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Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking: Traditional and Modern Recipes to Savor and Share Hardcover – October 5, 2009

4 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A one-of-a-kind cookbook showcasing modern and authentic clay pot cooking from the premier expert on Mediterranean cuisines

Paula Wolfert is legendary for her expertise on and explorations of Mediterranean cooking. Now, Wolfert shares her inimitable passion for detail and insatiable curiosity about cultural traditions and innovations, with Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking.

Here, the self-confessed clay pot "junkie"-having collected in her travels ceramic pots of all sorts: cazuelas, tagines, baking dishes, bean pots, Romertopf baking dishes, French diablos, ordinary casseroles, even Crockpots, which have a ceramic liner-shares recipes as vibrant as the Mediterranean itself along with the delightful stories behind the earthy pots, irresistible dishes, and outstanding cooks she has met along the way.

Wolfert demystifies the process of clay pot cooking by which fresh ingredients are transformed slowly, richly, lusciously into magnificent meals. She shares 150 recipes featuring soups, fish and shellfish, poultry, meats, pasta and grains, vegetables and beans, pies and breads, eggs and dairy, and desserts.

Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking offers

  • Expert techniques and tips from Paula Wolfert, one of the world's foremost authorities on Mediterranean cuisine and now on clay pots
  • An introduction to this ancient and modern-and practically foolproof-way of cooking
  • A thorough clay pot primer, familiarizing you with the numerous names for different types of clay pots and tips on "Other Pots You Can Use"
  • A delicious range of dishes, including Pumpkin Soup with Roquefort Cream; Wine-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Almonds and Sweet Tomato Jam; Fideos with Clams, Shrimps and Mussels; Tian of Leeks and Pancetta; Corsican Cheesecake; and Roasted Peach Gratin

Paula Wolfert in Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking will seduce you with the pleasures and benefits of cooking in clay.

Recipe Excerpts from Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking

Poached Eggs with Yogurt and Hot Red Pepper Sizzle

Moroccan Fish Tagine with Tomatoes, Olives, and Preserved Lemons

Chicken with Red Wine Vinegar, Tomato, and Shallots

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Beginning with a simple premise—Food tastes better cooked in clay—this single-themed cookbook is an illuminating treatise on a technique that's used throughout the Mediterranean but is still relatively obscure in U.S. kitchens. James Beard Award–winner Wolfert (The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen; The Cooking of Southwest France), who has studied and written about the region's cuisine for decades, has become passionate about earthenware pots. Wolfert claims that all food cooked in unglazed vessels has an earthy sweetness, and that when the vessel is dedicated to a certain food, its porous surface gains a seasoning or memory that enhances the flavor. Because these same characteristics make clay pots tricky to care for, Wolfert provides tips for cleaning and safety as well as plenty of sources for more information. What these dishes have in common is that they can be prepared, baked and brought to the table in their respective dishes—be it in the Spanish cazeula (orange-glazed pork belly), the Moroccan tagine (fish tagine with tomatoes, olives and preserved lemon) or the Turkish guvec (summer lamb and vegetable guvec). Wolfert is a true cook's author, and as her use of obscure ingredients (dried eggplant, sweet and sour plums, argan oil) and colorful anecdotes/additional ideas (say, grilling over a flowerpot) illustrate, this book is not for the casual home cook. But for those willing to tackle them, Wolfert's clay pot dishes do indeed merit the hype. Photos. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (September 18, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076457633X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764576331
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paula Wolfert is widely acknowledged as one of the premier food writers in America and the "queen of Mediterranean cooking." She writes a regular column in Food & Wine, alternating with Jacques Pepin and Marcella Hazan (she came in as Julia Child's replacement), and she is author of eight cookbooks, several of which have remained in print for upwards of 30 years. Her three most recent cookbooks, The Food of Morocco, The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen and The Cooking of Southwest France, 2nd edition, received glowing reviews.
Wolfert's writings have received numerous awards, including the Julia Child Award, the M.F.K. Fisher Award, the James Beard Award, the Cook's Magazine Platinum Plate Award, and the Perigueux Award for Lifetime Achievement. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, Saveur, Fine Cooking, and Cook's Illustrated. In 2008, she was inducted into the Cookbook Hall of Fame by the James Beard Association.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is my third book by Paula Wolfert. I intend to get all of them. Her books are not just full of recipes, but also contain relevant background information and insights into other cultures. I'm especially interested in learning more about cooking in clay. So this is the perfect book for me. In addition to the material in the book, you'll find more information about Paula's methods on eGullet's forums. I came across a thread on tagines and another on how to cure claypots. Paula contributed to both threads. Her knowledge, enthusiasm, and curiosity are amazing. It also speaks well of her how she encourages others on the forums. Clearly, a very neat lady.

