Friday, June 23, 2017

Cast Iron Butter-Basted Steak

What a simple way to make a delicious steak dinner for two!  I've made this for a Valentine's Day meal a few years back, and it's been a success then and now. 
  • 1 (2-inch thick) boneless rib-eye steak
  • kosher salt
  • 8 Tbsp butter
1. Two hours before cooking, remove steak from refrigerator and salt heavily on both sides.
2. When ready to cook, heat 8-10 inch cast iron skillet over medium-high until hot.  Pat steak dry, and place the steak on one of its edges in the pan. Cook for one minute, then rotate to another edge. Continue until the entire outside edge of the steak is seared.
3. Remove the steak from the pan and place on a plate. Reduce heat to medium-low. Wait one minute, then add butter and let it melt.
4. Return the steak to the pan, laying it flat on one side.  Cook for one minute, basting the steak with the melted butter in the pan. Flip and cook for another minute, still basting. Repeat this five times, then use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.  Medium-rare would be a reading of 120° F.  If the meat has not reached the target internal temperature, keep flipping and basting.  It may take as many as ten or a dozen flips.
5. Remove the steak to a rack and let rest for ten minutes. Slice into 3/8-thick slices and serve.

Robyn's notes: very straightforward, just can't walk away from it at all once you start cooking.  Nice crisp sear on the outside, but tender within.  A two-inch thick steak may be too much for two people, depending on how hungry you are, but it needs to be that thick to cook properly.  If there are leftovers they make a nice sandwich for lunch.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Cast Iron Skillet Mac n Cheese

If you really want nice crunchy browned cheese bits around the edges of your mac n cheese, a cast iron skillet is the way to go!
  • 1 C small elbow pasta
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 3/4 C milk
  • 1 C shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/4 C bread crumbs
1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Cook pasta until not quite cooked through, about 5 minutes.
2.  In 8 inch cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add flour and whisk constantly until combined and just starting to brown.  Do not overcook flour.  Add milk all at once, whisking constantly.  Continue whisking until thickened.
3.  In small bowl, combine 1/4 C of cheese with breadcrumbs.  Set aside.  Add cheese to white sauce and stir through to combine.  Stir pasta into sauce, top with breadcrumb mixture.  Bake at 350°F for 18-20 minutes until hot throughout and browned on top.

Robyn's notes: if desired, the pasta can be cooked in the skillet first, instead of in a separate pan.  For me, the weight of the cast iron, combined with how shallow it is, makes me nervous about carrying it full of boiling water and pasta to the sink to drain.  But I have done it, so I can promise it's possible.  I got mostly set up to do this and only then realized I was out of regular elbow mac, so instead of going back to the store I used gluten-free.  Barilla brand gluten-free elbow mac, while oddly translucent in the box, tastes the same in this recipe as regular pasta.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Cast Iron Pizza





I'm always stumbling across recipes for pizza that start with heating the stone in the oven, but no matter how often I see tips for getting a makeshift pizza stone at the hardware store, I don't have one (for one thing, my oven's coils are on the bottom, so I couldn't put the stone on the floor of the oven and would have to place it on the rack, which would mean taking it out when I'm cooking something else, and storage space is limited).  This recipe will make a great pizza without fancy equipment!

  • 1 portion pizza dough (about 6oz)
  • pizza sauce and toppings as desired
1.  Preheat oven to 500°F.  Press dough into base of 8-inch cast iron skillet, being sure not to make any sections too thin.  Add preferred toppings (see note, below).
2.  Cook over medium-high heat on a burner for 2-4 minutes, or until pizza has puffed up and bottom is spotty brown.  Transfer skillet to preheated oven and cook an additional 7-10 minutes or until cooked through.  Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes before eating.


Robyn's notes: this is, in my opinion, the best way to make a pizza.  The dough is just properly crispy on the outside but soft inside, the cheese comes out just right...in the absence of a pizza oven I don't think it gets better.  The photo above (and the video) are a simple cheese pizza, with tomato-based sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan.  But the technique works for any pizza toppings.  Mozzarella and basil leaves, alfredo, sausage, whatever you like.  Just remember that you probably want less sauce than you think.  Too much sauce makes the dough soggy.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookies


In my opinion, every birthday needs a sweet treat.  Today's mine, so here's something to celebrate! 
  • 2 Tbsp clarified butter, melted, hot
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 C + 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 C chocolate chips
1.  Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place clarified butter in a medium bowl and stir in softened butter until completely melted.  Whisking constantly, add both sugars, egg yolk, and vanilla.  Continue whisking about 1 minute.  Set aside.
2.  In a small bowl, combine flour, soda, and salt.  Set aside.  Return to butter mixture and whisk again, about 1 minute.  Allow to rest and then whisk one more time.
3.  Stir flour mixture into butter mixture.  Fold in chocolate chips.  
4.  Press half of mixture into bottom of each mini skillet.  Smooth top.  Bake at 375°F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.  Allow to cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Top with ice cream and serve. 

