v

VaFrank's Profile

Title Last Reply

Tips/advice for buying used le creuset?

Winny
I've bought several through eBay, and have been very happy with the prices and quality. You might have to be a bit patient to find just what you want. There are a lot of brand new Le Creuset pans sold there, too; it's become a bit of a dealer haven.

Also, Le Creuset sells discounted seconds through various outlets; a friend once bought me one of their dutch ovens with an entirely inconsequential chip out of the exterior enamel and it's one of my favorite pans.

Aug 03, 2014
VaFrank in Cookware

I clean my stainless pans with a stainless steel sponge.

I recently bought two used Demeyere frying pans on eBay and this thread reminds me how impressive they are for ease of cleaning. I like to brown stuff in skillets and nothing hasn't come off completely with just a soak then some brief work with a gentle nylon scrubber (Dobie brand).

Jul 13, 2014
VaFrank in Cookware

where to buy vintage silverplate

This is the route I'd go; flatware for 150 people is a lot if you're buying it yourself (then what do you do with it after the wedding, try to resell it?), but not so much for a good rental outfit or caterer.

Jul 13, 2014
VaFrank in Cookware

demeyere cookware

Thanks for the followup, Sirrith.

That's interesting, and odd that their industry line should be so much lighter than my pan. If I put even my 10" on a burner and push the handle down onto the stove surface (which is over an inch below the burner), when I let go the pan pops right back up level -- the handle is a fraction of the weight of the pan.

Jun 24, 2014
VaFrank in Cookware

Heat spreaders, which is best for what?

I tried to find a sheet of 1/4" copper at a scrap metals dealer but it had gotten too expensive and impossible to find, so I ended up with a sheet of 1/4" scrap aluminum; I cleaned it up a bit and a friend cut me three graduated size discs and I use them all the time, even under heavy cookware; they really even out the less-than-ideal round flame pattern of my stove's burners.

Jun 21, 2014
VaFrank in Cookware

A Different Method of Steeling Knives

I use # 2 but I'll give #3 a try. I agree that #1 is ineffective except for maybe robots (or replicants) who can maintain a consistent angle of blade to steel while both are flying around, an impossible feat for normal human beings.

Jun 21, 2014
VaFrank in Cookware

demeyere cookware

I've already got a couple of Le Creuset skillets, a few tin-lined copper sauté pans, and an older cast iron frying pan, all of which I like and use regularly (the copper more than the others), but for some reason I decided to investigate Demeyere frying pans; I've had one of their all-purpose pans for years and I've always been impressed at how well it's made but it's not in a shape or size I use very often.

There isn't much Demeyere offered on eBay, and most of what does show up is new and priced accordingly ($$$), but I kept watching for a few weeks and through great luck eventually found both a 10 inch and a 12 inch pan, the 12 inch for an incredible $39(!) and the 10 inch for $56, shipping, of course, extra; both are in lightly-used but really excellent condition. They weren't identified by the sellers and Demeyere doesn't mark them as such but from the handles I think they're both from their Apollo line.

As has been noted by others, these 7-ply skillets are thick and quite heavy, but the cooking performance is simply remarkable and cleanup is a breeze; if you take some care with utensils and cleaning products (no harsh abrasives), it's very easy to keep them bright and shiny. For meats and vegetables they brown great and release well but probably not so well with fish or, say, scrambled eggs, unless you use lots of butter or oil.

All in all, terrific cookware, well worth the hunt for well-cared-for used pans, or new if you can afford them. As for a comparison with Debuyer, those take more care (they need seasoning) but from what I've read, people who like them really, really like them, and their new prices are way below new Demeyere. They're nothing like the build quality of Demeyere, but they're supposed to do terrific work once you get the hang of them.

[The comment from one of the posters "...but the weight was so strange. The handle tipped the pan over if you even looked at it, the pan presumably righting itself when you poured in the oil" makes no sense to me at all, at least if we're talking about Demeyere's multi-ply pans; there's no way that the handle is heavier than the pan itself, not even close.]

Jun 21, 2014
VaFrank in Cookware

Just short of Silpat, is there any Silicone you like using

Chefwong,

I use an 8 in. square silicone baking pan for caramels; I cook them in a Le Creuset casserole, then pour them into the silicone to set up. They pop right out once cooled, a non-stick quality I simply could not get with a similarly sized (and well-buttered) Pyrex pan. I've never used this silicone pan for any other purpose, so can't add much more.

Oh, I do use a silicone spatula for the caramels, also for its non-stick qualities.

Mar 10, 2013
VaFrank in Cookware

2.5mm Tinned Mauviel Saute

Thanks for the heads up, Goodthyme.