Now the warning: you may end up with a house full of a new class of toys. So far I've accumulated a Chinese sandpot (which I cracked making a Wolfert recipe and successfully repaired using Paula's instructions), four different tagines, an Emile Henry Flame Top dutch oven, two Roemertopf's, a Japanese donabe, a Spanish Cazuela, and a Baeckeoffe oval tureen from Alsace. Regrettably, I'm not done yet. I still want to get some Black Chamba Clay Cookware and perhaps a daubière... unless my wife puts me out of my misery first.

Update (1-21-2010):
I've made numerous recipes from the book by now: Moroccan Fish Tagine with Tomatoes, Olives, and Preserved Lemons (for which I bought an inexpensive Rifi Tagra), Fried Spatchcocked Chicken (made in an Italian mattone), Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Sweet Onions and Raisins, Baked Moroccan Chicken with Charred Tomatoes, Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Winter Squash and Toasted Pine Nuts, etc. , etc. They were fun to make and tasted wonderful. Some recipes are easy to make and some require patience and dedication.
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Format: Hardcover
Paula Wolfert's new book, "Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking" will end up being a seminal work for the new - old way of cooking, in clay pots. There are the old style pots of mica rich natural clays, and the new high tech flameware ceramic stovetop cookware by people such as Bill Sax, Terry Silverman, Emile Henry and the Clay Coyote Pottery.

Clay Pot cooking seems as though it's becoming the third leg of the natural and local foods nutritional stool. As Paula points out, food simply tastes better when cooked in clay. When you combine it with local, fresh foods, your eating will move to a new level.

Paula has approached this book with her usual masterful presentation of authentic recipes from Morocco, France, Italy, Greece and more, but made them more approachable by adding alternative ingredients and alternate cooking methods for different pots. You can cook these dishes in the usual metal cookware, but if you go the extra step and find some clay pots or flameware pottery, you'll find out what I mean when I say these are "flavor explosion" recipes. It is no wonder a number of top lists have made this the number one cookbook for 2009.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book needed more editing. I have made two recipes from it and both had errors. One called for olives in the list of ingredients but failed to mention when to add the olives. Another said to heat the oven to 400 degrees and then never used the oven.

I would also like a picture of the different pots. The recipes call for so many different types of pots and I have no idea about the shape of some of them.
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Format: Hardcover
I adore Paula Wolfert's cookbooks, and this has been a fun addition to my cookbook library. If you are buying it, you should know that making the recipes "authentically" does require some specialized cookware. I have purchased an 11 inch cazuela and a Pommaireware 4 quart clay pot, and this combo allows me to make most of the recipes without additional stuff. Some of the recipes could be easily adapted to a crockpot, but I don't think the flavor would be quite the same. Something magic seems to happen to stews which are slow cooked clay, an observation which is made several times within the pages of this book.

Paula Wolfert is the queen of the slow food movement, and many of the recipes in this book require 2-3 days of small steps before the final dish is ready for the table. For example, marinate on day 1, simmer for hours on day 2, chill overnight, shred meat, strain sauce, reduce sauce, reassemble, slow roast for several hours, eat late on day 3. Definitely reserved for weekend cooking, this book is leading me to a series of Sunday night dinner parties! So far, I have made one of the daube of beef dishes, served alongside the fabulous potato gnocci. It was worth every minute of the prep time.

If you are looking for a book for mid-week supper ideas, this will not be your book. I've made several of the fish dishes which take about 90 minutes to prepare and each has been delicious. These are the "fastest" recipes to prepare in the book.

There are a few things I particularly love about Paula Wolfert's books, and they are all true about this one:
1) Her recipes are truly authentic.
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