or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Buying Cookware - Page 4

Poll Results: What kind of cookware do you prefer?

  • 36% (94)
  • 6% (16)
    Le Creuset
  • 9% (23)
    Cast Iron
  • 1% (3)
  • 10% (26)
  • 19% (49)
    Stainless Steel
  • 6% (17)
    Circulon, Anodized, etc.
  • 7% (19)
    Other (please share in this post)
  • 3% (8)
255 Total Votes  
post #91 of 138
Grant, I think we've always been pretty close to the same page, but might have got off on the wrong foot, feet, foot.

If you want to straighten the warp out of Calphalon pan, get yourself a 2X4 a little longer than the width of the pan and a nice, heavy hammer. Heat the pan nice and hot. Working quickly, lay it on its rim on something that allows the rim to sit flat and the handle to hang off the edge -- a workbench or a concrete step, for instance. Put the 2X4 on the bottom of the hot pan and start whacking away all over the board. Rotate the board so you beat the board over the entire surface of the pan two or three times. Reheat and rehit a few times to get the bottom really flat, the warming-cooling cycle is part of the process. Works on carbon steel too. Less well on stainless. It's a good fix, but a temporary one. Warpage will return more quickly than it first came in. But, of course, it can be beaten out nearly ad infinitum.

Cast iron handles are traditional on French (and Belgian) cooking vessels. They're supposedly "cooler." Go figure. FWIW, copper cleans pretty well with oven cleaner. The kind of industrial strength you get from restaurant supply places works better than regular Easy Off which works better than "Fume-Free," which works better than whatever comes next. After you get it clean you can hit it with some super shine stuff like Brasso or whatnot if you want to, but I get the feeling you like a few battle scars. Take it for what it's worth, but it's a good idea to clean copper now and then, and not let it get too far gone. It'll cook better for you.

When it comes to pans, I'm not a fan of stainless linings because of its propensity to stick -- especially after taking on a few scratches. Also it doesn't sear or brown as well as carbon steel, tinned copper, anodic aluminum, and regular aluminum. But that's me. It's got a lot of virtues too, and I certainly recognize its attractions to the home cook (of which I have been one for many years). Not that there aren't limits. I draw the line at flaking Teflon.

Speaking of overpriced... have you tried the kinda-sorta non-stick Sitram developed on the French government's dime? I'd like to hear from someone with experience. No matter how good it is, I'll probably go with carbon steel when I replace the Calphalon. You can't beat it for so many things, especially once you get a good season on it. I like carbon steel a lot a lot. You don't see it around much though even though it comes from France and its cheap as can be. Maybe there's a reason other than it's ugly as all ****, rusts, dents and warps. What could it be?

post #92 of 138
Copper cleans up well with lemon juice and salt too. Maybe stuff that I don't use a lot I'll clean so it looks nice but my pans look a lot like ones you see in old Julia Child photos - very patinad (if that's a word).

Most of my non-stick is titanium and they've held up really well but still non-stick is non-stick for a reason - it's covered with plastic of some sort.

The stainless lining in the copper works really well and currently doesn't stick very much considering they're "stick pans". I think it's because the stainless is very very smooth. Once I've gotten it all scoured up the stuff will probably stick more. I had a choice of tin or stainless but I couldn't tell the difference between them cooking although scientifically the tin is supposed to be better. The tin however will not stand up to any abuse so I went stainless.

Williams Sonoma pans by Mauviel have brass handles but again I think they're thinking more about looks and weight than thermal properties. Maybe a brass handle wouldn't hold up a 2.5 mm copper pan though and cast iron would.

I like high carbon steel for knives. Dehillerin has a wall full of them and nothing else. They're not pretty but they work better than anything. I'm not quite sold on carbon steel for other things though outside of woks and crepe pans which I don't use anyway because I have a Krampouz crepe cooker from Brittany.

I haven't yet been impressed with anything Sitram has done. Even the French can become diluted if given enough pressure. Look what's happening to Le Cruiset now. Make some stainless piece of nothing in Thailand and slap your name on it and sell it for a huge profit.

