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Monday, August 30, 2010

Breadsticks without the breadstick pan.

I don't have a cast iron breadstick pan, so I wanted to make breadsticks today, to prove that I can, without the breadstick pan.

I put the rolled up dough in my cornstick pan, and whatever was left, I laid out on my pizza pan.

The breadsticks on the pizza pan turned out flat and overdone on the bottom; The cornstick pan allowed for better air circulation underneath.

I got this recipe straight from the manual of my bread machine:

3/4 cup + 1 tbsp warm water (next time I'll try milk)
3 tbsp butter
3 cups bread flour
3 1/2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp dry milk (next time I'll omit this and use milk)
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast

Put ingredients in the bread machine on dough cycle. When dough is done, roll it into sticks and place in cast iron. Into the oven at 400.*

*450 makes a lighter bread, which I prefer.

These did taste good, but were more dense than I'd have liked*.

*I've since learned that adding gluten, more rise time, and higher temp makes a lighter bread.

Next time I'll try the standard white bread recipe and see if they turn out fluffier.

And, I have since obtained a breadstick pan, so now I need to try them in an actual breadstick pan!

Tom Douglas by Pinzon Lodge Deep Fryer

This is the Lodge Combo Cooker.

Oh wait, I mean the Tom Douglas by Pinzon Lodge Deep Fryer with Skillet Lid!

Actually, they are the same thing.

In 2009, a television chef named Tom Douglas decided to start his own cookware line, "aimed at building confidence in the kitchen."

Among this new cookware line, was a product already sold by Lodge, rebranded under his name and marked up.

He uses this cooker on his show, to demonstrate cooking "chicken under a brick". Here is the video.

According to one consumer, the Tom Douglas version has a "greater amount of pre-seasoning" than the regular Lodge combo cooker.

Other than that, they are exactly the same.

This cooker is a deep skillet, shallow skillet, and dutch oven all in one.

It does claim to be a deep fryer, but I find it a little shallow and wide for deep frying.

For pan frying (like chicken), I would use a regular lid, not the skillet lid.

You could pay more for the label and extra pre-seasoning, but the regular Lodge, for less $$ will serve the exact same purpose.

Lodge 8 inch pro logic skillet

This is the Lodge 8 inch "pro logic" skillet, with sloped sides. It's discontinued.

Around 2004, Lodge started its "pro logic" line, which was slightly different shaped cookware.

The skillets had sloped sides and curved handles; The griddles and pots had a more modern look.

Lodge still makes the 10 and 12 inch pro logic skillets, but not this one.

And, Lodge still makes the "logic" line, which is traditional shaped cookware.

I like the sloped sides, and my 12 inch has become my "main workhorse", the one I reach for the most.

There's really no difference in functionality, between "logic" and "pro logic." It's just personal preference.

I'd sure like to get my hands on an 8 inch pro logic, though. I can't find one.

REAL kettle cooked potato chips

I've always liked Zapp's potato chips, which are made and sold right here in cajun country.

They started out being made one batch at a time, in peanut oil, in a cast iron kettle; I'm not sure if they're still made that way now.

Today we buy "kettle cooked potato chips" at the store, but 100 years ago, people made their own.

This should be done outdoors, for safety reasons.

You want a potato slicer or food processor, or you'll be slicing potatoes for a long time.

As the potatoes are sliced, let them soak in ice water. This is important for a crispy chip.

As you remove each batch from the water to fry, dry on paper towels before dropping in the hot oil!

Since I haven't actually done this, I'll redirect you to the best instructions I could find, at this link.

These instructions call for blanching* the potato chips first, at 300 degrees, and then heating the oil to 350 degrees, and frying each batch a 2nd time.

*Blanching = partially frying or boiling for a couple of minutes and then removing.

What I would do differently from those instructions, is use peanut oil instead of canola oil, and be sure they're soaked in ice water, not just cold water.

Also, the recommended thickness is 2 mm, but I like thicker potato chips.

If you don't want to do the 2 step process, there are "one step" instructions here.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Three piece combo cooker

Most cast iron "combo cookers" are two piece; They include a deep skillet and a shallow skillet that doubles as a lid.

Pictured above is a rare three piece combo cooker. It includes a deep pot, a medium sized pot, and a shallow skillet that can be used as a lid for both sized pots.

