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What ONE nonstick should I get

"If you are willing to be this careful, you will do fine with ceramic. If not, then it's cast iron, steel, stainless, tin/copper, or something else."

This is very good advice. Most negative complaints about nonstick pans seem to be from people who either misuse them (e.g., try to cook without any oil whatsoever), or damage the coating very quickly through mishandling.

This type of pan should work very well for the OP's purpose, but not necessarily for everyone or for other purposes. There are plentiful threads that discuss durability and utility of other types of cookware.

Dec 16, 2014
apack in Cookware

What ONE nonstick should I get

Hi Ray. Yes, I am aware of this, and mentioned my experience with general wear/durability on the Bialettis in my original post above. I can also confirm that they will die a quick death if used harshly (e.g., metal cooking implements). So I use these almost exclusively to cook eggs and for light sautéing and some braising, and they work well for that. I have also overheated them on the stovetop a couple of times, but did not notice any decreased performance after that. I was worried that the overheating might cause them to delaminate, but the coating seems very well bonded and appeared to come through this just fine.

Dec 16, 2014
apack in Cookware

What ONE nonstick should I get

I answered the question about PTFE risks above. Your reading of the ACS statement on this is unreasonable, as it clearly states that fumes released by overheating PTFE "can cause flu-like symptoms in humans (a condition known as polymer fume fever) and can be fatal to birds." There is a clear and well documented risk associated with these pans.

PFOA is a very different issue, as that is more harmful but primarily a broader environmental exposure issue. Fortunately PFOA has largely been phased out of Teflon production. Most cookware manufacturers declare whether their products are PFOA-free. For example T-Fal has a specific company-wide statement on this. However, individual product lines from most companies will vary, so it is best to check.

In any case, the primary purpose of my original post was simply to recommend the Bialetti Aeternum pans, which perform admirably for the purpose described by the OP, and are PTFE-free, PFOA-free, and also cadmium-free.

Dec 16, 2014
apack in Cookware

What ONE nonstick should I get

I mean offgassing from overheating. Rather common occurrence for many people, I'd say.

I recognize that abuse will affect performance of almost all cookware. However, I think cookware should not present health hazards upon abuse, where avoidable. For example, you cannot avoid the fact that overheated pans can contribute to risk of fire, but you can avoid the risk of overheated pans outgassing toxic fumes. So, if good alternatives are available, why get pans that outgas hazardous fumes?

Dec 16, 2014
apack in Cookware

What ONE nonstick should I get

I provided a link to the most up to date information on Teflon from an impeccable *independent* source. PTFE (Teflon) is documented to cause acute health effects, but not cancer, and PFOA causes much more serious and widespread health effects, likely including cancer. Non-PTFE, non-PFOA products should therefore be preferred. So I stand by my recommendation.

Dec 15, 2014
apack in Cookware

What ONE nonstick should I get

Bialetti Aeternum. Ceramic, nonstick, work *really* well with eggs, and cheap. Note that nonstick pans still require some oil, but these pans work very well with a minimum amount of oil -- maybe 1/4 tsp per egg. Nonstick coatings on these hold up quite well if you're careful with them, but in any case they're easily cheap enough to replace when the coatings wear out (maybe 3-4 years). I got mine from Amazon, but I have seen them discounted quite heavily at Marshalls too. Like a 3-pack of pans (~8, 10, and 12 inch) for $30 or so.

Heat distribution is decent but not great. Not usually a problem for eggs anyway. I have made both omelettes and frittate in them without any problems.

Also, I would strictly avoid PTFE/Teflon coatings for health reasons, including risks of cooking with PTFE itself and the broader risks from PFOA used to produce Teflon.
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerca...
I don't see any reason whatsoever to use these products when there are good, safer alternatives.

Dec 15, 2014
apack in Cookware

Trader Joe's Olive Suggestions?