I think most copper lovers would prefer hand wiped, since, as you note, it's thicker than electroplated.

Mar 10, 2013
VaFrank in Cookware

$1500-2000 to spend on a set of copper pots what would you buy?

"You can use it for sugar, something you cannot do with a tin lining, as the tin melts at a lower temperature than the sugar."

I believe this is incorrect; the melting point of tin is around 232° C (449.6°F), while sugar melts (it actually decomposes) well below that temperature; it depends on how quickly it's heated, but let's say from about 160º - 186º C.

Jan 13, 2013
VaFrank in Cookware

$1500-2000 to spend on a set of copper pots what would you buy?

That's news to me, too, that tomato-based sauce will damage a tin lining. TJ, can you provide a link or other reference that details that?

I think copper is actually an excellent material for a stockpot if you're after long, slow cooking; since it transfers heat so well, better than steel or aluminum, the entire column of liquid inside a tall copper stockpot would heat very evenly, more so than in a pot made of those other materials, IMO.

I had several different-sized disks cut out of a plate of 1/4" scrap aluminum, and use them under my better quality cookware (copper, enameled cast iron) as flame-tamers/heat diffusers. The burners on my gas stove are a bit uneven, and the disks really help to prevent hot spots and consequent scorching -- I can almost ignore caramel while it's cooking in my LC French oven; never have had it stick.

Like everybody else here, I like thick-walled copper with iron handles, but, for what it's worth, years ago someone gave me a 12" brass-handled, thin-walled copper skillet, tin-lined and made by Waldow, in Brooklyn, the predecessors to Hammersmith, I believe. And the pan works really well, heats evenly and efficiently, without scorching (aluminum disk beneath); the brass handle gets hot as blazes, of course. I use it all the time. Of course I'd prefer the same pan in thicker copper, just because, but I really can't complain about the one I have.

As for the OP's question about buying copper, I've seen lots of heavy-duty stuff offered on eBay; even with shipping costs from Europe factored in, some if it is very attractively priced.

Jan 05, 2013
VaFrank in Cookware

Messermeister Knives???

Chef,

That's something I'm hearing a bit about Messermeister -- that their edge-holding isn't the best in the industry; are there any German knives in the same price range that keep their edges longer? I understand the argument in favor of Japanese steel and their knives, and have a couple of traditionally styled Japanese knives.

I've never used them, but I've heard compliments about F. Dick and Eberhard Schaaf knives. I'd like to get away from the full blade width bolster, in any case. I've used both Wusthof and Henckels and didn't have any major complaints about them (except for the bolsters). I'm somewhat looking for a 6" chef's knife.

Mar 20, 2012
VaFrank in Cookware

Pepper Mills: your picks and pans

Tim's has been my experience as well: a very uneven grind combined with an unergonomic design -- could that dinky little handle with its small turning radius be any more awkward?

Feb 24, 2012
VaFrank in Cookware

Tinning copper?

I second the recommendation for East Coast Tinning; good work, very pleasant people to deal with.

Also, I've only heard good things about Rocky Mt.

Jan 17, 2012
VaFrank in Cookware

What do do with a whole bunch of green tomatoes ... other than frying them

I make a green tomato chutney; it's relatively easy to make and is terrific as a condiment, on a cheese sandwich, etc. (Sorry for the length of the recipe.)

GREEN TOMATO CHUTNEY

6 pounds green tomatoes
3 TBSP salt
2 pounds cooking apples, peeled/cored/coarsely chopped
1 pound red onions, peeled/thinly sliced
4 shallots, peeled/minced
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled/minced or pounded to a paste with a little salt in a mortar with a pestle
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 cups red wine vinegar
1 tsp cumin seed
3 whole cloves
1/4 cup dry mustard, or 1-2 TBSP mustard seed (I like the seed for the crunch)
1-1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1-1/2 cups dried currants (or coarsely chopped raisins)
1 tsp coriander seed
2 dried hottish to hot chili peppers (optional), or maybe a TBSP or so of a good, recently purchased chili powder.

Blanch the tomatoes a few at a time in boiling, salted water, then dunk them in cold water; when cool, peel them, cutting out any tough parts, cut them in half crosswise and squeeze out the seeds, then chop them into 1/2" or smaller pieces, toss with 2 TBSP salt and drain in a colander over a bowl or the sink for a couple of hours. (I should mention that even when blanched or parboiled, green tomatoes don't peel as readily as ripe tomatoes; also, the seeds are immature, so you won't get all that much out when you squeeze them. Just FYI.)

