Cast Iron Skillet Peach and Pecan Cobbler

peaches

A cast iron skillet is the most versatile piece of cookware you can own. You can use it on the stovetop, in the oven, over a campfire, or even on a grill. You can fry in them, make casseroles in them, or even bake in them. I will make corn bread in nothing but a cast-iron skillet.

Here is a recipe I created for a Cast Iron Skillet Peach and Pecan Cobbler. I baked mine on my gas grill. The directions I am sharing are for an oven. Yeah, I include a little rye whiskey in the recipe. You can use bourbon or omit whiskey if desired. Increase lemon juice to three tablespoons if omitting.

Cast Iron Skillet Peach and Pecan Cobbler

Ingredients

Topping

1 cup all-purpose flour
cup packed light brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Filling

cups pecans
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
pounds peaches, cut into ½-inch wedges, approximately 6 to 8 depending on size
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 Lemon, juiced
1 Tablespoon rye whiskey or bourbon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Topping

Add flour, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and mix until well combined. Add butter. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers until clumps form and no dry spots remain.

Filling

Preheat oven to 350°.

Toast pecans in the oven on a rimmed baking sheet until slightly darkened in color about 8 to 10 minutes. Shake the baking sheet tossing the pecans every couple minutes to prevent from burning. Cool slightly then chop coarsely.

Add the pecans, peaches, brown sugar, granulated sugar, lemon juice, rye whiskey, ginger, coriander, cumin, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl and mix well ensuring peaches and pecans are well distributed.

Grease the bottom and sides of a 10″ cast-iron skillet with unsalted butter. Pour peach mixture into skillet. Crumble the topping over filling.

Bake until topping is golden brown and juices are thick and bubbling around the edges about 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature with or without vanilla ice cream.

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Heirloom Tomato Frittata

 

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Tomatoes are coming on strong now and can be found everywhere at farmers’ markets and roadside stands. We are eating them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Recently, I made this fantastic, flavorful frittata for lunch, but it would do well for any meal.

A frittata is quick and easy to make when you don’t have a lot of time or if you have several people to serve a quick, satisfying breakfast or brunch. The Italian word frittata comes from the Italian verb friggere – to fry, suggests the simplicity of this great dish. A frittata is somewhat like an omelet, however unlike the French omelet, the frittata requires no flipping or folding.

Heirloom Tomato Frittata

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
8 Large eggs
3 Tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
2 Cloves garlic, minced
2 Teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (more for garnish)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 Pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored, cut crosswise into 1/4′ slices

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Grease 12-inch cast-iron skillet with unsalted butter making sure to grease up the sides. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly beat eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in cheese, garlic, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. When butter is melted, pour egg mixture into pan and cook until eggs begin to turn golden brown around the edges. Arrange tomato slices on top of egg mixture. Allow some slices to sink if they want to.

Transfer skillet to oven and bake frittata until eggs are just set in the center, 8–10 minutes. If desired, turn on broiler for a 3 to 4 minutes to give the top a deeper brown. When eggs are set and frittata is browned to your preferred doneness, loosen frittata from pan and slide onto a warm platter. Garnish with a sprig or two of thyme or with additional fresh thyme leaves, slice, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Spinach and Feta Turkey Burger

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Spinach and Feta Turkey Burger with Mint, Dill, and Cucumber Tzatziki Sauce

I’ve never really cared much for ground turkey. I thought it was too dry and bland and became dense and bland when formed into patties.

A couple weeks ago, I was over at my in-laws and was served a grilled turkey burger. It was much tastier than I anticipated, but I still thought it could be improved upon.

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Spinach and feta turkey burgers fry on a cast iron griddle on a gas grill.

A few days later, my wife showed me a recipe for a turkey burger with spinach and feta cheese. It looked promising, but I thought the proportions seemed a little off. I decreased the amount of spinach and egg as I thought the amount in the original recipe would make burgers that fell apart.

I use a cast iron griddle on my gas grill to cook the burgers. A cast iron skillet will also work or simply cook them on the grates.

Here is what I did:

Spinach and Feta Turkey Burger

Ingredients

1 Large egg
2 Cloves garlic
3 Ounces Feta cheese crumbles
1 Pound fresh spinach steamed and squeezed dry or 7 ounces frozen spinach thawed and squeezed dry
1 1/2 Pounds ground turkey

Directions

Mix together the egg, garlic, feta cheese, spinach, and turkey in a large bowl until well combined. Form into 6 patties approximately 5 ounces each. Place them on foil wrapped tray and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

While burgers are chilling, preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. Then grill burgers until no longer pink in the center, 15 to 20 minutes.

Mint, Dill, and Cucumber Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients 

1 Cucumber, peeled and grated
1/2 Teaspoon salt
2 Cups plain Greek yogurt
4 Cloves garlic, minced
1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions

Sprinkle grated cucumber with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl and let stand 10 to 15 minutes to draw out juice. Then move shredded cucumber onto several dry paper or cloth towel and squeeze as much moisture as possible from the cucumber.

