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Frequent Contributor
Allison_Fishman
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Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29.

[ Edited ]

I am thrilled to announce that Paula Wolfert will be visiting our boards next Wednesday and Thursday, October 28 & 29. 

 

Pauls is here to discuss her latest book: Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking. Paula has published five cookbooks, beginning with Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco, which she wrote after spending considerable amount of time in that country, cooking alongside Moroccan women in their homes.

 

I look forward to learning more about Paula, her cross-cultural cooking experiences, and her newest book. I've cooked from Couscous many times, and have yet to meet  recipe of Paula's that I don't cook and cook again...

 

Please feel free to begin adding questions for Paula to this thread.

 

Best,

Allison 

 

Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking

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IAmAFoodie
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29

I have known Paula professionally for many years, ever since I wrote a guidebook to Moroccan cuisine. Her recipes never fail because she has very rigorously tested them before they appear in her cookbooks. She pays attention to the tiniest of details to ensure an excellent result.

 

My question for Paula: Now that "Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking" has been successfully launched and the marketing of it is in full swing, do you have even an inkling of what project might be next for you?

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Allison_Fishman
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29

In anticipation of Paula's visit, I've pulled out the mattone (which I've used, unsuccessfully, at least 4 times). I plan to prepare Paula's Fried Spatchcocked Chicken on page 86; it's different from any other recipe I tried, and something tells me that this time it might just work!

 

I've also taken out the old ceramic chicken "roaster" and the Superstone Baker Potato Roaster. Paula, are there recipes in your book that will work in these vessels?

 

Board posters / lurkers: what kind of ceramic cookware do you have that you'd like to put to use?

 

Allison

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ChrisSnyder
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29

I'm not at all familiar with Clay Pot Cooking, but I'm always up for new ideas especially when it comes to food. Can you provide some background/history of Clay Pot Cooking. Also some benefits maybe and how you got into it? Thanks!

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Allison_Fishman
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29

[ Edited ]

 

After reading Paula's book, it's clear that she has quite a collection of clay pots, but mentions that the recipes in her book can be made using "just half a dozen basic pots". I'm providing links to the pots (per her "clay pot sources" pages) to give you an idea of what they look like:

 

Spanish Cazuela:

www.tienda.com

 

Romertopf Clay Baker:

www.romertopfonline.com

 

Chinese Sandpot:

www.gourmetsleuth.com

 

Clay Casseroles:

www.bramcookware.com

 

Micaceous Cooking Pots (Columbian La Chamba):

www.mytoque.com

 

Moroccan Tagine:

www.tagines.com

 

 

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Coyotepots
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29

If I can add one more resource, (fair disclosure-we are potters who make these pots and worked with Paula in developing additional flameware pots for this book) we are Clay Coyote Pottery, www.claycoyote.com.

 

Tom Wirt

Clay Coyote Pottery
Clay Pots for Cooking
http://claycoyote.com
Author
Paula-Wolfert
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎10-22-2009
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29

Joan,

 

I am right in the middle of updating Moroccan Cooking, bringing it into the 21st century with 100 new recipes and 100 color pictures -- you're going to love it!

 

Paula

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Paula-Wolfert
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29

[ Edited ]

ChrisSnyder,

 

First of all, clay pot cooking is the first cooking, after grilling. Once man discovered that if you cover food with something (and what they had was clay), they discovered that they could eat the parts of animals that were hard to eat.

 

So clay pot cooking goes back as the beginning of cooking. Once they created the clay pot, they could boil water, they could cook the hard/difficult parts.

 

It’s healthier, you use less fat when you cook. I fell in love with it – well, it was the first pot I ever bought! It was a hobby, and I took it to the next level.

 

I’ve always been cooking with clay pots, in fact, I had to start cooking outside them when I started writing cookbooks because nobody else had them!

 

Do you know how long I’ve been cooking in clay pots! Fifty years. I’m 71.

 

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Paula-Wolfert
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29

[ Edited ]

Nice list, Allison!

 

I want to add the Spanish Cazuela at thespanishtable.com.

 

Also, flameware, stoneware vinegar crocks, couscous steamers at claycoyote.com. These people are fabulous. They have totally changed the way they're doing pots...

 

Paula 

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Coyotepots
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29

Hi Paula,

That history, back to the beginning of modern man, is probably the reason that clay pots and food go so well together.  The oldest pots are some 14,000 years old.  I've noted an additional benefit of clay pot cooking is that most of them will go right from the stovetop or oven to the table...something you'd rarely do with metal cookware.  The very existence of the handmade clay pot adds to the dish.

Clay Coyote Pottery
Clay Pots for Cooking
http://claycoyote.com
New User
ChrisSnyder
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29

Thanks for the response, Paula. Such history and it sounds fun too!

 

What about practibility? Are the posts easy to clean? Say you burned something real bad. As I always do!!!

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Coyotepots
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29

Paula, Are you going to do more classes at Ramekins in Sonoma.  If so, where can we get the schedule?

Clay Coyote Pottery
Clay Pots for Cooking
http://claycoyote.com
Author
Paula-Wolfert
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29

Chris,

 

Clay used for food dates back to Neolithic times. Early pots were used for storage, to carry water, others for cooking tough cuts of meat, just as they are today. In this book I present Mediterranean recipes that are still cooked primarily in clay vessels. Since food is cooked at lower temperatures, burning is less of a problem.

