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Cookware Wedding Shower Gift

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
For our wedding shower the community is pooling their money to get us a gift and we decided to get new cookware (pots and pans). Our current set is a bunch of freebies we have accumulated over the years, so we will get rid of all our cookware and replace them with what we get from our wedding shower. The community told us to pick out the pans and they would pay for them.

We were looking at the All-Clad stainless 10 piece set but after reading user reviews, they sound like they are very hard to clean if you cook your food on high.

We are amateur cooks, we both like to cook your basic foods so these pots and pans will be used for everything. I would like these pots and pans to last a very long time.

What cookware set or brand do you recommend for newlyweds that are amateur cooks and only cook your basic foods? I also read in the forums not to buy sets but this is a gift.

Remember we were told that money is no object from the community!

post #2 of 16
The hard to clean thing is more a sign of bad cooking than pan performance. Quick summary, you only rarely want HIGH heat for specific cooking tasks. Medium High is as high as you should really go and the pan will probably include that in the instructions. Granted, no one reads instructions that we technical writers write.

If you're preheating the pan at the right temp, adding the oil cold and then adding the food, deglazing normally and so on, clean-up shouldn't be a problem.

Off hand, the only time I use high heat on stainless pans is for boiling a lot of water.

You should avoid the set, even as a gift for all the reasons you've read about. It's hard to know what pieces to get and its easy to assume the set is well balanced. Tell us what you like to cook or want to learn to cook and we'll help you pick out pieces you should look at getting.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #3 of 16
Good points phil!
First, would like to say, before you toss your old stuff, I would look at each piece carefully. Of course if they are in really bad shape, it can go. But, I have a strange collection of nice stuff, but included are some odd ball things I have been given or picked up at yard sales. A tiny cast iron pan that is perfect for two eggs, several pieces of old Revereware that are mostly backups when I cook for more than usual. And a little cast iron Dutch oven that is just the right size for a batch of dark roux.
I like my newer cast iron grill pan and big chicken fryer. Have several pieces of All Clad, sauce pans. a dutch oven and a couple of skillets.
Have a huge pasta pot with insert (stainless) that is also good for cooking crab.
Have two of the Caphalon all purpose pans--sort of like a medium paella pans with domed lids, love 'em.
I would go down to nice shop and pick up and hold everything see how the handles and weight feel. Then pick pieces?
Congratulations and Best Wishes,
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
We cook grilled chicken, spaghetti, steaks, potatoes, lo mein, stir fry, grilled fish, burritos, eggs, omelets, ground beef, ect. We try to cook once a week.

All of our old stuff is very scratched and is ready to be tossed. Some of our friends were telling us to look at Calphalon CS Nonstick Cookware or Circulon Infinite Cookware.
post #5 of 16
I think a set is definitely bad for your cooking preferences.

grilled chicken. A grill outdoors is ideal For bad weather or simplicity, a cast iron grill pan/reversible griddle is nice. Lodge makes good ones though you'll pay more for their items than some other brands. If you don't know how to select cast iron, buying Lodge is worth the premium. I prefer reversible grills/griddles to the grill pans. You get more space and more functionality. However, if you have one of those smooth glass top stoves, this is not a good recommendation and the cast iron grill pan will be better as it makes good surface contact.

spaghetti, You need a big stock pot, 12 quarts is the most useful size. You might think that sounds too big. However, you can always cook small amounts in a big pot, but not large amounts in a small pot. This is the pot you'll want for making that turkey stock at Thanksgiving, a shrimp boil and so on. Also, a BIG pot full of BOILING water is excellent for cooking fresh pastas and gnochi since there is no appreciable recover time for the water to come back to boiling.

steaks this is another good item for the outdoor grill or cast iron grill. Also, a large 12 inch stainless steel fry pan with an oven safe handle is good for steaks. Mark them on the CI grill, then slip them into the oven to fihsh. A cast iron fry pan would be good too, but get the stainless steel first--more on that later.

potatoes--good in the big stock pot for boiling. The 12 inch skillet will do other potatoes on the stove or in the oven but there can be sticking problems. A hot pan, generous with the fat and wait for the potatoe to brown solves most of this problem but not all.

