Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category


I have been saving this recipe on my Pinterest board, waiting for just the right time to give it a try. I knew that my foodie friends (including Anna and her husband Rob – they are major foodies!) would love it. A fall weekend on beautiful Madeline Island was just the right time to make it!

Anna and her husband, Rob, enjoying dinner on beautiful Madeline Island.

I slightly adapted the recipe. It is from “Cook it in Cast Iron,” a cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen that came out in 2016.

Simple Baked Brie with Honeyed Apricots


~1/4 cup honey, divided ~1/4 cup diced apricots 1-14-oz. wheel Brie cheese, rind removed and cut into 1″ chunks 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary 1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives (I used a bit more, as well as some chopped scallions – my friends like onions!) Crackers and/or sliced baguette for dipping


As I was planning to serve this on Friday or Saturday evening – traveling to the Island on Friday – I gathered my supplies on Thursday. I plucked the chives and rosemary from my garden, washed them, and placed them into a small ziplock bag with a piece of paper towel. I waited to chop them until it was time to prep the dish) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Chop/dice the apricots. Toss them with the half of the honey. Add the rosemary and a bit of salt and pepper. Microwave for 1 minute, stirring halfway through. Toss the chopped brie with the apricot/honey mixture. Place into your cast iron skillet (I used a number 8 Vollrath from my friend Mary’s cabin kitchen) oven and cook until just melted – about 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Drizzle the remaining honey over. Sprinkle the chives over. Serve in the skillet alongside a sliced baguette and/or crackers. I used both – Breton wholegrain crackers and a “take and bake” baguette that I warmed alongside the brie.

Enjoy your delicious appetizer with your friends and a nice glass of wine!


Photo Aug 16, 14 31 38

Summer Skillet Series #2 – Scrambled Eggs

This is a great way to use up excess vegetables in a scrumptious breakfast.  Today we’re using corn and tomatoes, for those who still have them, but you can always substitute pretty much anything else and it still works. We particularly love chives in our scrambled eggs too – they are one of the hardiest herbs in our garden.

Add fresh chives, corn and tomatoes to your scrambled eggs.  When using fresh corn, take it off the cobb and cook it for about 3 minutes in the microwave before adding it to your eggs.  If you love cheese, add a tablespoon of grated cheese for each egg as well.   Don’t forget salt and pepper.

Tip 1: To make them extra creamy, add 1 tbsp cream for each egg when they are just starting to cook at the bottom of the skillet. Tip 2: Don’t put the veges into your scrambled eggs until they are starting to cook on the bottom of the skillet. Tip 3: Always cook scrambled eggs on low heat!

PSSST – I’m posting this on a Saturday so you can be ready for scrambled eggs on Sunday.  Enjoy!


I subscribe to Cook’s Illustrated, and try to make at least one recipe from each issue. From the May and June 2016 issue, I chose Dolsot Bibimbap. This was my first-ever effort at making a Korean rice bowl, and actually the first time I have ever tasted one. And my goodness, it was delicious. I had two guests for dinner, and all  three of us loved this dish. We ate heartily, and had enough for three additional servings, which I packaged up for lunch for all of us. It was almost as good the next day when I had it for lunch. 

I made the rice bowl in my Griswold Iron Mountain #12 cast iron skillet; the size was just about perfect for this substantial dish. I could probably have used a #14 pan and it also would have been fine. Or, I could have made them in individual #3 or #5 pans and served them in the skillets at table. Next time!

Dolsot Bibimbap, slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated May & June 2016 issue

You can find more information about Dolsot Bibimbap from Cook’s Illustrated here.



1 c. cider vinegar 2 T sugar 1-1/2 t salt 1 cucumber (I used an English cucumber), cleaned, cut lengthwise into quarters and thinly sliced 4 oz (2 cups) fresh bean sprouts, rinsed and drained

Chile Sauce:

1/4 c. gochujang (red chile paste – I found mine at World Market, but you can also find it at Asian markets) 3 T water 2 T toasted sesame oil 1 t sugar


3 c. short grain rice (I used the shortest grain I could find from the Asian section of my supermarket) 3 c. water 3/4 t. salt


