Ever wonder when you're actually going to use the cast-iron skillet your mom told you must add to your wedding registry? Well, surprisingly, the cooking essential will come in very handy once you say "I do." Not only can cast-iron skillets be bought pre-seasoned for $35, are naturally stick-free, and are super easy to clean (all you need is a brush and mild soap), they also create a whole lot of good, like these five delicious recipes that will take you from brunch to dessert.
First up: Apple-and-Cheddar Frittata
35 minutes is all you need to tackle this simple Sunday brunch favorite—and maybe a cup of coffee.
8 large eggs plus 2 large egg whites
4 ounces white cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (1 cup)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 Gala apples, peeled, cored, and sliced lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick pieces
Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with rack set in top third. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, and half the cheese; season with salt and pepper. In a medium cast-iron skillet, heat butter over medium. Add egg mixture; while it cooks, 1 to 2 minutes until edge is set, arrange apples on top in a circular pattern, starting from the outside edge, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Transfer cast-iron skillet to oven. Bake until frittata is set in the center and cheese is browned, about 20 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, release frittata onto a cutting board; let rest 5 minutes. Cut into wedges, and serve.
Lunch Time: Skillet Pizza with Eggplant and Greens
Our timesaving version uses store-bought dough and sauce, but if you're in a start-from-scratch kind of mood, you'll find Martha's recipe for dough and sauce, here.
1 eggplant (about 12 ounces), stemmed and cut lengthwise into 1-inch-thick slices
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed, cut into 2-inch pieces
12 ounces provolone, thinly sliced
Fresh oregano leaves, for serving
Follow the instructions for your dough and sauce of choice.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place eggplant in a colander; season with salt. Let stand 30 minutes.
Rinse eggplant, drain, and pat dry. Arrange on a baking sheet; brush with 2 tablespoons oil. Roast, turning once, until very tender, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large over medium heat. Add garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add chard in batches with 1 to 2 tablespoons water. Cook, stirring, until just wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Let cool.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees with rack in lower third. For each pizza, press dough until it touches edge of cast-iron skillet. Ladle 3/4 cup sauce over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Top with 3 ounces cheese. Add 1/2 cup each chard and eggplant. Top with another 3 ounces cheese. Bake until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted, about 18 minutes. Sprinkle with oregano; serve.
What's for Dinner: Seared Porterhouse Steak
This seared steak has "dinner with the in-laws" written all over it.
2-pound bone-in porterhouse steak (about 2 inches thick), room temperature
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
Optional, compound butter
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Heat a large cast-iron over medium-high heat. Pat steak dry with paper towels. Season steak generously all over with salt and pepper. Add butter to skillet. When melted, place steak in cast-iron skillet. Cook until well seared, about 4 minutes a side. Transfer cast-iron skillet to oven. Continue to cook until a thermometer inserted in thickest part of steak reads 120 degrees for medium-rare, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer steak to rimmed baking sheet fitted with a wire rack. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing. Optional: serve with compound butter.
Best for Last: Skillet Chocolate-Chip Cookie
You don't have to be a baker buff to create this soft, giant gooey cookie, just one cast-iron and two steps.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine butter and sugars with a wooden spoon. Stir in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in chips. Transfer to a 10-inch cast-iron skillet; smooth top.
Bake until cookie is golden brown and just set in the center, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.
All-Around All-Star: Skillet Bread
After being "baked" in a cast-iron skillet, this bread can be split for a sandwich, tossed in a salad, doused with sugar for dessert, or served on the side of just about anything. Make a double batch if you plan on sampling all of the above.
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
2 1/4 teaspoons (one 1/4-ounce envelope) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for bowl
1 1/2 cups warm water
Combine flour, yeast, and 1 tablespoon salt in a bowl. Gradually pour in oil, then water, and mix until dough comes together.
Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Shape dough into a ball, and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Let stand, covered with a towel, in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Roll out dough to a 6-by-12-inch rectangle (about 1/4 inch thick) on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough into nine 2-by-4-inch rectangles. Transfer to a floured surface. Let stand, covered with a kitchen towel, in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Heat a cast-iron skillet on a medium-high grill or stovetop. Working in batches, cook rolls until puffed and undersides are browned, about 5 minutes. Flip, and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes more.