Category Archives: Recipes

Recipe: Colossal Sea Scallops (Seared on Cast Iron)

Serves 2 and can be scaled to serve more

Colossal Sea Scallops
Colossal Sea Scallops

 

Ingredients

  • 4 colossal sea scallops, rinsed in cool water and gently dried
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

The following ingredients are used as the seasoning and a dash should be used of each. See the photos to get an idea about how much to add

  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Natural Cane (Raw) Sugar
  • Ground Cayenne Pepper
Seasoning for Sea Scallops
Seasoning for Sea Scallops – Raw Cane Sugar, Sea Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Cayenne Pepper
Sea Scallops are resting with Seasoning
Sea Scallops are resting with Seasoning

Directions

  1. Get some fresh Colossal Sea Scallops (more information below on selecting the right scallops).
  2. Remove the scallops from the refrigerator, unwrap them, rinse them in very cool tap water and allow them to drain on a fresh paper towel.  Gently dry the scallops and set them on a plate, leaving space between each scallop.
  3. Assembly the dry ingredients for the seasoning.  If you do not have any Natural Sugar, also called Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado, plain old white cane sugar will work just fine.
  4. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of oil to the plate of scallops and coat the scallops with the oil.
  5. Add a dash of each of the dry ingredients to each side of the scallops.  Use the photo as a guide on how much to add.
  6. Cover the scallops with some plastic wrap. Allow the scallops to rest for about 20 minutes.
  7. Grab a beer or a cocktail – I had a Anchor Brewing Liberty Ale – this will help pass the time while you wait.
  8. Let the cast iron skillet heat up on medium heat for about 5 minutes.  In this case, I used my Wagner 1056, just the right size for four scallops.
  9. Add some canola oil to the pan and tilt to coat the bottom the the skillet.
  10. Place the scallops on the pan and let them sit.  Don’t try to slide them around or poke or prod the scallops to see if they are sticking.  If you do, they will stick!  Just let them be and develop a nice crust.
  11. After 90 seconds they should have a nice crust and will slightly pull back from the pan.  When they do, go ahead and flip them over.
  12. Again, don’t try to see if they are sticking!  Let them cook for 60 seconds if you prefer a slightly less done scallop and up to 2 minutes if you insist on having the more well done.  I would suggest sticking to the 1 minute.
  13. Once then have finished up, remove them to the serving plate and enjoy after allowing to rest for about 1-2 more minutes.
  14. Feel free to serve them a small wedge of lemon but I just like them straight up.  If you have really fresh, high quality seafood, then you can just enjoy the natural sweet flavor.

WagnerWare 1056 Preheating

WagnerWare 1056 with Colossal Sea Scallops

WagnerWare 1056 with Colossal Sea Scallops

 

Selecting Quality Colossal Sea Scallops

This is really the key to this recipe and probably any other seafood recipe. Yes, I can confirm that if you have subpar quality seafood, the finished product isn’t going to be so good.  The number one way to get high quality seafood, colossal sea scallops in the instance, is by going to a quality seafood  counter.  A specialty seafood store with a real life fishmonger (or fishwife – that’s a lady fishmonger) is your best bet.  They take pride in their products and won’t dispense less than perfect product.  I found these scallops at Kathleen’s Catch, in metro Atlanta. Kathleen does a great job there and I highly recommend checking out her shop.  We have a couple fine farmer’s markets in the area too and they would be great options as well.  More common would be a Whole Foods or Fresh Market and they certainly take care to provide great products as well.  They both have a solid supply chain and serve very fresh seafood.  Lastly, your local grocery store can potentially have some options for you but you’ll want to make sure it’s a store with a decent amount of fish moving out of their case.  The fact is that most of the seafood, scallops included, will be frozen when they arrive at the store and that is just fine.  If they thaw them properly and sell a reasonable amount of it, you can expect to find some decent quality scallops. I would say that if it’s your first try at scallops, get something that you can be assured is fresh, high quality, with a fresh ocean-like aroma, not like old fish.  Scallops will have a slightly sweet aroma too, and this will translate over to the flavor too. It does not always hold true but in many cases, in all aspects of living, you get what you pay for – don’t try to save money when you’re buying scallops.  In my area, that’s about $20-26/lb.  Is that expensive?  Yes.  Is it worth it?  Definitely.  The key take aways are to go to a fine establishment to buy your scallops and don’t be afraid to shell out some cash to get a high quality product.

 

Have you made this recipe?  If so, how did it turn out?  Do you have any suggestions to improve the recipe? Do you have another recipe that you recommend?  I want to know!  Leave a comment below – I would love to hear your thoughts.

