents over for Christmas, I wholeheartedly embraced the holiday spirit by practically eating non-stop and using any excuse that came to mind to ask Stefano to pop a bottle of bubbly. Considering that my body is not exactly in its twenties and my metabolism gets slower as we speak…

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