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Griswold and Wagner Cast Iron Cookbook: Delicious and Simple Comfort Food Hardcover – November 1, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Though the Griswold company has been making top-of-the-line cast iron cookware since the 1800s, this is their first commissioned cookbook. The recipes, compiled by food writer and cookbook author Pruess (Seduced by Bacon) fittingly mirror the company's century-plus history, combining cast-iron classics like peach cobbler and fried chicken with modern, upscale fare like Duck with Apples, Oranges and Cider, Moroccan Lamb-Stuffed Peppers, and Panko-Macadamia-Crusted Salmon. Pruess also shows readers how to use their skillets to create comfort food favorites like macaroni and cheese, oven-roasted chicken with gravy, deep-dish pizza and croque monsieur sandwiches, as well as luscious desserts like rich and silky clafoutis. Hampered only by a rambling introduction (more than made up for by crucial tips on iron cookware care and maintenance), this collection of everyday recipes will give cooks a new appreciation for this sturdy, too-often overlooked piece of equipment.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“This collection of everyday recipes will give cooks a new appreciation for this sturdy, too-often overlooked piece of equipment.” (Publishers Weekly)
“If you thought cast iron cooking just pertained to stews, you're in for a delightful treat!” (Library Journal)
Top customer reviews
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This volume is a really nice, high quality hardbound book with a stitched spine. It lays flat on the counter which makes using it while cooking very easy. You can't begin to imagine the quality of the pictures until you see them. They were taken right in Pruess' home by a professional photographer as she prepared the recipes. These full color photographs occur on almost every other page. This is one of those cookbooks that's simply fun to sit down with and go through page by page.
The book is simply gorgeous. It can just as easily sit on a coffee table as it could sit on a kitchen counter. One of the elements of this cookbook that really rings true to me are the pans Pruess used in the pictures. When I see, for instance, the picture of the skillet in the oven on p. 88, I notice the pan has carbonization building up on the inside. In other words, this is a pan that gets regular use and has been used for quite a while. I can relate to it because it looks like my primary cast iron skillet. This is really in contrast to some cast iron books I've seen in which a marketing department simply went and bought pre-seasoned pans from the store and prepared a few of the recipes in them. I can even think of one cast iron book that actually has food sitting in a gun-metal gray unseasoned cast iron Dutch oven. That's definitely not the case with this book as page after page contains pictures of Pruess' own "much used pans."
If you click on the "Look Inside" image of the book on the top of the Amazon page, check out p. 33 which contains "Mom's Mac and Cheese with Bacon." The recipe is an adaption of Pruess' mother's recipe. Of course, all proper mac and cheese recipes should be baked in an oven, but what really makes it nice is the topping made from a combination of cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiono cheeses and panko bread crumbs. This was the first recipe we tried and it's absolutely delicious. It may just be better than the recipe we've made for years that's our previous favorite. We've also made the Clam-and-Corn Fritters (p. 52) which were quite tasty. Simply looking at the selections and pictures makes me want to systematically walk through this cookbook over the next few months trying out most, if not all, of the recipes.
Pruess also provides lots of tips about cleaning, maintaining, and even restoring cast iron. There are plenty of historical vignettes as well as older Griswold and Wagner advertisements including tips from Griswold's "Aunt Ellen" from nearly a century ago.
Get this book for yourself or as a gift for friends during the holidays. It's a winner.
The introduction starts off with a short but interesting background of cast iron cooking and focuses specifically on Wagner Ware and Griswold cast iron (page 29 makes this very clear - this is a brand-name cookbook). Ultimately the brand is not really all that important unless you have a sentimental connection to a specific manufacturer or have had bad experiences with a brand in the past. The history is interesting material and is truly worth the read.
As with most other cast iron cookbooks I have seen, this one includes a section on proper care and maintenance of cast iron. Most of the information is straightforward and common-sense stuff, but there are a few informational items that I did not know before, specifically regarding self-cleaning ovens and open flames.
At several points in this cookbook there is mention of someone named Aunt Ellen. At first I thought this was a relative of the book's author and that this was simply a tribute to a favorite aunt, but I finally discovered an explanation of Aunt Ellen and who she was, on page 27. The anecdotes and various sayings by Aunt Ellen come from an industrious and knowledgeable woman who worked for Griswold and shared recipes, tips and advice regarding cast iron cookware.
There are four main sections in this cookbook: Luncheon and other Nibbles, Vegetables and other Sides, Main Courses (which is subdivided into Poultry, Meat and Seafood), and finally Desserts. I have not tried a lot of these recipes yet but I have one that I tried in particular that turned out memorably well - Mom's Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon, which is the very first recipe in the book. Made in a cast iron Dutch oven, it turned out entirely different than that made in a stoneware crock or casserole dish, but it was a big hit with the family and is getting made again this evening.
Most recipes (not quite all) have gorgeous, full-color pictures with the finished dish. The majority of these show the dish still in the cast iron cookware used to prepare them. I very much like the formatting and layout of this cookbook.
If I could change one thing about this cookbook, I would add an indicator with the recipe, either directly under the title or in the narrative introduction, a statement about what kind of pan, pot or griddle is needed to prepare it. This is a small thing and adding it would have made this cookbook even better.
This is a fine book for anyone who likes cast iron cookware and wants a good collection of recipes that are geared specifically for cooking with cast iron. There is a little bit of everything in this cookbook, there are some great stories and lots of advice from Aunt Ellen's archives. At the current price (about $10) this book is a bargain.
I ordered this book as a gift for my wife, a great cook and a native of Erie, Pennsylvania, who loves anything Griswold. Unfortuantely, this small, nominal change greatly reduces the value of this from being a clever and considerate gift, to just another cast iron cookbook. Although all other characteristics of the book appear to be as promised, I am disappointed.