Maintaining Pots and Pans – NYTimes.com

Maintaining Pots and Pans - NYTimes.com

By BOB TEDESCHI

Published: May 29, 2013

As the family’s Sunday morning pancake and bacon chef, I have long scorned my stove’s front-left burner for its inability to distribute heat evenly. My quest for uncharred bacon, I knew in my bones, would fail unless the gods dropped a Viking range in my lap.

Deep breath. Yes, I’m that ignorant.

And it’s not like I have an excuse. For years my wife has been telling me to treat our cookware with a little more respect, since a ruined pan can destroy food as readily as a bad stove. Not buying that logic, I asked three culinary specialists for advice on how to maintain and store pots and pans.

My panelists included Jacques Pépin, the renowned chef and author; Michelle Foss, Williams-Sonoma’s vice president for cookware; and Bruce Mattel, the Culinary Institute of America’s associate dean for food production.

Their counsel helped me save more than a few of the family’s cookware items from premature death, and it may have moved me one step closer to the bacon preparation Hall of Fame. Their advice also prompted me to spend a couple of days revamping a junky kitchen wall to match Mr. Pépin’s. But more on that later.

The most important advice they offered was to pay close attention to the nuances of different cooking materials, whether it’s stainless steel, nonstick, cast iron or something less conventional. For novices like me, a pan is a pan. It gets hot, it burns things, it occasionally cooks food correctly and then it stares at me and demands pampering until I give it a cold bath and a cursory scrub with whatever hits my hand.

That backwoods, get-it-over-with-quick approach, Ms. Foss said, is one likely cause of my burned bacon. Quenching a hot pan, as is my habit, can cause a pan to warp, which can lead to hot spots. An abrasive sponge, meanwhile, can quickly strip the nonstick coating.

My panelists agreed that nonstick pans must be treated with kindness. Avoid metal utensils or anything else that might scrape the surface, Mr. Mattel said, and cook with only medium or low heat. “You want to avoid using it for pan roasting or high heat sautéing or deep frying,” he said. “Excessive heat will cause it to wear and discolor.”

Mr. Mattel said propellants used in aerosol cooking sprays can leave a residue on nonstick pans in particular. If that is a concern, he said, an oil mister is a good alternative.

When it comes to cleaning these pans, Ms. Foss said that certain lines of nonstick cookware made by Calphalon are dishwasher safe, but most nonstick coatings are not. Ms. Foss and Mr. Mattel both suggested handwashing nonstick pans with a nonabrasive cleaner and a sponge, to preserve the nonstick coating.

At my wife’s urging, I had been keeping a new nonstick pan clear of our dishwasher for the last few months, but when scrapes started appearing soon after we bought it, she suspected me.

Mr. Mattel understood the real culprit. He said many people (ahem) stack their pans after cleaning them, without accounting for the scrapes that can result from the metal-on-metal contact. “It’s best if you don’t stack them, but if you do, just put a cloth between them,” he said.

Stainless steel pans are much more forgiving because they withstand high heat, resist scratching and can be tossed into the dishwasher and then stacked for storage. “But with a pure stainless steel pot, you want to avoid stacking, because the more the handles slam around, the more they can loosen, so you could have leakage,” Mr. Mattel said.

Meanwhile, given the strength and durability of cast iron, I was surprised to learn that it requires more finesse than stainless steel. I would think nothing of tossing any food item in my house into our cast-iron skillet, which looks to be from the Civil War era. Mr. Mattel said it would be unwise to use such cookware for dishes like steamed vegetables, though, since water can lead to rust.

How, then, does one avoid water when washing a cast-iron pan?

By cleaning the surface like you would a grill.

via Maintaining Pots and Pans – NYTimes.com.

The Top 10 Best Cooking Oils …

We were talking about cooking oils and which ones are best before. I was just eyeing up some almond oil I bought and thought – hey … Can I cook with this? Some googling later and I found this. I think it’s a great list because instead of just saying “____ has a low smoking point”, it actually tells you the temperature that happens so you can work with it.

If you like to be a chef every once and a while, you may be confused about what cooking oils to use. (Especially, if you are on a diet). With so many skeptics and critics analyzing this oil and that, one of our leading dietitians, Christy, and one of our chefs, Chef Krishna, are telling you which oils to use while you cook and which ones to avoid completely.

