Restocking newly remodeled kitchen

amnewbeJanuary 13, 2005

Hi. I am a mom/cook for a family of 4 planning to buy new pots, pans, cooking utensils etc. for use in our new kitchen. For all of you seasoned cooks out there - is there a size pan/pot you can't live without - what are your favorite/most used pieces - thank you.

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With that query, you will get a lot of opinions--ask ten cooks and you'll get 20 answers--and here's my opinions. This is what works for me.

First, a few questions ya gotta ask: do you wash pots by hand or throw them in the dishwasher? Stainless steel is okay for a dw, but calphalon or teflon is not.

Do you cook mostly on the top of the stove or bake/roast a lot?

If I had to restock my kitchen, here's what I'd do. First, go to Sam's... I recently bought 3 heavy aluminum nonstick skillets (I think they were by Tramontina) for a whopping $28. Fine for eggy or sticky stuff. Sam's also had a heavy stainless 3 piece set with a stockpot, a steamer insert and a pasta insert, also by Tramontina..They work fine. No sense in spending a lot of $$$ on something that you mainly use to boil water.

You mention you cook for 4. This next item is a big-ticket item--a Kuhn Rikon 8 qt pressure cooker stockpot. Get it and a Lorna Sass cookbook, and you'll feed those hungry mouths in no time flat. Seriously, I have a bunch of Cuisinart pots and Belgique pots--I'd give them all up before I gave up my pressure cooker.

If you cook a lot of meat, consider some cast iron items. Inexpensive and indestructible. I have a 60 year old chicken fryer, beautifully seasoned, and I don't have to worry about using metal utensils on it. If you want the heat transfer abilities of cast iron without having to fuss about its care, consider enameled cast iron like Le Creuset. Nice but $$$.

So getting back to your original thesis--what can't I live without? I'd have to say the critical items would be some big mass of cast iron (a big skillet or chicken fryer or dutch oven), a good pressure cooker, and then some decent stainless pots and pans. I find that most of the time saucepans aren't used for making sauces, but rather used for the far less critical task of just heating something up. If you frequently whip up hollandaise or bechamel or bearnaise, by all means sink big bucks into AllClad or other high end items. But if your applications aren't going to be that critical, save your bucks on that and spend them on a good pressure cooker.

That's my $.02. Bon appetit!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2005 at 12:33AM
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I assume that you have been cooking for several years and have kitchen items already.

I recently spent the past year or so gradually upgrading my cookware and tools.

You need to determine what your cooking style is, what you cook frequently, what kinds of stuff is lacking etc.

At that point, you can hone in what is lacking -- For me, my initial purchases were large saute pans and cookware for recipes that started on the stove and wound up in the oven.

I did a lot of reading and tested the feel of different pots and pans to see what I liked and didn't like.

Since you already have cookware (presumably) you are in a great position since you can slowly acqure and replace.

I do believe people can give you better advice when you present a more specific need -- i.e. what is the best Dutch oven - what is the best cookware at a certain price point -- what is the best type of pan to cook a particular item etc.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2005 at 9:30AM
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I'm only a mediocre cook, and am still using my wonderful wedding gift Farberware, but when my kitchen was finished I treated myself to two Farberware non-stick double burner griddles for my new glass cooktop. Great for big family breakfasts: one cooks sausages and the other eggs or pancakes. We tossed the electric griddle when we demo'd the kitchen. I am amazed with how well these pans work on my cooktop. The were $29.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond, but with a coupon they were $23.99.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2005 at 10:11AM
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As others have pointed out, it does depend on your cooking style. We make lots of big soups (5 lbs of potatoes, etc. ) and quick soups (start with 2 cans of condensed soup). And we now need lighter pots because of some long-term injuries - we won't be getting heavy gauge or disk-bottom cookware regardless of how good it is. So you can see that one size does not fit all.

