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How important are quality of pots and pans in cooking. Which brands are best?

I got a basic set of stainless steel pots and pans from Martha Stewart's KMart collection for my wedding 7 years ago. I'm just starting to cook more seriously and I worry that these pots&pans are not up to par and will affect the quality and taste of the food I prepare. However, I'm also cooking on a crappy apartment electric stove. Maybe it's that, rather than the brand of pans, that's affecting my cooking.

I recently bought a Lodge cast-iron skillet that works great. Other than that, I use a 12-inch skillet, pasta pot, and saucepan the most frequently. I have a dutch oven from TJMaxx somewhere, but I never use it. I tend to slow cook meat more in a crock pot.

If I need new pots&pans, which brands are the best? I've read All-Clad is amazing, but I worry that's out of my budget. Any recommendations? Does using All-Clad make that much of a difference?

ETA: Other than my cast-iron skillet, I don't want to get overly heavy equipment. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and Le Creuset seems like it'd be too heavy for me to use on a daily basis.

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  1. Given your stove and cooking style (e.g.use of crock pot), fancier pans are not going to improve the taste of your food. Your stainless steel does not impart a taste to your food.

    One area where fancier pans might help is in heat distribution. Do you have problems with the food burning at certain parts of the pans, and not cooking at other parts? You might notice that more with the 12" skillet.

    Most of my recent pans have come from TJMaxx, and still stop by periodically to see if they have anything new and interesting. Look at their All-Clad and note the feel, especially bottom thickness. And then see if there are alternatives with a similar feel. I've some Tramontina skillets there, and have 4 Berndes pans that I'm quite happy with.

    7 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      It's heat distribution that seems to be the problem. Some things burn at certain parts of pan, while others don't cook. I notice this mostly with vegetables. Also, it seems like it takes FOREVER for certain things to cook. Caramelizing onions is a nightmare. Reading this thread though, that may be more the fault of my crappy electric stove than the pans. .

      1. re: kdlalib

        yes, it sound like the quality of the heating elements is poor. this is not endemic to all electric stoves.

        imo, this is a problem you should complain about to your landlord. it is potentially dangerous ... i once had an element hot spot blow a hole in the bottom of revereware. luckily i was only boiling water. obviously there's plenty of potential for a fire. do you have an extinguisher?

        as a fallback, you could see if you might be able to deduct the cost of one or more new heating elements from your rent.

        you could also look at other methods, like roasting vegetables. maybe an electric skillet?

        1. re: kdlalib

          The electric coils on the stove are probably warped. So it's not making perfect contact with your cookware. Which could also explain why things are taking forever to cook. You can identify where the coils aren't making contact because certain parts of the coil would be glowing orange. Replacing the coil is less expensive than buying All-Clad cookware. I've cooked salmon on a stove with badly warped coils and it was not a pleasant experience.

          1. re: kdlalib

            i sear all the time on an electric stove. if you have too much liquid to get a good sear, you can remove it. i've cooked on an electric stove my whole adult life ... it's totally possible. maybe not on your stove though--'crappy' seems more than justified ;)

          2. re: paulj

            Yes, go to Ross or TJ Max, or someplace similar, try one pot at a time, and you are not out a whole lot of money.
            I use electric, always have (except in cooking school). Our house is all electric. I don't have a problem with it.

            1. re: wyogal

              Hi, wyogal: "...go to Ross or TJ Max, or someplace similar, try one pot at a time, and you are not out a whole lot..."

              For those of us who incessantly try different wares, this is an OK strategy, provided we follow what we already know and discard. Depending on one's starting point (namely, what we're used to), there's a fair chance of improving one's lot, and for cheap.

              Still, there are a lot of schlocky pans at that level of discounters, and trying them all at $20/pan isn't necessarily a good or economical strategy. Many people will conclude after the fourth or fifth unsatisfactory experiment that the problem is them, and simply give up (or conclude that since the 2nd-rate pan they just bought is better than the 3rd-rate pan they had, that it is a 1st-rate piece). Absent knowledge and vigilance, perhaps it's better to buy a good pan from open stock at retail to begin the experiments.

              Aloha,
              Kaleo

            2. re: paulj

              I agree.

              To the OP, when you upgrade your stove, perhaps you could upgrade your pans.

              And when you visit Home Goods or TJ Maxx, handlel lots of pans to see what sorts you like best.

              And, learn when to use medium heat, especially on your high heat burner. (tip; almost always.)

            3. I agree, Pans wont make much of a difference, and they wont effect flavor. But the electric stove, What a bummer, I hate them. They dont get hot enough as a good gas stove. This will IMO effect things. The lack of heat will make it hard to get a good sear on food, so any liquid in food might cause your food to steam, and ruin a good sear. This will and does effect flavor.

              Again, IMO unless you can switch over to gas, then dont waste money on high quality pans.

              10 Replies
              1. re: RickDavidBeaudin

                Is there any way to remedy the searing problem? I can't replace the stove, since I rent.

                  1. re: kdlalib

                    <Is there any way to remedy the searing problem?>

                    Yes, but the remedy goes against your Arthritis problem.... the remedy is thicker and heavier cookware.

                    Edited: Paul is correct. Crowding is probably the most common mistake. Even if you have a good stove, if you toss in too much food, you will have a problem.

                    1. re: kdlalib

                      If your coil stove is functioning properly, you have ample heat to sear. You should be able to get your Lodge screaming hot.
                      If your coils have dead spots in them, replacement coils are about $20 each. Turn each of the hobs on High--if they don't glow red everywhere, you have dead spots.

                      IMO, far too much is made of very high heat searing in a pan at home. Clad may not take it. Your oil will smoke up your kitchen and burn. And you will have to resort to a preheated oven to finish. Most people are far better served with Med to Med-Hi hob settings. Just make sure the pan is hot at the flop and don't turn the meat too soon.

                      Aloha,
                      Kaleo

                        1. re: kdlalib

                          You're welcome. You might consider Sitram's Catering line. See, e.g., http://www.bridgekitchenware.com/brow... This stuff has a big share of the European restaurant and hotel market.

                          Aloha,
                          Kaleo

                          1. re: kaleokahu

                            That looks amazing. The prices are reasonable too. I can use a fry pan to saute veggies?

                            1. re: kdlalib

                              Yes, of course you can. The shape is not ideal for jumping as others have pointed out, and, because saute'ing takes place at the bottom of the pan, a fry pan has considerably less floorspace than does a saute.

                              But if you're just shaking the pan, moving the food with a utensil, and you saute small enough quantities to "fit" your frypan, you're golden--literally.

                              Aloha,
                              Kaleo

                              1. re: kdlalib

                                I have some Sitram Catering pieces and am always ready to sing the praises of this well-made line. It performs extremely well and is remarkably easy to clean. It's also rather utilitarian in appearance--but I like that look.

                    2. For most of us, the most important thing, of course, is the cooking skill. The proper cookware also makes a big difference too. For example, using a nonstick pan for blacken tuna is probably not a good idea. However, "slightly better cookware within the same style of cookware" isn't going to make a huge difference of day and night. All Clad triply stainless steel cookware is going to be better than your Martha Stewart's KMart collection, but the difference is small. If you want something better, but not as expensive, then look for triply cookware like Calphalon Triply or Tramontina Triply (from Walmart) or Cuisinart MultClad. All of these are full triply, whereas the Martha Stewart's KMart is disc bottom cladding.

                      < I have Rheumatoid Arthritis>

                      In that case, you want lighter cookware, and disc bottom is generally lighter. Tramontina All Generations cookware have been recommendated by the Arthritis Foundation for "Easy-of-Use". *Tramontina All Generations is not the same as Tramontina Tripl, though both of them are sold by Walmart.

                      http://www.arthritis.org/resources/ea...

                      I agree with Paul. You can visit TJMaxx, HomeGoods, Marhsall....etc, and see if there is anything you like. Also, do not limit yourself in "cookware SET". Think about buying cookware individually.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Do you think the Tramontina All Generations is a quality brand? Or will I be compromising quality for ease-of-use?

                        1. re: kdlalib

                          I agree with foiegras' point. A so-call higher quality cookware take certain burden off you making your cooking experience more enjoyable. Like you said, a thicker aluminum based cookware (like All Clad) is likely to provide better heat distribution than the thinner counterpart. You can overcome the less-even heating surface by checking, moving and flipping the foods more often, but it is additional work. However, in your case, having a more evening heating but heavier cookware with painful handle may not be a good trade-off, right?

                          I see your response below. If the heat distribution is bad, then you can improve this by acquiring better cookware. However, your "food taking forever to cook" sound to me like a stove problem than a cookware problem. Most cheap low quality cookware do not have problem heating up. In fact, most so called low quality cookware heat up very fast, so I am guessing this part of the problem belongs to the stove.

