Cook it in cast-iron
By DAWN MARIE
Cast-iron cookware is, in my opinion, the secret “ingredient” to great-tasting food. I cook and bake exclusively with cast iron, and whether it’s golden French toast or perfect pan-fried steaks, I always reach for one of my more than 50 pieces of vintage and modern cast-iron cookware.
I scout out discarded and abandoned pieces of cast-iron cookware at yard sales and auctions. A 100-year-old rusty Griswold muffin pan came home with me for a pittance at a local auction. After a thorough scrub with coarse salt and a halved potato, I wiped it out with a damp dish towel to remove all the salt and then generously coated the muffin pan with bacon grease. After baking it in the oven at 325 degrees for three hours, the result was an amazing transformation and muffins slide out with ease every time.
Contrary to popular belief, cast-iron cookware isn’t much more difficult to maintain than modern Teflon-coated or aluminum pans. Is cast iron heavy? Yes. Does it require a little TLC now and then? Yes. However, the results of your recipes will far outweigh these little “inconveniences.”
If you are interested in cooking with cast iron, start out with some basic pieces such as a skillet, muffin tin, and the always popular Dutch oven. You can find discarded pieces at yard sales, auctions, or in your grandmother’s attic. With a little elbow grease and some care, you can bring your piece back to life. Modern pieces such as Lodge come pre-seasoned. In both cases, once you’ve tasted a recipe prepared on cast iron, I’ll bet you will become hooked.
The following recipes use the basic cast iron pieces I mentioned above. These recipes are easy to fix and are a favorite of those who visit our farm.
Starboard Farm classic Maine blueberry muffins
Yields 12 muffins.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose -flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
1/2 cup coconut oil or cooking oil
1/2 cup sugar, plus additional for garnish
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup fresh (or frozen and slightly thawed) Maine wild blueberries, or locally
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease cast-iron muffin tin.
In large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In medium bowl, combine vanilla yogurt and baking soda; set aside.
In large bowl, beat egg. Add oil, sugar, and vanilla, stir to combine. Alternate adding flour and yogurt mixtures to egg mixture, stirring until just blended. Carefully fold in blueberries.
Pour batter into muffin pan and sprinkle additional sugar atop each muffin. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until muffins are golden brown. Remove and cool.
Sun-dried tomato basil Dutch oven bread
Yields 1 loaf.
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil)
1 tablespoon dried basil
In large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until blended. The mixture will be very wet. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature overnight or for at least 12 hours.
Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Sprinkle dough with flour and fold it over onto itself once or twice. Cover with light dish towel and let rise for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 450 F and place a 3- to 5-quart cast-iron Dutch oven in oven while preheating. (The size of the Dutch oven will determine how thick your bread will be in the center; use a smaller Dutch oven for thicker loaves and a larger Dutch oven for thin loaves. Adjust baking time accordingly.)
Carefully remove Dutch oven from heat and generously brush inside with olive oil. Transfer dough to Dutch oven, cover, and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove lid and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool and slice.
Wilma’s ledge curried halibut recipe
By Dawn Marie Crocker and Ben Crocker Jr.
Yields 4 servings.
Starboard Farm spice mix:
2 tablespoons dried parsley
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1 cup breadcrumbs or panko
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon Starboard Farm spice mix
Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed to coat
2 pounds fresh halibut fillets
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 425 F.
To make spice mix: In medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until well blended.
To make halibut: In medium bowl, combine bread crumbs, curry powder, and spice mix; set aside.
On stovetop, heat large cast-iron skillet over high heat and coat with olive oil. Season halibut with salt and pepper on both sides, and add to skillet skin side down. Cook for 4 minutes and turn fillets carefully. Cook an additional 4 minutes and turn again to skin side down.
Top fillets with breadcrumb mixture and pour melted butter evenly over breaded fillets.
Transfer to oven and bake for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
Excerpted from Grit. To read more articles from Grit, please visit www.grit.com, or call 866-803-7096. Copyright 2019 by Ogden Publications Inc.
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