17 September 2010

Flameware Cooking - A New Discovery

Yup! Here's that pot again!

I don't know a cook who doesn't periodically, step back from the counter, throw up the hands, and mutter about always making the same stuff. Looking around for new techniques and different taste combinations is part of being a creative cook.  That's why it is especially exciting for me when I discover a new product or a new type of cuisine to explore, which is the case with Flameware pottery.

I was at a church potluck last weekend and our pastor brought this incredible salad to share. It sat in a large covered ceramic pot that stayed chilled the entire time it sat out on the buffet table. As we were cleaning up, I commented on what a clever idea to use the insulating properties of ceramics to keep her cold salad ...cold. A friend stopped and told me that that pot was even more terrific. It could be used on top of the stove over direct heat and then go to the oven too. I was flabbergasted. I never had heard of a pottery that was that versatile - cast iron was the only cookware that I knew of that could handle those temperature variations and cooking conditions.

Teapot from The Pottery Works, Fitzwilliam Depot, NH

I have since visited the local pottery studio that produces this Flameware pottery and purchased a gorgeous new kitchen tool - a five-quart covered pot that I have been experimenting with over the past few days. Thus far, I have made fish chowder, baked beans that I started on the stove top and finished in the oven, and a macaroni and four cheese casserole.  This pot is becoming one of my favorites ... and now I have found a cook book by Wolfert that is dedicated to clay pot cookery. I will be playing around with cassoulet very soon. Back to the pottery, though!

The latest cook book to be winging its way to the grey house on the hill...

Ceramic pottery differs from flameware pottery in that the clays are different. Flameware pots are specifically made up of different clays and added minerals that when fired allow the finished pot to be heated from below, above , or where ever  and not crack. Conventional ceramic pottery must be heated all the way around (read evenly) in order to keep its integrity.  The glazes on the flameware pottery must also be specifically composed so that they do not crack or come away from the different temperatures of  the underlying pottery. All this chemistry adds up to a really versatile pot that gives the cook a gorgeous setting for the food and an insulated piece that holds the food's temperature for much longer than conventional pans and serving dishes.

Of course, these insulating properties also require the cook to take them into consideration when preparing the food ...  these pieces lend themselves to slow cooking and gradual temperature changes so that the cook can regulate the final cooking temperature more accurately. Once the pot is hot, it's hot for a good while, so ... one must be sensitive to that fact. The other big idea when using these pots is to always start with a small amount of liquid when beginning to heat  them up ... oil, water, sauce, whatever. You must give the pot something to heat besides itself ... a big rule to stick by!

As to other forms of flameware ... Pyrex makes a product, Figgio Flameware is a flameware type, numerous potters are creating Flameware designs. Wow!  Google the term and you will find some beautiful pieces just waiting for you!

Here is a gorgeous piece that I will be asking Santa to pack in for Christmas!

Here is a beauty that I have just won a bid on on Ebay.  I can just see a wonderfully spicy white bean and chicken chili bubbling away in that pot! Stay tuned!

Tor Viking Design - Figgio Flameware - Ebay win!

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