Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Updating the Kitchen Essentials


Stone
 Share

Recommended Posts

What fun would cooking be without a glass of wine or bottle of beer?

Call me a barbarian (there would be some merit) but like many folks.... I don't drink alcohol. Beer generally has screw tops and I use 8 oz bottles of Merlot or Chardonnay for cooking - they also have a screw top.

That said.... I've always kept a bottle opener and corkscrew on hand, even back in the days before I really cooked.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love gadgets, but as for essentials-

Locking tongs

Calphalon pro cookware (including a flat bottom wok that I seem to use a ton)

75 year old 18" roasting pan with tight lid and removable rack in bottom

Reverware double boiler (it must be 30 years old)

Assortment of cast iron stuff, all old, all used often

Assorted wooden spoons (last round of them I bought in MX for cheap)

8" Sabatier Chef's knife

Serrated knife of unknown origin with offset handle

Heavy Chinese Cleaver for whacking the crap out of just about anything

12" Butchers Scimitar (scary and useful)

Japanese fish knife (brand unknown) that could easily be used for surgery

Lots of stainless and plastic bowls of various sizes

A couple of GIANT crockware bowls that are great for bread making operations

And, last but not least, a 1950's era O'Keefe and Merritt stove that has 4 large burners, a griddle and a double oven. It has been completely rebuilt, looks like new, and cooks like a champ. It looks great in my kitchen and while I could certainly replace it with some fancy European job, I can't ever make sense out of it. I love that stove.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of those zesters with the 4 little holes is pretty useful - you can get nice long fine strips of zest, and if you want it fine, you can simply chop it.

A microplane grater is great for grating ginger, garlic and nutmeg as well as parmesan.

A tiny little whisk is just the thing for knocking up small amounts of dressing.

And of course, everyone needs a masher. Even if you prefer to use a ricer or mouli-legumes for mash, it's always handy to have something to squidge stuff down with!

I love animals.

They are delicious.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9" Chef's knife

Fry Pan

Saute Pan

Cast Iron Skillet

Pasta Pot + Strainer Insert

Pepper Mill

Microplane Grater and Zester

Wok

I can make 90% of the meals I cook regularly with just those. I don't know if that speaks well or ill of my cooking prowess.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I notice a lot of folks have listed "wooden spoon".

Is it spoon shaped, or is it one of those narrow wooden spatula-type things? I prefer the latter-- just seems to have better feel, has more uses, and is great for scraping up all the little brown bits in a deglaze. It's probably the cooking utensil I use most.

Oh, and I have 2 words for you: BAMBOO SPATULA. The ones you get at the Asian market (Joyce Chen has similar ones that are burnished for a decent price too--E&F in this pic).

My narrow wooden spatula and regular wooden spoons only get used in an emergency, like when my bamboo ones are dirty, lost or broken. I've actually only had one split on me, and I immediately went and bought two more just to be safe.

Queen of Grilled Cheese

NJ, USA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

for mise en place, I use a set of lacquer miso bowls. These come with a lid that is like a smaller bowl as well. These are great for all sorts of chopped meal-precursor countertop storage. I use them every night, and they can go in the dishwasher too.

Can't cook without my Messermeister Elite chef's knife.

misosoupbowl1_lg.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My 8" chef knife and large maple cutting board. Paderno pans and pots. Wooden spoons, metal tongs and several whisks.

And one odd thing I am never without -- a small skewer (sold with a "Turkey Sewing" kit) that I use to judge the "doneness" of everthing from grilled meat to brocolli to cakes. A small prod or poke is all it takes -- an extension to your hand that is less likely to burn than your fingers.

And in grilling season, a digital timer. No, I'm not anal, but a timed reminder leaves me free to concentrate on another things.

Pere

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've managed to collect too much cookware. Out of my collection, I use these items at least once a week.

10-in wide chef's knife

4-in paring knife

9-in bread knife

vegetable peeler

large cutting board

several wood spatulas

small and medium whisks

rubber spatula

tongs

11-in (4.6-quart) copper curved sauteuse evasée

10.25-in cast-iron skillet

10-in French steel omelette pan (eggs only)

1.4-quart copper curved sauteuse evasée

2.6-quart stainless-steel/aluminum clad curved sauteuse evasée

2.5-quart copper straight-sided sauce pan

3.5-quart oval enameled cast-iron dutch oven

8-quart stainless-steel/aluminum clad casserole pot

fine-mesh chinois

mixing bowl

8-inX12-in? hotel pans

half sheet cookie sheets with Exopats (Silpats)

Edited by esvoboda (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

a floor?