10. Grapeseed Oil

Christy: “This oil contains polyunsaturated fats, and is low in saturated fat, making it very heart healthy.”

Chef K: “Grapeseed oil is very versatile, and can be used to add a very mild, nutty flavor to almost any dish. It’s great for salads, and can make for a nice drizzle over toasted bread.”

9. Sunflower Oil

Christy: “Sunflower oil is also heart healthy, and contains polyunsaturated fats and is low in saturated fats. It’s definitely a good ‘all purpose’ oil.”

Chef K: “Sunflower oil has a high smoke point of about 460 degrees F. This oil is great for high-heat cooking like sautéing. It’s actually great for sautéing vegetables.”

8. Safflower Oil

Christy: “Also low in saturated fat, using safflower oil to cook with can help lower your cholesterol. A lower cholesterol also means a reduced risk of cardiovascular and heart diseases.”

Chef K: “Safflower oil also has a high smoke point of about 450 degrees F. This makes it good for high-heat cooking, like sautéing or frying. It has such a distinct flavor and it’s great for cooking foods like chicken and pasta.”

7. Avocado Oil

Christy: “Avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fats, and vitamin E. It’s a great oil to use if you are on a diet, or if you are diabetic. In certain studies, monounsaturated fats have been shown to help control insulin levels and blood sugar.”

Chef K: “Avocado oil also has a high smoke point of about 510 degrees F. This makes it a good oil for high heat cooking, like sautéing and frying. It’s great in salads, and can be used to add a little extra flavor to chicken, beef, pork or fish.”

6. Peanut Oil

Christy: “Peanut oil also contains monounsaturated fats, and is low in saturated fat, making it a heart healthy option.”

Chef K: “Peanut oil has a medium smoke point of about 350 degrees F. This is a good oil for light sautéing and frying. It’s great to use in Thai and Asian recipes, and is a great addition to sauces and salad dressings.”

5. Almond Oil

Christy: “Almond oil also contains monounsaturated fats, which makes it good for your cholesterol. It’s also an ideal cooking choice if you are diabetic.”

Chef K: “Almond oil has a high smoke point of about 495 degrees F, and is good for high heat cooking, like sautéing. It’s great flavor also works well as a healthier substitute in dessert recipes, like whipped cream.”

4. Olive Oil

Christy: “Olive oil is healthy because it contains monounsaturated fats, which makes it very heart healthy—it’s a great oil to use if you are diabetic, or if you have high cholesterol.”

Chef K: “Olive oil has a medium smoke point of about 350 degrees F. It’s a great, flavorful oil for foods like pesto sauce and salad dressings. It’s also great for sautéing vegetables, and is a great choice for cooking chicken.”

3. Flaxseed Oil

Christy: “Flaxseed oil contains polyunsaturated fats, and has a good source of omega-3’s. Omega 3 fatty acids help improve brain function and promote heart health.”

Chef K: “Flaxseed oil has a low smoke point of about 225 degrees F, so it should not be used for cooking over heat. Instead, it’s great for mixing into meals after heating, or it can be added to salad dressings or used in certain smoothies.”

2. Walnut Oil

Christy: “Walnut oil contains polyunsaturated fats, and is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. This is a very heart-healthy oil, and is a great cooking oil to use if you are diabetic.”

Chef K: “Walnut oil has a very high smoke point of about 400 degrees F, which makes it a great oil to use for baking. It’s also great for sautéing at low-medium heat. It can also make your salad pop, simply by drizzling it over the top.”

1. Canola Oil

Christy: “As far as healthy nutrition goes, canola oil is probably the best. It has monounsaturated fats, which makes it heart healthy, and is appropriate for someone with diabetes,or who is on a diet.”

Chef K: “Canola oil has a medium-high smoke point of about 425 degrees F. It is great for sautéing, baking, and stir-fry. Of all the oils, it can be used to create the most variety of recipes.”

via The Top 10 Best Cooking Oils | BistroMD.

Simple tips: move that olive oil away from the stove!

We went over saturated versus unsaturated fats.