The medium sized pot can be used inside the deep pot as a double boiler.

I've stated before that there are no cast iron double boilers, and there aren't any on the market today; But apparently, there used to be.

I have the Lodge two piece combo cooker, as well as the double dutch oven. But frankly, I prefer using a regular lid; it's awkward to use the skillet as a lid.

I saw this skillet in a movie

I saw this skillet hanging over a fireplace in a movie, and wondered what it was for.

It looked similar to a square skillet I have, with partitions, which is called a Bacon and Egg skillet.

I had previously thought that the partitions were just cosmetic, since surely you don't need partitions to cook bacon and eggs on the same skillet?

I later learned that the partitions did serve a purpose; to shape the eggs into squares. I guess people used to like their eggs square.

Indeed, the above skillet is a "round breakfast skillet", for the purpose of cooking bacon and eggs.

The round skillet is very rare and expensive; A more affordable alternative is the square breakfast skillet, which is also no longer made.

Please see this video that shows a bacon and egg skillet being used.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

cast iron vapor griddle

This is a cast iron vapor griddle.

Actually, a griddle or skillet was placed on top of the vapor griddle, for cooking.

They were meant for use on "vapor stoves".

I've never seen a vapor stove, but apparently the burners got very hot, so these vapor griddles were necessary to diffuse the heat.

lamb cake mold and rabbit cake mold

Pictured above are a cast iron lamb cake mold and rabbit cake mold.

Apparently they are used to make lamb shaped, or rabbit shaped, cakes for Easter.

It's an Eastern European tradition.

At first I thought any cake mix would work, but, the batter needs to be thick, since the cake molds stand vertically.

There are also Santa Claus cake molds.

I found recipes here and here.

cast iron wafer iron

This is a cast iron wafer iron. It looks like a waffle iron, but it's not.

It's meant for making wafer cookies, which are peeled off the iron and eaten, or norwegian krumkakes, which are rolled up and stuffed with fruit or cream cheese.

Here's a sample wafer recipe:

1 pound butter, 4 cups sugar, 8 eggs, 8 cups flour, 6 tsp cinnamon.

Melt the butter, add sugar, eggs, and cinnamon, then add the flour until batter gets thick. Roll into 1 inch balls. Heat the iron, place two dough balls on the iron, and cook.

There are also similar irons, called goro irons, which are square or cross shaped and used to make Norwegian goro cookies.

Recipes for goro cookies are here and here.

cast iron ham boiler pot

This is a cast iron ham boiler pot.

I've never had boiled ham, myself. I've always had roasted or baked ham.

This pot was intended for... boiling ham!

I've never done it, but it's not that complicated; You put the whole ham in the pot, cover with enough cold liquid to cover the ham, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer until done. Skim the liquid regularly.

You can use any combination of water, broth, wine, fruit juice, etc. to boil ham.

After the ham is boiled, you can then boil cabbage and other veggies in the water.

It's not "proper" to boil the veggies and ham together, according to an 1872 cookbook.

If you don't have a ham boiler pot, I'm sure any large cast iron pot that will fit the ham will work.

cast iron Master Bake Pot

This is the only picture I could find of the Master Bake Pot. It's the item on the left; The item on the right is just a trivet.

The Master Bake Pan is supposed to come with several pan inserts, as well as a dome lid. It's a "convection cooker", basically.

It was invented in 1918 by a man who was ordered by his doctor to eat three baked potatoes per day.

This caused his gas bill to triple, since he had to use the oven so much. He wanted a way to bake on the stovetop, which would use less fuel.

The cone in the center of the pan, as well as the vents around the bottom, allow for circulation of heat, in order to bake foods faster, with less heat, which consumes less fuel.

According to an instruction manual I found, you can "bake right on your stove!" It could be used to reheat leftovers, or cook anything that can be cooked in the oven.

This reminds me of a pan I once had, called a "dry fry" pan, in which you could "fry" chicken without oil, due to the center convection cone. I decided that it was just as easy to bake the chicken in the oven, so I sold the pan.

Here's a sample recipe from the manual, for beef hash: Equal amounts of cut up leftover roast and cut up leftover potatoes, mixed with chopped onions, salt and pepper. Bake until done.

cast iron ice shredder

This is a cast iron ice shredder.

