Raclette

What is there not to love about melted cheese? Melted cheese gives me warm, fuzzy feelings, makes everything tastes better, makes Everything! better. Like butter, my love affair with cheese, especially melted cheese will hopefully never die.

With this adoration in mind, I was quite pleased with this past holiday season, because it turned me on to Raclette BIG TIME. I was invited to a big, wooly holiday raclette pow-wow with friends, while the children buzzed around us. Everything about raclette screams to me as fancy-schmancy comfort food. Raclette is a Swiss specialty.  Basically, it’s a teppanyaki grill, but there is space under the heater to melt the cheese in these tiny pans, which you transfer on your plate to eat with bacon, cooked on top of the grill, boiled potatoes, and an assortment of veggies like corn, peas, carrots, and herbs. I was so in love with the idea of melted cheese on meat and vegetables, I just had to get one for myself.

Since New Year is the season of the Raclette, I bought a grill for 20 euros, which I hopefully will get to use soon!

Yay Waffles!

Yay! Got myself a new waffle iron for Christmas. So I get to make waffles, thus ending the monotony of Saturday morning pancake breakfasts. It came with a cookbook on how to make waffles, it is quite easy.

For 20 waffles:

A block of soft butter or margarine (250 g), 200 g sugar, 2 packets vanilla sugar, 5 eggs, 500 g flour, 5 g baking powder, and 400 ml milk.

Scramble the eggs, stir in the sugar and the butter/margarine into a smooth dough. Add the vanilla sugar, flour, and baking powder. Slowly add the milk until the batter has a smooth consistency.

The batter is much heavier than pancake batter, it doesn’t run or spread as much as pancake batter, and has a stiffer consistency after cooking,

I was also pretty stoked that I got a Raclette grill, cookbooks galore (I Know How to Cook and The Silver Spoon), and new china. What did you get for Christmas?

A Not-So-Impulse Purchase

I would like to apologize for the horrid camera photo, but I could not contain my excitement after running into this at TK Maxx. I wanted to buy the same thing in a different brand (cough*LeCruset*), and it cost 179 euros on sale! I balked at the price, even though I know that Le Cruset has amazing service because uhm, I cannot justify 179 euros to myself for a Dutch oven with a plastic knob.

After doing some research on my phone, it has been determined that Fontignac is a sister company of Staub, it is made in France, and was reduced from 265 euros to an unbeatable 70 euros! It has been labeled a second choice product, hence the sale, and all I could really determine is some bubble pits in the enamel inside and that the enamelling isn’t quite even (thin on top, thick at the bottom). But who cares??? 70 euros!

Latest Pans from TK Maxx

Ok, sorry for the groddy picture, but this is just a perfunctory post about my latest TK Maxx purchases.

The gods have heard my plea, and I was handed a recipe for making Biskuitboden, or sponge cake base for fruit torte. Which meant that I headed to TK Maxx to get a German torte cake pan. The difference? The floor is raised. When flipped over, it creates a depression where the fruit or custard base can be filled without it overflowing. Neat, huh?

Which  led me to the pan section, and lo! An 11-inch cast iron pan! For less than 20 euros!

And that is my report of yet another addition to my ever-expanding cookware collection.

Copper Pot

Is it wrong to feel disappointed at such an expensive gift? I had my heart set on a Le Creuset pot, and had asked for one. Instead I was given a 12-Liter copper pot.

I know that copper’s conductive properties are legendary, and it sure looks pretty. But we are a household of 1 1/2, and the other half, if he had his way, would eat spaghetti with tomato sauce every day. And copper’s heat-retaining properties are most in properly utilized if I cooked on gas. I use an electric stove.

Thanks to Sarah, I don’t feel so disappointed anymore, however the dilemma is what to cook in it? Please remember that copper is a reactive metal, so nothing with apples, tomatoes, or anything remotely acidic.

Ceramic Pan

While waiting for my iron pan to develop a “patina,” I went ahead and disposed my Teflon-coated pan and bought a ceramic one.

I became concerned after reading articles about the dangers of Teflon, that it releases toxic gases while cooking, and so I took the plunge and boght a ceramic pan.

It is a steel pan with an aluminum core, and dishwasher safe, too! However, now I am reading about the dangers of ceramic cookware. Will I ever win? I really should stop reading the internet…

Seasoning the Pan

 

These are my newest TK Maxx acquisitions: A cast iron skillet and a marble slab for kneading bread.

The skillet is from Danny Seo, whom I had never heard of until buying the pan. I bought it because Teflon pans are starting to annoy me. I definitely need to replace the frying pan that I currently have. In the six years I’ve lived in Germany, I’ve already gone through three skillets. My sister in the Philippines is still using my Grandma’s pots and pans, which were acquired in the ’60s!

Too bad the cast iron skillet is very small, only about 20 cm in diameter. I plan to get a bigger one if I see it in the market. It is a raw iron skillet, and so I had the pleasure of learning how to “season” one.

The first cast iron pot I got was already seasoned before purchase. Seasoning in this case had nothing to do with spices. It is the process of coating/impregnating the pot or pan with oil to prevent rusting. This simulates the grime that accumulates in a pot through the years that turns your cast iron into a non-stick pan, with proper care.

Pre-heat your oven to 150°C. With a dollop (about a teaspoon) of oil, coat or rub the entire pot or pan from top to bottom, every crevice should be oiled. Place it in the oven for one hour. Take it out, let it cool to room temperature, and if there is excess oil, wipe it off.

I used olive oil, since I have one that has a very low acid content. Yes, oils have acids, since fat is actually a collection of amino acids. The instructions said that I should use a sponge or a towel, but I found it too wasteful and rubbed the oil with my fingers instead.

Once your pot or pan is seasoned, it should never be washed or scrubbed with dishwashing liquid, since this will remove the protective layer of oil on the surface. It sounds yucky, but my Teflon pans are also cleaned similarly. The only difference is that the pan comes into contact with the soft side of a dishwashing sponge full of dishwashing liquid twice a month.

I’ve been practicing cleaning my pot by boiling water in it and scrubbing the grime out with a stiff brush afterwards. It still feels weird not letting soap touch it, but I think that over time, I’ll get used to it.

 

Happy New Year! Here’s Your New Pot!

 
Carl Victor

Happy New Year to everybody! What did you get for Christmas? I was the happy recepient of a Carl Victor cast iron pot. I was told by the Germans that they have never seen someone so happy to get a pot. Oh, the things we shall cook…I am already rubbing my hands together with glee. I am looking forward to test driving it soon. Hope to learn more things this 2013!