Kitchen Gadgets – Part 4


Today’s post is the final one in the series on kitchen gadgets / equipment.  Over the last few weeks I’ve talked about my Essential Kitchen Gadgets, the Electrical Equipment I love, and what I use to bake-up a storm.  So, today, I’m opening up my cupboards on pots, pans, roasting tins and probably some of my favourite cookware: my Le Creuset dishes.  It’s only in the last year or so that we’ve invested in good quality pots and pans etc.  Before that we had a cheap set from Debenhams that we’d bought on first moving in together.  They lasted more than 10 years, but when we started having flakes of the black non-stick lining appearing in our meals, we decided it was time to  finally upgrade!

I’d always read that investing in good quality saucepans and the like is worth the extra money, as the quality of the pans produce better results, are less likely to get damaged and last much longer, and I can confirm I pretty much agree with this.  I can’t comment on the long-lasting element, as they’re only a year or so old – I’ll keep you posted!

As part of our wedding gift list, we took the opportunity to upgrade a lot of our kitchen equipment and to invest in some new pieces, specifically saucepans and some cast iron ware.  Here’s a little look into what we chose and a few words on why.

I think our biggest investment was in the iconic Le Creuset casserole dishes.  I’d shunned away from buying these for a good few years for a couple of reasons:

  • They’re quite pricey
  • Once you’ve got whatever you’re cooking in them, they are super heavy!
One day, my wonderful friend Debsie was over whilst I was making something (a posh chilli con carne I think!) and expressed her shock that I didn’t own a Le Creuset pot and proceeded to sing their praises!  I felt like I was missing out on something special!  It was perfect timing, as Le Creuset had just released a new colour:  midnight blue.  Anybody who knows me, will know my love of navy and this had a sparkle in it as well, AND it would help me turn out yummy dishes….what was not to love?! And the heavy problem?  Well, I’m now much stronger than I have been for many, many years thanks to different workouts that we’ve been doing over the last few years (more on this soon).  Le Creuset cast iron works on all heat sources and can be popped safely into the dishwasher.  We decided on four different types: (1) a 25cm oval casserole dish, (2 & 3) 28cm & 28cm round dishes and (4) a 30cm shallow dish.  Four Le Creuset casserole dishes might seem excessive to some, but I have already had plenty of use out of each one.  The 25cm oval dish is perfect when it is just the Domestic Prince and me.  The round dishes are great when I’m cooking for a larger number of people, or batch cooking something like my pumpkin soup and the shallow dish allows maximum contact between the food and the heat and is just right for the cous cous recipe.  And why is cast iron so good?  Well, it provides great heat conduction and retention properties, which means that  you can leave sauces, stews, soups, chilli (pretty much everything!) to cook slowly on the lowest heat setting.  Probably my favourite feature is they are great for one pot cooking – meaning less washing-up!

My favourite meal has to be a roastie.  Even during the searing weather in Bangalore, I pretty much make a roast lunch every Sunday – it’s a Domestic household tradition.  So having good roasting tins are essential for us!  I use the (5) All-Clad Stainless Steel Collection Roaster for my meat.  The reason I went for this one, is that I love the removable roasting rack. All the delicious juices from the meat drips down into the roaster and once the meat is done, you can easily remove the rack, keep the meat warm and put the roaster on the hob to make your gravy – easy peasy!  A roastie isn’t really a roastie without roast potatoes, which is why I have a few other roasting pans! I have (6) medium and large stainless steel roasting pans from Divertimenti, which have been in use for years!

I spent a long time researching the best saucepans for us before finally making a purchase.  I wanted something that was durable, not too heavy for day-to-day use, was dishwasher proof, had a glass lid and heatproof handles.  So, bearing all this in mind, I finally settled-upon the Raymond Blanc by Anolon range.  I opted for anodised pans as it is twice as strong as stainless steel, so is extremely hard wearing, yet still conducts heat efficiently and is light in weight!  Before purchasing this set, we only had three saucepans:  a small, medium and large one and when making an elaborate meal, it just wasn’t enough and we’d end up having to wash-up half-way through the preparation.  So, with this purchase, I wanted to have a wide selection of sizes, so opted for:
  1. Milkpan.  And whilst I do use this for warming milk for the odd hot chocolate, I typically use this for making sauces when it’s just the two of us.  It’s just the right size.
  2. Stockpot.  This has been a great addition to my kitchen.  It’s a 24cm stockpot, so wide and quite deep.  I use it for boiling a big batch of pasta, making mashed potatoes or as it says on the tin, making stock!
  3. A 20cm saucepan.  This is a nice large saucepan, which is great for boiling or steaming veg.
  4. Sauté pan.  As the name might suggest, I use this for sautéing!  It has large surface area with low sides that allows steam to escape and for me to be able to toss the food (albeit badly!).  Sauté pans typically have vertical sides.
  5. 16cm saucepan.  I usually use this for sauces, gravy or for melting chocolate in a bowl over simmering water.  I have a bowl that sits perfectly on top of this saucepan.
  6. Chef’s pan.  This is a fantastic versatile pan, which I use for stir-frying, browning meat and making lovely risottos.
  7. 18cm saucepan.  Just a great size saucepan – mainly used when we’ve got people over for supper.
  8. Omelette pan.  The Domestic Prince likes nothing better than an omelette in the mornings and this pan, which is 20cm wide, makes a perfect omelette every time.
  9. Skillet.  Skillet is just another name for a frying pan and is a term typically used in the southern states of the USA.  Ours is mainly used for softening onions and frying bacon, as whenever we seem to want to have bacon, there isn’t any power for the grill!
I’m not suggesting that everybody should rush out and buy all the above, this is just what works for me in the Domestic Kitchen.

Domestic Princess tips:

  1. Buy the best you can afford.  You won’t regret it.
  2. Make sure that what you are buying is suitable for the type of heat you use.
  3. Check to see if it’s dishwasher safe.
  4. When using a gas hob, be careful to ensure that the heat does not extend outside of the base, as it will damage the the handle.
  5. Don’t put an empty pan on the stove or in the oven.  This is especially true for cast iron.
  6. Don’t put a hot pan in cold water – this can cause the base of the pan to warp.  Let it cool down a little before immersing in cold water, or pouring cold water into it.
  7. Ensure pans are completely dry before putting them away.
  8. Try and buy during the sale periods, as you can pick-up some serious bargains!  Selfridges and Divertimenti started their sales today.
  9. There are cheaper Le Creuset options out there, but to be honest when I was reading reviews on the alternatives, nothing came close to Le Creuset.  And since they seem to last a lifetime, I think the investment can be justified!
  10. Here’s a helpful little guide on different size saucepans:

Size guide courtesy of John Lewis

Do you have a large collection of pots and pans?  Have you been tempted by the Le Creuset range?  And which pan could you not do without?

With much love

The Domestic Princess

xoxo

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Comments

  1. Hi DP. I have the same roasting tin and rack as you and I love it!! x

  2. The four posts provide a very useful reference for anyone – those new to cooking, as well as experienced cooks – who wish to build a well resourced kitchen, or review existing kitchenware. The descriptions and explanations are very informative – already used the info to add to my kitchen utensils. Thankyou.

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