I couldn't get a picture of the bottom, but it had an opening with a blade. You would scrape the blade along a large ice block, and the shavings would go into the container.

Before electric ice makers, this ice shredder was very handy for extracting small amounts of ice for drinks, sick people, snow cones, or anything else you might use ice for.

cast iron fruit press

This is a cast iron fruit press.

Before there were electric juicers, if you wanted fruit juice, you had to squeeze fruit by hand.

You would crush the fruit in the bucket with the hand crank, then pour out the juice.

It was also used to crush fruit for jam and preserves.

Sometimes it was used to make wine.

cast iron coffee grinder

This is a cast iron coffee grinder.

It does exactly what it says it does: grinds coffee.

Beans would go in the round container, and ground coffee would be scooped out of the bottom.

The little door usually had an advertisement on it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

My first beef brisket

I'm cooking beef brisket for the first time.

This is a recipe I was given: Beef broth, lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, onions, liquid smoke. I added onion powder and garlic powder.

All in a cast iron pot with the brisket, which I slow cooked in the oven at 300.

When it was done, I took it out of the pot and then reduced the sauce on the stovetop; added some wondra flour to thicken.

It was phenomenal!*

*I later made brisket again, with the same ingredients, and decided it needed more kick. So I added worcestershire sauce and "better than bouillon" beef base.

Lodge pineapple cake pan

This is the Lodge pineapple cake pan. It's discontinued and very hard to find.

It's meant for making... cake! Shaped like... pineapples!

Depending on its actual size, though, which is hard to tell from the photo, I'm sure if you use your imagination, you can find other uses for it.

But, it's mostly for making pineapple shaped cakes. I'd recommend the duncan hines pineapple cake mix, but you can use any cake mix you want.

If you don't have this pan, not to worry-- any cake is just as delicious baked in a skillet.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

cast iron egg roaster

This is a cast iron egg roaster.

It's meant for... roasting eggs! It's a Jewish tradition to roast eggs during Passover.

The recommended method is to boil the eggs first (to prevent a mess), then roast them in the oven until they turn brown.

If you don't boil the eggs, you have to poke each end with a pin to keep it from exploding.

From what I'm told, roasted eggs taste just like boiled eggs, except you use a lot more electricity. But roasting is for the sake of tradition.

This pan is hard to find, so if you want to roast eggs, you can use a grill pan.

cast iron fireplace crane

This is a cast iron fireplace crane.

It bolts into the side of your fireplace, and pivots in and out of the fire.

It's for hanging cast iron pots, to cook food in your fireplace.

Very handy during a power outage!

cast iron asparagus buncher

This is a cast iron asparagus buncher.

It does exactly what the name implies; It bunches asparagus.

Asparagus was placed in that hinged center, which was closed to form a bunch, which was tied up and sold at the farmer's market.

If you search for the term "asparagus buncher", you will find that it's also an occupation that pays $9.27 an hour, according to the State of California.

But I'm talking about the cast iron variety.

cast iron glue pot

This is a cast iron glue pot. They came with an outer pot for water and an inner pot for the glue.

They acted like a "double boiler", in order to gently heat up the glue without direct heat.

In a previous post, I said there were no cast iron double boilers, and there aren't any on the market today. But there used to be glue pots.

Before Elmer's glue, there was "hide glue" made from animal skin and bones. This glue had to be heated before it could be used, and it was heated on the stovetop, in a glue pot.

Hide glue is still used today in woodworking, but the glue pots are usually electric.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

lemon chicken and rice

This recipe was actually meant for the microwave, but I modified it for slow cooking in a cast iron pot.

Chicken breast, sliced zucchini, sliced squash, chopped onions, minced garlic, all in the pot.

In a bowl, mix chicken broth, lemon juice, white wine, onion powder, garlic powder, and corn starch. Add to the pot.

Slow cook on low heat until done.

In a separate pot or rice cooker, cook rice in chicken broth. Serve with the rice.

Since this recipe is from a healthy cookbook, it was a little bland. I added seasoned salt for flavor.

Next time I'll add brown sugar and paprika to the sauce, and use more cornstarch.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I finally found a 1 quart cast iron stovetop pot!