                          Back to cookware. Since both Tramontina Triply and Tramontina All Generations are offered by Walmart, I would suggest you to check them out in person if they are available (they may not be in the stores). If Tramontina Triply cookware do not seem too heavy for you, then get them because this line of cookware has a solid reputation -- check for all the past posts on Tramontina on CHOWHOUND. If Tramontina Triply is too heavy, then don't even think about All Clad or Demeyere ....etc, because those are even heavier.

                          <Do you think the Tramontina All Generations is a quality brand? >

                          Tramontina Triply is well regarded, but I don't know much about Tramontina All Generations. I suppose it cannot be too bad, but I really cannot say.

                      2. what problems do you think your cookware is causing?

                        what i use is primarily le creuset & stainless. not sure of exactly what you're using as we don't have kmart here ...

                        personally i think cookware quality may have more to do with ease of cleanup & quality of cooking experience than the quality of the food itself. some cookware is more tolerant of being left for longer periods (advantage le creuset), but this has more to do with material than brand probably. a good cook is a good cook ...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: foiegras

                          Mostly heat distribution and food taking forever to cook

                        2. Before you decide to go buy new pans, I would suggest asking your friends if they have any of these brands of pans. My guess is you will know someone who has one or two of them. If they do, ask if you can borrow them to see if they work for you.

                          If no one has any of these pans, Visit a store like Williams and Sonoma or some other cooking store, ask them for advice about pans with an electric stove. Advice if free and your not required to purchase anything.

                          And if you have friends that are cooking in resturants or in school then they can get a discount of 10 to 20 percent off at cooking stores. I am a pro, so I get 20 percent off at a local cooking store. Hope all of these people's ideas help you.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: RickDavidBeaudin

                            Great idea! I never thought of borrowing. I'll have to check with friends. My mother is the most accomplished cook I know, but she mostly uses calphalon non-stick and Le Creuset. Le Creuset is too heavy for me to use when I'm home alone and I'm not wild about non-stick for anything but eggs.

                          2. I agree w/ the others in that it's probably more your stove (I'm assuming it's the coil style?) and not the cookware. I cook on a glass smoothtop electric, and my main pan is a $25 12" non-stick skillet from Ikea, with a heavy bottom, and I crank out some decent food with it. I have a bad shoulder so I don't like super heavy stuff either. My other pants are bits and pieces from here and there... Home Goods, Target, and wherever my SO got his "beginner" set, as I still use one of his big pots from that. Oh and I have a Lodge cast iron skillet.

                            Eventually you will learn to "read" your stove... which burners are good for what, and where the hot/cold spots are on certain burners. Once you figure out that, you can adjust your cooking to that to hopefully get a better result.

                            20 Replies
                            1. re: juliejulez

                              It's a coil stove. I just bought a Lodge Cast Iron skillet and it heats up so much faster than my stainless steel. It's incredible.

                              1. re: kdlalib

                                hmm, now that is odd. i think this argues for the problem unprofessional_chef was suggesting, because there is no way cast iron shd be faster. but perhaps the weight is causing full contact.

                                here's what i don't understand ... how come lodge is great & le creuset is too heavy, when both are iron? maybe you should look at smaller lc options?

                                1. re: foiegras

                                  My husband moved the cast-iron skillet for me. Unfortunately, he works nights, so he's really only around to help me on the weekends. I won't use the cast-iron skillet when I'm alone. I want some pans I can use that will work well, but aren't as heavy as Le Creuset so I can use it by myself.

                                  1. re: foiegras

                                    I think that's really odd also. No way, IMO, should CI heat faster. Odd indeed.

                                    1. re: foiegras

                                      Old thread I know, but it is the weight allowing for full contact. It makes a huge difference, and actually, at least temporarily, "unwarps" the coils. One of the biggest revelation when switching to an electric coil stove was the importance of finding the perfect weight. When I would cook on gas I would buy a relatively cheap aluminum pan to make eggs in. This worked perfectly on gas, because the heat source was "weight neutral," and all I needed was a pan to heat quickly for 4 minutes while I cooked an egg. When I went to an electric coil I found that pan was now too light to sit securely on the coils. I personally find cooking on cast iron too inefficient on electric. The weight is a positive as far as contact, but the overall mass and poor (relatively) conductivity mkae it less than perfect. This is why the Sitram Catering is so nice on a coil. The bottoms are so flat, the material is highly conductive, and the weight is just heavy enough to make that perfect coil contact without adding too much heft to make the pan unmanageable on a regular basis.

                                    2. re: kdlalib

                                      The black cast iron will absorb radiant energy from the coil, even when there is poor or no contact. The stainless steel will reflect significantly more radiant energy.

                                      1. re: kdlalib

                                        <I just bought a Lodge Cast Iron skillet and it heats up so much faster than my stainless steel. It's incredible.>

                                        May I ask how do you define "heats up"? What made you think that your Lodge Cast Iron cookware heats up faster? Can you walk us through an example?

                                        The reason is that it is possible that the Lodge cookware really did heat up faster (in term of temperature) for you, or the Lodge cookware actually did not heat up faster, but that it stored more heat during the preheating phase, so by the time you put in food and cooked, you noticed the the food get cooked faster in the Lodge and viewed that as heating up faster.

                                        Can you walk us through your interpretation?

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          My (prob wrong) interpretation is that it takes a long time to cook or brown food in my 12 stainless steel pan, but it was a lot faster in the 12 Lodge Cast Iron skillet.I was sauteing pierogis today. My time spent cooking the pierogis would've doubled if I had used the stainless steel. Because I'm a cooking newbie, I don't know if this is because it really does heat up faster or that it stored more heat.

                                          1. re: kdlalib

                                            If you have lifting problems and want to use cast iron, which I think is the best cookware for searing, get an old Wagner. The weight of a newer Lodge I have is 6 # 4 oz. My equivalent Wagner is 4# 6 oz. The Wagner is by far the better skillet.

                                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            It also seems to take a long time for onions to caramelize in my stainless steel. Of course, since I'm a beginner, maybe caramelizing is just a really long process and I'm being impatient. Maybe it's not the pan in that case.

                                            1. re: kdlalib

                                              http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/02/ho...
                                              specifies 30 minutes or more to properly caramelize onions. You have drive off much of the moisture before there is much color change. And trying to rush it with higher heat does not work - it just increases that chance that you will burn the onions.

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                I think it took me about an hour when I tried to caramelize onions.

                                                1. re: kdlalib

                                                  Many recipes call for four or FIVE hours to properly caramelize onions.

                                              2. re: kdlalib

                                                It takes me at least 1 1/2 hours to caramelize onions, no matter what pan I use.
                                                I had a Farberware set for years, before I began to "upgrade" my cookware. I went the one pan at a time route. That allowed me to really use a pan and see how I like it rather than getting into "sets". I first thing I bought was an All-Clad sauté pan. I liked the sauté shape, but All-Clad was one big "Meh" for me. It really didn't seem all that much better than my old Farberware. My favorite large sauté pan is the Demeyere Atlantis. I also love my tin lined copper french skillet. My high heat fry pan is the DeBuyer carbon steel. It has taken me years to acquire these pans, which was the best way for me. I donated my All-Clad to a local monastery. I found myself reaching for my other pans all the time and the AC was just sitting there. The one "set" that I got was a Fissler Solea set that I got for a song at an auction, and love that set. That is a great set of pots.

                                                1. re: laraffinee

                                                  I'm going to check out Debuyer. I don't love the feel of the All-Clad handles, so I'm afraid that might become problematic.

                                                  1. re: laraffinee

                                                    Our experience over a few decades is almost identical to yours.

                                                    We tend to take care of what we have over the years, and this includes kitchen ware. It is always donated and never trashed.

                                                    If not the kids, then the family, and if not the family then the Church. Someone can always use and appreciate cookware.

                                                    In the last decade we have purchased only Rösle pans, pots, steam inserts, and lids. We started with a used pot and lid. Similar to Fissler, the Teknika line of Rösle ( made 100 % in Milano by Silga ) has been the best for us, going from cabinet, to cooktop, to oven, to dishwasher, and even the fridge and freezer.

                                                    Of late we are buying some of the specialized Teknika pans directly from Silga. Great results, great meals, and worth the price. They look very good too, but the wife insists that when I finish my turn at the dishes, everything is hidden away in the cabinets, just as she does.

                                                    Our modern but inexpensive IKEA cabinets.

                                                    1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                                      Great post! And we LOVE our IKEA kitchens - plural :)

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        Indeed.

                                                        We found the cabinets to be a good learning experience, and also built our Kitchen island using IKEA casework.

                                                        Everything is bolted togather, using 8 lock-screws for each adjoining set of cabinets, screw mounted to the floor, and topped with Marine plywood before we leveled and glued our granite countertops on. Only the granite countertops were bespoke, or custom made.

                                                        Why ? Well, the savings by assembling and finishing the rest of the casework ourselves has, if you will, paid for our subsequent kitchen appliances, cutlery, and pots and pan.

                                                        including the latest Silga Teknika for the wife..

                                                         
                                                        1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                                          That's a simply gorgeous pot! And, yes, re cost. We did a really large kitchen last year for $3K and that included a nice farm sink.

