Chefs love cast iron’s durability and its ability to evenly retain heat. What’s old is new again. Cast iron comes in all sizes from pans that hold a single fried egg to 20-inch giants that weigh 25 pounds and take up two burners. You can pick up a cast iron pan for $25 to $300. I like 10-inch skillets for everyday cooking, which are between four to six pounds and can comfortably accommodate a pack of chicken thighs. Remember that a bigger pan is a heavier pan, which limits how easily you can maneuver it as you cook.
Make sure to season your cast iron pan. Use a paper towel to rub your pan all over with a very light coat of neutral oil like grapeseed or vegetable oil and then place in a 500-degree oven for an hour. You want your pan to have a matte dark finish. Remove from the oven and let cool. Rub another very light coat of oil all over before storing. The very best thing that you can do to maintain that new seasoning is to get cooking. Each time you cook a steak or chicken thighs, the fat adds another coat to the pan’s surface, which will create a glassy finish over time. Re-season when your pan starts to look dry and dull or if you can’t remember the last time you cooked in it. Always rub you pan down with a thin coat of neutral oil before storing.
Just because you can cook it in cast iron doesn’t mean that you should! There are some foods that you definitely should not cook in your cast iron. Fish is not something that I would cook in cast iron unless I want to infuse next day’s pancakes with the essence of fish. Tomato sauce’s high acidity reacts with cast iron, which creates an unpleasant metallic flavor. I’d skip cooking scrambled eggs in cast iron unless I want to be on dish duty for an hour or two after breakfast.
Wash your pan! Yes, you do need to wash your pan. Each time you cook with cast iron a few burnt and crusty food bits inevitably seem to stick to the pan. If you don’t scrub it clean between uses, those bits will fossilize under subsequent layers of seasoning, which create an irregular surface that will never become truly nonstick (the opposite of what you want). Wash your pan with hot water and a drop of dish soap while it’s still warm. Take care not to let the pan soak in water. Wipe down the pan and then set it over a low flame for a few minutes to fully dry. Rub all over with a very light coat of neutral oil before storing (just like you would after seasoning it). These steps are crucial for keeping your pan in fighting form against Public Enemy Number One – RUST! If you ever do have spot rust just use and old toothbrush dipped in distilled vinegar to scrub it off, let it dry, and then rub in a drop of oil. If you make a regular habit of cleaning your cast iron you’ll have a faithful companion for life.
“Work With What You Got!”
©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2018 All Rights Reserved
New Year’s Eve is about celebration, which most definitely calls for caviar and champagne. If you’re having a party or small get-together here are a few important tips about caviar.
Keep it simple! When serving caviar, keep it simple. You certainly don’t want to spring for something so speak jut to cover up the flavor with a lot of overkill. Caviar is intensely flavorful, and it goes well with crème fraiche or sour cream and blini. Try it with small boiled potatoes, seafood, soft or hard boiled eggs, or buttered pasta. Caviar can be used almost like a precious garnish, which can also be a great way to stretch out a small amount of it.
Keep it cool! When you bring caviar home, place in the refrigerator immediately in its tin. Place in the coldest part of your fridge, which is usually in the back of the deli drawer. If you’re making hors d’oeuvres, make sure to work quickly and serve immediately or place the completed snacks back in the fridge so that the eggs are sitting out on the table or counter. If you plan on serving the caviar straight up, place the tin or place in another bowl over crushed ice. The caviar doesn’t need to be freezing cold, but should be kept cool so the eggs hold their shape and freshness.
No metal please! Probably the most important rule with caviar is making sure it doesn’t come into contact with reactive metal. You certainly don’t want your precious caviar tasking like metal. This also goes for that beautiful tiny metal spoon you’ve been dying to use. Traditionally, a mother-of-pearl spoon is used to serve caviar. If you don’t have a mother-of-pearl spoon then don’t fret. Wood, ceramic, and glass utensils all work. Just make sure whatever non-metal spoon you use is a dainty little thing.
Leftovers you say? Holy moly, if you’re lucky enough to have leftover caviar please don’t throw it out or freeze it. Eat some more the next day and go out and buy yourself a lottery ticket. Leftover caviar is like seeing a unicorn. There are a number of ways to enjoy it by tossing it with buttered pasta or top your scrambled eggs with it. The good news is that your leftover caviar should last in your refrigerator for about a week.
Happy New Year’s Eve!
"Work With What You Got!"
© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen
How lucky we are this year that Saint Patrick’s Day falls on the weekend so how about having a traditional full Irish breakfast.
Start with traditional bangers and then choose either Canadian bacon or double hickory smoked bacon. Add Eggs, grilled tomatoes, soda bread, baked beans and coffee or Irish breakfast tea. You can top your grilled tomatoes with grated cheese and herbs or have them just grilled. Your eggs can be fried, poached or scrambled.
Bangers are the cornerstone of the traditional full Irish breakfast. Irish loin bacon is very similar to Canadian bacon as both are cut from the pork loin and are fairly lean meats. They are cured and not smoked. Irish bacon also has a small bit of tail meat connected to the eye of the loin. Double hickory smoked bacon is very similar to American bacon or what is called streaky bacon in the British Isles. This type of bacon comes from the pork belly and is easily distinguished by the stripes of lean and fat that run through it. Double hickory smoked bacon is a fine substitute if you decide not to use Canadian bacon.
Irish breakfasts vary from cook to cook and region to region by incorporating local specialties. Some regional favorites include mashed potatoes that are fried with leftover vegetables, blood sausage or sautéed mushrooms.