Calcifer’s Breakfast Skillet


Inspired by the copious amounts of bread and cheese, and bacon and eggs, consumed in Diana Wynne Jones’ novel Howl’s Moving Castle, plus the inclusions of it in the Studio Ghibli film, here’s a tasty breakfast–or any time of day–combination! I decided to do this in a cast iron skillet because that’s what is used in the film! Onions are also included because they taste great in this dish, and because chopped onions feature in a scene in the book too. 😉

Calcifer’s Breakfast Skillet

  • 1 pkg. Thick Cut Bacon
  • 1/2 Large Onion, julienned
  • 1/2 Loaf Sourdough Bread Round
  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 10 Eggs (plus 1 egg white, see below)
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese (freshly shredded is best!)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Thinly Sliced Ham for biscuits (“Country Ham Biscuit Slices”)
  • 1 Egg White
  • Small Slice off the side of a tomato OR Red Bell Pepper (roasted or fresh)
  • Large Black Olive

Heat your oven to 350ºF. In an iron skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until done, but not too crispy. Drain the grease in between batches, reserving just a small amount. Place the bacon on a paper towel-lined plate, & then cut the bacon into bite-sized pieces.

Put a small amount of bacon drippings back into the pan & sauté the onions until just tender. Drain if needed & put the cooked onions with the bacon pieces off to the side.

Melt the butter in the pan. Slice & cut the sourdough into about 1″ chunks, & then lay them in the pan & coat them with the butter. Cook the pieces until slightly golden & toasted, & then turn off the heat. Position the bread pieces to cover the bottom of the pan.

In a bowl, whisk the 10 eggs with the milk, adding in salt & pepper to taste. Stir in the bacon pieces, onions, & 1/2 of the shredded cheese. Pour this mixture over the bread, & then sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Cut the ham slices as needed & position them on top of the skillet to create Calcifer’s body. Slide into the oven & bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the egg is no longer runny or jiggly.

While the skillet is baking in the oven, melt a little bit of butter in a small clean pan (or use oil) & cook the egg white on low heat with the lid on. Once solid, but not browned, remove the egg & cut out 2 circles for Calcifer’s eyes. Place the eyes on Calcifer’s ham body when the skillet comes out of the oven.

Cut 2 small circles from the black olive & place them on the egg white circles to be Calcifer’s pupils. Cut a bowl shape/half circle from the tomato slice (make sure this slice is from the side of the tomato so that you have the smooth skin) or pepper slice, & place it for Calcifer’s mouth.

howls-moving-castle-skillet-slice Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 49: Howl’s Moving Castle

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Rye Popovers with Welsh Rarebit Sauce

Miss Peregrine’s school is located in Wales, and to my American sensibility the most iconic Welsh food is Welsh Rarebit (please comment and school me if there are more dishes I should know). As far as dishes go though, this is a good one, the sauce is simply amazing. One of my peculiar children declared “dis is yum!”

I made the lovely rarebit creamy cheese sauce flavored with dijon, worcestershire sauce and ale (I used pumpkin beer!) but rather than on rye toast, I made some light and airy rye popovers to evoke Emma (yes in the book it’s Olive) who is lighter than air. I wonder if she’s a good cook – she’s probably great at things like popovers, soufflees, meringues, puris, foams and lattes.

Just a note, in a rare twist I adapted nothing this time, both unaltered recipes came out really nice.

Rye Popovers with Welsh Rarebit Sauce

For the popovers
Recipe from

  • 3⁄4 cup rye flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Heat over to 450° and grease a muffin tin.

Whisk together flours and salt, then add milk, butter, and eggs. Mix well and divide between muffin cups.

Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350$deg; and bake for another 5 minutes. Cool on a rack. Serve with rarebit sauce, below.

For the rarebit sauce
Recipe from Alton Brown

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/4 cup beer (porter is best, I used a lighter pumpkin beer, also good)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3/4 cups shredded cheddar

On low heat in a saucepan, heat butter and flour, whisking continuously for several minutes (do not let flour brown). Whisk in in dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper until well combined. Whisk in beer and cream, and add cheddar. Cook, whisking constantly, for 5-7 minutes until cheese is melted completely and mixture has slightly thickened. Remove from heat and serve warm with popovers.

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Yorkshire Puddings, Steak with Stilton and Caramelized Onions


While The Friends of English Magic don’t actually practice magic, and are only moderately well-read, they certainly do eat well! The Old Starre Inn in Yorkshire looked like it had some decent pub fare, so that’s what I set out to make.

Just a note, the Yorkshire puddings were very eggy – there was a comment on the original recipe that you could use less with success. These were made with batter rested half an hour per the recipe, but there are also a lot of tips to let this rest in the fridge overnight for better results. I may come back and try this with one less eggs, and a longer rested batter.

Yorkshire Pudding

From The New York Times

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon/5 grams kosher salt
  • About 1/4 cup rendered beef or pork fat, olive oil or melted butter (I used the little bit of rendered fat from the steaks, below, plus about a tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 400°. Mix eggs, milk, flour and salt and let rest 30 minutes.

In a muffin tin, add a spoonful of fat to the bottom of each cup, then transfer to the oven to heat for 5-7 minutes. Remove, and equally divide the batter between the cups. Bake for 10-12 minutes until puffed, golden and crispy. Serve immediately.

Steak with Stilton and Caramelized Onions

Adapted from

For the onions
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter on high heat. Cut an onion into medium sized rings. Cook until slightly charred, then lower heat to medium to caramelize the rest of the way. Remove from heat.

For the stilton sauce
Mix together 2 ounces stilton, 1/2 cup toasted and finely chopped walnuts, and 1 tablespoon butter

For the steaks
Since you have the goodies above, the steaks only need to be flavored with salt and pepper. I used super cheap thin cut sirloin, but you can use whatever you want and cook appropriately. Sprinkle well with salt and pepper and allow to come to room temp (just 15 min for my cut), then sear each side on a screaming hot pan (3 min each side). If you have a thicker cut you can move to the oven to cook through. Rest for 20 minutes or so, then serve with stilton sauce and onions.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 31: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

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Cheese-and-Avocado Sandwich

Weetzie Bat Sandwich

“Dirk and Weetzie got tan and ate cheese-and-avocado sandwiches on whole-wheat bread and slept on the  beach.” –Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

 Cheese-and-Avocado Sandwich

  • Favorite Whole Wheat Bread (I used SandwichThins)
  • Ripe Avocado, peeled & sliced
  • Cheese w/ Kick, thinly sliced like (a sharp cheese like Pecorino, Asiago, Extra Sharp Cheddar, etc.)
  • Feta
  • Honey
  • Cayenne Pepper Powder, or other hot powder (optional)

Toast or grill the bread slices (you can make this open-faced–1 slice, or a closed sandwich–2 slices). While the bread is still hot, place a few thin slices of cheese on & then place several slices of avocado on top. Next, crumble on a little bit of feta & then drizzle on some honey. Lastly, if you’d like, sprinkle on a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper powder. Alternately, you can use a fork to mash the avocado & feta together & then put it on the sandwich. Goes well with the Weetzie Bat mocktail.

WB Sandwich closeup
Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 15: Weetzie Bat

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