In a previous post, I wrote about a 1 quart camp oven, and said that I WISH they made a 1 quart pot suitable for indoor use.

I finally struck gold during a routine stop at a hardware store today.

Mind you, I went directly against what I preach; This pot was not made by a brand I trust.

But there were none other to be found, and I really wanted a 1 quart pot.

Did I NEED one? Absolutely not.

Have I figured out exactly what I'm going to do with it yet? Absolutely not*.

*I finally made french onion soup in it.

The brand was "Cajun Classic", which I'd never heard of; its quality appeared to be slightly better than Bayou Classic.

Nevertheless, it was the only 1 quart cast iron pot I could find. It's cute!

Normally, though, I would not buy cast iron unless I knew and trusted the brand.

I finally decided to try boudin

I'm not a big sausage eater, so I was reluctant to try boudin, a popular "sausage" in cajun country.

I put "sausage" in quotation marks because boudin is not really sausage; rather, it's rice dressing stuffed into a sausage casing.

It was created as a way to stretch out the meat to feed more people.

The rice dressing usually consists of rice, sausage, and other spices. There are thousands of different recipes; Crawfish boudin contains, well, crawfish.

Since pre-made boudin is a staple in South Louisiana, available at every grocery and convenience store, I did not try making my own.

If you'd like to try making your own, there are sample recipes here, here, and here.

Of the kinds I tried, I really liked the Savoie brand; Richard's was too hot for me. Some like it hot.

I prepared the pre-made boudin by placing it on a cast iron griddle and heating in the oven at 300.

Cast iron "crackling pot"

This is a 5 gallon cast iron "crackling pot". They are sold in South Louisiana.

Actually, you can cook anything you want in it, but it's marketed as a pot to cook cracklings in.

What are cracklings? I've never tried them, and never will. It's fried pork fat, and considered a delicacy in cajun country.

Sounds disgusting to me.

It's different from the pork rinds you buy at the supermarket; Those are just fried pork skins. Cracklings is fried pork fat, with skin attached.

If you'd like to try cracklings, there are detailed instructions on how to make them here.

It's probably better to make cracklings outside, since it seems to be a messy process.

The recommended cut is "pork belly" and has to be ordered from a local butcher.

I've been told that it tastes like fatty bacon. I'll take their word for it. You can have all the cracklings you want; I'll pass!

Here's another interesting cracklings page.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

very modified stuffed breast of veal

This recipe is modified from Cast Iron Cuisine: From Breakfast to Dessert.

The recipe was stuffed breast of veal. I didn't have a breast of veal, but I did have veal shank steaks.

The recipe called for making a filling, stuffing it into a breast of veal, and roasting.

I made a modified version of the filling, and roasted the veal shank steaks alongside the filling.

Saute some frozen spinach, minced garlic, and chopped onions in olive oil. The recipe also called for chopped carrots and celery, but I left those out.

Add some beef stock, white wine, italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder and rosemary and continue cooking. When veggies are done, mix in bread crumbs and one egg.

Season the veal shank steaks with italian seasoning, rosemary, onion powder and garlic powder. Lay the steaks in the same skillet with the filling. Into the oven at 350 for 20 minutes; reduce to 275 until done.

Topped with parmesan cheese is wonderful.

So this isn't exactly stuffed breast of veal, but it is veal with a wonderful stuffing!

cast iron "fryer pan"

This is a cast iron "fryer pan", or so it says.

It looks like a large sandwich iron, which is used to make grilled sandwiches over a campfire.

The owner reports that this pan is larger than one sandwich, but too small to make two sandwiches. So I'd estimate about 8 inches.

I've never used a sandwich iron, but apparently you can fill it with anything you want and cook it over a campfire. They can be either round, square, or rectangle shaped. Also called a pie iron.

Reportedly, this pan's intended use was for cooking sausage on the stovetop. But just like a sandwich iron, you can cook anything you want in it.

To use this pan, you would first preheat one side on the stove, then flip and preheat the other side, then flip again, and add your food.

Actually, this reminds me of an electrical appliance I once had, but never used, called a "meal maker express". It was a knock-off of the George Foreman grill, which I also have, and never use.

