Building my cookware...
I'm getting married in November and my girlfriend has absolutely nothing (worth keeping). I'm trying to build a set of essential cookware and I'll definately be the primary cook. My plan is to either go for significantly high end quality or low end value. Here's what I'm thinking right now:
Shun 8" Chef's Knife
Shun 6" Utility Knife
Shun 3.5" Paring Knife
Shun 9" Serrated Bread Knife
Wustoff set of 8 Steak Knives ($99 at Crate and Barrel... in our registry)
All Clad Stainless 10" Fry Pan
All Clad Stainless 2 Qt. Saucier w/ Lid
All Clad Stainless 3 Qt. Sauce Pan w/ Lid
All Clad Stainless 3 Qt. Saute Pan w/ Lid
Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick 8" and 10" Fry Pan Set (the $39.99 one)
Need a 5 or 6 Qt or so Dutch Oven of some sort... no idea what to do here.
Need a Stock Pot of some sort ... probably 8 Qt. Chefmate from Target i think
Pair Jellyroll pans from Marshalls
9x9 sqare cake pan from Marshalls
Pair of 9 inch round pans from Marshalls
Some sort of pyrex bakeware... the long rectangular pan.
A pie pan of some sort.
Am I missing anything glaring?
I bought the Shun Knives already on Ebay... $270 for the 7 piece block set delivered with the block, shears and sharpening steel. Way less than the $640 retail price.
I am likely to buy the 4 pieces of Allclad from Cookware & More for about $335, which is also way less than retail.
Any thoughts? Should I splurge for a Le Creuset Dutch Oven? Are pricey bakewares worth it? I have 2 Marshall's within 3 miles of my house and they always have tons of bakeware.
Any input at all would be appreciated. Thanks, Mario.
I use my all clad stock pot often. I don't have a dutch oven but it does almost the same things and I bake in it w/ stews, etc. If you're only planning on making stock, you could go w/ a less expensive one but with how often I use mine, I'm glad it's heavy duty. I also have an extra large stock pot that has two steamer baskets in it. It was a gift, probably something I wouldn't buy myself, but I find I use it all the time. But, it's mostly for frozen chinese food that my MIL gives me, like dumplings, shu mai, har gow, buns, dimsum.
I really like having the All Clad Braiser for things that start on the stove and move to the oven. You could do that with the saute pan, but the handle makes it hard to impossible to center in the oven.
I do think the Le Creuset dutch oven is worth the money.
If you do any asian cooking, consider a wok.
I did plan on using the Saute Pan for that purpose.
I think I could get one more nice item on my budget.
All Clad has a 12 Qt stock pot that comes w/ pasta and steamer inserts. This is a cheaper pot ($99) which is made in China, not the USA and has an aluminum disk at the bottom... the cladding doesn't go all the way up the sides. The real All Clad stock pots are really expensive ($300+). I think i can live w/ a cheaper version for a bit.
I could probably squeeze in a 5.5 qt Le Creuset oven from ebay for about $140.
We recently received this A/C "Multi-pot" for a wedding gift and it's going straight back to the store. As a straight pasta pot it would be fine, it has a nice thick aluminum disc on the bottom. The fit of the pasta insert and steamer basket are awful, though. Tons of rattling around even without steam coming up from under it. For $100 from All-Clad I guess you get what you pay for, but I was hoping for a little more.
I also have the 1-qt saucier, though, and can attest that it is absolutely stable with liquid in it. I had my reservations at the store, as it wobbles around a bit. Put it on a burner with water, soup or sauce in it and it's a dream. No issues at all and the handle doesn't even get very hot.
I'm going to chime in with the other posters who have recommended restaurant supply houses. It's a great place to get high-quality (Lincoln Wear-ever) nonstick gear, and the only place, in my opinion, to get half-sheet pans and the like. You'll never pay more than $7 for a baking sheet again.
I just gave my wok away to Goodwill - couldn't even sell it at the yard sale. A saute pan works fine for that.
If you're planning on doing much baking, I'd probably add a nice 9" springform pan and a bundt cake pan.
I might also add another small All Clad saucier - a 1 or a 1.5 qt with lid. I find that since I cook for two a lot, I use my 2 qt. and my 1.5 qt. for almost every dinner, and use my 3 qts. for when I'm cooking for more folks.
I have read that the 1 qt Saucier is somewhat unstable... the handle is heavy when compared to the pot and it has a tendency to tip if you aren't careful. I was at Crate and Barrel this weekend and this seemed to be the case from a quick inspection
My parents have a 1 qt sauce pan that they got for very cheap at Williams sonoma a few years ago in some sort of promo w/ the 7.5" fry pan. I use those a lot for small items when i'm cooking over at their place.