1/2 c water 6 green onions, thinly sliced white and ~2″ of green tops 3 T soy sauce (I like Lee Kum Kee Premium soy sauce) 5 small garlic cloves, peeled and minced 1 T sugar 1 T olive oil 1 small bag shredded carrots (about 2 cups) 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced. 10 ounce bag baby spinach


2 T plus 2 t olive oil 1 T toasted sesame oil 4 large eggs


Prepare pickles: whisk vinegar, sugar, and salt together in medium bowl. Add the cucumber and bean sprouts; toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. My pickles marinated about 4 hours; they were delicious! Prepare red sauce: whisk gochujang, water, oil, and sugar together in small bowl. Cover and set aside. Cook rice. I used my well-loved rice cooker. Works every time! Keep warm. Prepare vegetables: While rice is cooking, stir together water, scallions, soy sauce, garlic, and sugar. Heat 1 t oil in size 12 or 14 cast iron skillet over medium heat until hot. Add carrots and stir until coated. Add 1/3 of the scallion mixture to carrots. Stir until coated and slightly softened and liquid is evaporated, about 3-5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer carrot mixture to small bowl. Heat 1 t oil in now-empty #12 skillet. Add mushrooms and stir until coated with oil. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are tender and moisture has evaporated; about 3-4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to second small bowl. Add 1 t oil to now-empty #12 skillet and heat. Add spinach and remaining scallion mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, until spinach is wilted but still bright green; about 2 minutes. Remove spinach from pan with slotted spoon and place in third small bowl. Prepare Bibimbap: Wipe out #12 skillet with paper towels. Heat 2T oil and 1 T sesame oil in skillet over medium heat. Add the warm cooked rice and press down into a layer on the bottom of the skillet. Cook without stirring for about 2 minutes. Transfer carrots to pan and layer smoothly atop rice in pan. Transfer spinach to pan and layer smoothly atop carrots in pan. Do the same with the mushrooms. Reduce heat under pan to low. Cook eggs: Crack eggs into bowl. Pour bowl contents into second smaller skillet (I used my #8 Griswold slant logo with heat ring) which has been pre-heated at medium and coated with a small amount of oil or butter. Cook to desired doneness without stirring. Slide eggs onto bibimbap mixture in #12 skillet. Drizzle about 2T chile sauce over eggs. Serve! Bring your big skillet to table and place atop cork trivets. In front of your admiring guests, take a wooden spoon and first stir / break up the vegetables and egg mixture, being careful not to disturb rice crust. Then, take your spoon and scrape large pieces of the rice crust and mix into vegetable and eggs. Serve in individual bowls or on plates. Pass pickles and extra chile sauce to add as desired.



The vegetables at the late summer Farmer’s Markets here in Minnesota are awesome. Tons and tons of wonderful ripe vegetables to choose from. I picked up quite a bounty recently, and set about looking for a recipe. I often pan-roast my veggies with just olive oil and kosher salt, but wanted to try something just a little different.

I ended up making a huge pan of roasted vegetables with a balsamic/mustard glaze. To serve alongside, I made balsamic-glazed chicken breasts. Of course you know that leftover roasted veggies are AWESOME in egg frittatas!


For the chicken breasts, I used this recipe from Recipe Girl. Of course, I used fresh thyme from my garden. I cooked the two boneless skinless chicken breasts in my Griswold slant logo #8 cast iron skillet with heat ring.

The original recipe for the roasted veggies is from Bon Appetit (August 2008). It’s an oldie but goodie. I adapted it just a bit to reflect what I had picked up at the Farmer’s market.

Balsamic Roasted Vegetables


For the dressing:

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I used Ingelhoffer stone-ground) 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the side of your knife blade 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (from my garden!) 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil (also from my garden!)

Fresh vegetables of your choosing. I used:

2 medium/large yellow onions 2 yellow summer squash 2 zucchini 2 bell peppers (I used red/green and green/yellow) 16 oz whole mushrooms (I used two 8-oz packages of whole mushrooms from the supermarket – I love roasted mushrooms!) Cherry tomatoes (from my garden!) Smallish-sized Yukon gold potatoes


