Cookware Christmas gifts are well received when they are thoughtful and useful. As the founder of the Home Cooking Academy offering online cooking classes, I do a good job of stress testing cookware. I've discovered cookware that is durable and useful in the kitchen. I only recommend cookware as gifts that are functional or something I would use. The list below is cookware or related kitchen items I use or recommend giving as a gift and the reason why I recommend it. As a cook, I love to receive cookware and give it as gifts. With Christmas around the corner, this is my "12 Most Useful Cookware Christmas Gifts." The list is organized by price starting with the lowest. The price quoted is a November 11, 2012 price on Amazon.com.
We eat with our eyes first. Any dish can whet the appetite when served on a nice platter and arranged beautifully. Pfaltzgraff and Clay Art make beautiful serving platters that can make any dish look fantastic. I use them when taking pictures of my work for the Academy. For the best prices on Amazon, and to see the selection, please use these links: Pfaltzgraff Serving Platters AND Clay Art Serving Platters.
I use a pizza stone for a lot more foods than pizza. A good thick pizza stone is great for re-heating roasted or fried foods. With a convection oven the foods will crisp up nicely. Preheat the pizza stone and you can get nice browning and crisp bottoms. I use mine at least once a week. Kitchen Supply Round Pizza Stone 16"
This is a 3-item combo. Each are great, but when given as a gift together, the possibilities are endless. The Nordic Ware baking sheet is very durable. When friends see this they think it's commercial grade. It is. I love it. The CIA Masters Collection cooling rack is also commercial strength and very strong. The Silpat sheet is a nonstick layer that will keep the baking sheet clean and free of scrubbing. I use them inter-changeably. Here are the 3 items: Nordic Ware Bakers Half Sheet, 13 by 18 by 1 Inch, CIA Masters Collection 12 Inch x 17 Inch Wire Cooling Rack, Chrome Plate Steel, and Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat, 11 5/8 x 16 1/2-inches, Half Sheet Size.
Lodge makes terrific enameled cast iron cookware rivaling the French Le Creuset or Staub and at significantly less money. A 6qt Dutch Oven is a versatile piece of cookware that can be used on top of the stove or in the oven. They come in a variety of attractive colors and are a steal at these prices. The price varies depending on color. Check them out here: Lodge Color Dutch Oven, Island Spice Red, 6-Quart.
If you've been to this site before, you know I love Circulon Infinite products. It is durable hard anodized cookware coated with a tough nonstick surface that is dishwasher safe. The thick bottom is perfect for flat top stoves. I've used mine for 4 years already and the nonstick surface is still in pretty good shape. I like that this combo pack includes the larger 12" skillet: Circulon Infinite Hard Anodized Nonstick 10-Inch and 12-Inch Skillets Twin Pack.
Like the Dutch Oven previously, the 2qt serving dish is enameled cast iron. It will keep the food warm for a long time. Serve food sizzling and you'll get a great reaction from family and friends. Beautiful colors make a great presentation from oven to table. Lodge L Series Oval Casserole, Patriot Red, 2-Quart.
All-Clad is the absolute best American stainless steel cookware manufacturer. If you need to get a gift for someone you know who likes to cook and is adventurous, this is a fantastic gift! This is the new D5 brushed stainless steel outside. It has 5 layers to evenly distribute heat. You not only need but also can't beat stainless steel skillets for saute and degalzing sauces. I recommend folks who want a nonstick cookware set to also get a stainless steel skillet for sauteeing. With a domed lid, this skillet can be used for pan frying, pan roasting, and braising. Highly recommended: All-Clad Brushed Stainless D5 11-Inch French Skillet with Domed Lid.
When it comes to healthy or eco-friendly cookware, I like Scanpan. While the surface still uses PTFE in the manufacturing process it is PFOA free and uses an environmentally friendly cast aluminum core. It is a very good nonstick surface given it does not have the PFOA's. Best of all, it is also dishwasher safe. Scanpan CTX 12-3/4-Inch PFOA Free Fry Pan.
I love emile Henry Flame Top products. This is the only clay cookware that can be used on the stove top as well as in the stove since the old Cornflower Corningware cookware. It is pretty, useful, and the clay surrounds the food with a steady even heat that is great for braising or slow cooking. This braizier is very versatile and makes a great presentation from stove to table. Emile Henry Flame Top 12-Inch Brazier Red.
This is the full cookware set as the skillets in #5 above. It is very sturdy, dishwasher safe, and has an excellent nonstick surface. I've awarded the Circulon Infinite with 2 cookware set awards. I use mine almost daily. At this price it is an unbeatable by a far margin. Circulon Infinite Hard Anodized Nonstick 10-Piece Cookware Set.