I just realized that I don't have a Roasting pan on the list.
hmmm.. mine's older, but I've had my All Clad SS 1 qt. saucier for about 10 years now and it's not the least bit unstable. Very well-balanced pot, actually. Maybe it's changed since I got mine, though.
Definitely you'll need a good roasting pan. I wouldn't bother with a non-stick one, though.
Definitely go for the Le Crueset dutch oven. Watch for the specials at Amazon, I was able to pick up a 5qt for $99 on a daily deals offer. Its also big enough to make stock from one normal sized chicken or even a smallish duck.
For a roasting pan, keep an eye out for the All Clad lasagna pan, its the same as the petit roti pan but with straight handles instead of the raised handles on the roasting pan. Can also be found on sale at times for about $100...far less than the roasting pan.
If you haven't already bought the All-Clad version, I would suggest a that you might like a heavy copper saucier... 2qt Bourgeat or Falk would be nice if someone else is paying, while the 1.4qt Falk "Try Me" piece on their website is $90 if you are paying :-). Neither will be cheap but either will last forever and will never hold you back. On the other hand, if you're buying these yourself, the All-Clad discount is attractive. The MasterChef 2 line has more aluminum (better heat reservoir & conduction) than the regular clad stainless, but I think it's a disc-bottom design, which isn't going to do much for you in a saucier (in fact it would suck).
Alternatively, Sitram makes one with 2mm of copper (alas, it's only on the bottom, but it is sandwiched between the steel layers) that is about $60 right now at Amazon...
You should seriously consider whether something like a saucier isn't worth spending a bit extra (or looking at a different brand) for. Really, the reason people are willing to pay top dollar for copper is for applications like making delicate sauces. A saucier is designed to make this often-challenging task as easy as possible, and copper is the fastest-responding material there is for such an application, so if you're going to go all-out on one piece, a saucier would be the one. Or, more to the point, supposing that someone else will be looking to spend a bit of cash on you and your fiancee... if they're rich and have good taste, they will feel like a hero hooking you up with Jacques Pepin's favorite pots and pans; and if they aren't, the price tags will scare them away from buying some bargain-basement version. And supposing that it's you doing the shopping -- hell, people sell 5-pound Windsor pots on eBay for $60-80 all the time. Give it a little thought, if you like.
A good cast iron skillet (Staub matte enameled, for example; or an old, raw, beautifully cast Griswold #10) is a wonderful and useful thing to have in your kitchen, as well.
I can only echo the comments of others regarding an enameled cast iron Dutch oven; my mother used hers continuously for all 18 years I was at home, and still does, as far as I know. For that matter, she still makes cornbread in her grandmother's 10" cast iron skillet. I don't think the brand matters as much as the construction -- if it's a question of buying a $250 dutch oven versus a similar (Batali or Target ChefMate) $99 piece, and spending the $150 difference on a copper saucier, I think you can guess what I'd do.
Get the biggest, heaviest, squattiest, and cheapest stock pot you can stomach. The Calphalon/Cuisinart/All-Clad "Multipot" assemblies are nice, and provided they are stainless-clad heavy aluminum, they will all work more or less the same.
Don't buy sets of anything, but you already knew that.
great suggestions ccbweb and ttriche... i hadn't looked at amazon really. The "try me" type products from a lot of the different lines are pretty good deals.
I hadn't really considered getting anything in copper as it seems so expensive. But I will reconsider...
I don't really expect to get everything that I really want all at once anyway... i'm more than happy building up a collection of quality cookware over time. I figured that a great all clad sauce pan, saucier, saute pan, and fry pan (along w/ probably a Le Creuset oven) will be the backbone of anything I cook for the next 25 years.
Thank you all for the suggestions so far.
"I don't really expect to get everything that I really want all at once anyway... i'm more than happy building up a collection of quality cookware over time. I figured that a great all clad sauce pan, saucier, saute pan, and fry pan (along w/ probably a Le Creuset oven) will be the backbone of anything I cook for the next 25 years."
You've given yourself the best advice possible! Building on some very good basics is a great way to assemble what YOU want, need, will use for the way YOU cook, both now and later.
Copper may be expensive at the onset but in the long run it is not costly. I have my geezer hat on now, so cut me slack please. More than 40 years ago (!) I bought some good basics - Sabatier knives, several pieces of LeCreuset, cast iron pans, Apilco ramekins and baking dishes and one piece of French copper. All are going strong and show no signs of aging prematurely into early retirement.