Today let’s look at their stability.

Fats spoil when exposed to oxygen. Saturated fats are more resistant to this, but the polyunsaturated fats you store next to your stove to cook with are very receptacle to spoilage due to all of their less stable double bonds.

Here are some tips to keep your oil from spoiling and to keep it as healthy for you as possible:

  • Store it somewhere cool dark place away from light and heat – like a cabinet away from your oven
  • Do not keep it stored in plastic bottles. Chemicals from the bottle my leach into it.
  • Keep it sealed tightly
  • If your oil is being used to cook and you don’t care about the taste as much you can refrigerate it. It may turn cloudy and be harder to pour but it’s fine to use.
  • If you are using the oil for dipping, salad dressings, etc – things you really want to taste the oil in, you should buy in smaller amounts, store in a cool place, and use relatively quickly- about three months.

This applies to other great oils, like flax and grapeseed oil. You’ll notice flaxseed oil is sold at stores in the refridgerated section in dark, UV proof bottles.

Hope this tip helps a bit! I always kept a glass bottle with a spout of oil next to the stove till I learned it defeated the purpose.

Mmm … Pesto!

My awesome friend just shared with me how to make pesto! We’re about to chow down on some baked pesto crusted chicken in a few.

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The very loose recipe was a large bowl full of basil – stems and all, olive oil, garlic cloves, parm cheese and pine nuts. Put into a food processor and add oil and pine nuts till its the right color and consistency. It’s delicious! And a surprisingly easy way to eat a lot of good for for you olive oil, herbs and nuts. Yeah all that cheese and oil isn’t the lowest fat option out there but gotta live a little 😉

Off to enjoy!

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How To Store Fruits and Vegetables to Keep them From Rotting | by My Thirty Spot

Here’s a great list on How To Store Fruits and Vegetables to Keep them From Rotting | My Thirty Spot.

a sampling:

Asparagus  place them loosely in a glass or bowl upright with water at room temperature. (Will keep for a week outside the fridge)

Avocados  place in a paper bag at room temp. To speed up their ripening place an apple in the bag with them.

Broccoli  place in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp towel before placing in the fridge.

Carrots  cut the tops off to keep them fresh longer. Place them in closed container with plenty of moisture, either wrapped in a damp towel or dunk them in cold water every couple of days if they’re stored that long.

Celery  does best when simply places in a cup or bowl of shallow water on the counter. If you want to keep it in the refrigerator, like I do, wrap it in tin foil. It will stay crisp for weeks.

Eggplant  does fine left out in a cool room. Don’t wash it; eggplant doesn’t like any extra moisture around its leaves. For longer storage place loose, in the crisper.

Onion  store in a cool, dark and dry, place good air circulation is best, so don’t stack them.

Mushrooms – Keep mushrooms in the refrigerator in its original wrapping. If you are using some of the mushrooms, try to open a corner of the plastic wrap and just take what you need. Then, cover with a paper towel and cover with more plastic wrap and place back into the refrigerator. 

Peppers: Sweet/ Hot/ Bell – Store in a plastic bag before placing in crisper or refrigerator. Green peppers stay fresh longer than orange or red peppers. Will last 1 – 2 weeks in refrigerator or up to 10 months in the freezer. To freeze cut into slices and place on cookie sheet in the freezer until frozen, then place in air-tight container or freezer bag and return to freezer.

Potatoes  (like garlic and onions) store in cool, dark and dry place, such as, a box in a dark corner of the pantry; a paper bag also works well.

Tomatoes  Never refrigerate. Depending on ripeness, tomatoes can stay for up to two weeks on the counter. To hasten ripeness place in a paper bag with an apple.

A little pop of color…

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20120703-220039.jpg Tonight’s dinner ….A quick breakdown as I’m (not very efficiently) watching a movie..

Sweet potato – high amounts of beta carotene (antioxidants, good for your eyes), vitamin C, fiber

Salmon (grilled) with peach and mango salsa- lots of omega 3s!

Quinoa – contains all amino acids, fiber – I make a big batch at the beginning of the week with a little olive oil, beans and veggies and spice it up different ways.

Lime – little nuggets of vitamin C and some zest!