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Mar 26, 2011 12:05 PM

I just broke in my FIRST Le Creuset and immersion blender

with potato-leek soup.


As you all know, we have a crappy electric stove and even worse, warped pots and pans with the thickness of tin foil. When I put the LC on the stove and cranked on the heat, I waited a minute and dropped the butter in. In melted almost immediately. Then I sweated the onions and leeks. They did just what they do on television. Even heat. No burning. Oh boy oh boy oh boy. Between the LC and my copper pan I am in culinary HEAVEN. Maybe the stovetop isn't as bad as I thought. No, still doesn't do a true simmer and that downdraft is useless.

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  1. Hi, E_M:

    Good for you! I hope you have many more joys from cooking. Stepping up in the way you have can make a huge difference in your enjoyment of food. Even ignoring the stove.

    "Maybe the stovetop isn't as bad as I thought"

    Yes indeed, maybe not! Don't assume your stove is crappy until you've got some more time under your belt cooking in your new things. How many "turns" do your coil elements have? Older elements had more (up to 7 or 8), a few of them double-wound, and these are actually very good at providing more even heat than average gas or induction hobs. The cooking difference is apparent, and even if you have 4-5 turns, the good news is: the good replacement coils are about $45 vs. $25 for the ultra cheapos.

    Something to consider for your simmer problem... $50 buys you a thick copper flame-tamer that not only solves the problem, but evens out your heat totally for all your pans.

    Your post is sending me to market for leeks, thanks!


    6 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu

      K, I knew I could count on you to share in my enthusiasm. But boy, you are really anti-induction, aren't you?!?!

      Anyway, I still don't like the stovetop because it does take a while to get hot--although this wasn't a problem with what I was cooking yesterday--and it does take a LONG while to cool down, which I think is unsafe. Without the pot on the hob, well, I just know I'm going to rest my hand down one day and be unpleasantly surprised. Yes, there is a little red light nearby but who looks at that? Besides, it doesn't really designate hot, it is also on when the hob is barely warm, so no one pays attention to it.

      1. re: E_M

        We have a gas stove, but frequently cook celebratory meals in family kitchens with electric stovetops.

        Instead of waiting for the burners to heat/cool to the desired temp, we leave a burner set on medium high and another on a lower setting and then move the pot/pan to the desired preheated burner. Cumbersome perhaps but works for us, especially since we usually have multiple folks working simultaneously.

        To avoid leaving a front burner uncovered, I just set the water kettle on it to get a headstart on after-dinner tea/coffee prep and cleanup. I've never had anyone reach over a covered front burner to put a hand down on a rear burner, but I suppose it could happen if your stovetop is in an island and not against a wall.

        For long term simmering, K's flame-tamer suggestion is good. Mine is a much cheaper, (not pretty, but effective) multi-layer non-copper diffuser with an air space gifted to me similar to:


        E-M: I'm glad you've discovered that good tools can make every endeavor not only easier, but more joyful. Happy cooking!

        1. re: E_M

          Hi, E_M:

          "But boy, you are really anti-induction, aren't you?!?!"

          I prefer to think of myself as a realist. I must admit though, that some of my earlier and more strident disses of induction had a lot to do with the early/cheap coils. *This* problem seems to be one the manufacturers are addressing; now if they'd only size their "burner" markings to the actual size of the coils.

          Why would you EVER put your hand down on a coil element? Induction certainly has the advantage there, but it is not a perfect (or even a major) one.

          1. re: kaleokahu

            The very new induction cooktops have NO SET BURNER SIZE. The whole top is wired and conforms to the shape of the pot. Woohoo.

            With the flat top ceramic cooktops, well, one does lay things on the other burners. With our old gas stove we would also lay things on the grates, or store a tray there or whatever.

            1. re: E_M

              Hi, E_M:

              "The very new induction cooktops have NO SET BURNER SIZE. The whole top is wired and conforms to the shape of the pot. Woohoo."

              Are you sure this is true? I think the so-called "zoneless" tops have a number of nested or interlocking coils that (if/when the detection circuitry works correctly) are energized under the pans. But the coil shapes are not going to change from, e.g., rectangular to circular, and so it's still not likely you're going to get perfect coverage across the entire cooktop for all pan configurations. Oz, beneath an opaque Ceran sheet again, I think.

              1. re: kaleokahu

                I have no idea what the cooktops look like beneath their glassy surface, but according to the youtube videos, Bosch, Neff, and Siemens (which are really the same company) have what they call "flexInduction." Their videos show everything from a tiny butter melter to an oblong fish poacher.

                In a perfect world I would be able to get an induction cooktop AND a few gas hobs. Because sometimes you just need to char a pepper.

      2. It might not be as bad as you thought...but it might be. I recently scored a new-to-me electric stove from a friend. I always hated my stove...the previous owner of the house made some awesome upgrades to the kitchen on the grounds that he and his wife loved cooking so much...yet somehow cheaped out on the cheapest, crappiest, lowest end stove imaginable. It had only one 8" burner for pete's sake. Dude loved cooking but totally neglected the most important part! Replacing the coils might have been helpful, but probably only to an extent...

        In any case...over the last 6 years I knew the ins and outs of the stove and I could pretty much work around any of its limitations except for only having 1 8" burner. It was on my long term plan to get a better stove, but I really did not expect any noticeable improvement in the food I cooked. I figured the key benefit would only be eliminating the physical limitations of the small oven and burners - I've got the technical skills and the rest is just applying heat so how much different could it be?

        Boy was I wrong. Everything turns out better on that stove. The difference is night and day. I should have upgraded my stove years ago!