Cast Iron Steak

Are you interested in buying vintage cast iron?

Cast Iron Steak - Rib Eye
Cast Iron Steak – Rib Eye
Credit: A. Kennedy

 

Cast Iron Steak Recipe

Cast Iron Steak - Rib Eye
Cast Iron Steak – Rib Eye
Credit: A. Kennedy

One of the best ways to cook a steak if you can’t make it out to the grill is on a cast iron skillet.  You can’t beat the sear from the massive surface area that the skillet provides. It is really nice to cook over a live fire, whether is charcoal or a real stick burner, but if you’re limited and must stay indoors this method is the way to go. In fact, this method might be the preferred method if you’re in a pinch for time.  And, I would say this cast iron steak recipe would beat out a gas grill – sorry!  But you may as well broil your steaks if you’re going to use a gas grill (in most cases anyway), and there isn’t anything wrong with that but the point is that a gas grill is not ideal.  Okay, now that we have that out of the way…  This recipe was inspired by Alton Brown’s Pan-Seared recipe which can be found here.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 Ribeye Steak – 1.25″ to 1.5″ thick
  • Canola Oil to coat
  • Coarse Sea Salt or Kosher Salt and Pepper
  • 0.5 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 0.5 teaspoon finely chopped sweet onion (i.e. a Vidalia onion)
  • 0.5 tablespoons of unsalted butter

Directions

* Just a quick point to ponder – this will get smoky.  It will be a good idea to open up a window before you put the steak on the skillet and perhaps be ready to fan some fresh air to your smoke detector if there is one close by your kitchen.  🙂  Just plan ahead and don’t be surprised.

Place a 12 inch skillet in the oven and heat to 500F.

Take the steak out of the refrigerator and coat lightly with canola oil.  Lightly season the steak with pepper then cover with plastic wrap.  Allow the steak to warm to room temperature.  This is a key step in the process which will enable the steak to cook to the desired temperature throughout.  As a rule of thumb, allow the steak to sit out at room temperature for at least 45 minutes.

While you’re waiting for things to warm up, go ahead and prep the garlic and onions. Get a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil that will be used to wrap the steak to rest once it has been removed from the skillet.

Once the oven has reached 500F and at least 45 minutes have passed, take the skillet out of the over and place on the range on Med-High heat.  Allow the cast iron skillet to set on the stove for 5-8 minutes.  It will obviously be HOT (!!) so use some caution.

Uncover the steak and generous sprinkle the salt on both sides of the steak.  Don’t be shy here because you need to add enough salt for the whole steak and this is a thick piece of meat!

Put the steak in the middle of the hot, dry skillet. It is going to smoke so turn on the fan on the range and get ready to open the window if it isn’t already done.  Sear the ribeye for  30 seconds without moving. Turn the steak with tongs and cook another 30 seconds, then put the pan into the oven for 2 minutes. Flip the steak and cook for another 2 minutes. If you follow these time guidelines you should get a medium-rare steak. If you prefer medium, add 45 seconds to both of the oven turns.

Remove the steak from the skillet and place it on the aluminum foil.  Put the garlic, onions, and butter on top of the steak.  Cover with foil and rest for 4 minutes. Serve whole or slice thin and fan onto plate.

Yummy!

Tips on picking a ribeye steak

Waygu Ribeye ("Kobe")
Waygu Ribeye (“Kobe”) – Look at the Marbling!
Credit: Michael T.

Get fresh meat and you can get a pretty good idea by the color.  Fresh steak should be bright red.  As the red meat gets older and less fresh, it turns tan and later to brown.  I would highly suggest getting USDA Choice.  The USDA Select maybe okay if you really check out the piece of meat and try to find something with a little marbling but you probably won’t be as happy with the results if you go with Select.  USDA Prime would of course be great and should turn out excellent, however, I would probably not get Prime unless it was on sale.  Certified Angus Beef (CAB) would be a fine choice here since CAB grade is at least Choice grade and may even be Prime.  Like many things in life, you get what you pay for so if you want to have a super tasty steak, you will have to shell out a few bucks for it.  Go ahead and splurge on the high grade steaks and you won’t regret it.

If you have a really good butcher around you can get some Waygu (or “Kobe”) beef.  These steaks have some serious marbling and are really excellent.  If you have a special occasion coming up or just want to see what all the fuss is about, check out the Waygu beef.

Let me know what you think of this recipe.  How do you cook steak indoors?  Do you have any tips?  If so, be sure to comment below!