Prepare the dressing by whisking together the vinegar, mustard, olive oil, garlic, thyme, and basil. While Bon Appetit says that you can prepare the dressing a day in advance, I prepped it two days in advance, to give the flavors plenty of time to blend. Of course, I kept it in the refrigerator. Wash the vegetables. Cut the onions into chunks. Slice the zucchini and squash into about 1/3″ pieces. Cut the bell peppers into chunks. Cut the (unpeeled) potatoes into chunks. Remove the stems from the mushroom caps. Generously sprinkle the vegetables with freshly ground coarse salt and pepper. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Toss the potatoes with a bit of olive oil and kosher salt. Place into #14 cast iron pan, and into the oven. Set the timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, add the onion to the pan and put it back into the oven. While the potatoes are cooking, start preparing the chicken breasts; timing the breasts to finish cooking at about the same time as the veggies. Set the timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the zucchini and squash to the pan. Toss to coat. Salt and pepper to taste. Set the timer for 10 minutes. Toss the mushrooms and bell peppers with the balsamic oil mixture. After 10 minutes, add the mushrooms and bell peppers to the skillet. Toss the veggies and place the skillet back into the oven. Set the timer for 10 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and place back into oven. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are the consistency you like. I prefer slightly crisp – avoid mushy veggies!

Serve and enjoy with good friends and a glass of good red wine!



Anna has been working with The Pan Handler LLC. Please join me in welcoming her and her first blog post!


Welcome to the first post in our Summer Skillet Series! Gardens are overflowing with tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, and corn is sweet, juicy, in season, and very friendly to the grocery budget.

We are going to test drive some recipes that will help make the most of both your summer bounty and your vintage cast iron skillet, though we may sneak some other pan types in there too.

Today’s recipe is from a favorite site of mine – Epicurious, which includes recipes from Bon Appetit and Gourmet. The original recipe is here – but I made some tweaks along the way that should help you adapt it for your family.

Epicurious believes this dish delivers “…a lot of summer glamor for very little work, balancing the baritone flavor and fat of the steak with the tomatoes’ coloratura acidity” and they are spot on.

Ingredients • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided • 2 (1 1/2-inch-thick) porterhouse steaks (about 1 3/4 pounds each) • 4 teaspoon kosher salt • 6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthwise • 4 (1/2-pint) containers mixed cherry tomatoes • 6 large thyme sprigs • 1 1/2 cups coarsely torn basil leaves

Tomatoes: I used approximately 2 pints of medium – enormous heirloom tomatoes from our garden. I say approximately because it was a very general estimation, however you’ll find that this recipe is very forgiving and you don’t need to be precise with how many tomatoes you use.

This is why we’re featuring tomatoes so heavily in our summer skillet series!

Porterhouse Steaks: My steaks were much thinner (about 3/4 inch thick) so keep an eye out for how I modified the cooking times to take this into account.


Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat until it shimmers.   Meanwhile, pat steaks dry and sprinkle with kosher salt and 1 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Sear steaks 1 at a time, turning once, until well browned, about 10 minutes total per steak. Transfer steaks to a shallow baking pan (do not clean skillet) and cook in oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of steaks registers 120°F for medium-rare, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a platter and let stand 15 minutes.

While steaks stand, pour off oil from skillet. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and heat over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then sauté garlic until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate.

Add tomatoes and thyme to hot oil (be careful; oil will spatter), then lightly season with salt and pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, just until tomatoes begin to wilt, about 2 minutes. Stir in any meat juices from platter, then scatter basil over tomatoes and spoon over steaks.


Firstly, I’ve got to say – ditch the oven! Your cast iron skillet can give a beautiful sear to your steak and cook it perfectly without needing to finish it off in the oven. Personally I found that finishing it in the oven takes away from the final steak. It seemed to miss the sizzling deliciousness that my skillet will give to the steak.

For this test, my steaks were half the thickness recommended in the recipe, so I cooked them for half the time in the pan, about for 2:30 per side (five minutes in total per steak). I also cooked two per pan. I finished them off the oven, but wished I had just kept them in the skillet for two minutes each side.

Another thing I change is the heat for my skillet. My skillet gets hot hot hot, so I usually dial the heat down a notch from the recommended setting. For this dish, they suggested medium-high, but I found medium was perfect for the steak, and almost a little too high for the garlic and other vegetables.

I also kept the garlic in the skillet rather than removing it before the tomatoes came in, and I put the meat juices in with the tomatoes instead of at the end.

The resulting meal was quick, easy, delicious, and best of all – it was cooked all in one skillet!

Serves 4