                                                          1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                                            Hi Swissaire,

                                                            Just out of curiosity, what size is this? Also, that looks like an Ekologa base. There was a time when the Ekologa line had a few pans that looked like the Teknika on top, but with the thicker base on the bottom. Can you post a picture of the bottom?

                                                            Randy

                                            2. Hi, kdlalib:

                                              My opinion is that, unless you are a preternaturally accomplished cook, yes, pans will make a difference in your satisfaction and your confidence. Better pans can make you a better cook. And that means better food overall.

                                              I also want to suggest that a resistive coil electric stove, even a "crappy one", is powerful and even enough, compared with its conventional alternatives. They are bad at quickly changing heat settings, but the easy workaround is moving the pan. The plus of these is that (if there are no dead spots in the coils), they heat very evenly.

                                              Do you want to continue with clad? What is your budget? Do you handwash, or must your pans go in the DW?

                                              Brands of clad you might want to consider include Viking, Fissler, Demeyere, deBuyer, Sitram and Mauviel. I would suggest that the goal ought to be the thickest inside layer(s) of copper or aluminum you can afford and lift.

                                              If you can ignore the health nonsense about aluminum, very good and very inexpensive pans are out there. "Best" comes in several different flavors.

                                              Aloha,
                                              Kaleo

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                                I handwash. I don't have a dishwasher. :(

                                                Budget-wise, paying $200 and up per pan is too much for me.

                                                Thanks for all the great info!

                                              2. Because part of your difficulty is the length of time it takes to cook, perhaps you should consider supplementing your range with a portable induction cooker. Then yoy will need one or two pans which are induction compatible, chosen for the things you will want to cook that way.

                                                1. Another question: I'm a cooking newbie, so pardon my ignorance. What's the difference between a french skillet, fry pan, saute pan and regular skillet? I cook veggies a lot in a 12 inch skillet or saute pan. Not sure which it is. If I do replace it, I'm trying to figure out what type of pan I should replace it with.

                                                  14 Replies
                                                  1. re: kdlalib

                                                    A French skillet is a little deeper, with a slightly different profile, at least for All-Clad. A sauté pan has vertical sides, so more area on the flat bottom.

                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                      Which do you think is the best for sauteing vegetables?

                                                      1. re: kdlalib

                                                        Any will work, but a sauté pan is generally a little bigger and heavier than a skillet, so not the best for you. I suggest a smaller diameter French skillet. My All-Clad LTD2 11" French skillet is much lighter than my 12" sauté pan. Other brands I am not familiar with, however.

                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                          Vegetables often need to tossed to redistribute for even cooking. Some vegetables require a bit of liquid to steam. You won't be able to do that with your cast iron. A stainless steel French skillet with high walls will help keep everything in the pan while you're tossing the food. French skillets are often sold with a lid.

                                                          1. re: unprofessional_chef

                                                            Thank you. That's exactly what I needed to know. I toss my vegetables around a lot, so that's good information.

                                                          2. re: GH1618

                                                            Think about the future. A good quality pan will last a lifetime, and in our lifetime, induction cooking will become more prevalent. I recently bought AC 11" French Skillet with lid at Bed Bath and Beyond for $80 after a 20% discount coupon. You will not regret owning this as one of your basic pieces. I had to practice to learn how to use this skillet, and I am getting comfortable with it after a month or so.

                                                          3. re: kdlalib

                                                            < the best for sauteing vegetables>

                                                            Do you really mean sauteing? Because saute requires the food ingredients to be jumped, which means you need to jerk or toss the foods off the pan. This may be difficult for your hands even for a light weigh pan.

                                                            See the last paragraph of:

                                                            http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/dryh...

                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                              Maybe I've been pan-frying, not sauteing. Shoot. I do move the veggies around.a lot with a spoon and sometimes shake the pan.

                                                              1. re: kdlalib

                                                                Regardless, I do think a pan with a slightly higher side will work well for what you like to do with your vegetables. Good luck.

                                                            2. re: kdlalib

                                                              Here's a bargain in a 10" skillet:

                                                              http://www.cutleryandmore.com/calphal...

                                                              These pans will absorb radiant heat from your electric coils much the same as your cast iron does. You won't be able to use it with induction, however, if you add an induction unit.

                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                Thanks! I couldn't tell if it was non-stick or not. I'm trying to avoid non-stick.

                                                                1. re: kdlalib

                                                                  < I couldn't tell if it was non-stick or not.>

                                                                  This particular line suggested by GH1618 is not nonstick. It is simply straight anodized aluminum. You are good. It is thick, light, heat up fast, distribute heat good, ..... I think it will be a good fit for your need.

                                                                  Now, it is NOT dishwasher safe, and you will need to be gentle when you use metal utensils.

                                                                  1. re: kdlalib

                                                                    Curious why you're avoiding nonstick.

                                                            3. re: kdlalib

                                                              Mostly the difference is in the shape of the sides. This affects how the veggies move around when you stir them. With your electric stove, only the stuff in contact with the bottom cooks. And the parts of the pan that extend beyond the burner area don't get as hot.

                                                            4. Another cookware question: my one non-stick pan that I use to make omelettes has multiple scratches in it. I think I've been caring for them incorrectly. Does this mean I need to replace it? If so, what non-stick pans are the best?

                                                              17 Replies
                                                              1. re: kdlalib

                                                                <Does this mean I need to replace it?>

                                                                No, not really. As long as it is working, you don't have to replace it.

                                                                <If so, what non-stick pans are the best?>

                                                                A lot of people like Scanpan, and it has a reputation of longer lasting nonstick coating:

                                                                http://www.amazon.com/Scanpan-Classic...

                                                                However, it is really worth the extra cost, that you will have to decide (for example, let's say it lasts twice as long as the cheaper alternatives, but it costs three times as much)

                                                                1. re: kdlalib

                                                                  I like a nonstick pan for eggs, but careful handling is essential for longevity. I use mine only for eggs, I use only a silicone spatula in it (if anything) and I hand wash it using a sponge. It is a T-Fal Encore 2 (not a current model) and is about 20 years old, in fine shape.

                                                                  I am considering getting an 8" ScanPan Classic for omelettes, but don't have it yet, so can't report on how well it works.

                                                                  Sur la Table also has a pair of small nonstick skillets of their own label which look like a reasonable alternative, if you want two sizes.

                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                    Thanks for the tip on Sur La Table. I always wonder if the store brands are any good.

                                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                                      Totally agree. I have nonstick pans that are decades old. (Well, actually I used to til I switched to induction and now my nonstick pans are only a few years old.) They've never been touched with any metal utensils and are in perfect shape.

                                                                    2. re: kdlalib

                                                                      You don't need to replace it if it is working for you, however.

                                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                                        I thought I had read about health concerns when non-stick is stratched. Maybe that it emitted some sort if chemical. I might be wrong about this

                                                                        1. re: kdlalib

                                                                          The only health concern is with fumes which can be emitted at high heat. If you use a nonstick pan only for eggs, it will never be subjected to high heat when used properly.

                                                                          The coating is inert. If it flakes off and gets into your food, it will just pass through without effect.

                                                                          1. re: kdlalib

                                                                            <health concerns when non-stick is stratched>

                                                                            Whatever the health concern may be, it is not related to being scratched. If you do not believe nonstick is horribly bad, then obviously there is nothing bad about a scratched pan. If you believe the toxic information you read about, then it is related to the chemicals emitted at high temperature which also has nothing to do with the pan being scratched.

                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                              So scratching is just an aesthetic thing and it won't destroy the food quality or be toxic?

                                                                              1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                <So scratching is just an aesthetic thing>

                                                                                Well, I won't say just aesthetic as significant scratches will diminish the overall nonstick ability, but the a few scratches will have no overall effect on food quality or toxicity.

                                                                                1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                  Not toxic, but scratches impair the nonstickiness of the surface. It is best to baby these pans to preserve the surface.

                                                                          2. re: kdlalib

                                                                            "my one non-stick pan that I use to make omelettes has multiple scratches in it"

                                                                            Often overlooked but the scratches could have been installed while cleaning the pans. Brushes and scouring pads can leave deep scratches and diminish the nonstick. I have only used double sided soft sponges on my Greenpan saucepan since day one. And still looks like it did when I bought it. The interior doesn't have a single scratch. The coating still has it's nonstick properties.

                                                                            1. re: kdlalib

                                                                              I would encourage you to consider something other than non-stick for your next omelette pan. A seasoned carbon-steel pan will be permanently non-stick and it will last forever. They are slightly heavier than stainless, but nowhere near as heavy as cast iron.

                                                                              This is a popular model, and they are cheap to buy. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004...

                                                                              Your local restaurant supply may have similar pans for $20 or so.

                                                                              1. re: zhenya00

                                                                                That's awesome. Thank you. I've never used carbon steel.

                                                                                1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                  It is like cast iron, but thinner and therefore lighter.

