Home' Nova National : March 2010 Contents OF ALL THE articles I've written -- and
let's face it, some way more contentious
than others -- the one I've received most
response from was about cookware. It's
also one of the issues people most want to
discuss at a class. It's been some time, and
there seems to still be so much confusion
that I thought it was time to revisit this
SAUCEPANS, POTS AND PANS
Literally, these are the nuts and bolts of
a kitchen. Sizes range from 14cm (and
even less in some cases) to 20cm for
saucepans, and above this (22, 26 etc) they
change in name to stewpan, dutch oven,
or similar. I prefer stainless steel for pots
up to 20cm, and beyond that, I am a cast
iron girl. Pots are generally protected from
heat transferring too quickly with an extra
layer of some sort on the outside base. In
many cases, this is aluminium and this is
referred to as an induction base. In many
of the newer pots, though, technology has
replaced the induction base with many
layers of different metals bonded together.
Materials used are generally a combination,
which offers a superior ability to diffuse
and disperse heat. The materials used are
stainless steel, copper and aluminium -- the
stainless steel on the inside (and sometimes
outside), copper and aluminium on the
Before we go any further, I would say
that with pots and pans, you do get what
you pay for. With the advent of the global
giant manufacturer China, there are
hundreds of stainless steel pots and pans
on the market. It's a very easy thing for a
designer or celebrity chef to knock out a
range -- they are generally, but not always,
made in China. You should always look
for heavy gauge or surgical grade stainless
steel. I am a fan of high quality stainless
steel, and have two ranges I really like.
Neither company fosters or sponsors
me in way, so I am being straight up: the
American All Clad (still made in America),
and the German WMF. They are both
beautifully designed, transfer heat in a
diffused manner, and are a joy to use.
In summary, good things to have in
stainless steel are: 14 - 20cm pots (I like
glass lids), a steamer insert, a frypan or
skillet (but cast iron, enamel coated or not
is brilliant also) and, finally, the stockpots.
Please, never scrub your good stainless
steel with a scourer -- be gentle. If it's really
burnt, sprinkle it with baking soda and let
it sit. Then soak it and let it sit. Neither am
I a fan of putting good pots and pans in the
I love beautiful things, and I do love
cooking with the Reiss enamelware. Still
made in Austria, every pot is shaped from
a single piece of steel, sprayed in four
layers of enamel and baked between coats.
The enamelware is non-porous and is a
great surface to cook on, as it is inert and
non-reactive. I've found it to diffuse heat
beautifully (not at all like the enamel coated
tin you might find in camping stores).
Again, go gently, don't scrub, please
don't put it in the dishwasher.
STEWPANS, DUTCH OVENS - NO
MATTER WHAT SHAPE, OVAL OR
ROUND - 22CM UPWARDS
The clear winner here is cast iron. Plain
Jane camping ovens are perfectly good
(but please, no acid) and if you want to
go a step further, buy the enamel coated.
Here again, you do get what you pay for.
Everyone and their dog seems to be
bringing out enamel coated cast iron
-- Le Creuset is still the leader. Cheaper
enamel coating is not as thick and chips
easily. This is a product designed to last
for your lifetime, and go on into the next
generation. Again, no harsh scrubbing, no
putting in the dishwasher, just let it soak.
Nothing can compare to cast iron for
retaining, diffusing, holding and reflecting
heat. Meals cooked in them will taste
more delicious and intense. Again, high
quality enamel is an inert surface and non-
Pots and Pans
ROASTING DISHES, GRILL PLATES
For superior roasting, look to enamel
coated cast iron (this will provide you
with the best roast ever, and the crispiest
vegetables), or the old enamel coated tin.
Grill plates should be cast iron, and a wok
the good old carbon steel from the Asian
I never, ever use non-stick and cannot
recommend anything made with them.
Newer non-stick cookware is being
advertised as a wonderfully healthful
option, and while the coating is now no
longer simply coated over the base, a
polymer is mingled with the anodised
metal surface. The view of any company
making this cookware is that this surface
will only off gas noxious fumes if the
temperature is heated to 260c. After much
experience with people cooking, I can tell
you the common denominator is that most
people cook at too high a temperature,
especially using a wok (can I say here, this
is actually designed for high heat!) I also
don't use the silicon bakeware (and bear in
mind it is only FDA approved up to 220c).
If you are going to buy this to bake
in, please buy the French high quality
siliconware -- it's going to cost (a lot) but
is a much better option than the many
knock offs now available.
Non-stick is absolutely not necessary.
This is a technology developed from an
erroneous and poorly formed view that
good quality fat is bad for you. I don't care
if the manufacturer says to you it may have
a titanium base; if it is being sold as non-
stick, it will have polymers there to make
it be non-stick.
Sticking is the main reason cited for
buying a non-stick pan (thus making it
easy to wash also). If you don't want food
to stick to your pan, make sure it is heated
well before you add the ingredients. Not
to an extreme, but so that it is hot. Fat
should not ripple or smoke. For example,
when cooking pancakes and pikelets the
fat should gently sizzle when the batter hits
the pan. Remember also that browning
food is an incredibly vital step in developing
flavour, whether for meat or non-meat.
Sugars caramelise, flavours concentrate and
these are then de-glazed (adding a liquid
back to the pot) to lift all that delicious
flavour into the meal being cooked.
The recipe this month is for delicious,
seasonal, cheap corn fritters. I use my
All Clad skillet for these, and fry them in
a mixture of ghee and olive oil. When I
use my cheaper, old fashioned induction
based frypan, I need to have the heat a little
higher as the pan is not as efficient. It's all
in the quality of the pot.
© NOVA MARCH 2010
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If your corn is beautiful and fresh, there is no
need to cook it first. If it's old, you will need to
steam it or you can used canned. Perfect with
avocado and salsa. Makes about 8 large fritters.
• Olive oil or ghee for frying
• 1 onion finely chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• handful basil leaves and parsley, finely
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 2 tablespoons golden corn flour
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• sprinkle of dulse flakes if desired
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan. Add onion
and gently cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic
and let cook for about 1 minute. You are not
frying, just gently cooking.
Combine the corn, cooked onion and garlic,
herbs, cornstarch, corn flour, eggs, salt and
pepper in a bowl and mix together.
Heat the oil and/or ghee (there should be enough
to coat the base of the pan). It should not ripple
or smoke, but should gently sizzle when the
batter hits the fat. Add the batter -- about 3
tablespoons for a large one, and cook for 4-5
minutes on one side. It's important that the heat
is high enough to create a good sizzle, without
being so high that it cooks the outside before the
inside is ready. Turn over and cook for a further
4-5 minutes. Smaller fritters will take about 2-3
minutes each side. Remove and drain on a paper
towel before serving.
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