I really don't cook with non-stick pans that much, just for eggs and veggies. Most of my Mexican cooking is done on cast iron comals which have a very nice layer of seasoning now so they're sort of non-stick...

post #93 of 138
I too have got some Tramontina phatch, but i only have the 8 qt pot atm. But it has every thing i need to steam veggies and cook pasta at the same time on some things i cook. Then i use the pot it's self for stew and such things, i am happy with it. But i do have a question for you phatch (or anyone else who feels like an answer) I am looking to get some stainless steel pans and i am thiking of getting Tramontina. For the price they are not bad, i don;t have a lot of money to spend. I am wondering if they are worth it for just all round the house cooking?
post #94 of 138

One thing to remember when buying cookware is that pots are not pans, and the cooking demands are very different. A good stainless pot will diffuse heat evenly across the bottom, but cooks seldom ask for much performance from the walls. So, a mid-weight solid stainless pot with well-attached handles and a reasonably thick, aluminum, heat diffusion disk on the bottom, and an adequate top is more than good enough. After that, you're buying appearance and "feel," more than performance.

From a price/performance standpoint, mid-level pots such as house brands, Wolfgang Puck, Emerilware, whatever's on sale at HSN, etc., are as good as anything else. Cuisinart pots are very high value -- especially if you can find them on sale. However -- and this is a big however -- you should be honest about the actual importance of appearance, fit, finish and feel to you. These things mean a lot to most home cooks, and should not be under-valued. The best advice I can give is to always buy what you want. You'll regret spending more only until the next paycheck. You'll regret settling for something you didn't really want for as long as you own it.

Pan performance is something else. In no particular order, the best performing materials for general use are carbon steel, tinned copper, and aluminum. Each of these materials has convenience or reactive issues which stainless does not. In order to get around them, sometimes a stainless liner is placed inside a copper or aluminum shell. Sometimes a stainless pan is attached to an aluminum diffusion disc. However, stainless has performance issues -- especially a tendency to stick which gets progressively worse as the stainless develops small scratches. Stainless functions best when it's surgically clean. And, no matter what you do, you can't "cure" it.

If you like the appearance and convenience aspects of stainless, you'd probably be best served by buying a few pans fairly well up the quality ladder for their heat distribution and construction qualities, then rounding out your collection with special purpose pans as you require them. That having been said, you want to watch the weight. You want your slope and round sided pans to be light enough for you to use the toss-turn technique you see the TV pros use.

IMO, for most purposes, simple carbon steel French pans are best (good selection on Amazon). The fact that they're not easily available is an indication that the market place disagrees -- take it for what it's worth. I'd rate commercial aluminum a close second, but because aluminum is so reactive, a cook should round out the set with at least a couple of stainless pans. Cast iron is also a useful addition for those things where you want to keep a steady heat in a crowded pan. Think fried chicken.

Non-stick coatings are another subject altogether. Almost any pan surface -- with the exception of stainless can be made very slick one way or another. To the extent pros lack the time and attention, and home-cooks the techniques they have a legitimate place.

Price is important to you, and me too. If you do a cost-benefit analysis, you'll find Tramontina a little past the point where the Law of Diminishing Returns kicked in. If you're looking for pure performance, try a couple of French black or blue carbon steel pans. They're inexpensive enough to make a mistake.

Some thoughts,
post #95 of 138
Well boar . . . . well is all i can say on your reply. That is a lesson in it's self, and now i know a bit more about the do's and don't. I guess i was thinking stainless for the look but then after you mentioned them sticking that was something i never gave much thought too. And cast iron pans are wonderful in the kitchen, and if better in my option if you can get your mother or grndmothers hand me downs. I have a three set of what i like to call "wal-mart specials" non-stick pans, they do the job for now. But taking all that you have said in your post to heart i really do think that i will go for the carbon steel or tinned copper. I do like the look of tinned copper, and as you have said they would very useful. One thing i have found though should i buy sets or just a pan at a time? All the sets i see only have sauce pans, which are the pans that have the 90 degree sides unless i am wrong. So i would think but a set and then get my saute pans one at a time right?
post #96 of 138
Sorry about my spelling i tend to miss letters when I type fast
post #97 of 138

Forgive me for taking so long to reply to your post. It hasn't all been time wasted though, I've been using some of that time to think about how to answer your question.

Tinned copper pans? Maybe in New York. Maybe in the fifties. Not in Montana in this century. Too expensive, too hard to get retinned -- which they need every couple of years if they get use. Also, most users find copper pans impractical because the require so much effort to keep clean and shined. This wasn't a big deal in the days when middle-class families had live in help -- but those days are long gone. It's also not a big deal for people like Grant who like their copper pans to look a bit grungy.