I like the lucques olives. They are firm and flavorful, but mild (not too salty, sharp, or acidic). They are somewhat similar to castelvetrano, but milder. Not really similar to anything you're likely to find in a regular grocery store.

Here is a review:
http://www.clubtraderjoes.com/2012/01...

Dec 14, 2014
apack in Chains

Are Brown Rice's (and other wild rice's) Suppose To Be Creamy/Sticky?

Right, sorry for the confusion. Here is some info:
http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-g...
Cooking method:
http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-...
And an online supplier:
http://www.purcellmountainfarms.com/S...

Dec 14, 2014
apack in General Topics

Are Brown Rice's (and other wild rice's) Suppose To Be Creamy/Sticky?

Wild rice is normally "drier" and less starchy than white rice, but this will vary with the type of rice. Also, whole-grain rice is harder than white rice, as the stiff outer hull has specifically been removed from white rice. The stickiness you're referring to must come from the specific mixes that you're using. If you want to see what whole grain wild rice is really like, just buy and cook some on its own.

Dec 14, 2014
apack in General Topics

Seeking low-fat, low-flour snackbar recipe

You can indeed make flourless oatmeal bars. In fact I do this regularly with any extra oatmeal that ends up in the pot. A variety of dried fruit works well in this (raisins, currants, cranberries, dates, etc.) Just google gluten free oatmeal bar cookie recipes, and adjust the sweetness to your liking.

Dec 14, 2014
apack in Home Cooking

Difference between coconut cream and milk?

The only difference is in water content, with coconut "milk" having more water. I agree that it would be difficult to whip coconut milk.

Dec 14, 2014
apack in General Topics

What to tip at authentic Chinese/dim sum?

I tip the same as I would at any other restaurant with partial service: 10-15%.

Dec 07, 2014
apack in Not About Food

Cloudberry Jam (Hjortron)

You can get cloudberry jam directly from the source -- Dark Tickle Company in Newfoundland: http://www.darktickle.com/ They also sell other rare arctic berry jams. Cloudberry is known as bakeapple in Newfoundland and Labrador.

On the other hand, Lakka (cloudberry liqueur) is very difficult to find. Only a few companies produce this: Laponia and Chymos from Finland, Rodrigues in Newfoundland, and Mondia in Quebec. As far as I know, none of these are imported into the US. I would love to know of any source of this liqueur here.

Also, just to clarify the name of this wonderful berry: cloudberry, hjortron, lakka, bakepple, and chicoutai are all the same thing -- just being the common American (US), Swedish, Finnish, Newfoundland, and Quebecois words, respectively, for the fruit of Rubus chamaemorus.

Nov 24, 2012
apack in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Mid-Saturday afternoon great meal

Publican is great, but I have found it to not be the best place for conversation -- it is often so loud that you have to shout to be heard by your dining companions. Not the best for sitting around and chatting. However, I imagine that this might be quite a lot better in the afternoon, and might then be a nice place to hang around.

Nov 22, 2012
apack in Chicago Area

Mid-Saturday afternoon great meal

Xoco is definitely a casual place, but I think the food is excellent -- it has a richness and intensity of flavor well beyond typical.

Irazu is even more casual, so if you're looking for a formal setting then that also won't be suitable.

Mercat seems like it should be nigh ideal.

Nov 22, 2012
apack in Chicago Area

Do I "Need" a Food Processor?

Definitely can see the value for times when you need a lot of cheese, like for lasagna. Here we're usually eating cheese plain, or using it as a distinct ingredient like in salads or sandwiches.

Nov 21, 2012
apack in Cookware

Do I "Need" a Food Processor?

An immersion blender is quicker, easier, and safer for pureeing hot sauces.

Nov 21, 2012
apack in Cookware

Do I "Need" a Food Processor?

That does not sound good to me. I would much rather have fresh cheese. Personal tastes vary, of course.

Nov 21, 2012
apack in Cookware

Do I "Need" a Food Processor?

