Thursday, February 24, 2011

10 Things to Know About Cast Iron Pans

I have a general rule that all my cast iron pans must be older than I am. My most treasured cast iron skillet was my grandmother’s. It’s smooth as glass and so shiny I can almost check my make-up while I’m cooking. On most days, you’ll find it in its permanent home on top of my stove. With a little knowledge about the signature pan of the South, family heirlooms are as close as the kitchen.

10 Things to Know About Cast Iron Pans

1. Cast iron holds heat incredibly well.
2. Seasoning the pan means that the pores of the iron have absorbed oil.
3. Well-seasoned pans have a non-stick service.
4. Cast iron is one of very few kinds cookware that will outlive you. They are commonly passed down from generation to generation.
5. Never ever wash cast iron in the dishwasher. Always store the pans clean and dry.
6. Season a pan by rubbing with vegetable oil and “cooking” the pan in the oven for 1 hour at 400˚.
7. If an old cast iron pan feels sticky to the touch, the seasoning oil has gone rancid. Use soap-free steel wool to remove the sticky film. Then re-season the pan.
8. If food is stuck on the pan, clean with a little water and a stiff brush. Heat the cleaned pan on top of the stove to thoroughly dry all the water and use a kitchen towel to rub on a light coating of oil.
9. For light cleaning, just rub the pan with kosher salt and wipe clean with a towel.
10. If stacking cast iron skillets for storage, place a paper plate in between each one.

Lazy Girl Berry Cobbler

Serves 6 to 8

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup Southern All-Purpose Flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
4 cups fresh blackberries

Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, melt the butter in the oven while it is preheating. Once the butter is melted, remove the skillet from the oven.
Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk the buttermilk into the flour mixture.
Pour the batter over the melted butter in the hot skillet. Sprinkle the blackberries evenly over the batter.
Bake for 50 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Super Quick Super Bowl Snack and Side

Blue Cheese and Bacon Popcorn

Serves 4 to 6

1 (3.3-ounce) bag natural microwave popcorn
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 ounces Maytag blue cheese
4 slices cooked bacon, finely chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

Pop the popcorn according to package directions, being careful not to burn it.  Pour the popcorn into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle about half of the melted butter over the popcorn. Grate about half of the cheese over the popcorn.  Sprinkle with half of the bacon and half of the rosemary. Toss the popcorn and repeat with the remaining melted butter, cheese, bacon, and rosemary. Serve immediately.

Mama’s Baked Beans

Serves 4 to 6

1 (28-ounce) can bacon and brown sugar baked beans, drained
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup finely diced white onion
4 to 5 slices bacon (about 5 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
Combine the beans, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and onion in a medium mixing bowl. Pour the beans into a lightly greased 9 by 9-inch baking dish. Top the beans with the bacon slices.
Bake at 375˚F for 40 minutes, or until the bacon is done.