Different materials do different things well, at varying degrees of economy, practicality and beauty. Let's talk about the two basics:

1. Pots and pans which will be usually used filled with liquid a k a Sauce Pans:

For most cooks, the best material for these pots and pans is stainless -- at least for the vessel itself. Stainless is non-reactive, easy to clean and inexpensive. However, it's a poor heat conductor -- not so much in the sense that it's slow, but in the sense that it heats unevenly and develops hot spots. Also, in the gauges normally used for cooking it's subject to dinging. Heavier gauges are prohibitively heavy.

The modern, common fix for these faults is to attach an aluminum disc, either by sintering or pressure bonding to the bottom of the pan. Honestly, that pretty much takes care of everything crummy you might otherwise say about a stainless pan. This is not to say there aren't better choices for special purposes, there are. Or that you can't buy better performance by throwing a lot of money at it, because you can.

A very popular up-market choice is a stainless insert, totally encased in a shell made from a better (or two better!) conductors. There is some performance gain, but it's very slight compared to the expense and the weight. Also, even heating at the wall of a liquid filled pan is usually of little to no importance. All-Clad makes a few lines with insert-in-shell construction, Calphalon Tri-Ply is another example. This is good stuff, but it's expensive.

If cost matters get stainless with a disc. Look for a substantial disc, a well-attached, good handle, and good lids. There are lots of choices and lots of sources. You don't need to go to a restaurant supply store, and you don't need anything from Williams Sonoma either. A really well put together line of cookware of this type is Cuisinart Classic. Look for it on sale. Also look for department store house brands, Emerilware (a mid-market All-Clad), and other mid-lines. Wolfgang Puck isn't bad, and HSN and Big O aren't bad sources.

You mentioned you'd never seen a slope-sided sauce pan. Something you never see in a set, but is important for almost anyone with pretensions to good cooking is a "Windsor Pan." The little suckers are invaluable for saucing. Also good for mashed spuds, because you can get tools in there so easily without rapping your own knuckles.

2. Fry pans, skillets, etc.

We talked about specialty pans above. Well the world of these low-sided pans has quite a few.

These pans are generally used dry or nearly dry. Consequently, it's important to avoid sticky surfaces. Drat! Stainless is sticky. Well it might not start sticky when it's all polished and new, but get a few scratches in it and it sticks. This is why you don't see a lot of stainless pans in commercial kitchens.

What you do see is aluminum and carbon steel. Mostly aluminum. The problem with aluminum is that it's reactive. It discolors acid foods. Aluminum also dings easily. Commercial kitchens don't care, but you probably will.

The best overall choice is carbon steel if you can stand ugly. This comes in three flavors: Black, blue and white. The black and blue steels are treated against corrosion. The white steel is raw. Don't confuse carbon steel with enamel-over-steel. You might see someone talk about "white specks" in black steel or "non-stick" steel pans -- if you do, run away.

Speaking of "non-stick," carbon steel seasons in exactly the same way as cast-iron. If you treat your pans right, they'll be slicker than goose fat. But when seasoned they don't lose their ability to sear or brown. Cheap too. For most things, they're the ideal pan.

Talk more later,
post #98 of 138
You know boar . . . . i am starting to think you are a well of knowledge! You have really helped me at all of the questions i have about what kind of pans to get, i want to say thank you! I am pretty sure that a little store here in town has some Emerilware, i will have to take a look on my next days off. And the "Windsor Pan" you were talking about, i have never even heard of one of those. But the the thought of not roasting my knuckles sounds quite nice to me. And about the carbon steel pans, for what you have just told me i think i can handle ungly since it sounds as though it will out last me.

"Don't confuse carbon steel with enamel-over-steel." You said this here, but is there a sure fir way for me to know the difference? When it comes to knowing cookware i am as green as a granny smith apple. And you said that the black and blue carbon steel is treated againest corrosion how do mean? Like a non-stick or just something they have done to the pans?

Thanks again for everything you being a great help!
post #99 of 138

Just google the terms carbon + steel + pans and you'll get a lot of hits. You'll find that most of the pans are made in France -- which is a good thing. You'll also find a lot of net-tailers you trust, which is also good. The pans on Amazon from World-something are good pans.

Some of the pans have steel handles, a few have cast iron. Generally, but not always, cast iron is a sign of "quality."

You'll know they are regular carbon steel and not non-stick or "salt-enamel" because they won't say they're non-stick or enamel. Those are misnomers you get from advice givers. By the way the speckled enamel stuff you take camping that's blue with white dots, or red with white dots... you know what I mean? That's the stuff that some people confuse with professional carbon steel. You won't. The differences are obvious. That having been said, I love salt steel because it's so attractive. Cooks like crap though. Great for service.

