Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Modern Cast Iron Cookbook

The Modern Cast Iron Cookbook is a new cookbook and technique manual for using, caring for, cooking with, and enjoying cast iron cookware by pastry chef, food writer, and blogger Tiffany La Forge. Due out in paperback 21st May (or available now in ebook format) from Rockridge Press, it's 162 pages. The ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents including interactive recipe and chapter headings.

I inherited my grandmother's cast iron dutch oven and skillets which had belonged to -her- grandmother. They're still exactly as useful and in the same condition as when my great-great-grandmother used them. I love that connection. The problem is that apart from frybread, cornbread, pinto beans, and fried potatoes, I never used them. This cookbook has already changed that. I really enjoyed testing some of the recipes in this collection.

The book begins with an introduction and short history of cast iron cookware, and iron's suitability as a material with regard to durability. There are tutorials for choosing pans and what styles and weights are commonly available. There's a good tutorial on conditioning and caring for the cookware followed a really sensible guide to reducing food waste and kitchen economy. These pages fill out 15% of the total content of the cookbook.

The recipes are arranged by category: Breakfast & Brunch, Biscuits & Bread, Vegetables & Sides, Vegetarian & Vegan Mains, Fish & Poultry, Beef Pork & Lamb, and Desserts. I really appreciated the inclusion of plant based dishes. These are -hearty- mains that even my meat loving family really devoured (without complaining). 

The recipes are given with English (American) measurements. There is a very minimal conversion table included at the back of the book with metric equivalents which is nice, but readers would be as well off with a google converter. It's a nice gesture, though.

I tried three recipes in preparation for writing this review.
  • Cheese Pupusas with Curtido: The prep for this dish was fairly involved and took more than 24 hours... but definitely tasty and very filling. I was unaware of the existence of curtido (or pupusas) prior to this cookbook. 
  • African Chicken Stew: I was surprised how easy it was to source the ingredients for this dish. It reminded me a lot of black eyed pea gumbo with chicken instead of pork/seafood. Really delicious. There's cilantro as a garnish. I'm the only one in my family who loves cilantro, so it does work quite well without.
  • Reuben Grilled Cheese: Divine. This will be a staple at our house. Also, the tip to use a 10 inch skillet as a press when grilling the sandwiches in a 12" skillet is inspired. Works perfectly.
There are a lot of different cuisines represented here. There are very few difficult to source ingredients.

We're definitely going to try more of these recipes.  Well written book, tasty recipes. I've dinged half a star for the near-total lack of photographs. For cooks who -need- photographs for serving ideas, this will be a disappointment.

Four and a half stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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