                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                    I'm definitely going for the deBuyer mineral B to replace my non-stick; stratched to hell; not working anymore, former omelet pan.

                                                                                    Should I go for the 7.9 inch for omelets?

                                                                                    1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                      I would go for something larger. The DeBuyer pan I have is "10 inch", but it feels small because of the rim.

                                                                                      Your 7.9 inch pan will have a top opening dimension of 7.9 inch, but the cooking surface on the bottom will be much smaller, probably around 5 inch only:

                                                                                      8": Model 110.20A

                                                                                      • Size: 8" Dia. x 1 1/2"H (14 1/2"L x 4 1/2"H w/handle)
                                                                                      • Base: 5 1/2" Dia.
                                                                                      • Weight: 2 lb. 4 oz

                                                                                      http://www.chefscatalog.com/product/2...

                                                                                      At the end, only you know what is best for you. So think about the 5.5 inch diameter and see if it will work for you. It will be too small for my taste.

                                                                            2. I think you've gotten some excellent advice here. One thing that I've not seen mentioned however, is that unless you specifically desire a matching set, forget about replacing everything en masse. Like you did with your cast iron skillet, replace things one at a time, starting with your most problematic pieces and/or most used ones.

                                                                              As mentioned here, places like TJ Maxx/Homegoods/Marshalls all have a rotating supply of excellent quality pieces. The trick is you have to take what they have when they have it - you can't reliably expect to go home with a 12" All-Clad skillet on any given day. If you buy smart, you should be able to get excellent quality pieces for between $25-100 each for all common sizes. All-Clad is obviously excellent but also look for the Cuisinart pieces branded 'France' on the handles. These are good quality and less than half the price of All-Clad even when discounted.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: zhenya00

                                                                                Thanks for the advice about the Cuisinart. I'll check that out too.The one downside to the All-Clad for me (besides price) is that I don't love the handles. They dig into my hand because of their u-shaped design. I don't know how comfortable that will be for sauteeing.

                                                                                1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                  Yes, a common complaint. They are intended to be handled with your palm on the bottom, so if you aren't comfortable with that grip, go with something else. You'd probably find the Cuisinart handles comfortable.

                                                                                  1. re: zhenya00

                                                                                    I looked at the handles online and the shape does look much better than the All-Clad handles. Is it only the Cuisinart with the "Made in France" branded on handles that are high quality or comparable to All-Clad?

                                                                              2. If you decide you're interested in All-Clad, pick up some pieces by the handle with and without something in it to give it some weight. Some people really hate the way All-Clad's handles feel when a pot or pan is full.

                                                                                You asked the difference between a saute pan and a skillet. A saute pan has straight sides and a cover. The sides of a skillet are sloped, and they usually don't come with a cover.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                                                  Based on the advice in this thread, I think I'm going to get a French skillet first for sautéing veggies. I was previously using my fry pan to saute. Is there another use for a fry pan? I was planning to do steak and searing in my cast iron pan

                                                                                  1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                    I use my All-Clad skillet for sauteeing fish--sole meuniere, for example. If you learn to use cladded stainless right, it's perfect for doing this. But if you don't do it right, it will stick. I think most people who complain about things sticking aren't using their pan correctly.

                                                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                                                      Is it the All-Clad french skillet?

                                                                                2. Ultimately, the only thing that matters about a pan is that it has no holes. If you know what you are doing, you can cook with crap. The tools make a marginal difference ultimately, Since most people use too much heat and are impatient, unless your stove is not working right, you should be fine. Julia Child used a coil electric for some of her shows.

                                                                                  I love my Cuisinart non-stick that isn't made any more. Wash by hand,use wood utensils, and use low to moderate heat! I make steaks that people think of as fire grilled in the Cuisinart, because time and technique are more important than anything else.

                                                                                  PS I am addicted to equipment because it is fun, but cooking is about technique, and flavors, not pots.

                                                                                  35 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                    Technique is everything but a big part of it is understanding the various properties of cookware to use to your advantage when cooking and avoiding cookware that would be deleterious to what you are cooking. Cookware is the intermediary between the source of heat and what you are cooking. The difference is time saved, ease in cooking and a superior end product.
                                                                                    Consider shape and size -reducing a sauce goes much quicker in a wide pan vs a tall narrow pot. You would have a hard time searing a steak in a saucepan or one that is too small.
                                                                                    Consider what the pan is made of
                                                                                    Reactive vs non reactive material- I don't cook acidic foods in aluminum.
                                                                                    Properties of a metal in regard to heat transfer. This thing is crucial in understanding the benefits of certain cookware for one task over another. Cast iron holds a lot of heat so it can be heated very hot to sear steaks. On the down side it is slow to respond to changes in heat and is subject to hot spots. Cookware made of aluminum and copper heat quickly and evenly and are responsive to changes in heat. When I am making candy, it needs to stop cooking as soon as I take it off the flame. Cast iron won't do that. Some tecniques do call for fast and hot and it has to do with heat transfer. Slower heat allows more transfer to the inside of a cut of meat so for a good cut of steak most people will use high heat as they will want the inside maybe med rare. Slow - medium heat will get the inside done before the outside is caramelized unless you are cooking a very thick steak. The right cookware can also mitigate many deficiencies in a source of heat on either end of the spectrum.
                                                                                    Even the color can matter as a dark inside if a pan inhibits visibility.

                                                                                    http://www.cookingforengineers.com/ar...

                                                                                    1. re: wekick

                                                                                      That is SO helpful. Thank you! I never considered the diff properties of the various pot/pan materials.

                                                                                    2. re: law_doc89

                                                                                      I'm impatient. I admit that. That might be part of my cooking problem.

                                                                                      1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                        I started a thread here about being addicted to kitchen equipment. I buy all sorts of esoteric stuff, but, at the end of the day, anyone who knows what he is doing can use an aluminum fry pan with a hot plate, and adjust accordingly.

                                                                                        Be patient, take your time, both in cooking, and acquiring. The only stuff I ever regretted was Calphelon anodized aluminum. Sucks, which is why no professionals use it. Otherwise, there are fans of almost anything else.

                                                                                        One or two cast iron pans or grill, a few Cuisinart pots of SS with an aluminum insert, an enameled one or two, and a really good wok, and you will be fine. Branch out from there as experience dictates.

                                                                                        Just don't overheat, scorch, clean in the dishwasher, and always use nylon or wood utensils. My non-stick is like new after years.

                                                                                        1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                          Great tips. Thank you! I'm trying to buy slowly and only buy pans that I know I'll use on a regular basis like a french skillet. I don't have enough room in my teeny tiny apartment to overbuy.

                                                                                          We've been gifted many pots/pans other than our Martha Stewart stainless steel, but so many are not great quality.

                                                                                          My brother-in-law gave me a wok for Christmas, but it's nonstick. I've read that nonstick isn't recommended for stir-frying. What do you think?

                                                                                          1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                            For true stir frying nonstick isn't good. By that I mean, heating the pan as hot as they do over restaurant blast furnaces, so hot that the meat cooks in 30 seconds and acquires a smoky tinge.

                                                                                            But a nonstick wok shaped pan can still be useful. Just think of it as frying pan with very wide and shallow sides. I have a small nonstick wok in my camping gear that I use for everything from making grits to scrambling eggs and quickly cooking tuna cubes.

                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                              Good thought! For true stir frying, should I be looking at carbon steel?

                                                                                              1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                Hard to see how you can do "true stir frying" on an electric range. "True" stir frying requires very high heat and a wok (ie pan with a rounded, not flat, bottom) both of which are not possible using electric.

                                                                                                In looking through this thread, I'm struck by your need for light weight due to the RA. That cries out for aluminum. Nothing wrong with aluminum -- I would hazard a guess that 95% of restaurant food is prepared in aluminum, not stainless, cookware.

                                                                                                1. re: johnb

                                                                                                  I have a Le Creuset wok that I purchased precisely for use on the electric stove I had at the time. It is still the wok I use as I have never found a better one, including hand hammered.

                                                                                                  1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                    Hand hammering has little or nothing to do with wok performance in the first place. I've looked into a lot of Chinese kitchens and have yet to spot a hand-hammered wok.

                                                                                                    The LC model is a wok-shaped pan, but I for one wouldn't call it a wok. It's way too heavy to have quick heat sensitive performance, as a true wok must have (and achieves by being thin black steel). With regard to the OP, @$200 or so the LC would be way out of her budget, and too heavy for her to easily use with her RA.

                                                                                                  2. re: johnb

                                                                                                    I have a flat-bottomed, induction capable wok that I bought at.....The Wok Shop :) in SF. Just used it the other night for mapo tofu. Works great.

                                                                                                  3. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                    <For true stir frying, should I be looking at carbon steel?>

                                                                                                    Either carbon steel or the thin cast iron, not the thick cast iron like Lodge. I mean the thin cast iron wok which you find in Asian stores.

                                                                                                    1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                      IMO only a heavy cast-iron wok such as Lodge retains enough heat for true stir-frying. Check wok threads, other Hounds have different opinions.