 

Food cooked in clay pots will remain moist and hot, enabling you to cook with less liquid and less fat than would ordinarily be the case.  And since cooking in ceramic takes a little longer than sautéing in a steel pan, you will be learning a new way to cook. And I think it’s worth it. Especially if you use underutilized meats which perform beautifully in clay.  
        

 

Good question about the cleaning of pots: soaking in water removes almost all debris. If it doesn’t then there are plastic scrub brushes that will do the trick.

 

 

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Paula-Wolfert
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29

Coyotepots,

 

Thanks for asking. Unfortunately, I have only one class scheduled for the spring and it is on the Cooking of SW France. I was told it was sold out!

Paula

 

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AromaCucina
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29.

Ciao Paula. I'm a long time fan of you and clay pots.

Question: I understand that lead in ceramic pots is cause for concern, but why was/is lead used in the first place? I've seen some references that it occurs more in bright colors, but why?

 

I also temper new clay pots by soaking them overnight in water. I only do this because Italian clay pot makers always insist on it. So, like a good girl, I soak by pots, but is it really necessary?

 

And lastly, in the lovely LA Times article, you mention that clay pots hold the memory of foods, and I do believe this, but do you think cast iron pots also hold memories? I believe they do.

 

Thank you for sharing your time with us.

Kind regards,

Judith Klinger

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Coyotepots
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29.

Question: I understand that lead in ceramic pots is cause for concern, but why was/is lead used in the first place? I've seen some references that it occurs more in bright colors, but why?

 

 

Hi Judith,

If I may be so bold as to pick up this piece of your post, lead is one of the fluxes that help clays and glazes melt into a glass-like substance.  Historically lead compounds were used when the potters had no other fluxes available. They've never been added to the clays, but used to be frequently used in glazes.  Today, for pottery made in, or imported into, the US, it is almost never present. Today we use other minerals such as calcium, soda and phosphorus as components with other minerals.

I'll put a post on our blog www.claycoyoterecipes.com that goes into greater depth for those who wish for more information.

By the way, the greatest problem is when these pots are used with acid foods, like citrus, tomatoes or foods with high vinegar content, and then over a period of time.

Paula covers this topic very well in Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking on page xvii-xviii

Clay Coyote Pottery
Clay Pots for Cooking
http://claycoyote.com
New User
VW22
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29.

Paula, it's hard to believe it's been almost a year since I had the pleasure of traveling with you and Oldways in Morocco.  I'm thrilled to start making recipes from Clay Pot Cooking.

 

My question is, I have a Rif tagine that gives off a strong odor.  I know the flavor from the clay is supposed to be a benefit of clay pots, but in this case, the effect is too strong and unappealing.  Is there a way to address this with the tagine I have, or should I try using a tagine made in a different part of Morocco?

 

Thanks, Paula.

 

- Valerie Wright

 

 

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Paula-Wolfert
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29

[ Edited ]

Allison, 

 

Regarding your Fried Spatchcocked Chicken, once you have your clay mattone pan or a round cazuela on hand to make the dish, you need to know just a wee bit of yoga. You don't actually have to practice the "pose" I suggest on yourself; do it first on a 2  1 /2 pound fryer . The "pose" is called  Paschimothanasanalynn or for those who don't want to bother with that as well, it's simply called "forward bend". 

 

First take a mallet or heavy pin and gently pound on the chicken breast and the knee joints in order to flatten the chicken as evenly as possible. Then cut out its back bone.  Make a small slit on each side of the lower breast to  allow the legs to move freely and pull them up toward the  back of the chicken, forming acompact, roundish shape. Now twist each wing back up over the forward bend or Paschimothanasanalynn. Twist each wing back up over the  neck and fasten the  legs, wings, and neck in a line with one long bamboo skewer. This should create a 1-and one-half-inch-thick, round shaped chicken with maximum skin exposure. Now wasn't that easy?

 

Paula


 

Yoga Chicken 


 

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Guillaume
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29.

[ Edited ]

This book is a bible for clay pot cooking. I talked to you Paula about a month before the book was released and unfortunately I came too late for that because there is no reference in your book to Alsace (France) clay bakeware, although they are very famous in France and among the best glazed clay pots you can find from France. For a little over a year, my company is making these Alsatian clay bakeware available in the USA from our online store www.ClayBourg.com. They are very reasonably priced considering they will last for ever. All hand made and hand painted with a goose feather. If a reader email me through our contact form at www.claybourg.com referring to this post, I'll send a free shipping coupon for his/her next purchase. I promise nobody will regret purchasing our products, my wife and I use them constantly at home and that's how we got started importing them from France.

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Paula-Wolfert
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Re: Paula Wolfert to visit: October 28 & 29.

[ Edited ]

Hi Judith,


Tom Wirt, the extraordinary potter from claycoyote.com, explained in detail what I never could do in a dozen years!!

 

But I can talk to you about tempering new clay pots by soaking them overnight in water. Clay formulas differ from potter to potter, so there is no one answer for all clay pots. That’s why I suggest following the directions given to you when you buy a clay pot.  Not all clay pots should be soaked or seasoned, though some will greatly profit form it. But don’t think that every clay pot needs a soaking; I’ve seen soaked pots break apart in the sink within a few hours. Sometimes it’s because certain types of clay require different types of curing before its first use. My best advice is always to follow the directions given  when you buy one.

 

Yes, I believe that clay pots hold the memory of foods. I don’t know about cast iron pots holding memories, but I do know that once either a clay pot or a cast iron skillet is seasoned, there is minimal care and they both improve with use.