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    Cast Iron


    MaryJane Butters

    MaryJane’s Cast Iron Kitchen

    Digital Edition 1.0

    Text © 2017 MaryJane Butters

    Photographs © 2017 MaryJane Butters

    All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means whatsoever without written permission from the publisher, except brief portions quoted for purpose of review.

    Gibbs Smith

    P.O. Box 667

    Layton, Utah 84041

    Orders: 1.800.835.4993


    ISBN: 978-1-4236-4804-8

    Left to right: Mother Helen, Granny Rita Victoria, Great Granny Hilda Matilda

    This book and my love for cast-iron cooking

    was made possible by


    who loved and cherished their cast-iron cookware.

    MaryJane’s Cast Iron Kitchen

    Table of Contents

    Author’s Note

    Section 1 Breakfasts

    Heart-shaped eggs in a blanket

    Dutch Baby

    Mini Dutch Babies

    Savory Dutch Baby

    Mushroom Ragout Breakfast

    Ham, Mushroom & Asparagus Mini Quiches

    Pesto Muffins

    Ham Muffins

    Bacon & Egg Cups

    Basic Aebleskiver

    Cherry Aebleskiver

    Chocolate Aebleskiver

    Canadian-Bacon Mini Quiches

    Almond Waffles

    Savory Potato & Buckwheat Waffles

    Cabbage & Fennel Hash

    Hash-Brown Patties

    Sausage, Zucchini & Hash-Brown Biscuits

    Savory Strata

    Sweet Strata

    Maple Cream Syrup

    Roesti (Swiss Potato Cake)

    Giant Cinnamon Roll

    Section 2 Lunch & Sides

    Prosciutto & Polenta Stuffed Mushrooms

    Sausage & Cheddar Meatballs

    Eggplant Parmesan Rounds

    Steamed Brussels Sprouts

    Roasted Chicken & Squash With Herbed Honey Mustard

    Chicken Puffs With Onion Sauce

    Swiss-Chard Gratin

    Chicken, Bacon & Swiss Hand Pies

    Spinach Dip With Panbread Bites

    Parmesan & Garlic Single-Serve Brunch Potatoes

    Sour Cream & Chive Single-Serve Scalloped Potatoes

    Dutch-Oven Scalloped Potatoes


    Biscuit Buns & Burger Binder

    Caramelized Onion & Swiss Sliders

    Taco Sliders

    Veggie Sliders

    Sloppy-Joe Sliders

    Smoked-Salmon Sliders

    Spicy Sausage & Gravy Sliders

    Garlic & Cheddar Sliders

    Steak & Blue-Cheese Sliders


    Fried Pot Stickers

    Sweet-Corn Casserole

    Skillet Corn Bread

    Healthy Corn Doggies

    Section 3 Breads & Soups

    Buttermilk Biscuits

    Sprouted-Grain Buttermilk Biscuits

    Cherry-Pie Freezer Jam



    Herb & Parmesan Monkey Bread

    Red-Pepper Marinara

    Sweet-Potato Rolls

    I -Might-Die-Tomorrow White Bread

    Momma Butters’ Fried Scones

    Carrot Bread

    Carrot Muffins With Cream-Cheese Filling

    Chicken & “Dumplings”