This is a particular time I like cast iron quite well. Handles the heat well and is non-stick. BDL would probably recommend a carbon steel fry pan for all the reasons I like cast iron, but it's much lighter and may be a bit cheaper. Most casual cooks would recommend a non-stick pan for hash browns, pan-fried potatoes, hash and so on. I'm not a big fan of teflon durability nor does it handle high heat well. There are also safety issues with teflon at high heat.

lo mein, stir fry calls for a carbon steel wok WITH THE ROUND BOTTOM. Flat bottom woks don't really cook like woks and should be avoided. All Clad has a stainless steel wok that Ming Tsai uses successfully on his show but it is really the wrong material for the technique. Too sticky, heats up wrong, and is flat bottomed. A carbon steel wok isn't expensive and brand doesn't matter much. You do want to get the right accessories, but you can mix and match these at a later time. A lid, the "shovel", a fry rack and steamer rack are nice.

However, if you don't cook with gas at home skip the wok totally. They won't get hot enough on other burners to really do the job right. You'll probably be happier with the 12 inch skillet though a non-stick might be worth it here particularly with the noodles.

grilled fish. Again, the cast iron grill, thoug grilling fish is always a bit tricky. Again, a skillet you can slip under the broiler increases the options. So no plastic handles Same for that non-stick skillet as that's good for frittatas and so forth.

burritos, Various pans depending on the filling. Rice needs a saucepan and or skillet. beans the same. meats may be stewed (stock pot or large sacuepan), sauted or grilled. You can heat flour tortillas up directly over the gas flame. A 12" cast iron pan handles tortilla warming well on other heat media and is good for quesadillas.

eggs, omelets. This is where most cooks say a teflon pan is good. It works excellently. Can't argue with 'em on that. And the heat is low so no worries about teflon safety. Generally egg pans are dedicated solely for eggs with some adding fish to that so that they don't get dinged up or otherwise ruined for eggs.

You can cook eggs well in stainless steel without sticking. There are some tricks for this that may be a hassle for lots of home cooks or require more fat than your diet allows.

a 10" is my preference. 8" is too small. 12 inch would double up well with your stir fry pan, but doesn't do omelettes.

Good alternatives are cast iron and cast steel pans.

ground beef should be cooked in a pan that will brown well and develop fond. Teflon doesn't do either of those. Stainless steel browns the best and develops the best fond, partially because of it's stickiness. Cast iron and carbon steel pans are also good but don't develop the same level of fond. Burgers, bacon and such can be cooked well on the cast iron grill/griddle.

We haven't touched on saucepans much. Here's what I recommend from reading between the lines of your posts. These are all stainless steel with a tight fitting lid.

3 quarts. I've never seen a set offer a 3 quart saucepan, but it's the best size for steaming vegetables in the little collapsible steamers. Handy for other things as well such as Chinese soups that are usually made in smallish batches.

2 quarts, also good for steaming vegies for smaller groups, rice, cous-cous, a small batch of polenta

1 quart sauce pan I use the least, usually as a last resort because everything else is in use or dirty. Not a pan I use much. Hopefully someone else will provide insight for this pan.

We also did not touch on a Dutch Oven or Casserole pan which is useful for braising and some soups/stews.

Basic recommendation list in my view

12 quart stock pot with lid

cast iron reversible grill/griddle. I like the two burner size.

12 " stainless steel fry pan--lid is useful but not essential.

10" non-stick fry pan--lid is useful but not essential.

3 qt, 2 qt, 1 qt saucepans lids required

This will cook most anything from any cuisine by the way.

Specialty pans to be added as works with your stove and budget. None are expensive


12 inch cast iron or carbon steel

12 inch non-stick

Dutch Oven or casserole

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #6 of 16
I pretty much agree with Phil on this, although adding a pasta insert is a nice addition to such a pot. It allows easy draining of the pasta as well as simple, easy removal of meat and vegetables when making stock or broth. A 12-quart is a good size, but if for some reason it's too big, look towards an 8-quart. Calphalon makes a nice, not-to-expensive 8-quart with pasta insert, but other brands can do the trick as well.

A good steel French omelet pan is my choice for eggs, however, I like to cook my eggs with a lot of butter, so sticking is not a problem. I could use a lot less butter and still not have a sticking problem. However, if for some reason using a big pat (or more) of butter is unacceptable, look to a good quality non-stick pan. Some people advocate getting a "cheap" pan because the coating doesn't last very long. I suggest getting a good pan - there are many with non-Teflon non-stick surfaces, and using it carefully, maybe even dedicating it to eggs.