Then combine yogurt, cucumber into a separate bowl. Add garlic, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice and mix thoroughly.

Stir dill and mint into yogurt-cucumber mixture. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. This may also be made the day before to allow the flavors to combine even more.

Chickpeas – A great snack

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Oven roasted chickpeas.

Whether oven roasted or fried, chickpeas make a great snack and either method of making them is simple. Each method has its pluses and minuses. The oven roasting method uses less oil if that is a concern. Fried chickpeas tend to stay crispier while the oven roasted can become soft in the center after they have cooled. I provide both methods below. I would suggest trying them both to see which you prefer.

I also suggest playing around with the seasoning. Chickpeas take on seasoning well. I list a smoky, slightly spicy seasoning mix, but you can use most any. My daughter suggests cinnamon and sugar for a sweeter treat.

Here is what I did:

Oven Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients

2 15.5 ounce cans chickpeas
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 Teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 Teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1/2 Teaspoon cumin
1/2 Teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions

Heat the oven to 450°F. and place an oven rack in the middle of the oven.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas thoroughly under running water.  Open the cans of chickpeas and pour the chickpeas into a strainer in the sink. Rinse thoroughly under running water.

Dry the chickpeas with a clean dishtowel or paper towels. They should look matte and feel dry to the touch. I like to let them air dry for 20 to 30 minutes if I have time. You can remove any chickpea skins that come off while drying, but otherwise don’t worry about them.

Toss the chickpeas with olive oil making sure they are evenly coated and spread the chickpeas out in an even layer on a baking sheet.

Roast the chickpeas in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, shaking the pan every 10 minutes so they brown more evenly. Don’t be surprised to see a few chickpeas pop. The chickpeas are done when golden and slightly darkened.

Place the chickpeas in a serving bowl and sprinkle the spices over the chickpeas. Stir to coat evenly. Serve immediately.

Fried Chickpeas

Ingredients

2 15.5 ounce cans chickpeas
Vegetable oil
1 Teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 Teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 Teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1/2 Teaspoon cumin
1/2 Teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions

Drain and rinse the chickpeas thoroughly under running water.  Open the cans of chickpeas and pour the chickpeas into a strainer in the sink. Rinse thoroughly under running water.

Dry the chickpeas with a clean dishtowel or paper towels. They should look matte and feel dry to the touch. I like to let them air dry for 20 to 30 minutes if I have time. You can remove any chickpea skins that come off while drying, but otherwise don’t worry about them.

Pour enough vegetable oil into a 12″ sauté pan to cover the bottom and heat over medium-high heat. It is best to fry the chickpeas in two batches. Carefully add half the chickpeas to the skillet and fry them until golden brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the chickpeas with a slotted spoon and place them on paper towels to drain briefly. Add additional oil if needed and fry the other half of the chickpeas.

Place all the chickpeas in a serving bowl and sprinkle the spices over the chickpeas. Stir to coat evenly. Serve immediately.

Sautéed Snow Peas with Garlic

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Most Sundays, I hit up the Hiawatha Farmers’ Market in the 10th Avenue parking lot of Guthridge Park. It is my favorite farmers’ market in the Cedar Rapids area not only because it is conveniently close to home but also because it is just the right size. You can really get to know the vendors.

Last Sunday I picked up some snow peas from the friendly folks at Wittenburg’s Farm located just up the road in Springville, Iowa. I thought these would be a great side with the tomato and basil salad and mini-Hasselback potatoes made with other produce purchased from them.

This side comes together and is ideal to make the last minute before sitting down to eat. If you are serving a steak entree as I did, it can be made while the meat is resting.

Here is what I did:

Sautéed Snow Peas with Garlic

Ingredients

2 Cups fresh snow peas, washed, trimmed, and dried
2 Cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Fleur de sel or other finishing salt

Directions

Heat skillet or preferably wok over medium-high heat. Add oil and heat until shimmering. Add garlic and sauté until just beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Add snow peas and sauté constantly stirring until bright green yet still crisp, about 5 minutes. You do not want to over cook the snow peas as they will turn dull and become limp.

Remove from heat, move to serving bowl, and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Serve immediately.

Beef Shoulder Tender Sandwich

IMG_3340Forget using a rib eye or sirloin, and don’t even think about using an expensive beef tenderloin for making a delicious steak sandwich when there are less expensive, more tender, and beefier tasting options available such as the beef shoulder tender.

Zepplins is a restaurant not far from our house that we frequent with my mother and father-in-law. They have a sandwich on their menu my father-in-law and I like very much called the Stockyard Steak. We call it delicious.