    Ham & Lima-Bean Soup

    Hearty Meatball Soup

    Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup

    French Onion Soup With Croûtes

    Comfort Crepes

    Comfort-Crepes Filling

    Spinach Artichoke Filling

    Section 4 Main Entrees

    Pot Roast

    Coffee Chili

    Coffee Pot Roast

    Spaghetti Pie

    Easy Skillet Lasagna

    Meatloaf Patties

    Chicken Fajitas

    Potato, Chicken & Bacon Casserole

    Biscuit & Chicken Skillet Pie

    Pastor’s Pie

    Baked Polenta With Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms

    Asparagus & Mushroom Quiche With Potato Crust

    Beef, Zucchini & Polenta Mini Casseroles With Marinated Broccoli Sprouts

    Skillet-Roasted Chicken With Potatoes & Tarragon

    Fried Chicken

    Creamy Grilled Chicken & Rice Casserole

    Pizza Crust With Roasted Peppers & Summer Squash

    Deep-Dish Pizza

    Creamy Chicken Single-Serve Pot Pie

    Chorizo & Red Bean Single-Serve Pot Pie

    Chicken & Cream Mexicana

    Coconut Curry Chicken Couscous

    Pan-Seared Steaks With Pomegranate Mushroom Sauce

    Garlic Smashed Potatoes

    Ham Dinner on the Half Peel

    Mac & Cheese

    Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry

    Sesame Orange Chicken Legs

    Pork Fried Rice

    Section 5 Sweets & Desserts

    Mini Apple Pies

    Triple-Berry Cobbler

    Nectarine & Sour-Cream Wedge Cake

    Plum Pound Cake

    Maple Sticky Buns

    Cinnamon Sugar Knots

    Crispy Sugar Bowls

    Caramel-Apple Cinnamon-Roll Wreath

    Strawberry Rhubarb Pie With Italian Meringue

    Butter-Cookie Pie Crust

    Rhubarb Raspberry Pandowdy

    Peanut-Butter Skillet Brownies

    Griddle Ginger Cookie

    Baked Peaches

    Baked Churros

    Skillet S’mores

    Blueberry Muffins With Coconut Lemon Topping

    Baked Bread-Pudding Apples

    Pecan Crust Sweet-Potato Pie

    No-Bake Apricot Almond Thumbprints

    Raspberry Lemon Single-Serve Crisp

    Pineapple Blueberry Single-Serve Cobbler

    Buttermilk-Biscuit Apple Pie

    Apple-Pie Filling

    Cast-Iron Restoration & Maintenance

    Question & Answer


    Life on the Farm


    Brief History of Cast Iron

    About the Author

    Metric Conversion Chart

    Author’s Note

    Let me guess. You’ve shied away from cast iron because someone spooked you with the words “well-seasoned.” Or maybe “rust.” Perhaps you thought you needed non-stick cookware just-in-case. If so, I’m here to put a few cast-iron myths to rest and get you started on the road to legendary.

    Unlike modern cookware, there isn’t much that can ruin cast iron. I dare say we could probably circle the Earth with the discarded high-tech, non-stick pans that were accidently overheated and ruined forever. Or scratched and scarred because special tools weren’t used. With scratch-proof cast iron, you merely start over, giving it a new surface. “Good as new again” might be something your great-granny said more than once about the very skillet you have sitting in your attic.

    The women of my family brandished cast iron the way a farmer brandishes a pitchfork. My mother’s oversized campfire griddle was a source of pride whenever her kids came back to camp carrying a mess of fish they’d caught.

    And no doubt, her kitchen skillet, capable of simmering deer steaks in home-canned tomatoes ’til they were forktender, gave her yet another boast. “Swiss steak,” she’d proclaim after first braising the venison in bacon fat. And her chicken dumplings, fried scones, and raspberry pandowdies were the stuff legends are made of.

    In the late ’20s, Granny Rita took my mother, Helen, and my aunt, Dorothy, to the outback in a gas-powered carriage. Back then, you didn’t worry about the weight of your suitcase; you worried about the weight of too much cast iron—three sizes of skillets, one waffle iron, two griddles, two Dutch ovens, a couple of saucepans, and a fire iron.

    And no doubt, I inherited my mother’s passion for catching fish.

    But more important, I inherited her cast iron that she inherited from her mother, and my daughter will someday inherit from me, and her daughters … on and on. See what I mean? Legendary. It’s not just cookware, it’s Annie Oakley. Daniel Boone. In a league of its own, no other cookware can come anywhere close to giving you chicken so crisp you’ll never think nuggets again or a pot roast so fall-apart tender that no matter how you dice it, you won’t be needing to slice it. Or a Dutch baby so perfectly stand-up crisp around the edges yet silky soft in the middle, the lyrics to “Cry Like a Baby” get stuck in your head.

    Come on in and apron up. I’m much obliged to be introducing you to your future life partner.

    But first, in honor of the outdoorsy clan I come from, I want to head outdoors for a few pages before kitchen duty takes us back inside.

    Who doesn’t love sitting around a campfire?

    Chimeneas and fire bowls are good alternatives if you don’t have a place for an outdoor fire pit. A heavy-duty, cast-iron campfire tripod works best with an open bowl.

    Or eating a campfire meal?

    I contend people bond better without a roof over their heads. And because I’m always on the lookout for dinners that get everyone involved, pie irons allow each person to make and bake her or his own meal. Now, don’t let the “pie” part of these cast-iron devices mislead you. For under $20 each, you can buy waffle, dog ’n’ brat, bread ’n’ biscuit, panini, round hamburger (I use it to roast chicken breasts), and even square “just about anything including toasted pecans” pie irons for your evening escapades, PieIron.com.

    My favorite quick campfire treat is to load my square pie iron with a peanutbutter, banana, and chocolate-bar sandwich. After I unload the warm, gooey goodness onto a plate, I top it with vanilla ice cream.

    Old-fashioned waffle irons were designed for use with wood cookstoves by removing one of the round top plates so the base of the iron is in direct contact with the fire. But they can also be used outdoors by tucking campfire coals under the lower compartment. The top part of the waffle iron is designed to swivel and turn above the heat for browning on both sides. Make sure your waffle iron is hot and well-oiled before pouring in the batter. Never place it in open flames. And don’t open the iron too soon to peek. When you start to smell the aroma of waffles wafting through the air, they’re done.