Robyn's notes: while I did enjoy this quite a bit, it will be more of a special occasion dish.  Earlier this year we made a couple recipes that called for clarified butter.  If any is left from that, go ahead and use it, otherwise just start this recipe by clarifying some butter.  It only takes a short time.  Watch me demonstrate this birthday recipe on youtube!

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bacon Cheddar Bread

  • 3 slices bacon
  • 3/4 C plus 2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch pepper
  • 2oz extra-sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1/2 C)
  • 1/4 C whole milk
  • 3 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing pan
  • 1 large egg
  • 1oz Parmesan cheese, shredded on large holes of box grater (about 1/3 C)
1.  In a cast iron skillet, cook bacon well.  Crumble and spread out to cool on paper towels.  Drain off excess bacon grease but do not wipe out or clean skillet.
2.  When bacon is completely cool and all grease is gone from it, preheat oven to 350°F.
3. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne, and pepper together in medium bowl. Fold in cheddar, breaking up clumps, until it is coated with flour mixture. In separate bowl, whisk milk, sour cream, melted butter, and egg together until smooth. Gently fold milk mixture into flour mixture with rubber spatula until just combined (do not overmix). Batter will be heavy and thick.
4. Scrape batter into skillet and smooth top. Sprinkle remaining 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese evenly over top of batter. Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 25-30 minutes.
5. Let bread cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

Robyn's notes: I had originally envisioned these as biscuits, but the batter was quite loose and ran together in the oven.  I cut the finished bread into four quarters along the lines where the biscuits had been dropped in.  Really good.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Cherry Garcia Bread


I made ice cream bread a few years ago, when it was making its way across the web like lightning.  It was fine, it definitely was bread, but it just wasn't very interesting.  My very first thought at the time was that it needed dark cherries.  So when I noticed that Ben & Jerry's pints were on sale recently, I decided that Cherry Garcia® would make a good experiment. 
  • 1 C Cherry Garcia® ice cream, softened
  • 3/4 C self-rising flour (see notes, below)
1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Grease and flour a mini loaf pan.  
2.  Stir together ice cream and flour until flour is just moistened.  Do not overmix.  Spoon into prepared loaf pan.  
3.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for several minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Robyn's notes: if you don't have self-rising flour on hand and don't want to buy it just for this purpose, you can make your own.  Self-rising just means the leavening is already mixed into the flour.  To make, combine 1 C all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt, then measure what the recipe calls for from the mixture.  I bake at high altitude, so this took more than 35 minutes to get properly done in the center, but closer to sea level the shorter time may work best.

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often
 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Mini Hash Brown Pies


These can be made as one pie in a single, larger skillet, but I do enjoy individual servings and don't get a lot of opportunities to use my mini skillets. 
  • 4 strips bacon, diced
  • 1/2 C frozen shredded hash browns, thawed and drained
  • 3 eggs
  • dash pepper
  • 1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese (or blend)
  • 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1.  Divide bacon between two mini cast iron skillets, cook over medium-high heat about 2 minutes.  Add half of potatoes to each skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, 3-4 minutes.
2.  In a medium bowl, beat eggs together with pepper until fluffy.  Stir in cheese.  Pour half into another bowl.
3.  Add bacon-potato mixture from each skillet into each bowl of egg.  Stir well.
4.  Pour oil into now-empty skillets.  Add mixtures to skillets and cook over medium-high heat until bottom is golden brown and top is lightly set.
5.  Loosen edges with heat-resistant spatula and slide each pie onto a plate.  Place another plate upside down on top of pie, and flip, holding the plates together.  Slide the now-inverted pie back into the skillet, tucking in the edges.
6.  Cook for a few more minutes, until egg is completely set.

Robyn's notes: to thaw the potatoes quickly, microwave them for a couple minutes, stirring halfway through.  Squeeze thawed potatoes in a paper towel to get all moisture out.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often