:laugh:

But seriously, folks . . .

has no one yet said: WOK????? or, if we prefer western versions, an All-Clad Chef's Pan. If I had just that, a stockpot, and a small-to-medium saucepan, I'd probably do just fine on pots. Everything else is commentary.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my opinion/experience, most residential stoves comply cannot put out enough heat to make a wok useful as a cooking vessel. This is especially true of "authentic" carbon steel woks -- even those with flat bottoms designed for stovetop use. If you throw in any more than a tiny amount of food, the pan loses all of its heat and you are suddenly steaming your food in its own juices rather than stir-frying. The only wok designs I've seen that sort-of work on the average residential stove are the heavy cast iron woks by Le Creuset. For my own use, I've found a large stainless lined heavy copper curved sauteuse evasée, preheated for several minutes on high heat, works better than any of the many woks I've tried.

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for your opinion, Sam. I do quite nicely with my chef pan, actually. Even you might be able to. Sorry to shock you with the thought of "all-purpose," but it also works well as a saute pan or saucepan, if need be. I daresay "a large stainless lined heavy copper curved sauteuse evasée" is not necessarily all that essential -- or affordable -- for someone starting out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Eh... Suzanne, I wasn't suggesting that everyone buy a piece of heavy copper.

But, if I may correct a misconception, what All-Clad calls a "Chef's Pan" is classically (and, I would suggest, more accurately) called a "curved sauteuse evasée."

As explained in my cookware class:

Sauteuse Evasée (Slant-Sided Saucepan, Windsor Saucepan, Sauteuse Conique, Conical Sauteuse, Fait Tout, Chef’s Pan, Reduction Pan): This is a saucepan that has been optimized for reductions. The sides are angled out from the base to provide 25% more surface area for evaporation. In addition, the sides are even lower than those on a Low Saucepan -- usually one-third as tall as the diameter of the pan. Due to its geometry, which is neither particularly high nor particularly low, the Sauteuse Evasée may be used for sautéing in the larger sizes, and the smaller sizes can be very useful in place of a Low Saucepan. Such versatility has conferred upon this pan the name “Fait Tout,” which means “does everything.” (Note: Le Creuset makes a non-traditional “Windsor” that has slanted sides, but is relatively tall and narrow. This pan does not have the same performance characteristics as the traditional designs.)

Curved Sauteuse Evasée (Curved Sauteuse, Saucière, Sauteuse Bombée, Saucier, Chef’s Pan): As the name suggests, this pan is otherwise similar to the Sauteuse Evasée, only with curved rather than straight sides. In smaller sizes, the curved sides provide easy access to every corner of the pan with a whisk or spoon for sauce making. In larger sizes, the curved sides facilitate one-handed tossing of the food when sautéing.

These graphics may also be relevant in understanding this:

cookware1.jpg

cookware3.jpg

This design is one that depends on having a straight gauge design, and as such it will never be a particularly inexpensive one. All-Clad, in my experience, is the worst offender in the business when it comes to overpriced cookware -- even at fairly steep discounts.

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sam: it is you who are operating under a misconception: the All-Clad chef pan is not what you picture as Curved Sauteuse Evasée. While I might agree that their naming conventions are bizarre, to say the least, I don't think that relying on the "classic" terminology does very much good in the world outside the classical French kitchen. Particularly when it is applied where it doesn't belong.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sam: it is you who are operating under a misconception: the All-Clad chef pan is not what you picture as Curved Sauteuse Evasée.

Ah... you mean this thing. :shock: I used to have that pan, but somehow I thought they called it a wok. I stand corrected. It must be someone else who calls their curved sauteuse evasée a "chef's pan."

Anyway, All-Clad's chef's pan is basically a flat-bottomed wok in clad aluminum with a handle. Fundamentally, it differs from a curved sauteuse evasée mainly by having a smaller flat cooking surface and more gradually curved sides. I am not sure this represents an improvement in either functionality or versatility. In terms of absorbing heat and conducting it to the food in a stir-frying situation, it has all the problems of the standard wok I described above when used over a normal heat source -- albeit somewhat better due to having an aluminum layer. It still proved, in my experience, to be less than satisfactory for stir frying on a residential stove. I found the larger flat cooking surface on my curved sauteuse evasée conferred significantly more versatility (indeed, I believe this is the most versatile pan in any kitchen) and eventually got rid of the All-Clad wok-ish Chef's Pan.