The description on the menu reads “Char-broiled chuck tender, wild mushrooms, Swiss cheese, arugula & cracked pepper aioli on ciabatta.” It’s so good I had to recreate it. I have made this sandwich now a couple of times. The only difference is I use a shoulder tender rather than the chuck tender used by Zepplins. They are similar cuts from the same general area of the cow, but the shoulder tender is rated more tender. As a matter of fact, beef shoulder tender is rated as the second most tender cut of beef trailing only the beef tenderloin. In addition, the cut has a much beefier taste and is half the cost of beef tenderloin. Another very similar cut coming from the same general area you could use for this sandwich is the flat iron.

All three of these cuts should only be cooked no further than medium-rare. Cooking any of these cuts beyond medium-rare will cause the muscle to tighten up and become tough.

Here is what I did:

Beef Shoulder Tender Sandwich
(Makes two sandwiches)

Ingredients

1 Beef shoulder tender (approximately 8 to 10 ounces)
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
4 Slices ciabatta approximately 1/2″ thick from a 12″ loaf
Olive oil
4 Tablespoons black pepper roasted garlic aioli (recipe follows)
1 Cup approximately arugala
3 Slices Swiss cheese
4 ounces of mushrooms sliced thin (your choice; oyster, chanterelle, shiitake, cremini)

Directions

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

About 30 minutes prior to grilling, take beef shoulder tender out of the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Then season with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and grill beef shoulder to rare or medium-rare; about 4 to 5 minutes per side for rare, 6 to 7 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove from heat, tent with foil, and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Prepare the ciabatta and mushrooms while the beef is coming to room temperature. Brush one side of the ciabatta with olive oil and place under a broiler until toasted. Flip and lightly toast the side without olive oil and set aside. This could also be done on the grill if you prefer.

Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a skillet. Sautée mushrooms until softened they begin to slightly brown. Lightly season with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and set aside.

Assemble the sandwich. Place two slices of toasted ciabatta on work surface with the olive oil side down. Spread aioli on these sides. Top with arugala and then Swiss cheese. Next place sliced beef tenderloin tender slices on top of cheese and mushrooms on top of beef. Top with remaining toasted ciabatta slices olive oil side up and serve.

Black Pepper Roasted Garlic Aioli

Ingredients

1 Large egg yolk
2 Teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 Cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Roasted garlic cloves
Fresh ground black pepper

Directions

Whisk together yolk, lemon juice, and mustard in a medium sized bowl. Combine oils and add, a few drops at a time, to yolk mixture, whisking constantly, until all oil is incorporated and mixture is emulsified. Should your mixture separates, stop adding oil and continue whisking until mixture comes together, then resume adding oil.

Mash the roasted garlic to a paste. Whisk in garlic paste and black pepper into above mixture. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Aioli will last about a week in the refrigerator.

Roasted Radishes with Rosemary Brown Butter

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I love the peppery zing of radishes and look forward to them in Spring. They’re great for snacking, sliced thinly on salads, and always find their way onto a crudités tray, but have you ever roasted them? If not, you don’t know what you’re missing.

I am a big believer in the transformative power of roasting almost any vegetable and radishes are no exception. One problem with radishes is that late in the season they tend to get hot. Roasting them can help tame this hotness.

I like to use slightly larger radishes when I roast them. I also like to mix up the variety by combining various colors of globe and white icicle, but any one type will work. This recipe also utilizes some of the radish leaves. Contrary to popular believe, radish greens are edible and quite tasty. Radish leaves do not keep more than a couple days, but you might also consider adding the leftover leaves to your salad mix.

This recipe also calls for browned butter. Browned butter is easily made, but can go from browned to burnt in seconds if not watched. Always use a heavy bottom, light colored sauce pan and begin on medium-low heat. Using a light colored skillet like a stainless still will allow you to better see the color change. I also suggest near constant stirring to prevent the milk solids from sticking to the bottom of the sauce pan and burning.

Here is what I did:

Roasted Radishes with Rosemary Brown Butter

Ingredients

1 bunch radishes (approximately 8 to 12 depending on size) trimmed, reserve some leaves
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Teaspoon Kosher salt
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Pinch of finishing sea salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Wash and trim radishes reserving the radish greens. Radish leaves can be gritty. Rinse thoroughly in cold water. Spread them out on paper towel and let them dry completely before removing the tougher center rib and roughly chopping. Set aside.

Cut the radishes in half and toss them with olive oil and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

Place the radishes cut side down on a large baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes until cut sides begin to brown and can easily be pierced with a knife.

About five minutes before the radishes finish roasting, prepare the brown butter sauce. You want it hot to wilt the radish tops. Begin by melting butter in a heavy bottom, light colored sauce pan. Using a light colored skillet like a stainless steel will allow you to better see the color change.Butter can go from browned to burnt in seconds. Stir with a wooden spoon and after about 4-5 minutes add the rosemary. The butter may crackle and foam again but you will notice an almost immediate release of rosemary fragrance. Increase heat to medium and continue to cook until it turns a beautiful, deep brown color, about another 3-4 minutes  Remove from heat.

Place the radishes and leaves in a large serving bowl. Pour the brown butter sauce over the radishes and gently toss. Season with additional finishing sea salt if desired.

Serve immediately.