Well Dined

12Mar/120

My Favorite Products Pt 1

A good friend recently suggested that I make a post about all my favorite kitchen products - what a great idea! Between being an avid home cook and working at Williams Sonoma, I think that I have built up a pretty good repertoire of knowledge on kitchen items. I am going to split this into several parts (because otherwise it will get way too long). So here it is, a list of my favorite products:

Cookware

The basic pans that you will need are a small and large frying pan, a large saute pan, a small and large saucepan, and a large stockpot. Stainless steel is the best all purpose option - it creates a good sear and will last forever.

(Image and product information courtesy of Williams Sonoma)

All-Clad is my brand of choice for stainless steel - this 10 piece set is $950. To clean stainless steel cookware use Bar Keepers Friend ($4.50).

(Image and product information courtesy of Williams Sonoma)

For cooking eggs or foods that don't require a sear/caramelization, I recommend using a nonstick pan. They release food much more easily and require less oil than regular pans. However, nonstick pans require careful use and cleaning, and will not last as long as other pans. Do not ever let any metal implements near your pan, do not use without seasoning with a small amount of oil, do not use propellant sprays like Pam, do not use over super high heat, and check to make sure it is dishwasher safe before you clean that way. My line of choice is Calphalon Unison, it is dishwasher safe (though you can easily hand wash) and lasts longer than most - this 2 piece set is $90.

(Image and product information courtesy of Williams Sonoma)

A specialty piece that you might want to invest in is a multipot. I use the Calphalon one shown above ($100) which has an 8-qt capacity with both a pasta and a steamer insert.

(Image and product information courtesy of Williams Sonoma)

Another great specialty piece is a cast iron dutch oven. Cast iron is slower to heat up than stainless steel but retains heat longer, making it perfect for slow cooking, braising, and (as shown above) deep frying. I use the tried and true brand Le Creuset (can't go wrong with a classic!), which comes in many colors, in a good all-purpose size - the 5 1/2 qt for $265.

Other cast iron options to consider are frying pans (a must for old fashioned cornbread) and grill pans (perfect for indoor grilling). You can either go with an enameled option (like the Le Creuset, $165) or seasoned (like Lodge, $33, note that you must maintain the seasoning after each use).

Bakeware

Basics in bakeware are 1-2 each of rimmed baking sheets and cookie sheets, 2 cake pans (round or square), 1-2 muffin tins, and cooling racks. I recommend using nonstick pans to make your life easier, just make sure that you check recipes for time adjustments on "dark or nonstick" pans. You can also use parchment paper or Silpat on your baking sheets to create a nonstick surface.

(Image and product information courtesy of Williams Sonoma)

I like the Goldtouch line from WS, and this 6 piece set for $100 is a great place to start. Even with nonstick, you will want to use a spray of some sort when using cake pans. However, most commercial sprays use a propellant than can create a sticky coating on your pans over time and completely ruin them. I recommend using Bak-Klene ($10) - it has flour in it, which is ideal for baking, and will not leave a residue on your pans.

(Image and product information courtesy of Williams Sonoma)

Another bakeware item to consider is the bundt pan. Bundt cake batter is typically pretty sticky, so on these especially I recommend nonstick pans and Bak-Klene spray. Also try using one that doesn't have an elaborate pattern that the cake can get stuck in. I have the Anniversary Pan from Williams Sonoma ($35, shown above) - it is nonstick, simple, and clean.

(Image and product information courtesy of Williams Sonoma)

Pie pans - you can go for the ornamental (like the Emile Henry shown above, $45) or the purely functional (like the Goldtouch, $18), but you will want at least two of whichever you choose.

(Image and product information courtesy of Pyrex)

Next, you will need some baking/casserole dishes. Glass dishes by Pyrex are cheap, versatile, and durable but you could opt for something fancier (I have some of each). You will need a 9x13 lasagna pan (shown above, %13) and an 8x8 square to start. After that you can fill in with whatever you like/need.

If you plan to bake bread (including quickbreads like banana or pumpkin), you will need loaf pans (at least 2). I use the Goldtouch pans from WS ($20 each).

If you plan to make cheesecake, you will need a springform pan - which has a lever that releases the side of the pan allowing you to slip it off, leaving the cake attached to the bottom. I use the Kaiser LaForme 9-inch ($48) and the set of four minis ($24).

Stay tuned for Pt 2 which should include Tools and Appliances, and Pt 3 which should include food products.

**EDIT** I am linking to Williams Sonoma for these products because that is where I am familiar buying them, but most should also be available at department stores like Macy's or other kitchen specialty stores like Sur la Table. **EDIT**

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