This is not to say, of course, that some people wouldn't find it useful depending on their cooking style and practices. What do you use this pan for, other than stir-frying (or even incuding stir-frying), that you think it does better than you might be able to do using a large sauté pan with a triple-thick alumimum base? And, if one is considering budget, how do you think this functionality makes it worth an additional 75% to 150% compared to the sauté pan?

While I might agree that their naming conventions are bizarre, to say the least, I don't think that relying on the "classic" terminology does very much good in the world outside the classical French kitchen. Particularly when it is applied where it doesn't belong.

I think it makes sense to call a pan by whatever happens to be its proper and most generally accepted name. That's why I say "chinois" and not "fine mesh conical strainer." The practice by which all the different manufacturers call their pans by different, and often contradictory names leads to too much confusion in my opinion (e.g., Calphalon's "omelette pan," which is really a fry pan and not an omelette pan at all). But, as they say: de gustibus non disputandum est. :cool:

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

fresco: The one Chinese wok I have is some sort of steel -- not stainless, but not black steel. I've had it for maybe 25 to 30 years, so it's pretty well seasoned. It is actually more like an Indian karhi (sp?) in that it has a flat bottom. This I use only for stir-fries, on a gas burner with higher-than-normal BTUs (don't know the exact #, sorry). Before I got this stove, the normal heat output was not enough, even though I only cook for two (Sam is right about the need for very high heat to stir-fry properly).

I also have the aforementioned All-Clad chef's pan. This I also use for stir-fries, on the same high burner. But because it has the stainless steel interior, I do other cooking in it as well. I will make or heat tomato or other sauces in it, to which I can then add pasta and mix it easily. I deep-fry in it; I saute in it; I steam vegetables in it; I have even used it to cook pasta, although the wide open top kind of defeats the purpose of boiling. For me, it is a very handy, multipurpose pan.

The cookware with which I have home experience are: nameless aluminum crap; nameless enameled flimsy steel crap; Leyse aluminum; Magnalite aluminum (a 35-year-old formerly nonstick covered 10-inch straight-sided frying pan that will not die); 33-year-old Le Creuset; Lodge cast iron; and All Clad. Since I have not used other brands, I cannot say how they compare, or whether any of them is a "worst offender" (against what?). After all, I am also working with an N of 1, as Sam is, and I do not presume that "my experience" is definitive. I do feel it is somewhat disingenuous to make the kind of statement Sam does.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah... you mean this thing. :shock:  I used to have that pan, but somehow I thought they called it a wok.  I stand corrected. It must be someone else who calls their curved sauteuse evasée a "chef's pan." 

Anyway, All-Clad's chef's pan is basically a flat-bottomed wok in clad aluminum with a handle.  Fundamentally, it differs from a curved sauteuse evasée mainly by having a smaller flat cooking surface and more gradually curved sides.  I am not sure this represents an improvement in either functionality or versatility.  In terms of absorbing heat and conducting it to the food in a stir-frying situation, it has all the problems of the standard wok I described above when used over a normal heat source -- albeit somewhat better due to having an aluminum layer.  It still proved, in my experience, to be less than satisfactory for stir frying on a residential stove.  I found the larger flat cooking surface on my curved sauteuse evasée conferred significantly more versatility (indeed, I believe this is the most versatile pan in any kitchen) and eventually got rid of the All-Clad wok-ish Chef's Pan.

This is not to say, of course, that some people wouldn't find it useful depending on their cooking style and practices.  What do you use this pan for, other than stir-frying (or even incuding stir-frying), that you think it does better than you might be able to do using a large sauté pan with a triple-thick alumimum base?  And, if one is considering budget, how do you think this functionality makes it worth an additional 75% to 150% compared to the sauté pan?

While I might agree that their naming conventions are bizarre, to say the least, I don't think that relying on the "classic" terminology does very much good in the world outside the classical French kitchen. Particularly when it is applied where it doesn't belong.

I think it makes sense to call a pan by whatever happens to be its proper and most generally accepted name. That's why I say "chinois" and not "fine mesh conical strainer." The practice by which all the different manufacturers call their pans by different, and often contradictory names leads to too much confusion in my opinion (e.g., Calphalon's "omelette pan," which is really a fry pan and not an omelette pan at all). But, as they say: de gustibus non disputandum est. :cool:

Yes, that "thing."