Krusty Korn Sausage pan

This is a Krusty Korn Sausage pan, sold in the early 1900's. It's similar to a waffle iron, except it's for corn dogs.

The attached "base" is for burners on wood or gas stoves; For an electric stove, you would use it without the base.

To quote its advertisement: "Cornbread and sausage have always been a famous combination. With these irons, they can be baked together as a full ear of crusty cornbread with a sausage inside. They are as easy and quick to bake as waffles. Other combinations such as weiners in biscuits can be made in these irons."

In other words, it was for corn dogs, pigs in a blanket, and the like.

I think you were supposed to fry the sausage in a skillet first. I would definitely cook it first!

I saw another variety, except without the base, and with a much longer rod, intended for use in a campfire like a "pie iron".

These pans are very hard to find; However, cornstick pans are very common, and there's no reason you can't make pigs in a blanket or corndogs* with those. Just put your cornbread batter or biscuit dough in the molds, and then place your cooked sausage.

*They may not be perfectly shaped corndogs, but they'll taste the same.

I've suggested before, cooking hot dogs on the stovetop using a cornstick pan. Apparently I wasn't the first to think of that, from the looks of this pan.

rosin baked potatoes in cast iron

I've never tried a "rosin baked potato", which is a potato that is baked by submerging in hot rosin, in a cast iron pot called a "rosin kettle".

I couldn't find a picture, but the pots were sold half full of rosin with a set of tongs, specifically for cooking rosin baked potatoes. Some people also cooked onions this way.

This link has very easy to understand instructions.

Rosin comes from pine trees, and is seldom sold anymore, but can be purchased here.

Rosin is reusable; Just cover the pot for storage, and then reheat again.

You definitely want to do this outside, due to the extreme heat of boiling rosin. Your stove can't get it hot enough.

Rosin used to be harvested in the South and sold for making turpentine and other things; Somewhere along the line, someone discovered that boiling rosin makes delicious potatoes.

Apparently it's not that hard; Just bring the rosin to a boil, drop in the potatoes, and 5 to 10 minutes after they float to the top, they're ready. Pull it out, wrap in newspaper* until it cools, then cut in half and add your butter and toppings.

*Use newspaper, NOT foil. Foil will transfer heat to your fingers and won't absorb the rosin.

I wouldn't eat the skin, since it's been in pine rosin. From what I understand, eating it won't hurt you; I just can't imagine it being very tasty.

There's a discussion of rosin baked potatoes here.

cast iron fat free fryer

This is a cast iron fat free fryer. It's no longer made.

I can't find any information on this pan, except what I can figure out from the pictures.

It's slightly raised in the center, and has a ring around it to catch the grease from whatever you're cooking... hence, a "fat free fryer".

Today, the closest thing you will find to this pan, is a grill pan. In fact, I've seen grill pans incorrectly listed as "fat free fryers," but they are grill pans.

I would not cook eggs in this; eggs love to run to the side of the pan when I cook them.

I'm not sure I'd cook pancakes in this either. The batter would run down into the ring.

This pan is best for bacon and sausage, or burgers.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Emerilware cast iron paella pan

This is Emerilware's enameled cast iron paella pan.

A paella pan is a large, shallow, flat pan used to make... paella!

It looks like a big skillet to me. There are no paella pans in traditional cast iron, but there certainly are big skillets in traditional cast iron!

It's up to you: Would you rather pay $90 for this pan, or $35 for a big Lodge skillet?

I've made paella before in a dutch oven, but my recent research indicates it may not have been the most authentic. It was good, though.

I made it similar to how I make jambalaya.

This is how I made it:

In the dutch oven, combine shrimp, smoked sausage, 1 cup rice, 1 cup clam juice, 1/2 cup chicken broth*, chopped onions, minced garlic, canned tomatoes, paprika, thyme and turmeric. Simmer covered until done.

*I used the same liquid to rice ratio as I use for jambalaya, which is 1 1/2 to 1.

You can find more information on paella cooking methods here and here.

The Emerilware jambalaya pan looks exactly like this pan, except it has a lid. And, while there are no "jambalaya pans" in traditional cast iron, there sure are skillets with lids in traditional cast iron!

So I'll have to research this further and maybe make a more authentic paella soon.