Wednesday, August 3, 2016

REVIEW: Cast-Iron Cooking: Recipes & Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Cast-Iron Cookware by Rachael Narins


Get the most from your cast-iron cookware with 40 fabulous recipes especially designed for cast iron, from a full English breakfast to chilaquiles, pan pizza, cheesy beer fondue, Korean fried chicken, vegetarian chili, mango curry, party nuts, two kinds of cornbread, baked apples, gingerbread -- and the perfect grilled cheese sandwich! You'll also learn how to buy the cast-iron pots and pans that are right for you and how to care for them successfully.  

Paperback, 96 pages
Expected publication: August 9th 2016 by Storey Publishing, LLC
ISBN 1612126766 (ISBN13: 9781612126760)

My Thoughts
All across America, there are cast-iron pans displayed proudly on pot racks in kitchens, decoratively hung from nails in barns, nestled in cupboards, and tucked away in attics and basements.
I bought a cast-iron skillet years ago, but I have barely used it. I've never been sure just what to do with it. I mean, you can't cook without non-stick coating, right? So I was eager to learn from this book how to use my cast-iron skillet; how to care for it.

This cookbook is slightly different from most cookbooks, as there isn’t an extensive introduction. Usually a cookbook has fairly detailed intro that gives a glimpse into the thought that went into the cookbook, history, cooking equipment, cooking techniques, etc. This book does that, but in much briefer style, and after a dozen pages you are diving into the recipes. I liked this! They got to the point, told you what you needed to know, and moved on to the meat of it!

You learn about the different types of cast-iron. Not only the traditional skillet, but also griddles and pots and specialty pans. You learn how to best "season" the pan (so you have no need for that non-stick coating I mentioned earlier), and a "seasoned" pan vs. enameled cast iron, and what not to do with cast iron.

It's broken into chapters for Breakfast,  Lunch and Dinner, Sides and Snacks, and Dessert. All recipes are cooked in a cast-iron pan, whether on the stovetop, in the oven, or over an outdoor fire. Classic recipes like Fried Chicken or Steaks with Red Wine Sauce, something a little more unexpected like Baked Crab & Shrimp or Charred Eggplant Dip, or a dessert of Cranberry Upside-Down Cake.

Each recipe is showcased with a full page picture and the recipe title boldly stretched across it. Bright and colorful and yummy photography, simple and easy-to-read ingredient list, and numbered recipe steps.

I decided to make the Korean Short Ribs (galbi). The recipe called for "flanken-cut beef short ribs", and I had no clue what "flanken-cut" was. It would have been nice if it had explained this. Regardless I just used what I had on hand.

The ribs were marinated for 24 hours in a soy sauce/rice marinade with scallions, pears, onion, garlic and ginger. Then they were cooked in a hot cast iron skillet.

However I am guessing from the picture in the book that "flanken-cut" means cutting the short ribs even shorter, right through the bone. This means that the ribs are normally much thinner than what I was cooking. Which means that my ribs weren't cooking through, and after much cooking and smoking (the recipe warned about the smoke), the ribs were still rare. So I decided to stick them in the oven to finish. Thank heavens for the cast iron skillet! Easy transfer from stove top to oven!

I cooked the ribs to medium well. They were then served with rice, lettuce, scallions and extra heated marinade.

Put a piece of meat in the lettuce with some marinade and scallions, and pop it in your mouth. Chase it with some rice drizzled with marinade.


The trouble is that my skillet is now coated in cooked-on marinade, and it does not want to come clean. Which leads me to my only real complaint: This book didn't give me explicit instructions for how to clean off cooked-on food and grime, nor what type of scrubbing pads I could use (rather than what I can't use).

But that's really my only complaint. The book is concise at under 100 pages, beautifully done, with tantalizing recipes. It's informative and inspirational, and I love it!

Buy Now:

Barnes and Noble

My Rating:

The Cerebral Girl is a forty-something blogger just digging her way out from under a mountain of books in the deep south of Florida.

I received a copy of this book to review through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ from the final release.  

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