I've a 1-quart pan that is used at least once a day, cometimes more. It's a perfect size for boiling some eggs, making porridge in the morning, heating up a can of soup, making small amounts of sauce, and reheating a lot of things. I use a Simply Calphalon 1-quart which I bought for $20.00 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Mostly I use the pot for making food justfor myself. A 1.5 quart may be a nice size if you're cooking for two. Also, as with all pots, check the depth and width to be sure the dimensions are suited to what you're cooking. Example: I have two 2-quart sauce pans. One is deeper and narrower than the other, and evaporates less liquid when used uncivered while stirring. If I want my sauce or whatever to reduce faster and easier, the lower, wider pan is my choice.

A good quality enameled cast iron French or Dutch oven is probaly one of the best cooking investments you can make. Le Creuset and Staub are good choices. I like mine with white or light colored interiors as it's easier in some cases to see the progress of the food as it cooks. My 5-quart, white, LeCreuset has been with me for about 25 years. Certainly a good investment.

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
So which brand are good for these pieces or does it matter?
post #8 of 16
I don't see brand as important as some others do here in general. Some of my favorite pans are Tramontina for example. And they're not even clad construction, but a stamped disk bottom. I have some clad Calphalon which I like too, but i got it cheap.

Go to a kitchen store and hold some pans. See what design features you like from which brands. Make some notes. Then give a list to your buyers.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
I will ask the community about getting separate pieces but I think they want to get me a set because its quick and easy. Besides this is a gift so I cant be too picky.
post #10 of 16
Contrary to what many people espouse as "gospel", there are some of us who have found our commercially avaialble sets of cookware to be entirely functional and useful.

My wife and I purchased a 13 piece set of Calphalon Tri-Ply a couple of years ago, and use every single piece frequently. Not just on occasion, but at least once every two weeks for what may be considered the less common pots or pans.

This set includes an 8" omelette pan, 10" omelette pan, 1 1/2-quart covered saucepan, 2 1/2-quart covered saucepan, 4 1/2-quart covered saucepan, 3-quart covered saute pan, 6-quart covered stockpot with a 6-quart pasta insert (that's 7 pans, one pasta insert, and five lids...)

We also picked up a couple of "extra" pieces from the open stock, as we desired a little extra flexibility.

Our cooking is usually for 1 to 10, but sometimes more.

One thing that "buy each piece for it's purpose" stalwarts never mention is that when you purchase individual pieces, you're paying full fare for each one.

I priced out the contents of the set we bought, and it came out to an average of $97 per piece. The two inexpensive pieces were the omelette pans...

8" omelette =29.99
10" omelette =39.99
1.5 sauce = 81.99
2.5 sauce = 96.99
4.5 sauce = 139.99
3.0 saute = 159.99
6.0 stock = 129.99

5.0 saute = 189.99
12" omelette = 94.99

Say you buy 7 pans at an average price of $97. That's $679 for seven pieces (lids included where appropriate)...

Now, the 13 piece (7 pans) set that we bought is selling for $399 at BB&B at the moment. An equivalent purchase by individual piece would net you "maybe" four pans. That would depend upon which four you picked...

Tack on a 20% discount coupon when buying a set, and there's some significant savings in there, and if you only use one of those other three (or four) pans every once in a while, I say you're still ahead...

But then again, that's strictly my opinion, and one I'm willing to publicly state...
I might be suffering from CDO.
It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
I might be suffering from CDO.
It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
post #11 of 16
I have the same set DMT speaks of. Going on 5 years now. Great set and we use it on a daily basis. No warps, no dents, no broken lids and by not using scotchbrite or abrasive cleaners on the outside they still have their original mirror finish. Riveted handles are all still sound and don't leak, and the interior seasons very well. Heck I've all but stopped using my copper it works so well. :cool:

IMHPO it would be one heck of a gift that any Bride and Groom would be happy to receive. Based on price they are the best pots and pans I've found. I actually wish they made a couple larger products then my set would be complete.:cool:
post #12 of 16
I don't think the pick and choose people are espousing full price. They talk about the discount racks, stores and such as places to pick them up as you find them.

Agreed, the full price open stock is an awful rip-off.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #13 of 16
I would agree that adequate price awareness (say TJ Maxx vs. BB&B) is a good way to pick up quality tools, if the availability and time to hunt is not a factor.

I don't see that being the case for a wedding shower gift... :)

Or in what was our case, we bought a new flat top stove, and just about every piece of our thirty year old Farberware stuff was warped enough from use on old coil type stoves (of varying quality), that it was simply unacceptable for use on the flat top.