                                                                                                      1. re: mwhitmore

                                                                                                        Furthermore, not only does the cast iron retain the heat you need, the hand hammered wok, like the cast iron allows you to keep partially cooked food on the high edges of the wok to retain warmth before finishing the dish and mixing all the ingredients together. The routine steel woks don't hold the food, and allow it to cool.

                                                                                                        I haven't used a Lodge, but imagine it is something similar. The LC has a stalk base that makes it possible to concentrate heat from a smaller burner, that is ideal for an electric stove.

                                                                                                        As to the RA, since one doesn't shake a wok, the heft of it means that a person with RA should be able to stir fry with aplomb, not having to worry about tipping it or knocking it off a burner collar.

                                                                                                        1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                          Hi, l_d:

                                                                                                          What's a "stalk base"?

                                                                                                          Aloha,
                                                                                                          Kaleo

                                                                                                          1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                            <As to the RA, since one doesn't shake a wok>

                                                                                                            That is very new to me..... I never knew people don't shake a wok.

                                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                              You have utensils to stir in a wok, strain in a wok etc. Woks should remain planted firmly. A round bottomed wok sitting in a collar getting shaken is likely to tip, spilling wok guts on you and the stove.

                                                                                                              As to the stalk, it is a flat base on the bottom of the wok, while the wok itself has a round bottom in the interior. I don't know if there is a name for this type of base.

                                                                                                              1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                                < Woks should remain planted firmly. A round bottomed wok sitting in a collar getting shaken is likely to tip, spilling wok guts on you and the stove.>

                                                                                                                http://youtu.be/ehgnv3lNg5E?t=1m30s

                                                                                                                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mq31M...

                                                                                                                If all you are going to use a wok is to have it sit on a stove, then you might as well use a fry pan. A wok should always be in constant motion, move it and shake it.

                                                                                                                <You have utensils to stir in a wok>

                                                                                                                The utensils are only to help assist the motion. The wok should be the primary tool to move the food. Watch carefully in the above videos. They use utentils, but utensils are only (minor) part of the tools for moving foods.

                                                                                                                <As to the stalk, it is a flat base on the bottom of the wok, while the wok itself has a round bottom in the interior.>

                                                                                                                That would be like a Le Creuset wok.

                                                                                                                http://www.amazon.com/Le-Creuset-Enam...

                                                                                                                Flat base exterior, and round interior.

                                                                                                                <I have a Le Creuset wok that I purchased precisely for use on the electric stove I had at the time. It is still the wok I use as I have never found a better one, including hand hammered.>

                                                                                                                With all due respect, if a Le Cresuset wok is what you use and what you considered to be the perfect wok, then you probably have much to learn about wok cooking. Le Cresuset managed to come up with the worst possible design of a wok.

                                                                                                            2. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                              "law_doc89
                                                                                                              Furthermore, not only does the cast iron retain the heat you need....The routine steel woks don't hold the food, and allow it to cool.
                                                                                                              The LC has a stalk base that makes it possible to concentrate heat from a smaller burner, that is ideal for an electric stove."

                                                                                                              Have you changed your position that the only thing necessary for a pot is that it doesn't have a hole? This is a very specific criteria for a pan.

                                                                                                              "since one doesn't shake a wok"

                                                                                                              They don't...????

                                                                                                              1. re: wekick

                                                                                                                They don't if it's the southern style with two small handles instead of one long one. I would probably get the Mandarin style today, but since I have the other one, I rely on my wok utensil to toss the contents.

                                                                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                  <They don't if it's the southern style with two small handles >

                                                                                                                  I won't go as far as saying that "they don't". It still can be done. It requires a bit more skill and a cloth towel.

                                                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                    Ok, here I found a couple videos. You hold it like this:

                                                                                                                    http://youtu.be/mlXTgZIkLR8?t=3m52s

                                                                                                                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Phu7nd...

                                                                                                                    You won't able to toss the food straight up like the Northern wok, but you can still toss the foods. I have a two handles wok. I know it can be done. It just requires a different technique.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                        The exception proves the rule!

                                                                                                                        I certainly don't think the OP has a stove like that, nor is it the idea for someone with RA.

                                                                                                                        1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                                          <I certainly don't think the OP has a stove like that, nor is it the idea for someone with RA.>

                                                                                                                          I don't have a stove like that either, but it can be done without a stove like that. For your point regarding the original poster, I agree. I don't think the a person with RA will work well to toss foods in a two handle wok. That being said my original point is to clarify that people do shake woks, and that the statement of "Woks should remain planted firmly" is counterintuitive.

                                                                                                                          In short, I don't disagree with many of your recommendations. It is just that, I think, some of your recommendations came across too strong. Instead of saying that woks do not always have to be moved, your statement argues for an absolute "no", that the woks should never be moved. That implies that if someone is moving the wok, then they are doing it wrong -- which I disagree.

                                                                                                                          Good suggestions overall.

                                                                                                                      2. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                        " Woks should remain planted firmly"
                                                                                                                        "since one doesn't shake a wok"
                                                                                                                        "They don't if it's the southern style with two small handles instead of one long one."

                                                                                                                        I'm just saying there are alternatives in practice to these thoughts. Chem has posted some great videos.

                                                                                                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                          You can also wear one on your head as a helmet, I wouldn't recommend it.

                                                                                                                          An yes, at the end of the day, specialization is an aide, you can, ultimately do anything with a cheap pot of pan if you know what you are doing, it just requires more practice and experience.

                                                                                                                          1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                                            Hi, l_d: "You can also wear one on your head..."

                                                                                                                            I recognize the voice of experience when I hear it. Strictly as a matter of millinery, does the cast iron "retain the heat you need"? ;)

                                                                                                                            As far as "the exception proving the rule" of wokking, poor Cicero is turning in his grave as if freshly sacrificed to Octavianus. His famous dictum "Exceptio probat regulam" came with an important qualifier: "in casibus non exceptis" (in cases not excepted). When you omit the qualifier, you misuse the proverb, because: (a) the exceptions--instances of tossing food in a wok--can always be neglected; and (b) the rule--of the fixity of woks--is made all the truer if it is sometimes false.

                                                                                                                            Next time you're late to court, try telling Her Honor: "I always appear on time. The exception proves the rule." See where it gets you.

                                                                                                                            Aloha,
                                                                                                                            Kaleo

                                                                                                                            P.S.: I'm more with A.C. Doyle's Sherlock Holmes: "I never make exceptions. An exception disproves the rule."

                                                                                                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                              I'd always wondered why the exception proved the rule. Now if you could just explain "all over you like a cheap suit."

                                                                                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                Hey, Jay: "All over you like a cheap suit."

                                                                                                                                Not really sure, but positive it's not from Marcus Tullius Cicero.

                                                                                                                                Perhaps it's from his slacker brother, Quintous.

                                                                                                                                Aloha,
                                                                                                                                Kaleo

                                                                                                                              2. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                                That is more Karl Popper!

                                                                                                                                On the other hand, "If you are wise, be wise; keep what goods the gods provide you."
                                                                                                                                ~ Plautus Rudens. Act iv. Sc. 7, 3. (1229.)

                                                                                                                                ;~)

                                                                                                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                                  Re retaining the heat you need ... rofl.

                                                                                                                                  perhaps it wasn't explained to me correctly, but my understanding has always been that 'prove' is used in an older sense in this saying, meaning 'to test.' so, the exception tests the rule.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                                    Hi, foiegras: "[T]he exception tests the rule."

                                                                                                                                    Without the second leg of the dictum "...in casibus non exceptis" (in cases not excepted), yours is a plausible loose reading. It avoids the oxymoron of a true rule and its exception existing simultaneously.

                                                                                                                                    But the key *is* the second leg. Now--2,100 years later, it's a basic precept of legal construction: "Inclusio unius est exclusio alterius" (Inclusion of one is to exclude the others). That is, if the promulgator chose to state a law *and* an exception, it is prudent to conclude no other exceptions were intended, therefore "proving" the rule.

                                                                                                                                    Aloha,
                                                                                                                                    Kaleo

                                                                                                          2. Costco has a terrific 18/10 stainless steel set - I love, love, love cooking with it. It's kirkland signature. One reason your Lodge might heat up faster - it sits flat on the coils. My parents have some pans that have warped, and they no longer sit flat on the cooktop. It makes me crazy, you can spin the pots around, so obviously lots of heat is being lost.

                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: pamelak52

                                                                                                              I think you might be 100% right about that. I think it's the weight of the pans. I need heavier pans.

                                                                                                              1. re: pamelak52

                                                                                                                The Costco set looks good. Well under $200 and seems well made. I bought my son a set a year ago, Works well.

                                                                                                                Normally I don't recommend sets, but the Costco set has (to me) all useful pots and pans, with none of the "lets get the count up" pieces.