Carbon steel should be treated like cast iron. Season it well. Season it again, before using. Afterwards, just rinse it and wipe it if you can get away with it. Use soap only if you have to, and then with a nylon brush. If you have to scour, you'll probably have to re-season. But it's no big deal. These aren't grandma's pans and don't have to be treated with reverence. They can even go in the dishwasher, but you'll have to oil them immediately after they come out to keep them from rusting. Carbon steel should never go to bed wet.

The exception to "it's OK to abuse your steel" is an 8" pan you set aside for omelettes and a special low sided pan for crepes -- if you're serious about these things. Revere those two. Treat them like gold. Buy them chocolate if they insist. You can replace the pan easily enough, but the perfectly seasoned surface that comes from use -- not so much. It ain't the dime, it's the time. $20 and six months.

Carbon steel kind of hits the golden mean between copper and cast iron. It's inexpensive, not too heavy to lift, and very responsive to temperature changes. It sears, browns, caramelizes and sautes better than anything else. On the downside, it's not "modern" cookware, and there's nothing well-researched or ergonomic about it. The bad news, besides all the seasoning and rusting B.S., is the handles suck. This means keeping a towel on you when you're in the kitchen at all times. Those handles get hot. You can always tell someone who learned to cook with steel pans -- they keep a towel on their shoulder or in their belt.

Regarding black, blue and white steel: At the steel mill, they take big bars of steel, and roll them between enormous rollers to make the sheets of steel from which the pan pieces will later be cut. The enormous stresses the rollers place on the steel is part of the process by which the steel acquires its character. Sometimes the steel mill adds various powders to the surface of the steel, which become part of it during the rolling the process. This is how "black" and "blue" carbon steels are made. It's not a coating, but an actual part of the steel. It's purpose is to delay corrosion, not to create a non-stick surface. It can scratch, but not easily, and if it does scratch, it's no big deal. Just season the pan again. In my experiences with black, blue and white -- mostly with blue -- the blue seasons easiest. Come to think of it, that's more what I was told than my own experience. But my experience hasn't disturbed the thought.

Blue steel is particularly associated with the Lyon area in France. Black with somewhere in the north of France, I forget where exactly. The French love black steel for baking because it's good with crust. I don't know if it's got the same rep for pans or not. They used to use blue steel pans with incredibly long handles at the omelette place at Mt. St. Michelle.

Start with one or two pans and see what you think. Don't design your kitchen around them 'til you see if you like them. Yes, they're good performers. Yes, they're high bang for the buck. But they need care. And they're also an aesthetic. Personally, I like a lot of black steel, and battered aluminum, and old scuffed up Calphalon on my pot rack. Not everyone does.

Remember, there's only so much a pan can do to help or hurt you. 90% is knowing what goes in it, 7% is knowing how to shake it.

Don't forget to buy lids. You'll have to find them separately. Don't obsess, they're lids. Go cheap young man.

post #100 of 138
So what do you mean by stainless steel is sticky? I've used the same stainless pans for years. They have scratches. They don't stick any more now than they did new.

Carbon steel has all the same problems of cast iron and aluminum. It's reactive and acidic pan sauces will discolor and have an off taste. They have their place and I like them, but for most people, stainless steel is just fine and easier to deal with.

Stainless steel can be seasoned. It doesn't take on a patina like carbon steel or cast iron though. There have been a number of threads on this forum about seasoning stainless steel. The most recent I know of occurs in this thread, http://www.cheftalk.com/forums/profe...-egg-tips.html

Even teflon pans benefit from a seasoning with oil and many such pans come with instructions to do so.

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 #101 of 138
I have to jump in here again too. BDL has to be talking about a very limited cooking scenario because non-stick pans are worthless outside of cooking a few things. To tell someone they shouldn't go with stainless or stainless lined fry pans is just misleading to the nth degree. If your pan doesn't stick, you won't sear properly and you can't make a pan sauce worth beans.

In the past I've accused (maybe wrongly) BDL of not having a lot of cooking breadth and I'm going to do it again here. There's just no other explanation. Maybe I'm just not understanding what you're saying but if I'm not then Jason isn't either.

You do NOT use the same fry pan for everything. Choose the pan depending on what you're doing. The idea of doing Chicken Marsala in a non-stick (I'm not talking teflon here, any non-stick) pan is preposterous. It will not turn out. The sauce won't have any depth and the chicken won't have any flavor at all.

