The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis-Hearne

I love cooking (and eating) almost as much as I love to read. And while I don’t usually like cookbooks — I tend to cook by making it up as I go along after looking at several similar recipes — I’ve found myself looking in cookbooks for cast iron skillet recipes as I’ve recently discovered the versatility of this old school pan.

The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook: Recipes for the Best Pan in Your Kitchen by Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis-Hearne seems to be a great all-around choice for recipes using this fantastic piece of cookware that will last for generations!

Some recipes I’d recommend from this book:

Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Potato Omelet) – page 4-5
Makes 4 Servings

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 1 cup)
1 pound Yukon Gold or red-skinned potatoes, peeled, halved, and cut into 3/4 inch slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 eggs
Sour cream, for serving
Hot sauce, for serving

Place a 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Turn down the heat to medium low and cook until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove to a large bowl and set aside.

Heat the skillet over medium-high heat, then add 1/4 cup olive oil and allow oil to heat up, about 2 minutes. Carefully add potatoes and cook about 10 minutes (reduce the heat if smoking occurs). Carefully separate the potato slices to keep them from sticking together. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set skillet aside, reserving the remaining olive oil inside.

Break the eggs into a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Whisk until frothy. Add the cooked potatoes and onions to the eggs.

Position a rack at the top of the oven and preheat the broiler.

Place the skillet with the remaining olive oil and place it over medium heat. When the pan is hot pour the egg mixture into the skillet and quickly reduce the heat to low. Cook until the pan side of the omelet is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Place the skillet in the oven and broil until the top of the omelet is golden brown, about 3-5 minutes more.

Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Use a spatula to loosen the omelet from the pan, and slide the omelet onto a warmed plate. Cut into wedges and serve with sour cream and your favorite hot sauce.

Dutch Baby (puffed pancake with lemon and powdered sugar) – page 6
Makes 2 servings

2 tablespoons butter
4 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, for topping
Juice of 1 lemon, for topping
1/2 cup powdered sugar, for topping

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over low heat. Mix the eggs, flour, and milk in a blender on medium speed until just blended (5 to 10 seconds). Pour the batter into the skillet with the melted butter.

Place the skillet in the over and bake until the top puffs up and is lightly golden, about 25 minutes.

To clarify the butter for the topping, melt it over low heat in a small saucepan. Skim off and discard the foam. Remove from the heat and let stand until the solids settle, about 5 minutes. Pour through a strainer into a glass measuring cup.

When the Dutch baby is done, drizzle the clarified butter over the top, then sprinkle with the lemon juice and dust with the powdered sugar. Cut into six wedges and serve immediately.

Savory Dutch Baby – page 7
Makes 2 servings

3 tablespoons butter
4 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Swiss or Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup (about three 1/4-inch-thick slices) chopped ham (French, Black Forest, or honey)

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over low heat. Mix the eggs, flour, and milk in a blender on medium speed until just blended (5 to 10 seconds). Pour the batter into a medium bowl and add the cheese and ham, folding them into the mixture. Pour into the skillet with the melted butter.

Place the skillet in the over and bake until the top puffs up and is lightly golden, about 25 minutes.

When the Dutch baby is done, cut into six wedges and serve immediately.

What I love about the cast iron skillet is that you can cook just about anything in it (don’t cook tomatoes in one), nothing sticks to it (if properly seasoned), and you can use it on the stovetop, oven and broiler!

Lately though my favorite thing to cook in a cast iron pan is popcorn – yum!

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