Hence the need for replacement.

We needed a fairly rapid solution to our food prepartion problem and the set made the most practical sense.

I still find some complimentary things on the discount rack (like Shel's 1 qt Simply Calphalon sauce pan for $20 at BB&B) but the boss and I have found that we have most everything else we need. Plus I get the "Where in the hello am I suppose to keep THAT?" inquisition when I come home with a new treasure...

Oh, and the new stove came with a nice, new, reversible griddle, so we weren't hunting for one of those in addition to the pots and pans... :)
I might be suffering from CDO.
It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
I might be suffering from CDO.
It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
post #14 of 16
If you went in to BB&B or some other brick and mortar and put together an open stock set of what you want, went to the manager for a price break, I'd bet you'd get some good discounting. People are afraid to ask, but you gotta ask someone with the clout to make it happen.

My friend told me of some financial software some acquaintances were peddling. They'd make presentation to low-level managers and get nowhere. In frustration at their last presentation, the added a zero to the price. This escalated the decision to upper management and they made the sale. Lower level drones are the wrong people to ask to make a deal. :)

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
I will try that.
post #16 of 16
I understand your position, and believe I can reconcile the answers so everything not only makes sense, but you can give your friends a meaningful answer regarding the cookset.

There are a variety of different types of cookware including carbon-steel, enamel over cast iron, cast iron, multiple-ply stainless, non-stick on stainless, non-stick on aluminum, stainless in anodized aluminum, plain aluminum etc.

Some people are very happy with one or several of the many forms of non-stick. Good cooks, generally are not. On the plus side, non-stick is easy to clean. The fact that food doesn't stick is usually not a good thing. A good cook using decent cookware can keep most foods from sticking just by cooking them properly. Even the best non-stick is somewhat fragile and when it starts to chip and peel, the pot must be tossed.

That said, you can combine all the good advice you're getting by having your friends buy you a nice set of cookware with a decent assortment of sizes, then adding your own special purpose pieces, such as a dedicated omelette pan, a chicken-fryer, and so forth, as your cooking horizons expand.

Stainless steel interiors are probably the most practical for a "set." Stainless is not reactive, and cleans fairly easily. Where was I? Oh yes, practical because it's not reactive and cleans easily. It's not truly non-stick but you keep food from sticking by preheating the pan, adding an appropriate amount of oil, preheating the oil before adding the food, and not trying to move or turn the food until it's ready.

Old fashioned stainless had a lot of problems that modern, multiple ply construction has pretty much solved. While there are other construction solutions, multiple ply is probably the most common in high-end residential cookware. Multiple ply means the interior is stainless; with some lines the exterior will be another material -- usually aluminum, or the exterior will be stainless with an aluminum inner core.

It's the All Clad stainless-aluminum-stainless sandwich you probably heard complaints about. That is, the exteriors can pretty crummy -- especially if the flame is so high it wraps around the side. However, this ins't a big deal really. It can be cleaned very easily with oven cleaner.

The choice of exterior -- aluminum, anodized (dark grey) aluminum or stainless is really an aesthetic choice. There isn't much performance difference -- certainly not enough to worry about.

The current "hot lines" are All-Clad MC2, All-Clad Stainless, Calphalon Tri-Ply and Gourmet Standard Tri-Ply. There are a few others worth looking at if none of these tickle your fancy. Your best bet is for the two of you to find a store and handle a few of the pans to get a sense of their weight and how their handles feel. In fact, other than cosmetics, "feel" is the major difference. Performance is essentially equal.

Since someone else is paying for this -- and price is no object, I suggest asking for the set which includes the "Spaghetti Pot." That's a large stock pot with a spaghetti strainer/steamer plus smaller steamer insert. It should come with four other sauce pans and at least two, but preferably three frying pans (8", 10" and 12"), as well as a bunch of lids. Unless you're both big and strong, you'll want a helper-handle on the 12" frying pan (which will have straight sides and be called a "saute pan").

All in all you're probably looking at something like 14 pieces and some serious change. This is the sort of ambitious and wonderful present your friends will be proud to give and will serve you in good stead for decades. Get it, use it, love it. That doesn't mean it's the be all and end all of cookware or that you'll never want another pan or pot. Just that you're off to a great start.

Best wishes and congratulations as appropriate. Good luck to the both of you,
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