I'm going to add my own advice to the list for Jason's questions. Don't buy a pan set unless you have an allergic reaction to money and just need to get rid of it. Decide what you want to cook and buy a pan for it. As you want to cook more things buy the correct pan for those things. You need a "stick" fry pan and a non-stick fry pan. It doesn't matter if the stick fry pan is stainless/aluminum, stainless/copper or whatever but it needs to stick. Your non-stick can be carbon steel, cast iron or some sort of titanium/TFL if your into that. My stick pans get used 10/1 over the non-stick. Keep in mind that my use for a frypan is european (Italian/French) in nature. When I cook Indian/Persian I use enameled dutch ovens.. Non-stick is good for egs and veggies.

post #102 of 138
phatch -- By "sticky," I mean (a) stuff sticks; and (b) as an assertion of relative stickiness, i.e., one material is more or less sticky than another.

I know how to temporarily season a stainless pan, but thanks for the link.

The discussion regarding carbon steel was limited to pans which would not be used for cooking sauces for any length of time, but for sears, sautes, etc. In a previous post, I recommended stainless for cooking utensils which would be used primarily for liquids.

Grant -- I did not recommend "non-stick" for anything, nor would I. In terms of searing, carbon steel creates a better crust, forms better fond, and releases more completely than stainless. For that matter, so do aluminum, tinned copper and cast iron. Each material has its strengths and weaknesses.

My "breadth:"

Professionally: Old line "continental" at the Blue Fox, "California cuisine" at Chez Panisse, and, Guest Starring as "The White Guy," barbecue at Willie Walker's. In addition to catering for ... I catered as "Predominantly French," my own SoCal company, which did "intimate" (i.e., around 20) dinners during the late Seventies for a mostly Show-Biz clientele.

Non-Professional strengths: Eastern Mediterranean, Italian (but who doesn't?), German, Jewish, Indian, breads, competition grilling and barbecue.
post #103 of 138
Interesting. I've found bare aluminum to be very sticky compared to Stainless Steel. Anodized aluminum too.

I'd have said Pro-kitchens used aluminum because it's cheap but performs well for the price and abuse and is no big deal to replace.

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 #104 of 138
This may be useful for anyone interested in what pan to use for what. Cooks illustrated tests the crap out of stuff and has no qualms in pronouncing a $40 pan a winner over a $200 pan. They also don't accept any advertising so the reviews aren't biased outside of their narrow field of cooking. They mostly focus on cooking in American kitchens so you won't find them recommending a large carbon steel wok over a frypan because most people don't have the kitchens to support it.

I tried to include the URL but apparently I can't post URLs until I've made 5 posts or more. Anyway go to google and search for this exactly

cooks illustrated pan materials

And click on the second link which is a pdf. Maybe someone else that can post URLs will reply and add the URL?

Note that my favorite frypan (copper) is not their favorite and they deem it not worth the cost. Interestingly if you buy your copper direct from Paris it costs about the same as the winner all-clad. Even though I disagree on occasion with cooks illustrated I think if you were to blindly follow someones advice without knowing any better you could do far worse than follow theirs. I think that this document sums things up pretty good.

post #105 of 138
Or search for this and you'll get it directly


post #106 of 138
The other thing I'd like to say is there IS a difference between pans that may look the same. I have a Calphalon non-stick sautee that cooks wonderfully and an Analon non-stick sautee pan that doesn't. The Analon looks much nicer built but the bottom is just too think (that's my theory anyway). It heats up slow and reacts slowly. I can get any frond out of it (even considering non-sticks inability to do so) and I just don't like using it. The Calphalon has warped and probably for the same reason - it's too thin.

I used to have some stainless with aluminum disk sauce pans and they'd burn the crap out of stuff along the sides of the bottom and there were hotspots in the actual bottom surface. If I had to guess it's because the stainless was too thick and the aluminum too thin.

post #107 of 138
Jason, if I understand where you're at right now, in terms of expertise and outfitting a kitchen, I'd try to read through all the information posted here. Much of it is admittedly excellent, but possibly a bit too far up the experience curve for you.

My own opinions on the most essential pieces in a home kitchen, especially when you first start building a collection of good-quality cookware:

1. As a general rule, do not buy cookware sets. You'll get stuck with stuff you don't need or want, and therefore will not have really saved any money. Plus, why spend the money all at once when you can but a piece at a time over time? There are exceptions, of course -- if a smaller set contains exactly the things you are positive you'll use/need, and it's a bargain, no problem. Just make sure, whatever you buy, that it has all-metal handles (no plastic), and that they are riveted (not welded or soldered). Even the lids need to have metal handles!