                                                                                                                1. re: Bigjim68

                                                                                                                  When I switched to induction a few years ago, I had to buy A LOT (one daughter referred to my gifting as "Christmas in February). I got a set at Costco for under $200. For a second home, I also went induction and got the next generation of the same pans. As you say, they don't get all silly and have the right number of pieces. Good point.

                                                                                                              2. I was browsing in my local TJ Maxx today when I found a deeply discounted All-Clad fry pan. There was a big scrape/slight gouge in the pan, so I didn't want to snap it up. Is a scraped stainless steel pan simply cosmetic or will it affect my cooking?

                                                                                                                ETA: Is All Clad d5 or Tri-ply better?

                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                  <Is a scraped stainless steel pan simply cosmetic or will it affect my cooking?>

                                                                                                                  Well, it depends how bad we are talking about, but usually speaking it is a cosmetic issue.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                    it wasn't horrible, but it was visible. More of a scrape than a scratch. It was on such deep discount that I wish I had bought it.

                                                                                                                    1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                      I guess it will be one of those things which you would have regretted either way. (If you have bought, you may also regret buying a deeply scraped pan). Have fun.

                                                                                                                  2. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                    d5 is the higher end line.

                                                                                                                    There has been lots of the regular All-Clad stuff in my local TJMaxx lately. Unfortunately the d5 stuff has been largely non-stick or very odd pieces without much discount.

                                                                                                                    1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                      I have one D5 and the rest tri-ply. D5 is much heavier so if that's a concern for you, skip it. The tri-ply works well. I've seen several nice 10" AC skillets at TJ Maxx for about $49 lately. None badly scratched. Keep watching, another will probably show up. Quite a few other AC pieces as well, about half the price of normal. Some marked with a little S on the handle to indicate a "second" and some not. It's always fun to see it there, but I don't need any now, darn.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Cam14

                                                                                                                        That's incredibly valuable information. Just because of my physical limitations, I'd rather go with a lighter quality pan/pot than the heavier models. I'll stick with triply if I do All-Clad.

                                                                                                                        1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                          Because weight and comfort of handling are a big concern, consider a Regal American Kitchen tri-ply skillet. The handles are very comfortable and longer than All-Clad's, yet the pan is if anything a bit lighter than All-Clad.

                                                                                                                          It's a good quality skillet, U.S. made, and half the price of All-Clad.

                                                                                                                    2. Before buying your pots match them to the type of stove top that you have. I have a friend that has a flat surfaced stove top and her pans slide on it as they are not heavy enough.

                                                                                                                      1. I wasn't going to reply at first (many more experienced posters on this board...) but then I saw the thread go on and on....although tons of good advice here.

                                                                                                                        One thing, be careful of ditching the "old" Martha. I inherited some "early" Martha Stewart stainless (2 Q saucepan and 12" skillet) and they are pretty darn great. Nice heft, good handles. I believe they were ~ year 2000. I have to say that some of the MS branded BM (Before Macy's) was pretty good. Before the honchos at KM realized that many of their customers couldn't afford the stuff. Not to be mean, but some of your cooking uhm "failures" could be related to your "newness".

                                                                                                                        On Le Crueset...love the stuff, but agree, as a 100lb woman, that it can be too much for everyday ...but for making soup/stocks it is the bomb! Go for it and ask the SO to lift it into the sink for you for clean-up. I love my 3.5 Q for our 2-person family.

                                                                                                                        And congrats on the Lodge. Also heavy, but I too find that 9" cast iron skillet to be invaluable. Have fun with it.

                                                                                                                        Can you tell I am not a fan of "matched sets"? lol. Buy what you need and love when you need it. If you have cabinet doors, no one will know. Our little secret. Shhhhh.

                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                          It was Martha from Kmart circa 2006. I actually like my Martha saucepans. It's really just the fry pan & saute pan that I'm not wild about. However, I'm going to be doing my high heat cooking in my new Lodge cast iron pan, so maybe this isn't an issue anymore. I LOVE my Martha Stewart pot & pan handles and I'm not wild about the All-Clad handles. I think I have to try out some of the other brands recommended by posters here.

                                                                                                                          My mother, who's a very accomplished cook, has both Calphalon unison and Le Creuset. Both way too heavy for me. The All-Clad was a better weight.

                                                                                                                          1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                            < My mother, who's a very accomplished cook, has both Calphalon unison and Le Creuset. Both way too heavy for me. The All-Clad was a better weight.>

                                                                                                                            What? Calphalon unison is lighter than All Clad. Try it again. I bet you that you were mistaken. All Clad is heavier than Calphalon unison.

                                                                                                                            1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                              just wanted to mention that lc does have some smaller pieces. i love the small sauce pan, and i also have a discontinued (but probably findable on ebay) size 23--2.75 qt. oval dutch.

                                                                                                                                1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                  not to me ... but i don't have RA. i can lift these two with one hand.

                                                                                                                                  oh, also meant to mention that the new lc--signature i think--is lighter than the original.

                                                                                                                          2. Does anyone have any experience with deBuyer Mineral B fry pans? What would be the advantages/disadvantages of that over an All-Clad triply fry pan?

                                                                                                                            ETA: Also what size french skillet would you recommend for sauteing?

                                                                                                                            25 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                              I have a Mineral grilling pan. These pans are nearly indestructible. No worries about high heat, or scratching the shiny finish (because there isn't one).

                                                                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                Is it for non-stick use? Or can I use it generally?

                                                                                                                                1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                  Well seasoned carbon steel, as with seasoned cast iron, is effectively non-stick. If you really want absolute non-stick, say for omelettes or crepes, I would suggest dedicating one pan to that duty and never washing it with soap, merely wiping it out with a paper towel after use.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                    Nothing sticks to mine, because I only use it for hamburgers and searing roasts and such. A grilling pan is a special thing. You are probably wondering about the regular flat fry pan. I don't have one of those.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                      Yeah I was thinking of the deBuyer pan as a possible omelet pan

                                                                                                                                      1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                        Should be a perfect application. They sell similar pans at restaurant supply stores for crêpes, so the non-stick is the real-deal.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: zhenya00

                                                                                                                                          I have a plain steel crêpe pan, and there's no question that it's the only thing to use for crêpes. I'm not convinced that it's the best type of pan for omelettes, however. But since I don't make many omelettes, I'm not the expert here. But it doesn't automatically follow that a steel pan would be best because a crêpe is a very different thing from an omelette.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                            It comes down to how much of rim you need. I find that a 22 cm crepe pan handles a 2 egg omelet quite nicely. While cooking it is nearly as thin as a crepe. But the crepe pan does not have enough of a rim to help roll it. But I had to imitate Jacques Pepin in this regard I'd also be using a nonstick skillet.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                              Not only the size of the rim, but its shape. Then there's the thermal mass of the pan.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                What about the thermal mass? There isn't much difference between my crepe pan and my Lyonaise, I don't see how an omelet has any special requirements.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                  I am throwing a curve ball here. I am sure a carbon steel crepe pan is nice, but what about a crepe maker? Or is that too specialized for most of us?

                                                                                                                                                  http://www.dvorsons.com/crepe/images/...

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                    I would never have such a thing in my kitchen. For one thing, how do you toss the crêpe into the air to flip it?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                      <how do you toss the crêpe into the air to flip it?>

                                                                                                                                                      I guess I don't know much about making crepe. It is just that the crepe shop (Profi's Creperie) I visit do not toss crepes in the air, and I believe the employee there use something like this:

                                                                                                                                                      http://phillyfoodlover.blogspot.com/2...

                                                                                                                                                      (see photo# 5 and 6)

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                        I don't toss a crepe; instead I lift the edge and turn it by hand, or with the aid of a thin spatula. But often crepes aren't even turned. They are just cooked till the top side is dry. Since this size touches the filling, it does not need to be browned.

                                                                                                                                                        Back in the 1970s the specialized crepe makers had a convex top that you dipped in the batter. I remember on crepe restaurant that had an automated lazy Susan rig with multiple convex pans.

                                                                                                                                                        But the ones that Chemicalkinetics links seem to be the norm for crepe shops, in the USA and France. The batter is poured on, and spread out with the little wood trowel. The filling may applied while it is still on the griddle.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                          paulj, I'm with you. I've never seen a crepe 'flipped' or in any other way turned over.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                            Here is an excerpt from the instructions in "You Can Do Anything with Crêpes" by Pasley and Green:

                                                                                                                                                            "Shake the pan backward, forward and sideways to be sure the crepe does not stick. Then flip it if you wish. Otherwise, ..., lift up an edge, catch it with your fingers and turn it over."

                                                                                                                                                            Flipping is easier, and more fun, if less reliable. But I see how cooking only one side of a filled crêpe might work.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                              Reminds me the 'Crepes Sauvages' recipe in Joy of Cooking (cornmeal cakes tossed over a campfire).

                                                                                                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7210...

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                              Here is a link to a video of Julia Child flipping a crêpe:

                                                                                                                                                              http://www.smithsonianmag.com/video/J...