 

 

 

Here are a few articles that you might be interested in reviewing also:

Affordable Steaks

Cooking a Flank Steak

Recipe: Calzones on the Grill on a Cast Iron Skillet

Cast Iron Calzone on the Grill
Cast Iron Calzone cooked on the Grill

Calzones on the Grill

I love pizza.  Or, pretty much anything that has most or all the components of pizza, such as a calzone.  Today, I will be sharing my experience making calzones on the grill and some reasons why you might want to do this.

About 50% of the time, you can see a ball of dough in my refrigerator resting, slowly rising, and developing great sourdough like flavors, waiting to be kneaded (pun intended).  I might bake a loaf of bread, na’an, pita, pizza, or flatbread.  Once, I even made some cinnamon rolls with Nutella spread over the top.  The recipe for the dough that I make varies slightly but our cast iron pizza recipe has a good one to start with.  We actually travel a decent amount and sometimes a kitchen isn’t fully stocked so I have definitely made bread or pizza dough with just flour, water, yeast, & salt.  That’s all you really need.

 

 

Cast Iron Calzone on the Grill
Cast Iron Calzone on the Grill – Divide the dough into four equal pieces and knead for a few minutes.

Okay, here is how it started –  I knew I wanted to have some sort of a pizza.  I also knew that it was a warm day and the house was already heating up!  Cranking up the oven for an hour or more would definitely make the house hotter and that is not at all a good thing during the summer time.  No problem since a grill can cook just about anything and we know that from so many chefs.  The last time that was on my radar is when I saw Bobby Flay grill pizza on his show “Grill It!” using a Weber Kettle.  Awesome.

Next, I wanted to use my cool WagnerWare 1053 #3 Cast Iron Skillets.  🙂  No really good reason why but I have really enjoyed coming up with ways to use these smaller pans.  It’s a little tough to cook in a small pan like a #3 but that make really fantastic serving dishes and if you’re making personal sized meals or side dishes, they just make good sense.

 

Cast Iron Calzone on the Grill
Cast Iron Calzone on the Grill – After kneading and letting the dough rest, you can spread and press the dough into the pre-oiled pan.
Cast Iron Calzone on the Grill
Cast Iron Calzone on the Grill – Fill up your pizza pocket or calzone with your favorite toppings.

You can see I divided the dough into four roughly equal pieces.  I kneading them for about 2-3 minutes a each and then let each of them rest for about 5 minutes.  After the rest, I flattened each ball of dough and pressed one of them into the bottom of each cast iron skillet.  I filled them up with caramelized onions, red peppers, minced garlic, and chopped artichokes.  Feel free to put anything you want in the calzone, like bacon, sauce, olive oil, cheese, goat cheese, more bacon, etc…  You’ll notice that I opted to omit the sauce and cheese for the filling.

Cast Iron Calzone on the Grill
Cast Iron Calzone on the Grill – The calzones are topped with the other two pieces of dough.  I used the very delicious Pizza Seasoning from Penzey’s Spices.  I also enjoyed a black lager while grilling – gotta have beer if you’re by the grill.
Cast Iron Calzone on the Grill
Cast Iron Calzone on the Grill – This thermometer is not super accurate but it is close enough to keep us in the right range.  The temp actually dropped a little bit for this picture.  Most of the time, the grill was in the 300° range.

I had the grill heating up with an indirect heat set up.  That is to say, I had the two side burners lit at about med-low.  This allowed me to keep the burners at the center of the grill off so that the bottom of the calzones would not burn.  I might try turning them on low for the 2nd half of the baking next time but I was a little worried about that for the first attempt.  And, since this was my first try I was not quite sure about how long to cook these calzones or at what temperature.

Cast Iron Calzone on the Grill
Cast Iron Calzone on the Grill – Topped with cheese and ready for the grill.
Cast Iron Calzone on the Grill
Cast Iron Calzone on the Grill – Sitting in the center with the two outside gas burners on Med-Low.  The stock thermometer displayed about 300° for most of the grilling time.

Normally, I would cook a pizza really hot, like 500-550° + on a pizza stone or cast iron skillet.  In this case, I knew the filling was dense, the cast iron was relatively cool, and that a hot grill would not be the right way to do it.  I figured that a moderately warm grill would work and that I needed to keep the calzones on for 25-40 minutes or so.  I monitored, watch, peaked, and checked on the calzones every 10 minutes or so.  Towards the end of the grilling, I bumped up the burners on the outside and even turned on the  center burners.  I slid the calzones right out of the pans and then  put some pizza sauce on the top.