In a large enamel or other nonreactive saucepan or casserole (think Le Creuset or Staub dutch oven, if you've got one), combine the drained tomatoes, apples, onions, shallots, garlic, ginger, remaining TBSP salt, and 1 cup of the vinegar. Bring to a boil then simmer, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes.

While that's cooking, finely grind the cumin seed, cloves, coriander seed, and chilies if you're using them. Combine that mix with the mustard (powder or seed) and the brown sugar.

Add the remaining 1 cup vinegar, the spice mix, and the currants (or raisin pieces) to the tomato mix and simmer, stirring frequently, for another 45 minutes, or until it's reduced by about one-fourth. Partway through, taste and add more salt (or any other seasoning) if needed.

Spoon the chutney into still warm, sterilized canning jars and seal. Store the unopened jars in a cool, dark place for at least a few months before using.

12-14 half pint jars.

Aug 16, 2011
VaFrank in Home Cooking

Even heat challenge -- copper diffuser plate?

Athanasius,

I'm late to this discussion but here's my input: Like you, I wanted a copper diffuser but those offered at retail such as in cooking magazines are expensive and somewhat thin; you can find various thicknesses at commercial metal distributors, even pre-cut into discs, but I hoped to find something less expensive. A local metals scrap yard that used to be a great place for that kind of thing said they rarely have any copper plate these days but they did have a sheet of 1/4" aluminum that was a bit rough (had some dried cement on it, scratches, etc.) but wasn't much money so I got it. I briefly considered using it as is as a solid top on my stove since it neatly covered all four of my stove's burners, but I decided that heating up the entire sheet for just one pan wasn't very efficient, so I had a friend with a metal band saw cut me four discs of varying diameters, up to my largest pan's size.

Well, I'm totally sold on them and now use them just about all the time, always if I'm using a copper or enameled cast iron pan. I truly think they even out the heat and give me much more control over the cooking.

Copper is, of course, a better conductor, but aluminum is pretty good and for what I paid I'm very happy.

Here's a metals distributor if you've got to have copper (there are lots of others - just Google "copper sheet":

http://www.onlinemetals.com/

Jun 04, 2011
VaFrank in Cookware

Another Le Creuset thread - big damage after 6 months

As disappointing as it must be to have something new show signs of damage, if it was limited to the outside I'd probably ignore it. Really, I wouldn't even care if the entire bottom enamel fell off, as long as the interior enamel remained sound.

"I tend to be very hard on things in the kitchen."

Keep in mind that enameled metal required more care than bare iron or steel; don't go overboard preheating an empty pan, and use wood or plastic utensils, and don't use metal or abrasive cleaners.

Feb 16, 2011
VaFrank in Cookware

Parmigiano Reggiano left out of fridge

It'll be fine -- if you buy the real thing from a good store, it's rarely if ever in the refrigerated section.

Jan 30, 2011
VaFrank in General Topics

Le Creuset vs. Staub

I've got a couple of Le Creuset French/Dutch ovens (one actually a Cousances doufeu), and just got a Staub Cocotte, which I've used twice so far.

They're all good, although I do think there's a benefit to the flat tops with nubbins found in both the doufeu and cocotte vs the typical LC shallow domed lid (without nubbins). For stovetop use, I prefer the LC phenolic lid knob as it usually stays cool enough to handle without a potholder, unlike the Staub stainless knob.

The Staub 28 is a bit heavier than the Le Creuset 26, even beyond its larger diameter, but I don't get a qualitative difference when using the pots... I like them both. The Staub cocotte interior enamel is very much like the slightly grainy mat black interior enamel LC currently used in their skillets; if there's a difference, I can't see it. Le Creuset's dutch ovens, of course, have smooth, lighter colored interiors; my white model has developed a very slight off-white cast to the interior bottom couple of inches, but beyond that the pot looks pretty much like new.

FWIW, the best price I could find nationally on the Staub was from Chef's Resource, which included free ground shipping.

[Perhaps I misunderstand the issue about LC coming out with what they call an improved line of enameled cookware, and how that's a slap in the face to owners of older LC pieces; what were they supposed to do, never try to improve the product?]

Jan 16, 2011
VaFrank in Cookware

le creuset dutch oven lid question

"iyc_nyc wrote: The Staub lids have two small 'nubs' on one side of the lid though,"

My Staub has three very small bumps evenly spaced around the outermost flange of the lid; I assume they're intentional -- if the lid fit needs a bit of fine tuning before the application of the enamel, it would be easier to file down one or more of those rather than the entire lid or rim of the pot.

I just checked; both my Staub and Le Creuset dutch oven lids have a small amount of sideways slip, nbd, and the LC has just the tiniest bit of seesaw wobble but obviously not enough to have been noticeable before today.

