Roasted lemon, garlic and herb chicken in a Schlemmertopf

I wanted to try out the Schlemmertopf by roasting a chicken

To start with I pureed fresh basil (probably a loosely packed cup of leaves), garlic (4-5 cloves), finely grated lemon peel (one lemon), salt, and enough olive oil to bind it together.  I took a 5 lb. chicken (probably would go a little smaller next time, just because I have the medium-sized pot), gently worked my fingers under the skin to rub in the puree, underneath and all over the outside of the skin.  I sliced the peel lemon in half and put it, a sprig of rosemary, and an onion within the cavity.  Chopped up some onions roughly and stirred it in with a pound of baby carrots in the bottom of the pot and set the chicken on top, and put the lid on.  Stuck it in the unheated oven, then turned it onto 425.

I cooked it for about 80 minutes, then checked the temp with a meat thermometer.  It took a bit more than that, about 20 minutes, I think because of the size of the bird and the addition of vegetables (so, approximately 100 minutes total) For the last 15 minutes, I took the lid off for the skin to crisp.

I would describe the results as having the tenderness of slow cooker chicken, plus the opportunity to have the kind of lovely skin that you would get from roasting.  The flavor of the herbs also made its way deep into the chicken (perhaps the steaming within the pot helped it to seep in?).

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I made the juices into a quick pan sauce with some white wine, and served the chicken with red potatoes that I roasted with garlic, fresh lavender and rosemary on a separate pan.

After picking the meat off, I used the leftover carcass to make chicken broth in my roaster oven.  Since it was already bright and lemony, the broth and the leftover chicken seamlessly transformed into avgolemono (Greek egg, lemon and chicken soup) for another meal.

Shall I share my shiny Schlemmertopf?

Part of my approach to “eating like an immigrant” is to explore traditional and regional cooking methods.  I feel tremendous glee when I stumble on an interesting piece of cookware at a thrift store or the like.

A couple weeks ago, I found a Schlemmertöpf in a local thrift store.  It was a beautiful clay pot, decorated with a charming rooster.  The manual was stashed inside, so after flipping through it, I decided to take it home with me, even though I had never heard of one.

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Thanks to Chef Google and partner Madame Pinterest, I found that German clay pot cooking was something of a fad about 30 years back, and continues to have a small but vocal following.  It intersects with traditional cooking processes around the world, from tagines (which I have never managed to find in a thrift store!) to clay-pot curries in India.  It also is known as a Romertöpt, literally a Roman pot.  Basically, the clay pot holds and conducts heat very well, plus it holds in a lot of moisture.  It’s bottom is lightly glazes, and its top is not.

It’s already become a regular part of my kitchen line-up, and I have recipes to follow.  To break it in, I followed the directions carefully (crucial: don’t heat up your oven before using so that it doesn’t crack and remember to soak the lid).

I started a Pinterest board for clay pot cooking.  One of the best ideas for it that I haven’t tried yet is to use it cook loaves of homemade bread.  From what I’ve read, the conduction apparently helps to make for a crisp exterior and tender interior.  I would love to know if others have favorite recipes to cook in a clay pot–feel free to share in the comments!

Flags made out of food associated with countries

Flags made out of food associated with countries

This would be a great teaching tool to use with kids, perhaps even to inspire a new art/food project

Tomato inspiration

What started out as a charmingly laid-back summer rushed to its end.  School has started, and with it, a tighter schedule.

The transition seems like a good time to reflect back on some of the summer projects.  It feels a teensy bit mean to do this as tomatoes wind down their season, at least in our neck of the woods.  But I think for perhaps the first time, we had our surfeit of ripe tomatoes.  Here’s a few of the simple way we used them, in addition to canning salsa, and regular doses of pico de gallo.

One of the simplest meals, and a nice breakfast or lunch is to simply saute with a couple of eggs over-easy, and top with basil and crumbled cheese (queso fresca here, or you could use feta).

 

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I made a few quick pasta sauces. This is tomatoes, onions, peppers with sausage from a local butcher I discovered!


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Several times, I threw a bunch into my Pyrex with onions, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh herbs.  I roasted them at about 450 until they collapsed and browned slightly, then pureed them into a tomato sauce.  They turn intensely sweet and a little bit creamy.

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The abundance of tomatoes was joined by tons of peppers.  I made a quick piperade that we tossed with various things–pasta, on pizza, with chicken for fajitas.

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Tim loves bulgur or couscous salads to pack for his lunch.  Herbs, vegetables (onions, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber), cheese (queso fresca or feta), lemon or lime juice or vinegar, olive oil.

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And homemade pizza has become a standby at our place. Garlic, olive oil, thinly sliced tomatoes, garlic and herb goat cheese, kalamata olives, and fresh basil tossed on after it comes out of the oven.

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Porch Garden (beginning of August)

It was a live-and-learn summer with the porch garden.  Paired with the unusual weather (hello, more rain than I remember in any other summer down here!), there were some porch garden casualties.  After dozens of blossoms, I had 4-5 healthy zucchini from the porch, before the plants drowned in the deluge.  I think zucchini would work in a future garden, I think I would drill holes in the storage container to allow for more drainage.

The Asian long beans were lovely.  I had carefully created a bamboo support system from poles that I had foraged.  But then, alas, an infestation of spider mites demolished the plants while I was still playing Dr. Google to find home solutions to the problem.

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The tomatoes (cherry, pear and patio), however, and the yellow “snacking” bell pepper plant have been abundant beyond my wildest hopes.  Here’s today’s harvest, at least what made it inside.  The kids decided that the cherry tomatoes are like candy, and eat them by the handfuls.

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In the meantime, I’ve scattered green onion seeds over the containers of plants that bit the dust, hoping for an autumn harvest.  May pop in some garlic gloves a bit later on as well.  Need to come up with some other (easy) fall vegetable plants as well.

 

 

Fun–interview with Penzeys!

We’ve been a fan of Penzeys Spices since we lived in Pittsburgh.  The Strip District was our favorite place to get international food, and we would pop into Penzeys as we browsed the wonderful shops there.

A couple months ago, they contacted me about doing an interview for their catalog/magazine.  The interview was done by phone, and it was a fun process.  It helped me to think through the connections between cooking, teaching, and family.  I sent them a few recipes, and they picked a handful to feature in the catalog.  They worked them up in their test kitchen and took pretty pictures of the food.

The magazine is online–the Back to School 2013 edition (pp. 9 & 43).

 

 

American Cultures for Children

Tim discovered a series created in the 1980s, hosted by Phylicia Rashad on different cultures in America.  It’s aimed at elementary school children, and it explores a myriad of cultural backgrounds within America, from Arab-American to African-American to Irish-American to Japanese-American.  She simply states in each one that all of us belong to at least one culture, and many of us belong to more than one.  She encourages children to ask their parents and grandparents about their cultures, the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the music they listen to, and the holidays they celebrate.

 

The formats vary, but they all show traditional foods and costumes, give a basic history of the immigration from that country to America (i.e., the potato famine in Ireland), demonstrate a basic craft reflecting traditional arts, and have the children sing a song with a traditional singing group. Each one teaches children a few words from the original language, spoken by children from a variety of backgrounds.  Our kids are mesmerized by it, and afterwards request to try the foods and do the crafts shown.

Unfortunately, these were released on VHS and have not been rereleased in DVD format as far as we can find.  But we often see them on Amazon or similar sites for very reasonable prices.  We’ve found it to be an excellent resource for teaching our kids about other cultures, as well as beginning to give them an awareness that different cultures have historically experienced life in America in vastly different ways.