I do have several of what you continue to refer to so pretentiously; I believe AC calls them -- well, no matter what they call them; when I need to cook, I reach for whatever piece of cookware in my batterie seems the most likely to serve me and my food well, whatever I or its manufacturer call it ("Come here, come here, little Evasée. That's a good pan.")

And just as I believe there is no one right way to cook anything :shock: there is no one right name for anything, either.* What was a rondeau in the kitchen at Le Bernardin was a rondel in another professional kitchen, and a casserole elsewhere. "That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet." (Unless, of course, we burn it in the cooking. :rolleyes: ) Not everyone knows there is a difference between a china cap and a chinois (which, by the way, is actually a sieve, not a strainer), or which is which (and, in fact, I have seen manufacturers -- French, at that -- using the names "wrong.") And, if standing at the sink with a stockpot/pasta pot/"casserole" filled with several gallons of food and boiling water, I would have no compunction asking someone to hand me "that thing with the holes" before the food overcooked in the pan, if that person did not know any of the possible correct names for it.

* I will grant you some exceptions: a tajine/tagine or a cataplana really should not be called anything else. But that is not to say that the cooking purposes for which they exist cannot be accomplished in other vessels. And really, what is a couscoussière but a big steamer?

I do not own, and therefore have not used, a saute pan with a triple-thick aluminum base for home cooking. Thus I cannot say that the All-Clad chef pan is better than a saute pan with a triple-thick aluminum base for any of the uses I already enumerated. Although it does have the advantage of a domed top, which a saute pan does not. (BTW: I use "saute" rather than the proper "sauté" as per instructions from FG before you came on board; for the ease of the search function, he said, although it breaks my 10-years-studying-French heart to do so.)

Finally: Are my ACs worth the extra cost? I don't know. Since I have only had my ACs for at most 7 years, I cannot yet do the cost/benefit analysis for their useful life. All I know is that they continue to serve me -- and my styles of cooking -- well in spite of the abuse I heap on them (such as heating them empty, and putting them in the dishwasher).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also have the aforementioned All-Clad chef's pan. ... I will make or heat tomato or other sauces in it, to which I can then add pasta and mix it easily.

Cool. I bet it works really well for this. Esp for one-hand tossing.

Since I have not used other brands, I cannot say how they compare, or whether any of them is a "worst offender" (against what?)  After all, I am also working with an N of 1, as Sam is, and I do not presume that "my experience" is definitive. I do feel it is somewhat disingenuous to make the kind of statement Sam does.

As cookware is a major interest of mine, I have made a habit of acquiring, testing and comparing most of the interesting brands of cookware available. I've also, as I think my eGCI class shows, gone to some lengths to understand the materials science behind why different cookware performs in different ways. I wouldn't say that my experience is absolutely definitive -- because not everyone may have the same preferences and criteria for performance that I have, which is a point I believe I made in my previous post -- but I will suggest that I know what I am talking about and have taken some trouble to make myself informed on this subject.

As for the "worst offender," I thought I was fairly clear when I said "All-Clad, in my experience, is the worst offender in the business when it comes to overpriced cookware." That evaluation is based on an understanding of the materials used by All-Clad (i.e., how much of which thermal material you get) and comparing their prices to those of other manufacturers offering similar or better materials specifications. It's as simple as that. For example, I can compare a $190 ($127 for a factory second) 10.5 inch All-Clad sauté pan with 253.8 cm^3 of aluminum (113.4 in the base and 140.4 in the sides) to a $68 11 inch Sitram Profiserie sauté pan with 253.8 cm^3 of aluminum (all in the base). Understanding materials science and the sautéing process, there is no argument that may be made whereby the more expensive All-Clad pan is worth an additional 88% to 175% more on a "performance at a price" basis. My own experience -- albeit not definitive -- with both of these items confirms that prediction. Similar price disparities may be found across the board with respect to All-Clad's prices. To my mind, that constitutes egregious overpricing and makes All-Clad the worst offender when it comes to overpriced cookware. Others may feel differently. I have had conversations with people who have told me it was worth double the price to be able to throw All-Clad stainless pans in the dishwasher. That's cool. But it still won't change my opinion about their prices when it comes to performance. We can disagree on the naming thing too... that's fine with me and off topic for this thread anyway.

Now, if I may put on my moderation hat for a brief moment... I don't think I have made any personal remarks about you -- whether you are being "disingenuous," "pretentious" or otherwise -- and would suggest that such characterizations don't have a place in discussion here.

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...