Category Archives: Kitchen experiments

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!

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Stuffed zucchini flowers–or how to blow your five year olds’ minds and be pleasantly pretentious at the same time

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At our little community garden, someone suggested cutting some of the zucchini blossoms to cook.  I had been curious about this for quite a long time, and as no one else wanted to take them home, I cut a dozen or so to take with me.  I cut a couple from our porch garden as well.

Cooking zucchini blossoms felt very hipster to me, like I should have been wearing thick glasses and a patchwork skirt, and be living in Portland.  The kind of thing you want to put up on your blog to impress your friends with your back-to-nature attitude.  But it also boggled the minds of two five year olds (“We’re having flowers for dinner?!?  Really, Mommy?  I want to eat flowers!”), and was quite tasty.

I poked around the web for a little bit looking for recipes.  I found this recipe, and used the process (generally).  It made way too much batter for what I had (I just did the flowers, no baby zucchini), so I would play around with that if I made it again.  Rather than plain ricotta, I mixed a few things into some homemade ricotta I made and cooled earlier in the day (it’s so simple, it actually was much easier than dragging two five year olds to the grocery store to buy some).  To about a cup of ricotta, I added

1 garlic clove grated on a microplane

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 a preserved lemon finely minced

A tablespoon or two each of minced fresh basil and mint

2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

The flowers tended to tear when I pulled out the stamen and also when I accidentally overstuffed some, but I tried to do it as gently as possible.  Kept the kids out of the kitchen with the hot oil.

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Realized last minute that we needed to have a bit of something on the side.  So, I quickly sliced a couple of yellow squash onto a plate, and poured some tomato vinaigrette over it.  Snipped some fresh basil over it, and sprinking some Mexican crumbling cheese (Queso Fresco) over it just because we happened to have in the house (feta would have been great).

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