Sunday, November 23, 2008

Three cheers for Cast iron cookware

Three cheers for Cast iron cookware

Even though I usually recommend NOT buying anything rather than buying, I have to confess this is one kitchen item I think you should not be without.
Cast iron. Lately I have come across so many reports mentioning the health risks of all different types of non stick coating, you know the type of cookware that will knock any pet bird instantly of its perch. You may not have birds, but why expose yourself and your loved ones to potentially harmful fumes? And I know, no matter how hard I try not to scratch the surface of these non stick pans, scratches happen - which of course makes me even more uneasy, since all the promises of the manufacturers of “no known effects on your health” always come with this handy little proviso - “as long as the surface is not damaged in any way” which surely must be impossible. Anyone who has ever attempted to cook anything in a pan knows, that tiny scratches will appear within a couple of weeks - and those are the scratches you can see - there might be micro ones way before that.
Cast iron on the other hand is worry free. I know people always make it sound like seasoning a cast iron pan is akin to brain surgery in complexity - nothing could be further from the truth. What really seasons cast iron cookware is usage. The more you use it, the better it gets. And forget the whole - “your food will have a metallic taste” - nonsense. What your food will get, is extra iron - not so much that you could actually taste it, but if you are iron deficient - you will feel more energetic after using your cast iron cookware.
Best of all - cast iron is both indestructible and cheap. You could pick up cast iron cookware at the antique’s dealer or a thrift shop - just clean it - scrubbing it with either steel wool or just a plastic brush, then re-season it (covering it in oil and baking it for one hour) and you are in business. Cast iron can be passed down to your children - I have heard it even survives camp fires.
Also, it is not expensive, especially compared to every other pan on the market. I prefer the smaller sized pans since they are not too heavy. My favorite is the 10 ¼ inch skillet which is a steal at $19.95, and just think - it can not be destroyed - ever!
The best maker, I think, is the original Lodge Cast Iron which you can find here.

Nice pizza recipe:

Cast Iron Pizza:

½ package dry yeast
⅓ cup warm water
¾ cup - flour of choice - I use gluten free, but any "all purpose" will do

⅜ tsp salt
¾ tsp sugar or agave nectar
toppings of choice

1. Preheat oven to 425º. Mix yeast and water. This should be slightly foaming - let it sit for a couple of minutes. Add the sugar flour and salt. Stir well. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it sit in a warm place.

2. After dough has risen - about 15 minutes or so - knead the dough and push the dough into your slightly oiled pan. By the way - if your dough does not rise - don’t panic - you can still make the pizza - it just will be more reminiscent of thin crust pizza - my family actually prefers those.

3. Add your toppings of choice and bake at 425º for about 15 minutes.


Tom Thorne said...

A nice reminder about cookware. Thanks.

kitsana_d said...

That pizza sounds both tasty and easy! Thanks for the reminder about cast iron - I keep meaning to pick some up!