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                Hey, I'm not arguing with anyone. Just saying I've not seen it and it seems not to be necessary. That's all :)

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                        I'm thinking of the difference between a carbon steel pan and a heavy aluminum pan. Lyonaise is just another steel pan.

                                                                                                                                                        The difference is that there is very little volume to a crêpe, so it takes very little heat out of the pan to cook it. An omelette is much larger than a crêpe, so it seems to me that a heavy aluminum pan would help keep the temperature stable.

                                                                                                                                                        I know that de Buyer claims that Lyonaise is the perfect omelette pan, and I'm sure it works fine, but as I recall when Julia Child was promoting her omelette pan it was a thick aluminum pan.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                          What I make in the crepe pan is rather thin, and cooks fast. I think of it as a fast French style, though Jacques Pepin demonstrates in one video that there are at least 2 styles, a classic with not browning, and a more rustic.

                                                                                                                                                          At the other end is the Spanish tortilla which can be an inch thick. That requires gentle heat. A thick cast aluminum nonstick (induction compatible) is the best I have for that.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                          I have, in a sense, destroyed a deBuyer lyonnaise pan. I got it too hot and warped the bottom. It's a Force Blue, not one of their thicker or heavier lines. Also I've never developed a good stable seasoning. So I've relegated it to beater jobs, such as searing steaks on a butane hotplate outside. Jobs where high heat is desirable, and I don't care about any seasoning.

                                                                                                                                          I have other carbon steel pans that get more use. For example my griddle of choice for pancakes is a 22cm carbon steel crepe pan. It has a good seasoning because I only use it for that and omelets. And I have serveral sizes of Mexican comales, tortilla griddles. One is my favorite baking pan for biscuits.

                                                                                                                                          I've had several carbon steel woks, and had so-so experience with seasoning them. Mostly the problem is that the wetter stages of cooking strip off the seasoning.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                            <Mostly the problem is that the wetter stages of cooking strip off the seasoning.>

                                                                                                                                            I think once you can get a stable seasoning surface on, the wetter stage of the cooking will not strip off the seasoning. Until then, the seasoning can sometime come off.

                                                                                                                                        3. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                          Carbon steel is, as mentioned, nearly indestructible, but somewhat counterintuitively, it does require some care to keep it at its best. It must be seasoned properly before use, and then washed carefully without soap or serious scrubbing after that, and then dried and not put away wet. Part of the seasoning process is that the pan will become permanently black from use - this is what makes them work so well, but if you like spotless cookware, go with stainless.

                                                                                                                                          Lastly, carbon steel is reactive, so it is not recommended to cook acidic foods in them, like tomato sauce. This is probably ok in a well seasoned one, but still good practice to have another pan for that type of cooking.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                            <What would be the advantages/disadvantages of that over an All-Clad triply fry pan?>

                                                                                                                                            Completely different breasts. There are many difference and some similarities. I won't able to name all, so I will just mention a few.

                                                                                                                                            The DeBuyer Mineral B fry pan is a carbon steel pan. You can think of it like a thinner version of a cast iron pan. You need to season it, and you cannot put it in a dishwasher. You must wash by hand. It has a near nonstick surface after seasoning, and can be used at very high heat cooking.

                                                                                                                                            You can think of it as the most nonstick pan beside the Teflon nonstick pan, except you can also use at very high heat cooking.

                                                                                                                                            The All Clad triply is stainless steel surface, aluminum core cookware.

                                                                                                                                          2. The dutch oven I was gifted is a Kitchenaid hard anodized dutch oven. I think it's a 4 quart. Is this good? I've actually never used it because I've been doing pot roast and such in my crock pot.

                                                                                                                                            13 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                              I don't get anodized cookware. I have a huge collection of Calphelon, and it is the only stuff I ever gave away.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                                                                Calphalon Commercial is an excellent pan for sauté. It has a smooth, hard, inert surface, and is all aluminum so distributes heat well. I have one piece which I don't use much only because it's so small — 7" at the top, only 5" on the inside bottom. I need to get a larger one, although I have heard the new ones may not be the same as the old stuff.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                  Calphalon does make some of the very best anodized aluminum cookware. Highly sough after among enthusiasts.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                    I agree. I have a hard anodized omelet pan I've had forever. So long as I cook only eggs in it, it remains perfectly non-stick. I have not seen any of the new stuff without Teflon unfortunately.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: zhenya00

                                                                                                                                                      The Calphalon Commercial line is pure anodized aluminum cookware as you know. There are not many straight anodized aluminum cookware for household, but there remains to be plenty for restaurants, like these:

                                                                                                                                                      http://vollrath.com/Product/Cookware/...

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: zhenya00

                                                                                                                                                          Really? You have he Vollrath hard anodized pans? Nice. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                            It is actually marked just 'commercial cookware Toledo Ohio' which I think is the old commercial calphalon stuff. But it looks exactly the same.

                                                                                                                                                            I also have a couple of small, like 2-3qt flat bottomed wok like pans that I'm not really sure what they are intended for.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: zhenya00

                                                                                                                                                              My old Calphalon Commercial frying pans with the aluminum handle is marked on the bottom with an etched shield which is almost heart-shaped, in which is written "Commercial" in cursive, "ALUMINUM COOKWARE" below that, and "TOLEDO, OHIO" below that. Below the shield is an NSF mark. "Calphalon" does not appear anywhere.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                I think you two are correct. I now remember that the Calphalon aluminum cookware are all made in Toledo, OH.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                                                                    It can also take a seasoning like steel or cast iron.

                                                                                                                                                  3. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                    These days it is rare to find pure anodized aluminum cookware. You probably have an anodized aluminum Teflon based cookware. Anodized aluminum is a great material and will provide very good heat distribution -- better than that from enameled cast iron cookware.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                      Hi, kdlalib:

                                                                                                                                                      It should be just fine. How thick is it? If it's 4-6mm thick, it's better than just fine. Probably better than your crockpot.

                                                                                                                                                      Aloha,
                                                                                                                                                      Kaleo

                                                                                                                                                    2. Is there anything I should avoid cooking in my new 12 inch cast iron Lodge skillet? How do I know what's appropriate to cook in it vs using a stainless steel skillet?

                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                        <How do I know what's appropriate to cook in it vs using a stainless steel skillet?>

                                                                                                                                                        You will find out in time -- by experience. Your cast iron skillet will have two clear advantages over the stainless steel-aluminum cladded cookware. The seasoned cast iron skillet will be much more non-stick-time. It also does a wonderful job for high temperature searing. Your stainless steel-aluminum cookware will provide you better heat distribution (fewer heat spots), and can handle highly acidic foods including deglazing.

                                                                                                                                                        Again, at the end, you will have to try and figure these differences on your own.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                          I poach eggs in my stainless steel skillet, I wouldn't do that in my CI. Same with any water-based application. Some people stay away from acidic applications in the CI, like tomato-based stuff.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                            I was going to say tomato based stuff, and anything w/ a lot of citrus.

                                                                                                                                                        2. In your situation the handles can be very important especially if you are more symptomatic on some days.

                                                                                                                                                          I would also try to get a helper handle when you can or handles on both side of the pan. I have an old Revereware stock pot I like because it has a bail handle and helper handle on the bottom. It comes in 4.5 qt,6 qt and 8 qt but you have to get it on ebay or secondhand somewhere. The prices vary widely.
                                                                                                                                                          http://www.ebay.com/itm/PRE-1968-REVE...

                                                                                                                                                          There is a line of cookware by Dr Cook but not sure how it woukld be to cook in. Unfortunately it comes in a set so you can't just try a piece. The non stick would be easier to clean and the handles and knobs on the lid all look easier to use.

                                                                                                                                                          http://www.cotmas.com/dr-cook-16-piec...

                                                                                                                                                          21 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: wekick

                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for those tips. That's, so, so helpful. BEcause I'm very symptomatic, I want to play it safe with handles and the weight of pots/pans. I'm still undecided about All-Clad. I love the weight of the pots/pans, but the handles bug me.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                              One good pot to have is a large stock pot. Costco had a very solid one for under $40.00.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                                                Is a stock pot the same as a pasta pot?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                  There are some overlapping aspects, but usually not. For example, you can find a 10+ quarts (like 60 quarts) stock pot, but you won't find that for a pasta pot. In addition, a lot of people assume that a pasta pot comes with a pasta basket/strainer...etc.

                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.katom.com/002-601BP.html

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                    Agree, a stock pot is usually larger than a pasta pot. I use it for larger meal preparations, cooking a ham for example, and also for home canning. I purchased a Tramontina from Walmart's years ago, it has really been one of my most pratical purchases.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                    "Pasta pot" usually means that it includes a straining basket which fits deep into the pot, so the pasta can be quickly removed at the optimal time. Without the basket, it's a stock pot.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                      It doesn't have a basket, so I guess it's a stock pot. I've been using it to cook pasta. Is that ok?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                        If it can hold boiling water it can be used to cook pasta. :)

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                          Of course, you can use it for pasta. Don't get too crazy about using a "pasta pot" for pasta. You can use any thing really. Stock pot, Dutch Oven, a large sauce pan....etc. In fact, I remember a famous chef or a cooking magazine has shown that cooking pasta in a shallow fry pan with minimal amount of water can work very well:

                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zkz4ef...