Pieces that you need to cook for two are not the same as those you'll want later when you are making the family Thanksgiving dinner for forty. You won't jettison your smaller pots & pans, you add to them as you go. The more kitchen time you have under your belt, the more you'll learn what are your go-to pieces and purchase accordingly. You don't have to have everything at the beginning and I think it is a costly mistake to try to do this.
P.S. the most expensive knife you will ever buy is the el-cheapo from the mall kitchen store/grocery store because it will need to be replaced often. You could have had a good one for what this will eventually cost.
Sherri, may I borrow your geezer hat, please?
More than 35 years ago, I started collecting good white Apilco and Pilluvyt bakeware, ramekins, souffleés, platters, serving pieces and accessories with a few gifts that I got for my wedding. They are as beautiful and useful today as when I got them. I use them for everyday and the most formal tables.
Both of those companies have been making classic porcelain since the early 1800s. It will never go out of style. They blend with antiques and contemporary, city and country. Not inexpensive, but quality never is.
just thinking a bit more basic:
http://www.unicahome.com/catalog/item... ( i have 1 and could use 3
mortar and pestle
a good vegetable peeler
grilling tools ?
best of luck!
I have a lot of these items right now fortunately. I've had some difficulty finding good small prep bowls. I keep finding these sets w/ 6 to 9 different sizes. I want 8 to 10 small (3 to 4 inches across) bowls rather than a lot of different sizes.
Ideally i'd like a full set of Nylon utensils for non-stick pan use and then nicer stainless utensils for other uses.
I figure that w/ about $200 i can pick up a lot of the above at reasonable prices at Target.
Stick to your guns with the prep bowls. I finally found a bunch of small bowls that are microwavable, big enough to scramble one egg, pretty enough to serve ice cream in, or to set out a tray of garnishes. They're so great. So much more useful than a nest, where the one you want is always under one or two others.
I can't give you a lead on where to find them, since I got mine at an overstock-type place, but keep looking! It's worth it!
For the type and quantity you're both talking about, it sounds to me like a restaurant supply store is where you want to check. Of course, you might also find them hiding at a TJ Maxx or some such lovely location.
I also wanted to put in my plug for the Joyce Chen dishwasher safe bamboo utensils...I got one as a gift and immediately went and bought one of everything they make. I love them.
The only thing I would add is that you'll want a bigger stock pot, something in the neighborhood of 12 qts minimum. It takes just as much time to make 6 qts of stock as it does to make 16. get the biggest one you have room to store. If you're gonna have the dutch oven there is no need to have a stock pot of the same size. I have a 12 qt stock pot and am always wishing i had one bigger.
If you're getting an enameled dutch oven (Creuset preferred), and you should, then an 8 qt. stockpot will be of little value for added capacity. I'd get at least 12 qt. or 16 qt.
For prep bowls, I've used 6 and 8 oz. Pyrex bowls for years. They're inexpensive, easily found, microwavable, and easily replaced if you break one. I use them just for prep, not as serving pieces, so who cares what they look like.
I think i'm going to go w/ the 5.5 qt Le Creuset Round "French" Oven, and then go with the All Clad (made in china) 12 qt. multicooker stock pot. we also picked up the allclad 7.5" stainless frypan this weekend for $15 and a 1 Qt All clad Ltd saucepan. We'll also be getting the promo Calphalon Contemporary nonstick 2.5 qt. saucier as well as grill pan.
I also went through her cookware this weekend and she's got a lot of decent pyrex pans of various sorts which we are going to keep. She has a servicable roasting pan as well. Just about all her cooking pans are garbage though and are going to be donated to goodwill.
Thanks for all the assistance and ideas.
For some reason, in a given size and construction, Staub seems to almost invariably go for 20% - 50% less, with heavier construction, steel oven-safe knobs (often in cute little designs like fish or acorns), than Le Creuset.
I have to observe that (despite my mother using a Le Creuset dutch oven for several decades without any real signs of deterioration) the cult of Le Creuset seems to be up there with All-Clad in the 'perceived value' department. Good solid products which will last a long time, but based on a specific brand, they (Le Creuset, All-Clad, Mauviel, etc.) command higher prices than they really ought to. A triumph of marketing (though by no means bad product) and a name-brand price premium.
Staub makes beautiful and unique enameled cast iron pieces that cost less than the equivalent Le Creuset (but, like Le Creuset, are cast by hand in France). Calphalon, Cuisinart, Sitram, and Paderno make stainless-clad aluminum pans that are functionally interchangeable with All-Clad (and have nicer handles IMHO).
