Monday, November 1, 2010

Quality Family Cookware is Affordable - Celebrity Pots and Pans

     Celebrity endorsed cookware has come to the home front as affordable.  If you're thinking of the perfect gift for the culinary artist in your family, consider new cookware as that gift.  New quality cookware will add sophistication and class to the family culinary experience.  Whether it is Mothers Day or Christmas, it is the perfect year-round gift that will keep giving back to your whole family.

     Cost is only one consideration when picking out the right cookware for a given purpose.  Of course, celebrity endorsed pots and pans are not always an indicator of quality, we must also consider construction methods and materials.  The aesthetic appearance of good looking cookware is not always a guarantee of anything.   Consideration should be given to the following things.

Conduction and Even Distribution of Heat

     There are several types of materials used in the construction of pots and pans.  Heat conduction qualities are the most important, and this is directly related to the materials used in the construction of the cookware.  The nine point construction rule should apply.  Copper is the best overall conductor of heat, and is used for both the primary (all copper) or the secondary (bottom only) construction material.  Pots and Pans made entirely of copper can be very expensive.  All pure copper cookware is usually lined with stainless steel, or enamel and porcelain.  However, copper clad options perform very well in conduction and heat distribution tests.

The best options are as follows:

     1).  Copper-clad surgical stainless steel with a non-stick cooking surface.  I prefer a textured non-stick cooking surface for aesthetic reasons.  This type of surface allows you to saute, fry or steam foods while using less oils or water. 
Food browns easily as the heat distribution is even throughout the cooking surface.

     2).  Heavy clad cast aluminum cookware with a copper-clad bottom is easily the second best option in cookware.  For aesthetic reasons,  this cookware is coated with tough enamel.  Enamel can be exterior, interior or both.  Fully coated pots and pans are best because aluminum oxides can flavor delicate foods.  Again, heat distribution is excellent with this type of construction.  Also, this enamel can come in many colors and patterns that allow you to pick something that pleases you, and looks good on the table or stove.

     3).  Heavy duty cast aluminum coated with porcelain is the third choice.  Again, we have superior heat conduction and distribution ability.  Both enamel and porcelain have a tight grained surface characteristic offering less porosity in the cooking surface.  The less porous the surface, the less it will allow foods to stick.  Much like Teflon, these surfaces are great, assuring a smooth cooking experience and easy cleanup afterwards.

Waterless Surgical Stainless Steel Cookware

     Waterless cookware is a great option for the healthy foods choice.  They are made of surgical stainless steel with tight fitting lids.  The lids are designed for stack cooking on the stove or in the oven, and for easy storage in your cabinets/cupboards.  Waterless cookware has many benefits and some drawbacks, these are as follows:

     1)  This type of cooking process eliminates or cuts down on need for oils and grease.  For those who have health considerations such as HDL/LDL cholesterol, this method of food preparation is a real problem solver.

     2).  Vegetables are always best when steamed rather than boiled.  This system allows you to use little or no added water.  You can actually cook using the natural water content of most foods.  The food also keeps it's natural and appealing color.  Since we eat what appeals to our eye, there is no need to say more here.  Vitamins and essential  minerals are retained by this method.

     3).  Because this cookware is designed for 'stack cooking', which means the bottoms of the pans are made to fit inside each other, the system is economical.  Once you start something cooking on the bottom, you stack another item on top to
use the heat from the lower cooking process.  This works well when planned out properly.  In some situations the entire meal can be cooked on one stove burner.  This can help defray the cost of purchase, and save money throughout the lifetime of the cookware.

     4).  Stove top baking is possible with this type of cookware.

     5).  It is always best to clean these lids by hand.  However, stainless cookware is very easy to clean as it also offers a tight grained cooking surface.

     This type of cookware is not for everyone.  It is fundamentally different from the cooking we usually do.  However, if health foods are a necessity for you or a loved one, this option is a good solution.  The only real drawback is flavor.  In this process you are giving up flavors that derive from frying in oils, saute of vegetables, searing of meats, etc.  This is fundamentally a low heat cooking process.  Another drawback is cost, though there are some economical aspects to buying, those savings don't come at the time of purchase.

Cooking the Old Fashioned Way

     I am a traditional old school chef.  Growing up, our family used "Cast Iron Cookware".  I swore  by this cookware, and stand by it today.  The problem is breaking in the new pots and pans, which are unseasoned upon purchase from the
store.  There is a process you must use in seasoning this cookware properly.  It is also true that maintenance must be done properly to keep the cookware seasoned.  You must not clean them in soap and water.  Simply wash them under lukewarm water with a mild abrasive scrubber, just enough to get food off.  The wash should occur when the pans are hot off the stovetop.  You must then dry them on the stovetop flame or electric element.  Once dry, you oil them lightly to keep them from rusting.

     If economy is a consideration, this is the solution.  Once cured and seasoned, these pans will last hundreds of years.  When seasoned properly, they don't stick either.  I have cooked in these for many years, and have had no problems with eggs or meats sticking to them when properly seasoned and cured.


     Cookware offers a lot of options.  As for celebrity cookware, I recommend "Emerilware" made of enamel coated heavy gauge cast aluminum.  Second choice would be "Rocco Cookware", made again of heavy cast aluminum that is porcelain coated.  For economical choices in celebrity  cookware, I recommend Martha Stewards "Everyday" collection and Wolfgang Puck's "Bistro" collection.

     Because I came from Oklahoma, I'll also recommend at least buying a good selection of "Silicon Cast Iron" skillets.  Break them in proper and you will choose them more often than most pieces
you've got in the home.  They just do a great job when cooking, and foods brown well in them.

    Have fun cooking, I know I do!

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