Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Evil-Skeebers? Apple-Skippers? What are they, anyway?

The first time I ever heard of aebleskivers was when Aaron Sanchez was talking about them on TV. It was on the show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," and he was raving about how good these evil-things were.

He named the restaurant, but my first thought wasn't where I could buy them. My first thought was how I could MAKE them.

But first, I had to figure out what the heck he was saying. Thanks to my excellent search skills, I figured out that he was talking about aebleskivers. I still didn't know exactly what they were, but I knew I wanted them.

To make aebleskivers, you need an aebleskiver pan. Hey, what a coincidence. I happen to have one.

So when Virtual Potluck was offered a copy of the Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook to review, I was pretty happy to see a recipe for aebleskivers. It sounded like the perfect thing to make.

If you've never had them, aebleskivers are sort of like spherical pancakes - but not exactly. They're not massively sweet, and they're soft and sort of squishy. You might look at them and think they're like donut holes, but they're not nearly that dense.

The book suggested that you serve these with maple syrup, jam, jelly, or sprinkled with powdered sugar. I thought the powdered sugar made a pretty garnish, and added just the right amount of sweetness. A maple syrup dunk would be good, too.

From the Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook. Used with permission; all rights reserved.

4 large eggs, separated
2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, melted
Scant 2 cups milk (2 cups less 2 tablespoons)

In a large bowl beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until thick and pale. Wash and dry the beaters. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with the mixer until stiff peaks form.

In another medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients alternately with the melted shortening and milk to the beaten egg yolks. Lightly mix in the beaten egg whites with a whisk.

Heat a Lodge Aebleskiver Pan over medium heat. Brush a small amount of shortening or oil into each well and fill almost full with batter. Cook over medium heat until bubbly; using a knitting needles, wooden skewers, or a small fondue fork, turn each one over after 30 seconds and continue to cook them every 30 seconds until all the sides are cooked to form a ball. Continue to turn them until browned on all sides. Remove from the pan.

Repeat with the remaining batter, then serve as you like.

Let's talk about cast iron cookware

If you're not familiar with Lodge, they make an awful lot of cast iron cookware. Cast iron skillets are probably the most popular, but they also make cornbread pans, Dutch ovens, griddles, and other items.

Last year, I reviewed nearly a dozen pizza pans, and the Lodge pan was one of my top picks. Not only was it great for pizza, but you can use it on the stove top as a griddle. It's great for heating up a lot of tortillas all at once. And unlike some of the other pizza stones I reviewed, this one is perfectly safe for use on a grill.

As far as the aebleskiver pan, if you want to make the aebleskivers, you need the pan. There are some made of thinner metal, but I don't know if that really makes sense. This one gets hot and retains the heat.

And then we've got the cookbook. Can you ever have too many? Well, I don't know if I could ever have too many, but that's a whole different problem. Do you need a book dedicated to cast iron cookware? Well, here's the deal. If you don't have every piece of cast iron cookware mentioned in the book, you can still make most of the recipes (those aebleskivers are a big exception). And if you do have the specific pieces of cookware, it's kind of nice to have some recipes written for the cookware.

Oh, and if you like cornbread, there's a whole chapter full of recipes. So you can get your cornbread pan and your cast iron skillets dusted off and have a cornbread cookoff.

So - are you interested in the cookbook? Because I have one to give away.

But wait! One more thing!

There are more Virtual Potluck bloggers who also made recipes from the book, and they're also giving away copies of the book. Want more chances to win? Want to see the other recipes?

It's easy! Susan from 30AEATS is the host of this potluck, and she has a complete list of participating bloggers, some enticing photos, and a recipe of her own.

Go visit 30AEATS here.

To enter the giveaway for the cookbook: Contest is CLOSED and the winner is Michelle!

Leave me a comment telling me something interesting about your cast iron cookware. If you don't own any cast iron cookware (and really, a cast iron skillet is a cheap investment. Buy one.) then tell me something about cast iron cookware that your mom, grandma, neighbor, or imaginary best friend had.

For an additional non-mandatory entry, follow @dbcurrie  and @LodgeCastIron on Twitter. Come back here and leave a comment  telling me that you've followed both.

For an additional non-mandatory entry, like Cookistry on Facebook. Then come back here and leave a comment telling me that you've done so.

For an additional non-mandatory entry, pin one of my aebleskiver photos on Pinterest. Come back here and leave a comment telling me that you've pinned.

And there you go. Four possible ways to enter, and a really cool cookbook you could win. Good luck!

Contest starts when this post goes up, and ends on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at midnight mountain time. Open to US residents only. For standard contest details, see the contest tab at the top.

For our part in this event, each Virtual Potluck blogger received a copy of the cookbook and an 8" cast iron skillet. And if you're lucky, you could win a cookbook, too!

For more about Lodge, check out their Facebook page.