2. Another general rule... do not ever buy stainless steel that does not have an aluminum or copper core. The thicker the core (disk of aluminum or copper sandwiched between stainless steel in the bottom of the pan), the better it will conduct heat and resist warping.

3. You'll never regret having at least one non-stick skillet (shallow frying pan with sloped sides) for eggs and the like. Teflon wears out, no matter what, so don't blow a lot of money. Just make sure it's very heavy-gauge aluminum with a riveted, all metal handle. A rubber handle cover is fine as long as it's removable, so you can stick the skillet in the oven for something like a frittata, etc. The heavier aluminum will conduct heat better, and is less likely to warp. If you have space and money for two, get an 8-inch and a 12-inch, or something along those lines.

4. At least one lidded sauté pan (like a skillet, but with straight sides). Stainless steel over a thick aluminum or copper core is good for a home cook. The advantage of an aluminum core instead of copper is weight and cost -- much lighter, much cheaper. If you can afford to buy a good brand, such as All-Clad, you will have made a long-term investment in something you probably will never have to replace. Make sure it has a helper handle, especially if it's a big 5 or 6 quart size!

5. Lidded 2-qt. and 3-qt. straight-sided sauce pans will get loads of general purpose use. Mine get used for simmering or steaming veggies, making rice, double-boiler, etc.; but I mostly prefer a saucier for sauces (see below). Add other sizes as you figure out your needs.

6. A lidded dutch oven, the biggest you can afford, store and lift when full. Enameled cast iron (e.g., Le Creuset) is most versatile, but regular cast iron and stainless have their places.

7. A stainless and/or aluminum stock pot. I think 12-qt is ideal, but it's sort of a matter of personal preference. I personally wouldn't get less than an 8-qt. model.

Try out a saucier, a slope-sided sauce pan. I use them for all kinds of things, but they're especially good for (most) sauces and things like short braises. Not having a "corner" helps with getting ingredients fully incorporated, and prevents scorching. I love these babies!
Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.
-M.F.K. Fisher
Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.
-M.F.K. Fisher
post #108 of 138
post #109 of 138
Here's a link to the document grant mentioned (thanks for that! I've been wanting it!):


Another good site is Consumer Search, which consolidates reviews of products from multiple sources:

Cookware Reviews; Stainless Steel Cookware Reviews
Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.
-M.F.K. Fisher
Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.
-M.F.K. Fisher
post #110 of 138
Thanks guys! That's exactly the one I was referencing. I agree with Rouxtheday's recommendations.

I'm going to add that once you get the basics - stick frypan, non-stick frypan, sauce pan (maybe two sizes), cast iron skillet, stainless stock pot you can just add what you need to cook what you want. After several years of using my enameled dutch ovens extensively I've realized that I'd love to have a smaller 3.5 qt dutch oven too. I have a large oval and a large round one. Both work wonderfully but I now am finding that I'd "need" a smaller one. Note that I don't actually need it but it would be advantageous for me to have a smaller one. Obviously I've been getting by.

A few things that I've bought because I though ahead of time that I'd need them just sit in the pantry. That includes a 10.2 inch copper frypan and a 9.5 inch copper sautee pan. I don't use a "stick" surface to sautee usually and I prefer an 11" frypan to the smaller 10.2.

The other thing I caution against is buying stuff just because it's a good deal. Make sure it's something you actually want. I'm guilty of walking through marshals or TJ-maxx and taking stuff home that I thought was an especially good deal and then not using it. Had I saved the money I could have put it toward something nicer. It's better to have 8 pieces of higher quality cookware than 15 pieces of cheap stuff you don't use.

A lot of times there are ways of cutting corners on price, Marshalls and TJmaxx are two of them (just make sure the lids fit!). If you want copper order it directly from Paris for half the price as Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table. Buying off brands for some things (enameled dutch ovens) is a great way to go and buying the Cooks Illustrated Best Buys are good too. Sometimes the Best Buy actually wins the comparison. Forschner knives are an example of one that consistently wins the knife tests and cost substantially less than JA-Henkels or Wustoff which are usually midpack.

post #111 of 138
Well so far i am trying to keep up with all three of you and will not take ones advise over the other, but i will check the site you gave GMF. And i think i have also discover by watched each person speck their mind that it will come down to what i want and what i like just like BDL has said. For the most part it has only been BDL to really give me input, so it is nice to see others state their thoughts as well.
post #112 of 138
One thing you have to keep in mind is that cooking is very subjective. Have you ever discovered a wonderful restaurant that you just can't stop raving about only to take some friends and watch them muscle through gag reflexes just to please you? People are subjective and just like art food is a very subjective topic.

