Monday, September 24, 2012

Honoring the Way of Cast Iron

Honoring the Way of Cast Iron

Hello there fellow foodies on a mission.  Well it is Mike again instead of Sarah for this installment.  Well I have been fascinated by cast iron lately.  I bought a 12 in pan a few weeks back and got a 8 in pan from my late grandmother.  I never saw her use it but it got me thinking about how cast iron was such an amazing way to cook that everyone used it.  Now days few people cook with them.  I have attempted once or twice to cook with cast iron but was not drooling over it.  The cleaning is a pain and you have to take great care of them or they will not be that great.  So this time I cleared my mind of all previous thoughts.  I searched the web for a chicken recipe using cast iron.  What do you think I found?  Fried chicken, fried steak, what ever it was it was fried.  Not the healthiest choices for Sarah and I.  We are trying to eat better, well she already does but MY food choices had been very poor and unhealthy.  On the good side though I have been eating healthier so I had to think how to cook healthier.  So I thought smothered chicken.  

I wanted something other than chicken breasts so I went with Tyson boneless skinless chicken thighs, onions,  green pepper, garlic, mushrooms and mixed tomatoes.  I heated the cast iron skillet up and seared the chicken thighs on the front and back.

So while the chicken seared I sliced up the onion and green peppers.  I asked Sarah to mince up some garlic.  Onions and garlic go together like bacon and eggs or a BLT sandwich.  I just love the smells of onions and garlic, so fragrant and aromatic.  Focus Mike, sorry folks my mouth was watering and distracted me.  So I started cooking the green peppers and onions  since I knew they would take longer.  I asked Sarah to bottom off the mushrooms, which she did.  Once she bottomed the mushrooms, I sliced up the mushrooms and added them to the black pool.

Once the mushrooms were added, I love how they absorb flavors,  I think of them as my flavor sponges.  So to have them soak up some flavor on top of the garlic and onions  I poured a little Marsala wine in the pot and let them soak up the flavor.  I am no wine expert and not even a wine enthusiast but I do love cooking with it to add depth to the flavor profile.  Once everyone was in the pool and had started to catch the rays and tan a little and get a little loose from the wine.  Everyone knows how alcohol makes people loose and relaxed.  Wait a second this is food not people, oh well you know what I have rambled on about.  I added some Italian seasoned diced tomatoes from a can and Rotel tomato sauce for that little bit of kick.

So once that all the flavors had blended and socialized they enjoyed the steady steam and heat from the cast iron.  I was impressed at how well I was able to regulate and keep the cooking temperature where I wanted it.  I was always afraid that it was going to burn and stick but it did not.  During the whole time I was cooking the main dish, Sarah was trying her own side dish.  Sarah was making goat cheese and roasted pepper crostini.  Well I can not do her cooking justice so now is her time to write.  I know you enjoy her writing style better anyways.

Hey all, psshhhaw, we love reading your portions too. The recipe caught my eye online. Looked delicious and tasty. Of course I also love goat cheese, well I do love cheese in general, just in moderation due to fat and calories. Everything in moderation.

So it required a french baguette, I picked up a small one at my local whole foods and then grabbed a small pkg of goat cheese, 4 oz I believe. Of course while I was perusing the goat cheese shelf at Whole Foods I was thinking about the herbs and everything they required for this recipe. That is when I saw the Mediterranean and garlic herb goat cheese. Ooooo yes!! PERFECT! So I figured I would use that instead of having to buy fresh basil, which I hate doing because they charge sooo much for it, I should just start growing that in my kitchen on the window sill. Hmm, ideas brewing here.

So I began by roasting the peppers in the oven for about 10 min right under the broiler, at 500 degrees, and turned them halfway through roasting. After they were blackened on the skin and toasty I tossed them in a zip top bag playing hot potato with them as I picked them up.

While the peppers were roasting and steaming, to make the skin easy to peel off, I sliced up the bread into nice two bite pieces and spread with olive oil on both sides and then popped in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 min, until toasted. While they were still warm I took a halved garlic clove and rubbed it on one side of the toasts. From there I peeled the peppers and cut into nice slices for topping. I took about a teaspoon of cheese per toast, we had 12 crostini. I then topped with a slice of red and yellow pepper and placed on a plate to serve.

Aren't they pretty? Mike, Roomie, and I definitely liked them, we each had 4. Delicious, simple, and so tasty. I definitely recommend this for anyone that wants a super easy appetizer that looks like you took forever to make. They are pretty and finger food. Perfect for parties or even just to jazz up dinner a little. You could top with a little drizzle of olive oil or even some herbs if you want, a slice of basil leaf or even some chopped tomato if you want to get fancy or creative. Have fun and make something new. Back to you Mike!

Well now that Sarah has finished her portion of this installment we can wrap this meal up and assemble the troops for an assault on the taste buds of the mouth.  I try to think my taste buds are season and grizzly troops eager for the next battle.  Like a bunch of Marines that have been on a boat with a bunch of Navy guys.  They get off the boat and are looking for that excitement and ass kicking.  So to combat the veteran taste buds I found a Birds Eye frozen mushroom and green bean risotto for a side.  Chicken, rice and crostini sounds like a formidable foe for the taste buds.   If you noticed a normally have red plates for my dishes but I wanted a little better pop from the white plate and colors from the orange and red colors of the crostini, the green from the risotto and the red from the chicken.

Well that is it, no more of me rambling.  Hope you enjoyed today's blog.  So go out and cook and enjoy life.