Jan 16, 2011
VaFrank in Cookware

PEPPER GRINDERS

I've had the cast aluminum, hand crank Peugeot for years, but it's cranking action is awkward and it's poor at translating effort into results, and, as also noted, doesn't give a consistent grind. I much prefer the traditional turned wood versions like William Bound, although a one-handed grinder might be even handier.

Jan 16, 2011
VaFrank in Cookware

Whole Foods Makes Us Lazy Cooks

Kinda lazy, no doubt, but at least these are real vegetables; the buyers have merely subbed out the prep work. Many of my co-workers don't even eat vegetable, let alone prepare them at home.

Dec 28, 2010
VaFrank in Features

Le Creuset vs. Staub

A little over a year later and they're still the same price, still with free shipping. Currently they only have mat black, titanium and grenadine in stock, ready to ship; I don't know if they're getting more of the different colors in at that price, or if they'll honor that price on a back order of a different color. Still, that's the best price I've seen on Staub; used ones rarely, if ever, turn up on eBay, although I've gotten several different used but clean LCs there (eBay), at really good prices.

Dec 27, 2010
VaFrank in Cookware

Copper Jam Pan

They are expensive and do require more care than Revereware, no argument; but if by "conceit" you mean no added value over some less expensive equipment, then we'll have to agree to disagree. Having used both a fair amount, I've found that my copper pan simply works better; probably the broad base combined with the inherent qualities of thick copper make for ideally quick, even evaporation and gel setting.

Similarly, I've made caramels in an excellent quality Demeyere all purpose pan, and in my Le Creuset Dutch oven, and although I got good results from the Demeyere, the process is much, much easier in Le Creuset..

There are differences in equipment, sometimes independent of cost. Whether or not the difference is worth the price to anyone is a valid, but different issue.

Dec 27, 2010
VaFrank in Cookware

Copper Jam Pan

I've used one of those large, unlined copper pans to make preserves, and it works great, much better than the stainless steel pot I had been using. Jam making benefits from fast cooking, and nothing heats up quickly and evenly like copper. I've had it for years but I know they've since gotten fairly expensive (as has anything made of copper.) But if you do a lot of jam making, I think they're worth it.

I also really like tin-lined copper cookware for regular stove top cooking.

Dec 26, 2010
VaFrank in Cookware

Copper Jam Basin---other uses?

I've got one and it's terrific for making jams and preserves, but I'm not sure if it would be particularly useful for anything else. That is, it might work as a roaster, or whatever, but wouldn't be the best choice for those situations. (Can't say I've tried, though.)

With a few exceptions (jam making, beating egg whites), copper cookware needs to be lined with another, non-reactive, metal, such as tin, silver, stainless steel....

If you really don't think you'll use it for its intended purpose, consider selling it, maybe on eBay; since you've never used it, you might get top dollar for it.

Dec 26, 2010
VaFrank in Cookware

Le Creuset "Doufeu"

I don't see the magazine too much anymore, but I've always felt that they're totally in the bag for AllClad when it comes to cookware reviews; any respect that they've given Le Creuset has been grudging, at best.

A friend has my doufeu, and I've never tried the ice method, but as several posters have mentioned, the idea is quite reasonable (flat top, occasionally cooled to promote condensation, nubbins inside to direct to the droplets, food moistened all over rather than just at the bottom...)

The only thing I don't like about my doufeu is that it's somewhat inconvenient to need two hands to remove the lid (you can do it one-handed but the lid tends to get banged against the pot that way); they could put a single knob in the top, like on their other pots, and still keep an ice moat. Just an idea.

Dec 26, 2010
VaFrank in Cookware

uh oh - my Le Creuset pan is broken

That's good to hear, Soop, and not surprising; in my limited dealings with them, Le Creuset has been very responsive.

Nov 04, 2009
VaFrank in Cookware

La Cornue Fe Range Purchase

I'm all for stuff like this, even though I could never afford or justify one.

There are fewer and fewer handmade objects in our lives; once these workers' skillsets are gone and forgotten, that's it, everything will be mass-produced. Like losing the last redwood or duckbilled platypus or whatever. IMO.

Nov 04, 2009
VaFrank in Cookware

Cleaning Copper Pots

Abrasive scrubbers like SS or Scotchbrite or Brillo pads will get the gunk off copper, but the scratched surfaces they leave behind will be harder to keep clean (those tiny scratches really hold on to foreign matter). So, for me, a proprietary copper polish, soft cloths or sponges, soft (plastic or nylon) kitchen scrubbers, etc., are what I use.

Nov 04, 2009
VaFrank in Cookware