I love stainless steel for cooking. It is healthy, durable, easy to clean, and dishwasher safe. As I've stated before the best brand is All-Clad. They are next on this list. As you see, All-Clad is premium quality and premium priced. For a near performance equivalent the Cuisinart MultiClad Pro is unbeatable for performance and price. I use Cuisinart MultiClad Pro and love it. To complete the set I recommend the Circulon nonstick skillets above to provide a very complete and dishwasher safe cookware set. Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set.
For the discerning cook who wants the best, this is it. At $900 it is not cheap, but the new D5 stainless steel from All-Clad is unbelievable. A brushed stainless steel outside, 5 layers to spread heat evenly, and new ergonomic features makes the D5 stainless steel line a coveted cookware line. Check it out here: All-Clad Brushed Stainless D5 10-Piece Cookware Set.
Last Updated on Sunday, 11 November 2012 19:29
Roasting pans and roasting racks are pulled out for the holidays. Unfortunately we often put them away after the holidays are gone. Roasting pans are great all year long for a variety of foods, whether it's lasagna, casseroles, or chicken. I looked at a lot of roasting pans and picked 2 I awarded as the best roasting pans. One is stainless steel and one is nonstick. Many magazines and other cooking authorities liked a particular model, but I found problems with it. I'll tell you my picks and what I didn't like with a popular model below.
Roasting pans have the ability to serve many functions. There are several things I look for in a quality roasting pan with rack:
My award for the best stainless steel roasting pan with rack goes to the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro with Stainless Steel Rack. (Amazon incorrectly advertises it as having a nonstick rack. It's stainless steel.) I have other Cuisinart Multiclad Pro cookware and absolutely love them. They clean up easily, they are dishwasher safe, and heat exceptionally evenly. The triple ply construction assures even heating and durability on top of the stove and in the oven. It is induction ready also. With a street price around $75.00, it's a real bragain. Get the best price at Amazon here.
I have a love hate relationship with nonstick roasting pans. While I like how they clean up, I hate having a traditional nonstick surface around my food. I'm not a health nut, but I take precautions every place I can. The emeril hard anodized nonstick roasting pan and rack, made by All-Clad, is the exception to the rule. It is a very sturdy pan, scratch resistant, and PFOA free. Nonstick surfaces are going to have the PTFE's, but at least this one doesn't have the PFOA's. I love how sturdy this pan is and the anodized aluminum heats very evenly. Get the Emeril by All-Clad Roasting Pan at Amazon.
There is a Calphalon stainless steel roasting pan many in the industry love and give it high marks. I have it and use it. I didn't award it because it has a raised bottom in the middle of the pan and it has handles that flare inwards. I've burned myself too many times to award it. I can see the advantage of it flaring inside as it allows better balance of heavy items, but I still prefer the handles flaring outward.
Finally, I urge you to use your roasting pan beyond the holidays. Use it for any large items and for casseroles.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 October 2012 22:42
Cookware makes excellent birthday gifts, especially for pots or pans we don't want to invest in ourselves. Birthdays happen all throughout the year, so the birthday gift does not have to be seasonal. The cookware does need to match the cook. The most important attributes I suggest to take into consideration is whether or not the cookware needs to be dishwasher safe or healthy. The last thing anyone wants to do is give a gift that will not be used or enjoyed. So, make the best selection from what you know about the birthday person. Here are my cookware recommendations that ALWAYS make excellent birthday gifts.
Beautiful and functional, enameled cast iron cookware is easy to clean. Usually not recommended for the dishwasher, these pieces make up for the hand washing with their colors and functionality. Braisers, roasting dishes, Dutch ovens, or frying skillets, these pieces are always handy. Able to take them from stove to tabletop is a great feature. Lodge, Staub, and Le Creuset make excellent selections. Get the best prices on enameled cast iron cookware at Amazon.com!
If the birthday person is into cooking, they will enjoy a stainless steel skillet for sauteing. Nothing beats a stainless steel fry pan for the fond that makes great sauces. Healthy and dishwasher safe (this does not include the nonstick inside versions), these pans make excellent birthday gifts. All-Clad, Calphalon, and Cuisinart are my personal favorites. See stainless steel skillets at Amazon.