    A camp Dutch oven has three legs and a flanged, snug-fitting lid so it can be set on a bed of hot coals and then loaded with hot coals on top—an outdoor convection oven! It can be used for baking, stewing, and roasting.

    Pssst. Don’t stop with cookware. How about a cast-iron truck bed? (top)

    Cast-iron tractor seat stool? (right)

    Cast-iron boot puller? (bottom)

    Or how about a cast-iron, claw-foot, outdoor bathtub?

    Cast-iron backyard sink?

    Can you imagine your great-granny’s grin about now?

    Section 1


    Heart-Shaped Eggs in a Blanket

    To serve up some love for breakfast, butter a slice of bread on both sides and set aside. Over low heat, preheat a 101/2”-round cast-iron griddle. Once griddle is hot, brush with 1 t melted butter. Place bread on griddle and toast for 1–2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Set aside. Lightly butter the inside of a metal, heart-shaped cookie cutter, place on griddle, and crack an egg inside. Once egg is cooked, remove cutter and egg from griddle using a spatula. Remove egg from cookie cutter, and use cookie cutter to cut a heart shape from center of toast. Place fried egg in center of toast; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

    Dutch Baby

    I’ve made at least one Dutch baby I’ll never forget. I was working for the Forest Service while living 27 miles from the end of a dirt road in the heart of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. One of the airplane pilots who brought in supplies and food staples surprised me with a dozen fresh eggs, butter, and two cold beers on ice. I drank the first one while stoking my woodstove and warming up my trusty cast-iron skillet. It seems odd to me now, but a Dutch baby and a cold beer was the best lunch I’d eaten in a long while.


    3 T butter

    4 eggs

    1/2 cup flour

    1/2 cup milk or coconut milk

    2 T honey

    1 t almond extract

    1/4 t salt

    powdered sugar

    maple syrup

    Preheat oven to 425°F.

    In an 8” cast-iron skillet over medium heat, melt butter and distribute evenly. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.

    In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Add flour, milk, honey, almond extract, and salt; beat until blended but still somewhat lumpy.

    Pour batter into skillet and bake until puffy on the edges and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

    Using a fine-mesh sieve, sprinkle with powdered sugar and drizzle with maple syrup.

    Make it gluten free: Replace flour with white rice flour.

    8” Cast-Iron Skillet

    Mini Dutch Babies

    Single-serve Dutch babies ensure that everyone gets plenty of yummy crust. I’ve served them to B&B guests with butter, sliced bananas, chopped walnuts, and maple syrup before, but my powdered-sugar/lemon-squeeze topping gets a 5-star review every time.


    3 T butter

    4 eggs

    1/2 cup flour

    1/2 cup milk or coconut milk

    1/4 t salt

    1/8 t ground nutmeg

    powdered sugar

    fresh lemon juice

    Preheat oven to 425°F.

    Evenly divide butter between cups of a cast-iron mini-cake pan. Place pan in hot oven for 2–3 minutes to melt butter. Remove from oven, brush butter over bottom and sides of each cup; set aside.

    In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Add flour, milk, salt, and nutmeg; beat until blended but still somewhat lumpy.

    Evenly divide batter between cake-pan cups, place pan on a large baking sheet (to catch any drips), and bake until puffy on the edges and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

    Using a fine-mesh sieve, sprinkle with powdered sugar and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top.

    Cast-Iron Mini-Cake Pan

    “Lemon tree very pretty, and the lemon flavor is sweet…”

    —Brazilian Folk Song

    Make it gluten free: Replace flour with white rice flour.

    Savory Dutch Baby

    I have a soft spot for savory breakfasts, and this Dutch baby with caramelized onion sauce offers a nice twist on a classic cast-iron dish. The savory-yet-sweet flavor of the onion sauce is a perfect match for the puffy, creamy Dutch-baby base, and greens add a peppery crunch.


    Caramelized Onion Sauce:

    2 T olive oil

    1 yellow onion, peeled, quartered, and sliced

    1 T flour

    2 T white wine

    1/2 cup beef broth

    1/2 t fresh thyme

    1/8 t salt

    Dutch Baby:

    3 T butter

    4 eggs

    1/2 cup flour

    1/2 cup milk or coconut milk

    1/4 t salt


    Make sauce: Preheat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat; add onion slices, coating evenly. Cover and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove cover; reduce heat to low. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until onions release their sugar and begin to caramelize and turn golden brown.

    Add flour to onions and mix well. Add wine, cook for 30 seconds, and add beef broth. Continue to cook until sauce has thickened; stir in thyme and salt. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.

    Make Dutch baby: Preheat oven to 425°F.