I don't understand why so many people want to use their food processor to shred cheese in bulk. I have a set of microplane hand graters and a good box greater, and I can grate/shred exactly the amount of cheese I need in exactly the cut I want in 3 minutes flat. Cheese stays much fresher in wheels/blocks rather than shredded.

Nov 21, 2012
apack in Cookware

Mid-Saturday afternoon great meal

I would go ethnic. Xoco. Irazu. Mercat a la Planxa is also an excellent suggestion.

Nov 20, 2012
apack in Chicago Area

French Copper Pots = lined with TIN or STEEL?

My goodness, there are so many incorrect ideas here. I am an engineer with a background in both heat transfer and water quality, so I'll try to clear up some basic issues.

The main point of using materials with high heat conductivity is to distribute heat more uniformly over the cooking surface.

The main point of using heavier materials is to provide more thermal mass to retain heat longer and to again distribute heat more uniformly over the cooking surface (because there is more stored heat to redistribute if one part of the pan gets cooler).

There is an obvious trade-off between responsiveness and heat storage -- thinner pans will heat up and cool down more quickly, but are more prone to temperature variations. Conversely, more conductive materials will redistribute heat more quickly. For applications where you want to keep everything at a very constant temperature and you won't have high thermal variations, then mass is important. For example, heavy cast iron for low-and-slow cooking (personally I like Staub for this). For applications where you have greater thermal variations, as in most stove-top use, greater conductivity is better because it helps to keep the cooking surface much more uniform.

The real question on performance of these pans is how uniform your temperature will be in practice for real cooking tasks. Unfortunately that's difficult to answer in a general way. But my guess is that most people won't notice much difference between any good-quality pans. Any good conductive core material will help with heat distribution, and the interior lining is not going to be as important because it'll be much thinner than the core material. Actual performance probably has as much or more to do with construction methods, such as how the metals are joined, than with materials. I agree with some of the prior comments that all of the top-end manufacturers probably do a good job of this, as they have had plentiful opportunity to refine and test their designs. However, I am not aware of any rigorous testing of the relative heat distribution in various pans under various operational conditions. Presumably the manufacturers have this information, but don't share it.

The second trade-off is in reactivity of the surface. The main advantage of stainless steel is durability and lack of reactivity. Tin is less durable and more reactive, thus the need for re-tinning. For people who use tin, you do know that you're going to end up eating a lot of the tin that you lose from your pans, right? The tin mainly gets lost in two ways -- into your food during cooking, or into the air or wash water during cleaning. Generally speaking, it is not a great idea to consume excess metals. I don't know of any specific concern with tin from these types of pans, but nonetheless as a basic principle you want to minimize the intake of metals from cooking. Some people up-thread mentioned that they would view silver-lined pans as the ultimate because of improved heat conduction. That is definitely not a good idea because there are health concerns with intake of silver.

So, for me, I only use stainless steel, cast iron (both plain and enameled), and environmental- and health-friendly nonstick cooking surfaces (I like Bialetti Aeternum for the latter). I am looking at getting a copper pan, but decided that I'd only get stainless-steel lined because the difference in cooking performance between steel and tin probably isn't that great and I'd rather go with the more durable and nonreactive lining.

Nov 20, 2012
apack in Cookware

Do I "Need" a Food Processor?

Depends on the food you prepare. If you have good knife skills and prepare food mainly in small batches then you don't need a food processor. I find that set up and clean up time for the food processor are typically longer than simply slicing, grating, or shredding by hand. The food processor becomes much more useful when making large batches, and is fairly essential for preparations blending several ingredients, such as pesto.

Nov 20, 2012
apack in Cookware

What can I do with unripe pears?

Here is a good recipe for this: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes...
I add vanilla to the poaching liquid as well. The leftover poaching liquid makes a base for a nice sorbet, e.g., with cranberries.

However, this should be done with ripe but firm pears. Under-ripe ones will lack sweetness and flavor even if softened by the poaching.

Nov 10, 2012
apack in Home Cooking