Cooking with cast-iron cookware is something you either love or you hate. Those who love it make it look so easy – their pans are a lovely shiny black and nothing ever sticks or burns. Then there are people like me – who have tried over and over to cook with cast-iron with less-than stellar results. I’m determined to learn how to use my cast-iron the right way, and a new book in ICPL’s cookbook collection may be where I start.
People all around the world have been cooking on iron or cast-iron for centuries. What makes Charlotte Bruckman’s new Stir, Sizzle, Bake – Recipes for your cast-iron skillet so different is that she has included recipes from cultures all around the world. This isn’t your basic fried chicken and biscuits cookbook.
Stir, Sizzle, Bake is laid out with the easiest recipes at the beginning so that, if you choose to, you can work your way through the book learning as you go. It’s focused mainly on forms of baking, and is divide into four main sections: No-Bake Baking; On-The-Rise Baking; Make-The-Most-Of Baking; and Condiments. The books biggest oddity (and the only thing I disliked about it) is that each section has its own table of contents for the 16 or so recipes in that section, rather than one normal table of contents at the front. However there is a complete index in the back.
Due to the international flavor of the book there are often one or more ingredients in each recipe that may be a stretch for a lot of people. How many of us have masarepa (precooked corn flour especial for arepas), green pea flour, pumpkin seeds, nigella seeds, or duck fat on hand? (or even know what nigella seeds are?)
If you’re like me, and you read cookbooks for fun, you’ll enjoy this book. Each recipes begins with a long paragraph or two about the recipe and either its history or why it was included in the book. Recipes are never created out of thin air. They are based on something – a recipe borrowed or stolen and then changed into something new. In Bruckman’s own words “What elevates each act of stealing to something noncriminal and original are the seemingly small but significant adjustments every person makes along they way.”
Most of these recipes are beyond the contents of my pantry, but I am going to try a few and see how they turn out. Wish me luck.