Not saying that Le Creuset or All-Clad are bad, but definitely consider the functionally identical alternatives if the price on one or the other starts to look like a bit much.
I really try and get value out of my purchases... my all clad purchases were at cookware and more which were at about 50% off retail. Granted, they are seconds, but I really can't find any glaring issues with the pans I bought. Also, i plan to pick up Le Creuset on ebay for about 30% off retail. The 5.5 qt ovens are going for about $150 tax and shipping included. That same pot would be about $213 at a B&M store.
I figure these pans will last me pretty much forever, so paying a little extra for for the name isn't going to kill me. I personally like the look of Le Creuset a lot better than Staub as well.
Your point is well taken though. I do agree w/ not overpaying for a name.
Hey all, hope this qualifies as on-topic.
Speaking of all-clad roasting pans. I've been pushing my nose up to the glass of that window for years. I haven't been able to justify buying a full size allclad roasting pan just yet. (I'm a musician = lots of taste, no money)
I've seen the cheaper All-Clad Lasagna pans on ebay for a while - but I have questions for experienced roasters:
What is the trade-off for the lower depth lasagna pan? Juices carmelize faster? Less even cooking around the sides? Perhaps the lasagna pan is better suited for roasting one mid-sized bird at a time, as opposed to the full-size pan (made for 2 birds so as not to dry out the bed of vegetables?). Also, Amazon reviews note serious warping of the lasagna pan - it appears that it's not meant for deglazing. And if that's the case, what's the point at all?
I used my sister's roasting pan at her house for Thanksgiving. Even made the roux in it. Great pan. Then she told me she had gotten it at Bed Bath and Beyond for about $25 - with the rack included.
Not sure there's any real reason to spend $200 for a pan that you only use infrequently. BBB had them on sale this week for $20 with a $10 mail-in rebate. Hard to miss at that price.
My absolute favorite cookware is Scanpan, made in Denmark -- you can find it on Amazon. It's non stick, not teflon and I have one stew size one I've used for a few years; I want to buy more.
Recently, at Crate & Barrel, I bought the red Mario Batali lasagna pan, very deep. I love it but so far have only made mac n cheese -- looked and tasted great -- I should have taken a photo.
The roasting pans, dutch ovens, etc. seem to have been extensively covered, so I'll just throw out some ideas about bakeware. As to general thoughts about quality, I'd be inclined to get the good stuff. Metal that is too thin warps incredibly fast, heats very unevenly, and will make baking seem much harder than it really is. Good quality bakeware lasts, literally, for generations, so it really is worth the investment. (My very favourite piece of bakeware is my grandmother's madeleine pan.) Also, baking is something that I think people tend to do more of, over time - dinner parties require cakes, weekends love homemade banana bread, and holidays demand pies and cookies.
As to what sort of bakeware to get, the key is heavy gauge metal. I think if you get some high quality pieces of heavy aluminum or steel, you'll really enjoy them, and probably end up using them more than you thought you would. Go for a light to medium tone metal, as dark metals get a bit hotter and sometimes bake more quickly than you're expecting. Non-stick coating or no is the other major question, and I think one of personal preference. There are new coatings coming out all the time to replace Teflon, but I don't know how well these will wear over the long run. I've got a mix of coated and uncoated pieces, and find that I use them both. If uncoated bakewear is good heavy aluminum, I find that stickiness isn't nearly as much of a problem as one might have thought.
Round cake pans: get springform! Anything that goes in a regular cake pan can go in a springform, and will be much easier to work with than in a regular pan. Definitely worth the extra money.
Pie pan: get metal or ceramic rather than glass/pyrex. Glass gets hotter than these materials, and you might find yourself consistently needing to adjust the temperature on your baking recipes to accomodate this.
Essential things missing from your list: a muffin tin and a loaf pan.
Breakfast muffins and quick breads are incredibly easy and satisfying to make at home. Plus then you can make meatloaf on cold winter nights.
There are lots of other things that are nice to have (silpat liners for your cookies, a tart pan with removable bottom, cooling racks), but I'd wait to see how much of a baking household yours turns out to be. I use these all the time, but I love sugar more than the average chow. I'd guess that you'd be better off getting fewer items of higher quality.
Congrats, and happy shopping!
i'm going to skip the muffin pan for the time being... i cook a lot and bake a reasonable amount and i've never ever made muffins of any sort.
