Lately, I've been thinking about my set of basic teflon pots and pans.
My set - which is red - was a gift from my sister my first Christmas out of college and has gotten me through a lot of cooking. I love it.
But after a discussion with Rob about why he always leaves dirty pots and pans on the stove instead of putting them in the sink and rinsing them, I realized that most of the pots in my set were warped. He - rightfully - learned from his mom that hot pans should stay on the stove until they cool enough not to warp. I hadn't even thought of that.
I've also noticed that my large skillet's teflon no longer seems to have nonstick properties. Plus, I'm more interested these days in cooking at high heat, and nonstick pans just aren't good for that.
So I asked one of my favorite cooks, guest blogger Anita Dukeman, about how I should go about setting myself up with sturdier set of pots and pans. The below guest post is her wisdom on the topic. She has a lot of advice to share.
(And also - I'll post her other stir-fry recipe soon. I rearranged the schedule to post this information for a friend interested in pot and pan information.)
Regarding pots and pans, here is my advice: don't buy a set. Get a few important pieces. I love my all-purpose pan (or paella pan) by Fissler, a German company, but those are hard to find. I only have them as gifts from my sister who sold their line for a while. I think the All-Clad brand is just as good and made in the U.S.
Try to stay away from anything made in China (inferior materials used to make products) as you get what you pay for. Chef Bob Rowe from Classic Events catering told me he buys his cookware from TJ Maxx. They just have to be heavy-gauge stainless.
Here's what I tell my students (Anita is a volunteer teacher at a culinary arts class at Arthur High School):
So I only use about five pots and pans and of course my Fissler wok (nice that the lid from the paella pan fits the wok). That was a generous gift from my sis, as well. (She used to own a high-end kitchen store.) Anyway, that's pretty much all I need and use.
Here is a link to a very high-end WMF pan. It's beautiful and too pricey for me, but look at the bottom of the pan. See how it has that ridge between the base and the rest of the pan? That's what you need to look in a good quality stainless pan - that heavy-gauged bottom is what distributes heat evenly.
What's important is that it not be made in China. I notice now online for some of the previously German-manufactured brand it says "manufactured in China to German standards." I don't believe it. I don't want lead or something leaching into my food.
Check at TJ Maxx and Tuesday Morning, as they often have nice pieces at reasonable prices. I never look at the brand - just make sure it's heavy gauge stainless and made in the U.S. or some European country.
Photo from this Flickr page.