Fragile foods like eggs and fish fillets on stainless steel skillets is an invitation to long clean-ups. So, a nonstick fry pan is needed. If the birthday person has worn out skillets where the nonstick surface is coming off, a new one will be a life saver. Today there are many choices for nonstick skillets that are also dishwasher safe. All-Clad, Anolon, Circulon, and Farberware all make excellent nonstick skillets. For the Dishwasher Safe variety, I think it's hard to beat the quality and value of Circulon Infinite cookware, winner of my nonstick cookware award. See Circulon Infinite Dishwasher Safe cookware at Amazon.
If the birthday person is into healthy living, Non-PFOA cookware is required. Today ceramic substances are getting more nonstick all the time, and manufacturers are offering chemical free additions to their product lines. While stainless steel is always a good choice here, some new additions also offer nonstick varieties. In my opinion, none are quite up to the old Teflon standards for non-stickyness, but come very close. The Cuisinart GreenGourmet and Scanpan product lines are my choice. I've been testing them and find them durable and pretty good on the nonstick surface. Get Scanpan eco-friendly cookware at Amazon!
Clay cookware offers excellent heating capabilities, nice colors, and a unique gift that can make memories for a lifetime. My choice here is Emile Henry French clay pottery. They offer the new Flame Top product line that can be used on top as well as in the stove. A fondue set, tagine, of Dutch oven make excellent choices. Or, a dazzling pie dish or seafood themed appetizer dishes make a great impression. Whatever the selection, Emile Henry clay cookware is always a welcomed birthday gift. Get Emile Henry French clay cookware at Amazon!
Last Updated on Sunday, 28 August 2011 14:32
When it comes to Father's Day Gift Ideas, guys love kitchen gadgets and cookware. If something can make him look good in front of the family or friends, he'll be for it. I know! If it's sharp, shiny, or slick, we get excited. Here are several great Father's Day gift ideas related to cookware that will make your guy happy!
1) As summer approaches, grilling is his territory. How about grilling inside all year long with a Cast Iron Grill Pan!
2) A great saute means perfectly done meats and vegetables, and the fond for the beginning of a great sauce. How about a large Stainless Steel Skillet that won't warp.
3) How about a Barbeque Tool Set with all the tools he'll need to flip, slice, and clean that grill?
4) If he's into cooking, perhaps he'll like a new cookware set? Whether premium quality or value oriented, there are some great deals out there on cookware sets that can take cooking to a new level!
5) And if none of these are suitable, how about a nice sharp kitchen knife or accessory?
These are just some ideas I know guys would love. You know your guy best. If you decide on something cookware or kitchen related, let me know what you decided on.
To all the Fathers out there - Happy Father's Day!
Last Updated on Sunday, 05 June 2011 11:33
Mother's Day is a great time to express your love and gratefulness to your Mom. Show her how much you care by selecting the right Mother's Day gift for her. When it comes to cookware, or kitchen gadgets, here are some ideas that may be right for your Mom. Finding the right kitchen or cookware gift doesn't have to be difficult. There are plenty of jokes about getting the wrong Mother's Day gifts. To avoid getting the wrong gift, here are some great Mother's Day Gift Ideas:
With those questions in mind, I propose some ideas.
1 - Healthy and Eco-Friendly Cookware. Popular items include ScanPan and Cuisinart GreenGourmet. Although needing to be washed by hand, they are easy to clean, and do not put off dangerous fumes.
2 - A great Saute pan - think 10-12" stainless steel from All-Clad or Cuisinart. Ideal for searing or doing a saute of chicken, scallops, or even steaks, a solid stainless steel saute pan like the Cuisinart Multi-Clad Pro, or All-Clad Stain less Steel or Copper Core. The stainless steel will help make the fond, great for sauces and gravies.
3 - Dishwasher Safe Nonstick cookware - Circulon Infinite is my recommendation. I have several pieces and they are wonderful. Easy to clean, heat evenly, and survive the dishwasher. They make a chef pan with 2 side handles that is great for all kinds of cooking.\
4 - An enamel cast iron dutch oven or casserole dish - Lodge makes beautiful pieces that are easy to clean, heat perfectly, and can be presented on the table for elegance. Similar performance to Le Creuset and Staub at a much better price.
5 - An Emile Henry Tagine - for the Mom that loves to cook and experiment with different cuisines! A Tagine is the tool to use for Moroccan, African, and Middle Eastern dishes, but can also be used for a variety of braises and dutch oven recipes. Attractive and useful, an Emile Henry Tagine is a wonderful piece of cookware to have.
These are 5 great Mother's Day Gift Ideas. Practical and useful, any of these would go over well as a Mother's Day present.
Happy cooking, and Happy Mother's Day!
Last Updated on Friday, 29 April 2011 12:18