I've noticed decent quality pans at Marshalls. THere's a large Marshall's Home store near my house and they have tons of baking pans of all sorts with what appear to be very good quality from Chicago Metallic and Calphalon.
I've been looking already and will start picking up items as availabilty allows.
I did forget a loaf pan, so that i will add to my list.
For great cookware at a better price than All-Clad, try Gourmet Standard. Cook's Illustrated recently did a review of them: http://www.cooksillustrated.com/testi...&
For non-stick (I do recommend it, at least for eggs and the like), we have been selling a ton of Swiss Diamond. 8" for $49, 10" for $69. I have not been impressed with Calphalon in several years.
As far as "Dutch Oven", I am loving my Emile Henry "Flame" pot. It is ceramic that can go on the stovetop, oven or even microwave if you must. It is temperture shock proof, so from the fridge or freezer to the preheated oven or stovetop is no problem. Dimples on the lid rain moisture down on braises keeping the tops moist. Clean up is super easy, and best of all, it is lighter and less expensive than an enamaled cast iron.
hopefully, I'm not being redundant...but the mario batali dutch oven does everything the Le Crueset does at 99.00 retail...I got mine on ebay for 65.00$...they come in white; red/orange and espresso(chocolate) it has the nubs in the lid, the way the Staub cookware does! I love it...it has quickly become my go-to pot
I just posted this on another thread regarding cookware selection:
"I think I take a different approach than many of those expressed above. I don't understand the desire for "top" brand names, the worries about where they are made (Thailand vs. France), how to keep them stain free, and the like. In addition to a well used set of German pots and pans, I have a lot of ChefMate and KitchenAid odds and ends made in China and purchased in Target or the like when I pass though the US. My stuff gets heavily used, has never been anything less than fully satifactory. Use ranges from wok like temperatures to delicate, complex sauces, to oven finishing, to poaching and braising. I keep seeing some brand names repeated like mantras--I don't get it."
re: Sam Fujisaka
>> I keep seeing some brand names repeated like mantras--I don't get it."
In most cases, these are the brands available in Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma.
They are safe choices. Probably when you're in Target looking at the options for a
frying pan, you have enough experience to tell the difference between a real crappy
one and one that will work well for years. For a lot of people who haven't had that
degree of experience, but have had some real crappy pans and never want them
again, the safe option is to go to the high-end store and buy the expensive thing.
And it works. If you buy a $200 frying pan from Sur La Table, you get a hunk of
metal that will cook your bacon for the rest of your life. The silly part starts when
the three high-end brands attempt to distinguish themselves by making
unsubstantiated claims that assume their customers slept through their
Thermodynamics classes back in college. Pretty much everything I've seen concerning
heat behavior, in the product literature as well as echoed here, is wildly scientifically
Anyway, for what it's worth my recommendation for building a cookware collection
is to do it one piece at a time. Choose your tools mindfully and purposefully, when
you need them and when you're sure that nothing else you have will adequately
do the job.
I'll just suggest you consider getting the Circulon fry pans instead of the Calphalon. The Circulon has a feature which makes the nonstick stay nonstick longer: the inner surface has tiny circular grooves that prevent the interior surface from being worn away by contact with tools or when cleaning. But stay away from Circulon pots - I had some warp slightly off true circle. This doesn't seem to happen with the fry pans.
re: niki rothman
I agree I love my circulon elite set, I had one minor issue with the cover not fitting on the saucepan, I called Meyer customer service ,at there request I mailed back the piece ( lifetime warranty) and I received a new saucepan in 4 days. How about that for rapid service! Customer service also reminded me to lower the flame when cooking with Hard Anodized cookware since it's highly heat conductive. I recently purchased a pasta pot from their newer line Circulon Infinite that's dishwasher safe and I adore it as well. Happy cooking.
I bought the Shun knives off ebay, the All-Clad pieces at cookware & more during their big sale, and a 6.75 qt LeCreuset oval oven which i found at Marshalls. I also got the bakeware at Marshall's for very cheap. Also, i bought about 5 silicone spatula's and 3 Nylon tipped Tongs at LnT.
Tongs and silicone spatulas are my favorite utensils in the kitchen.
I have all the real essentials right now. What I'm looking for now are:
6.5 inch Shun Santoku Knife
5.5 qt Le Crueset Round Dutch Oven
A Braiser of some sort... torn between Le Creuset and All Clad
1.5 qt All Clad Saucier (i find that i use these smallish pans a lot)
Lodge Cast Iron Pan
A large stockpot... i'm still undecided on how big to get or how much to spend.