I like our heavy SS 12 inch frypan. Other family members prefer the cheap small teflon frypans. We all like the 3 qt size sauce pan - just enough for big portions of whatever for 4 people. I think we will get two more of that size. The 1 qt pans are cute, but essentially useless for our crew. We have no need of a special omlet pan or many special pans. Add a coupla larger stock pots for week-long soups or pasta, and we're good. Tight-fitting lids for everything - some have opaque lids, I like a glass lid for at least one 3 qt soucepan.

CoK, we liked our big double griddle! Anymore it's just too heavy for some family members to manage. Nuts.

If you are teaching children how to cook, it might be a good idea to get some stuff that you don't have to worry about - like inexpensive teflon fry pans so you don't mind if they get scratched.

There is an interesting tread on high-end cookware, and how some of it is not dishwasher safe. It surprised me that it could not go into the dishwasher, and it might be a consideration for you, too. Thread below...

Here is a link that might be useful: Pots & Pans in DW. How come...

    Bookmark   January 16, 2005 at 1:39AM
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This is probable redundant of what has been said already, but here is my 2 cents worth, and some comments from my wife who is a professional chef.

1. At least one cast iron skillet should be in the inventory. The skillet is invaluable and the best choice for blackening, pan grilling, pan roasting, and shallow frying. Nothing works better for this job. The size depends on your cook top and family needs. Buy as large as one you cook top can handle. It will outlive you if properly maintained.

2. A cast iron dutch oven. Best choice for pot roast, soups, stews, and deep-frying. One improvement would be a enameled cast iron dutch oven for high acid content foods. Likewise if properly cared for it will outlast you.

3. An at least one non-stick skillet to cook eggs and fish. Do not bother buying a high end product for this, best approach is to go to a restaurant supply store to purchase. Find one made of heavy gauge aluminum with thick bottom disk. If properly cared for it should last 10-years just like the high end products.

4. Large stock pot. If you cook a lot of pasta buy you one large heavy gauge aluminum stockpot from a restaurant supply store. They are cheap. Again no need for a high end clad product for this. A heavy gauge aluminum pot will bring water to boil the fastest and come back to a boil the fastest after product is added.

5. Pots-N-Pans. In our household we have both heavy gauge aluminum from restaurant supply store for the low acid foods, and copper clad stuff under All Clad Emeril SS line for high acid foods. This is the area where you may want to go with the upper end clad stuff if storage space and budget is limited. We use the heavy gauge aluminum stuff most of the time b/c it heats up fast and even. However we do use the SS product when cooking things like tomato sauces, wine sauces, and other acidic foods.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2005 at 5:08PM
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I recently purchased a clearance Tefal set of pots for Jamie Oliver. They seemed like really good pots, they were heavy and induction capable. I am sorry to report that these pots because they don't have cladding up the sides are poor pots. Everything I cook gets burned at the bottom. I purchased a regular All Clad stainless steel pot yesterday and no sticking what so ever. I guess you get what you pay for. I have to return the Tefal this weekend.

What ever you do, get good pots. I realize now that this may be the reason my sister burns everything she cooks at the bottom.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2005 at 8:23PM
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Slightly off topic but my BEST restock was treating myself to a few Wusthoff classic knives. Without doubt the best thing in my kitchen.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2005 at 2:46PM
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I pretty much agree with arly....start with some medium good non stick skillets....and some stainless inexpensive stuff in stainless like the stock pot and insert....and I would add 2 and 4 quart sauce pan with a clad bottom and a good lid to the mix...but don't think I would buy a pressure cooker...I would spend my $$ on a couple of Le Cruset ( or other enamel coated cast iron) Dutch ovens....good for soups stews and slow cooking.
I would add a roasting pan to the mix...non "non stick" ( I hesitate to call it stick ware!) so you can use high heat...a very large fry pan for bunches of fried potatoes or bacon and a griddle or other flat cooker.
And silpat!...I would treat myself to some sil-pat sheets, a microplane grater and a brass Turkish coffee grinder to use as a pepper grinder.
And while you have the check book about a new set of dishes to go with your nice new kitchen?

Linda C

    Bookmark   January 19, 2005 at 7:41PM
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I have Cooks Essentials from
QVC & have been very happy w/them.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2005 at 6:27PM
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