                                                                                                                                                                          Back to stock pot.

                                                                                                                                                                          <It doesn't have a basket, so I guess it's a stock pot.>

                                                                                                                                                                          The size has something to with it. I won't not call anything 3 quart or less as a stock pot - with or without a basket.

                                                                                                                                                                          At the end, cookware are important, but not crazy important. Be creative, and think outside of the box, but also think logically. Do not get trapped by the idea of "pasta can only be made in pasta pot" or "tomato knife for tomatoes"...etc.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, size matters. Three quarts is not a stock pot. But I was thinking of the seven quart "pasta pentola" by All-Clad. They sell it without the basket as a stock pot. I think it's reasonable for that size to call it either.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                              I checked my "pasta" pot and it's 8 qts.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                < I think it's reasonable for that size to call it either.>

                                                                                                                                                                                Agree. I think there is a good healthy range which the two designs overlap.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                I was referring to a larger stock pot, which is very handy when cooking in bulk, for crowds, for canning.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                                                                  How large a stock pot would you suggest? I don't can, but I might begin to cook soups.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                                    For making soup, you know better than anyone what size of soup you want to make. Any size is good as long as you are good. For a stock pot, I think the very least is 5 quarts, just because I need to fit a chicken in.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                                      Then a good size stock pot could be useful. I have to go downstairs to my basement to look at the size but it is about 1.5 or 2 x the size of the largest pot in a pot set.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                                        If you have an eight quart pot, that's good. It's big enough to make up for the trouble of making soup from scratch. Don't get a bigger one until you've been using the one you have for awhile and know you need a bigger pot.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                                    I repeat, if it doesn't have holes, it will work. I have a 5.5 Le Creuset with the "Pasta" insert. I use the insert for holding chickens when making stock so that I can pull them out without straining. When I make pasta I pour the pasta and water into a colander in the sink.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Much more important is that you have sizes you need and proper thicknesses for what you do. If the pot is too big for the strength of you burners, you wont be able to do what you want.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I have a 16 qt steel pot for boiling lobster, simmering a whole goose, etc. but I have a stove with a power burner. The typical home stove wouldn't bring that size pot to a boil.

                                                                                                                                                                                    A good 5 to 8 qt pot will work for soups, stews, bakers. Important too, is that a large amount of boiling water is necessary for traditional vegetables, as you don't want the water sitting too long re-heating after you put the veggies in the boiling water, or the pasta in the boiling water (you can buy a buffalo iron, but go try to find one)

                                                                                                                                                                                    You need a 1 qt, 2 qt, 3 qt and then 5 to 8 qt pots for being able to handle every eventuality of what you want to cook

                                                                                                                                                                            2. Another probably dumb pot/pan question: what's a saucier and how does its usage differ from a saucepan?

                                                                                                                                                                              21 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                                I think a saucier is the person who prepares the sauces in a kitchen. The usage as a type of pot would be a pot used for cooking sauces. I have seen it used to include all kinds of saucepans, and also to describe the sloping sided saucepans only. The sloping pans are also called as evasee, windsor, and splayed. The sloped or splayed sides make it easier to stir, as it is easier to get into the corners. Particularly with a whisk.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bigjim68

                                                                                                                                                                                  If I already have saucepans, do you think a "saucier" is necessary? Or should I just use my regular saucepans to make sauce?

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                                    Sounds like you're just starting out so, no, I don't think you should get a saucier. I have one ONLY because I got an amazing price on it and needed/wanted another sauce pan. It's actually too large for the volume of sauce I make. I use it for risotto cause it's easier to get into the corners.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                      Should I just use a small saucepan instead for making white sauces?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                                        Definitely! As I said, the one I have was a great deal and I've never used it for a sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Honestly? I think you might be getting a smidge carried away. As others and I have said, you can get a really competent set at Costco for $200. Add a CI skillet and I honestly think you're good to go. Forever maybe. But I'd cook with those for a few years and see if/what you're missing anything. Just my two cents.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                          Agree, start with a basic set of SS 18/10 with an aluminum insert, non-stick or plain, and practice. You can replace cheaply anything you ruin. Note that restaurants use pretty cheap stuff because of overhead and theft.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                                          You should have a stainless steel bowl that fits in one of your saucepans to make a double boiler, to make a white sauce. Try that before getting a saucier.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                            Excellent suggestion! And a thrift store is REALLY good for that kind of purchase.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                              Glass might work as well. I just discovered that my Pyrex 1.5 qt glass bowl is a perfect fit to my 3.5 qt All-Clad saucepan. The bowl is much heavier than a comparable SS bowl, and has an extended rim that rests on the rim of the saucepan. Also has a lid for storing things. These are my favorite bowls, but I haven't yet tried making a white sauce in it.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                                I never thought about that. And I have a bunch of Pyrex. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                              I would agree. I wonder if the reason that the splayed saucepan seems to have fallen out of favor is that it does not perform as well in stainless as it does in copper. Copper transmits heat more evenly than stainless, and tends to be heavier. My 1 qt Guillard splayed weighs nearly 4.5 pounds and the upper edges are near the same temperature as the bottom due to the mass and heat transfer. The bowl in a bowl makes a satisfactory double boiler at less cost.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                                Been making béchamel sauce regularly in a heavy aluminum saucepan, over gas flame, without a double boiler. My conclusion is that there is no reason to use a double boiler or bain-marie ... unless, perhaps, you're in a restaurant kitchen, making large quantities and wanting to keep it warm for some time. You do have to pay continuous attention, though only for a few minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                                                I use a 3 qt. All-Clad saucepan in which I make white sauce. I wish I had bought the 4 qt. size, which is the same (perfect) width, but is a little taller.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mine is the 3.5, but then I'm a contrarian.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                    For the quantities that I usually need, less than 2 cups, any small pan will do. Usually I use an 8" skillet. It's the same sort of pan that I would use for a pan gravy.

                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                                                A lot of top of the line restaurants manage to get by without splayed saucepans. I would not put them on the must have list, Straight sided saucepans work just fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                                              I love my little one-qt saucier. (It's the All-Clad MC2) My small pan had been a plain SS 1.5 qt saucepan. Despite it's name, it was not a good pan for sauces, because of its shape and its uneven heating characteristics. The saucier works much better, especially for a delicate, easily burned sauce, because the heavy aluminum exterior distributes the heat evenly, the shape is lower and a little wider for easier access for stirring, and the rounded corners fit the curve of a wooden spoon or whisk.

                                                                                                                                                                                              My old small SS saucepan is good for heating up canned soup. That's about all.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                                I'll definitely add the saucier to my "to-buy" list. Currently on it, I also have the 11" french skillet and 12" fry pan. I'm pretty happy with my current pasta pot, so that's not really a priority. Any other "must have" suggestions? I do a lot of sauteing and pan-frying. I already have a cast-iron skillet.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                                                Don't get too caught up is specialty items when you are starting out, I have all sorts of stuff for special uses, but do I really need a paella pan for making paella? Only because I show off when I serve it. Any shallow large diameter pan would work. Focus on techniques more than gadgets. And I am the one who started a thread about being addicted to gadgets. Gadgets are for fun after you master techniques.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I own a T-Fal electric double boiler with an automated whisk for making sauces, but I can do the traditional stuff if I want.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                                                                                                                  <Focus on techniques more than gadgets>

                                                                                                                                                                                                  +1

                                                                                                                                                                                              3. I went to Costco today and looked at their selection. I didn't want a set, but I saw a Kirkland Signature 13 pc 18/10 stainless steel cookware set with a copper bonded 5 ply base for only $169.99. The bottom of the pans was really thick and heavy, which seemed good. Does anyone have experience with this set? What do you think of it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't know about that line but have another induction-capable Circulon set that I got there. Although hopefully it's not an issue, but if this set fails you, you can return it. Costco's return policy is wonderful. I've made more than one big ticket purchase there for simply that reason. I'm betting you're going to be pleased. Please report back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I bought that set for my son a year ago. It seems like a good deal on a well made set of cookware. He has had no trouble with his.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. This isn't pots and pans question technically, but does anyone have advice on choosing between Le Creuset and Emile Henry for a 3 qt Gratin Dish? If you have another, better brand, I'd love to know that too. I have several recipes calling for a gratin dish and I want to purchase one that will last for a long time without cracking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't use gratin dishes, but I have a couple of pieces of this brand:

                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://www.pillivuytus.com/prclassics...

                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's very nice stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                                        +1. Pillivuyt or Apilco (French porcelain).

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                                          So pristine and elegant. I want some of the brasserie plates.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: kdlalib

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Here's another time that a stop at TJMaxx could be beneficial. I have two, one big and one small, didn't pay much for them. They enameled cast iron and I don't worry about them cracking. They're tough.