Cast Iron Calzone on the Grill
Cast Iron Calzone on the Grill – After 35 minutes on the grill.
Cast Iron Calzone on the Grill
Cast Iron Calzone cooked on the Grill – All sauced up!

Recipe: Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

Do you want to make some homemade pizza but you lack the “required” pizza stone? Don’t worry! Just make a Cast Iron Skillet Pizza instead.  There are a few alternatives to help you get your pizza fix without having the requisite pizza stone and we’ll discuss how to use a cast iron skillet or griddle.

Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

Cast-Iron-Skillet-Pizza

 

Let’s talk about why a cast iron skillet or griddle would work nicely for this kind of application. First, most people (and especially people that have stumbled upon this website!) probably have a cast iron skillet.  There are many benefits of using cast iron in general and one of the advantages in this scenario is the non stick surface of a well seasoned piece of cast iron.  The main advantage is that the cast iron will allow you to bake the pizza at a very high temperature making for a nice, crispy crust.  Just cooking pizza in your cast iron cookware will help form and improve the seasoning.

 Ingredients for the dough

  • 1 package package active yeast
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water (about 105°F, use spring water or charcoal filtered)
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature/softened
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup corn flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt

Directions for the dough

Freshly mixed dough
Freshly mixed dough

In the bowl of an stand mixer, combine yeast, sugar, all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, corn flour, and salt then combine well, using the paddle attachment. Add butter and water then knead using a dough hook, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and sort of climbs up the hook a bit. Add a 1 tablespoon water if dough is dry and not coming together. If dough is too wet, add a 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour. Remove the dough from the bowl. coatthe bowl with olive oil and return the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it doubles in bulk, about an hour and the amount of time depends on the ambient temperature. It rises faster if it is warmer but let’s aim for room temperature, roughly, about 65-82F.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide in half. Shape the dough into two balls, cover with plastic wrap again and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. If you only want one pizza for now, put one batch of the dough in a tuperware-type bowl, cover with plastic wrap so the dough won’t dry out, lightly set the lid on top, and place in the refrigerator.

Flattened Dough, ready to be placed in the skillet.
Flattened Dough, ready to be placed in the skillet.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Oil one or two 10-inch or 12-inch cast iron skillets depending on how many pizzas you are making. We will just assume one pizza for now. Shape the dough into a circle and transfer it to the skillet. Press dough down in the bottom of skillet and up the sides. Top your pizza with the toppings of your choice (see below for some ideas). Drizzle the pizza with a tablespoon of olive oil and a bit of freshly ground black pepper.

Place the cast iron skillet on the stovetop then turn the heat to medium-high for 3 minutes.  As we know cast iron is an excellent heat conductor, and these pans will get hot fast. The bottom of the crust is getting a head start on baking before it even gets to the oven.

Bake on lowest rack of your oven.  Bake until pizza crust is golden brown and toppings are starting to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and let it rest for about 3-5 minutes before cutting and devouring!

 

 

Ideas for toppings

  • Olive oil and roasted garlic base with sun-dried tomatoes, Provolone, feta and mozzarella cheeses, sliced Roma tomatoes and thinly sliced sweet onions.
  • Tomato sauce base with mozzarella cheese,  sausage, Applewood smoked bacon, mushrooms, black olives, sliced Roma tomatoes and thinly sliced sweet onions.
  • Pesto base with portobello mushrooms, feta and mozzarella cheeses, and baby spinach.
  • BBQ sauce base, chopped roasted chicken breast, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, caramelized sweet onions, and Applewood smoked bacon.
  • Olive oil and garlic base, all chopped grilled curry chicken, mozzarella cheese. Topped with fresh basil, sliced cucumbers, and a swirl of sweet Thai chili sauce.
  • Bleu cheese or ranch dressing as a base. Mozzarella cheese, chopped grilled Buffalo chicken, caramelized sweet onions, Applewood smoked bacon with a swirl of Buffalo sauce.
  • My favorite – Pesto base with ham, pineapple, chopped jerk chicken, Applewood smoked bacon and mozzarella cheese.
Cast Iron Pizza in the Oven
Cast Iron Pizza in the Oven

A couple notes on the dough – a longer rise provides more yeasty delicious flavor.  So if you can afford to wait or if you do plan ahead, make the dough the day before and place the dough balls in the refrigerator.   Take the measures mentioned above to make sure the dough does not dry out and allow plenty of space for the dough to expand.  Just take one of the dough balls out 30 minutes ahead of time, about the time that you would turn on the oven to preheat and you should be in good shape.

Photo Credits: adambarhan, L. Marie, whitneyinchicago, and Vegan Feast Catering – all from flickr.