AFTERTASTE: A Modern Green Oven


For the Modern Green Family

Peter Sabbeth and Melissa Green run the Sag Harbor-based environmentally conscious development-and-design firm Modern Green Home, and they consider their Gaggenau BS 270/271 steam oven the most indispensable item in their kitchen. The couple’s secret culinary weapon combines steam and convection to magical effect-all packaged in a stainless steel box made by the 300-year old German company known for its knob-less, buttonless, touchpad-less design-creating healthy, flavorful meals for the couple and their two adorable young sons, Jackson and Tristan.

Steam cooking harnesses the power of super-heated water vapor, kept at a steady 212 degrees Fahrenheit. This is considerably cooler than baking or stir-frying. As the manufacturer’s Web site notes: “This is a much gentler method than using a pressure cooker, for example, as even non-water-soluble vitamins are retained better at such low temperatures.” Enveloped in moisture, whatever is being cooked is also less likely to dry out. Less liquid lost from the food means more color and flavor retained.

Think of the convection aspect like having your cake, or steam-oven made soufflé, and eating it, too. Steam your food to an exquisite succulence and then flip on the convection to create a perfectly browned exterior, that certain external crispiness that we all love. The Sabbeths use their steam oven to cook virtually anything-from vegetables, fish, pasta and rice, to desserts such as chocolate soufflé (a major hit with the boys) and soup. Naturally, their shared meals are sourced from locally grown produce found at Pike’s farm stand, Foster Farm or the Sag Harbor farmers market.

The design duo both equally enjoy experimenting with their steam oven-yogurt is another project in the works-which seems to encourage throwing a meal together on a whim. Indeed, as Sabbeth and Green begin to assemble their favorite family recipe of clams with garlic, tomatoes and white wine served over linguini, Jackson and Tristan are lured to the steam oven, their eyes peering inside the oven’s glass front. “The kids just adore watching the clams pop open in the oven,” says Green. “It’s like popcorn: when one goes, they all start popping open. It’s totally fun!”

Naturally, the machine fits neatly in the couple’s North Haven house, side-by-side with other innovations-radiant floors, zero-VOC finishes on walls and other surfaces-that boast conservative use of materials alongside healthiness. “It took a bit of time to change our age-old cooking habits of using the stove top and the regular convection oven,” says Green. It’s an apt metaphor for changing age-old habits in the name of any higher goal, sustainable or otherwise. “The steam oven is second nature now, and has opened up a whole new culinary world to us.”