It may seem like we're all at odds but if you look through what each one of us has said there's probably 85% similarity. BDL likes carbon steal, I like copper (for some things) and if you asked someone else they'd swear pure aluminum is the best.

The reality is this - you need a pan that heats up and cools down fast for sensitive food (Alluminum/Copper). You need a pan that heats up fast and cools down slow for other types of food (Cast Iron). You need pans that stick so you can capitalize in the Maillard reaction and make create pan sauces ("stick" pans) and you need slippery pans for more delicate items like eggs and veggies (non-stick pans). Because we're experienced cooks we sit around and nitpick over small differences but I don't think anyone here would tell you to make a pan sauce in a Teflon coated pan or to cook eggs in a stainless frypan.

Most of what we're saying is inline. However just as people have favorite foods they also have favorite characteristics in pans and no two people are alike.

My advice to you is to start small and get one or two things. I don't think people in general get too wound up about stock pots so maybe you should start there. It seems that there are a lot more differences of opinion when it comes to frypans than anything. Pick up a name brand frypan and try it. If it doesn't satisfy you then come back here and tell us what it was and what it did and we'll tell you why and then resume our normal debates over which material is best!

BTW I don't think we've asked you what kind of food you plan on cooking?

post #113 of 138
Well Grant,

I have cooked a few different things, chinese is fun to cook but if i had a food i would like to learn as much as i could about i think it would be Italian. To be honest grant that is why i have even started asking so many questions about pans and such, is because i would love to learn more about pasta's and thier sauces. I have a set of three non-stick pans but that all i have. I just got a stock pot about a month ago and i have put it to work haha. I got it from wal-mart to my surprise, and was not sure why it had a disk on the bottom until i did some research and found out it was a alluminum disk. Sadly that was how bad i was with all the differences on pots and pans. I have learned quite a bit since then and most being from the wonderful people on this site like you and BDL. I have found that when i have a bad day at work (well it would be a night for me because i work nights) or i am stressed about something i find myself in the kitchen. There is just something about cooking that clams me down, and i find quite abit of enjoyment in it. I like to watch my family try the food i cook and am always open to why they do or don't like it.

I understand that for the most part everyone is on the same page about what they are saying like you said, and that everyone will have thier own option about likes and dislikes on pans. I learned from my mother the wonders of the cast iron pan, but everything else i have had to figure out on my own for the most part. I would love to go to cooking school but i am in the process of moving so i will have to put that dream on hold for now. But for now I am trying to take in all that can from the people that seem to know so much here.
post #114 of 138
If you like pasta you should start making your own. It's great fun and you get to make huge messes. I've perfected ravioli making at home at this point. You need a bit of equipment but most of it's just method. I started making ravioli because I wanted to be creative. My favorite home made pasta is butternut squash filled ravioli (with a touch of maple and nutmeg) in a pistachio cream sauce. There's a little restaurant near the Duomo in Modena Italy that makes it to perfection. Trying to get it at home the same way was impossible.

If you want to start off small and make fettuccine, linguine or any stuffed pasta you can get a small hand cranked pasta roller for about $20-40, a food processor (with decent gears) and some pasta forms for stuffed pasta or pasta drying rack for stringy pasta. The hand cranked pasta roller works best if one person is cranking and the other feeding the dough through the roller. If you have a Kitchen aide Mixer you can buy the pasta roller attachment and the mixer turns the rollers and you do the feeding.

Anyway you throw eggs and flour in the food processor run it until it's formed in a ball, kneed it for a second and let it rest for an hour. After that you can roll it out using a pasta roller into thin sheets and lay it over the forms and fill them with whatever you want. Then freeze the pasta so their firm while you're boiling water. Once the water comes to a boil cook the pasta.

Fresh egg pasta even if it's spaghetti or fettuccine really isn't the same thing as dried pasta. It isn't even made from the same ingredients nor does it have the same flavor.