    In an 8” cast-iron skillet over medium heat, melt butter and distribute evenly. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.

    In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Add flour, milk, and salt. Beat until blended but still somewhat lumpy.

    Pour batter into skillet and bake until puffy around the edges and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

    Top with sauce and watercress.

    8″ Cast-Iron Skillet

    Mushroom Ragout Breakfast

    This breakfast dish has it all—creamy polenta and rich, flavorful mushroom ragout, topped with eggs baked right in the sauce. It can also be made the night before, then popped in the oven the next morning for a fuss-free breakfast—just make sure to allow a few extra minutes of cooking time so it comes out of the oven piping hot.


    Mushroom Ragout:

    2 T butter

    1-1/2 lbs crimini mushrooms, quartered (about 6 cups)

    3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced (about 1 T)

    2 T white wine

    1 15-oz can tomato sauce

    1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes

    1/2 t fennel seed, lightly crushed

    1/4 t salt

    1/2 t pepper

    1/4 t crushed red pepper

    4 eggs


    3 cups milk

    1 cup dry polenta

    2-1/2 ozs goat cheese (about 1/4 cup)

    1 oz Parmesan cheese, shredded (about 1/4 cup)

    1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced, plus more for serving

    1 T fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

    1/2 t salt

    1/4 t pepper, plus more for serving

    Preheat oven to 400°F. Generously butter a 10” square cast-iron baking pan.

    Make ragout: Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are tender (about 10 minutes).

    Add wine to skillet, cook for 30 seconds, and add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (including liquid), fennel, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

    While ragout is cooking, make polenta: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring milk to a simmer. Whisk in polenta and continue to simmer, whisking frequently, until thickened. Add cheeses, parsley, lemon juice, salt, and pepper; mix well.

    Add polenta to prepared baking pan and smooth out top. Top with mushroom ragout.

    Make four divots in ragout, each large enough for 1 egg. Crack an egg in each divot, loosely cover baking pan with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10–12 minutes, or until eggs are set. Just before serving, garnish with parsley and pepper.

    10” Square Cast-Iron Baking Pan

    Ham, Mushroom & Asparagus Mini Quiches

    I love the simplicity of single-serve dishes—especially if I’m feeding a crowd. In addition to simplifying the serving process, these mini quiches also bake up in less time than a traditional quiche, which leaves more time for enjoying company over coffee.



    1-1/3 cups flour, plus more for dusting

    1/4 t salt

    9 T cold butter

    3 T cold water


    2 t butter

    3 crimini mushrooms, halved and sliced (about 3 T)

    3 asparagus spears, sliced (about 1/4 cup)

    1-1/2 ozs cooked ham, finely diced (about 1/4 cup)

    3 eggs

    2 t milk

    1/8 t salt

    1/8 t pepper

    1 T shredded cheddar cheese

    Make crust: Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl or food processor. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle in water and blend just until dough forms. Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly butter a 6-cavity cast-iron muffin pan.

    On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/8 “ thickness. Cut dough into 6” circles and line prepared muffin pan cavities with dough. Shape edges, if desired. Bake for 12–15 minutes, or until outer edges turn golden brown.

    Make filling: In a medium skillet, melt butter; cook mushrooms and asparagus for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in ham. Divide filling evenly between shells.

    In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt, and pepper together. Divide egg mixture evenly between shells. Top each quiche with cheese and bake at 400°F for 18–20 minutes, or until eggs are set.

    6-Cavity Cast-Iron Muffin Pan

    Vintage Cast Iron

    Muffins, cornbread, cupcakes, mini quiches, and more … your cast-iron muffin pan is a can’t-live-without-it kitchen staple. I have four vintage muffin pans; two have six cavities like the one above and two have 11 cavities for larger batches.

    Pesto Muffins

    These muffins fill the house with an intoxicatingly delicious pesto aroma. Once they’re out of the oven and barely cool enough to eat, they often disappear before my eyes—they’re that good.


    2-1/2 ozs extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2/3 cup)

    3 ozs feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/3 cup)

    1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

    1/3 cup pesto

    1/2 cup buttermilk

    1 egg

    2 T butter, melted

    1/4 t fresh lemon juice

    1 cup flour

    1-1/4 t baking powder

    1/4 t salt

    Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 6-cavity cast-iron muffin pan with paper liners.

    In a small bowl, combine cheeses, walnuts, and pesto.

    In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, melted butter, and lemon juice.

    In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir just until blended.

    Using as few strokes as possible, fold in cheese mixture.

    Spoon into paper liners until full and well-rounded. (Mixture won’t rise much during baking, so mound ’em up!) Bake muffins for 22–25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

    6-Cavity Cast-Iron Muffin Pan

    “Pounding fragrant things—particula


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