CAST-IRON LOVIN’ PART I: Bread bowl eggs

HI EVERYONE. I know it seems like I’ve abandoned the original purpose of this blog and gone ridiculously off-tangent with my Southeast Asia escapades and so on. I know it seems like I’ve started a project I’m not disciplined enough to follow through… (sob, sometimes it really does feel that way) BUT FRET NOT. I’ve been hard at work in my kitchen (when my day job affords me scatterings of free time haha!) all this while, cooking and learning more about food from friends, occasional mentors and most importantly the internet!!! (Pinterest, Youtube, Buzzfeed Food, Eater.com, etc. are my favorite sources of education, news, fun, food porn.) Also, I recently accumulated some amazing cookware which I will blog about, with accompanying recipes!!!

I’m starting on a new blog series entitled CAST-IRON LOVIN’, posting cast-iron tips and recipes for you guys to test out and marvel at the wonders of this incredibly versatile cookware. šŸ™‚ Always wanted to get my hands on a cast-iron pan because of so many reasons:

1. Like I mentioned, they’re so versatile! You can use it on the stove top, to bake in the oven, camping out in the wilderness, and to cook all sorts of food. This is especially useful for dishes that need finishing off in the oven after the initial pan-frying/searing on the stove top.

2. Cast iron retains heats exceptionally well.

3. I’m sure you’re itching to cook and bake with it to death…and literally, this pan supposedly lasts a century. You can pass it on to your children and grandchildren (and their children too, I bet). It’s a pan that ages well and gets better with use. When seasoned well, it becomes a non-stick pan without all that Teflon nonsense. What’s more, you won’t even have to grease the pan with fat; HELLO FAT-FREE COOKING! But this well-seasoned quality doesn’t come instantly, only after proper seasoning of the pan and loads of tender loving care, which I will elaborate in future posts.

4. For all you heavy metal fans out there (hur hur), cast iron so sturdy and virtually indestructible (at least within the confines of your house or the at the very least, within the context of cooking). Also, unlike most pans, it’s molded out of a single piece of metal. That means no screws to loose, no shaky joints to break and wear out!

5. You get to save on dish-washing liquid! And nope, not at the expense of a filthy, foul-smelling pan. Detergent actually erodes into the seasoned “non-stick” surface of the cast-iron pan, so as far as possible try not to use it. A little bath in hot water and light scrubbing on the surface will do the job. Water at near-boiling temperature is sufficient to get rid of all the dirt and smells.

And so roughly two months ago, after tons of research and contemplating and clawing at images through the internet I finally bought my cast-iron skillet of my dreams, from Lodge! It’s quite a well-known brand in the US, and widely available over there. Sadly not many Singaporean retailers stock them and after hunting high and low I found one at ToTT, a huge store supplying cookware to both households and individuals that also conducts cooking classes on site!

I often roast vegetables or meat in smaller quantities and using the regular large-sized baking tray doesn’t really make sense to me. Cast-iron skillets come in a variety of sizes, and I got a handy 8-inch one, which also serves as an excellent compact dish for baking smaller items. One of the first few dishes to grace my darling skillet was: bread bowl eggs! These are almost effortless to make, and easily (read: synonym for insane creativity!!!) personalized to suit your taste, pantry stock, culture, guests, and level of laziness!!! Also a great idea for weekend brunch parties: you can prepare a dozen of these ahead of time and chuck them in the oven minutes before your guests arrive.

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Get a nice round bread bun, slice off the top, carve out a hole inside, then lightly oil it and spread minced raw garlic. Crack an egg inside, season, then bake at 350F for ~25mins until the whites set. The bread gets super crusty on the outside and the egg yolk are molten yet not too runny, almost like a paste, which is close to the consistency you experience in sous vide eggs!

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The best thing about a pan like this is that when food gets cold, you can just pop the entire pan into the oven without worrying if the handle is gonna melt or other rubbish like that. Most importantly, I must reiterate, it retains heat REALLY well. (Perfect for troublesome people like me who want to get picture perfect foodie shots post-cooking and still enjoy warm food.)

HOW CAN YOU RESIST. Try this recipe at your next brunch party/ on a relaxing morning with oodles of time to spare/ for lunch/ dinner/ supper/ as a virgin cast-iron pan dish… In fact you can do the same thing in any ol’ pan/dish that’s safe in the oven. I think I’ve said enough HEHE stay tuned for the next post in the series…and seriously now, won’t you consider getting a cast iron pan ;P

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