BTW Italian is a good place to start because you'll have plenty of subjects to try it on (who doesn't like Italian) and it's really very simple to make. Italian food in Italy is simpler and more "pure" than Italian food in the states. Italian food in the states gets unnecessarily complex. Just keep it simple and focus on a few flavors with great pasta and you'll have winners on your hands.

post #115 of 138
You know Grant it is funny for you to say that about making my own pasta, today i made some spaghetti. It was pretty good (i still have not had the chance to start trying my own pasta sauce yet though) I added some different things to it to spice it up. I like to spice things up, but i was telling mt roommate the same as you just said. I would love to make my own pasta, and am thinking about making other things as well like cinnimon rolls and such. A kitchen aid mixer is one thing i am really looking forward to getting but it will be one of the bigger pieces that i am going to wait and save for. I guess you can say that i amkinda scared of doing my own pasta and even breads, not really sure why because i know that if i don't pratice then it will never get better. BUT thank you very much for telling me about your pasta, i am going to try and get my kitchen set up soon but atm i am trying to get ready to move so that is where my time is now.
post #116 of 138
Pasta is easy, bread is magic. I know people that have been cooking for years that can't make a loaf of bread! There's a lot more tactical "feel" to bread whereas pasta you just follow the directions.

You missed a great sale on Kitchenaid this Christmas season. They had the 600 Pro ($499) on sale for $219 after rebate. I thought about buying 20 of them and selling them on ebay for $300 ea!

I also replaced my food processor with a Kitchenaid and can't believe I didn't do it sooner. The kitchenaide rips through about anything including pasta dough and doesn't even complain.

post #117 of 138
Oh, red sauces for pasta are easier than you might think. Start with crushed tomatoes and fresh herbs and go from there. If you do what a lot of beginner cooks do and try to add spices to Prego you'll just be battling blandness. Starting fresh isn't any harder.

post #118 of 138
I found a good site for Kitchenaid i believe, buykitchenaid.com i think it will be good for me and if not i can always go better later. it was a 5 quart mixer with the small utensil set the mixer bowl cover, pasta maker and a cook book for $300. I would love to get all kitchenaid for my kitchen, maybe in time.

As for the pasta sauce that it was i have been doing is just useing ragu as a base to start, but the only way it tastes any good at all is if i quater up some roma tomatos and saute onions with portabello mushrooms. But your right i am sure that a homemade sauce would be so much better. So if i may ask you, do you use only crushed tomatos for your sauce or do you use tomato paste as well?
post #119 of 138
Jason, making it from scratch won't take much longer than what you're doing and will taste much better. I start with 2 cans of whole tomatoes. You might think using fresh tomatoes would be better but the quality is all over the board with fresh tomatoes. Anyway drain two cans of tomatoes but keep the juice. Heat veggie oil in a skillet until shimmering and throw in a diced onion and cook until it's translucent. Then throw in with the onion some dried oregano (1/2 tsp) and a couple cloves of minced garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Add all the tomatoes except one from the strainer and cook stirring for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes start to brown a bit. Pour in 1/3 c of red wine and stir for about a minute until the alcohol is mostly gone. Add the tomato juice that you kept and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the remaining tomato that you kept back and blend in a food processor. I don't know what kind of equipment you have but even a cheap junky food processor from Walmart will do here. You might be able to get away with a blender but be very careful not to puree your sauce. You still want it a bit chunky when done.

When you get it to the consistancy that you want put it back on the stove and add several tablespoons of fresh chopped basil (yes fresh!) and some olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. You may want to add a bit of sugar for sweetness depending on how it's turned out.

I've been a bit vague on measurements because this is basically a base sauce that you can do anything you want with. If you're already adding onion and spices to Ragu you're not that far off of doing it with caned tomatoes. The only added expense would be having a bottle of red wine around and some fresh basil. This sauce tastes alive though whereas the spiced up Ragu is going to be very flat.

I'd suggest you get some fresh basil, some garlic a bottle of Merlot and some onions and make this sauce over and over and keep track of how much of each thing you're using and fine tune it to your taste buds. You're probably looking at about $4 for a fairly large batch (64 oz) of this sauce. Not only does it not cost more but it tastes quite a lot better and once you have it memorized and you don't have to look at a recipe it goes very fast. Besides red pasta sauce is a great place to start cooking because it's hard to mess up.

If you're cooking spaghetti at the same time I'd start a large pot of water boiling about the time you're putting the tomatoes in the pan. That way your noodles and the sauce will be done at the same time.

post #120 of 138
By the way, you really don't have to slave over your home made sauce for hours like people think. Start to finish this sauce is done in about an hour. It will take about half that to boil water and cook noodles.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Cooking Knife Reviews