When we say, "one-pot cooking," we really mean "one pot." You may need bowls to whisk or marinate ingredients.
Basic One Pot Cooking Utensils:
Skil ets are ideal for frying, sautéing, and searing. Cast iron skil ets are best and can be used on the stovetop and in the oven. A bigger skil et wil hold al the ingredients for one-pot cooking.
A deep pot with long sides, stockpots are great for cooking broth and liquids. Use an 8-quart stockpot for your recipes, but you may use any size you have, depending on your servings.
A large, heavy enamel-coated cast iron pot that conducts and retains heat evenly, Dutch ovens are suitable for stovetop and oven cooking.
A type of baking sheet, a sheet pan is a flat metal pan, usual y with rimmed sides, that's perfect for fuss-free oven cooking. A regular baking sheet is flat with no rimmed sides.
ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER
Pressure cookers al ow you to cook foods that usual y take a long time in record speed. Use a 6-quart cooker for your recipes.
Also known as a crockpot, like the electric pressure cooker, this is another countertop electric appliance. The long cook times used al ow ingredients to cook and marinate together with minimal attention for deliciously tender results.
Air fryers use a convection mechanism to circulate hot air around food without using tons of oil to cook it. This way, you enjoy the taste and texture of deep-fried food but in a healthier form. Use a 5.8-quart air fryer for your recipes and cook them in batches, but you may find a larger size to accommodate your food in one batch, depending on your needs.
In A Bowl: Toss-It-Together Salads & Sandwiches
Bowls are one of the most basic—and frequently used—pieces of kitchen equipment. They are good for tossing, mixing, stirring, whisking, blending, folding, and beating. A flat bottom keeps them steady, while their round shape makes it easy to thoroughly combine ingredients. Most mixing bowls are made of stainless steel or glass, although some are made of melamine (a hard plastic), enamel-coated steel, or earthenware.
Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls—A good-quality set of stainless steel mixing bowls will last a lifetime. A set of three to five nesting bowls ranging in size from about 1 quart to 5 quarts will handle most cooking needs. The best bowls are heavy-gauge steel and have a brushed satin finish so scratches don't show. Some bowls come with nonskid bottoms so they stay put during mixing, while a plastic exterior protects your hands if the bowls are very hot or very cold. Stainless steel bowls can be washed by hand with hot, soapy water and a sponge or nylon scrub soap pad or in the dishwasher.
Glass Mixing Bowls—There are also chip- and break-resistant glass bowls that come in nesting sets of nine or more bowls, ranging in size from about ¼ cup to 6 quarts. The glass is tempered, so the bowls can be set over simmering water—especially handy for melting chocolate. They are also microwave- and freezer-safe. Glass bowls can be washed by hand with hot, soapy water and a sponge or nylon scrub pad or in the dishwasher.
Enamel-Coated Steel Mixing Bowls—These bowls come in graduated sets of three or more. They often come in inviting colors, making them decorative as well as useful. These bowls can be washed by hand with hot, soapy water and a sponge or nylon scrub pad or in the dishwasher.
Useful Extra—It is often necessary to cover a bowl to keep food fresh. This can be done using plastic wrap or foil but there is another alternative: reusable, graduated-size bowl covers that resemble shower caps and come in packages of about 50.
In A Skillet: Quick & Easy Breakfasts, Lunches & Dinners
The skillet, also known as a frying pan, is a flat-bottomed pan with low sides that flare outward. It has one long handle and usually no lid. These handy pans are great for browning and sautéing meat, chicken, fish, eggs, vegetables, and potatoes, especially because their low sides make it easy to turn food.
Early skillets were made of iron, copper, and cast iron. In the U.S. in the mid-1800s, manufacturers, such as the Griswold and Wagner Companies, began producing lighter, easier-to-handle cast-iron skillets, which remain popular to this day. These almost indestructible pans—which become nonstick through years of use—are often passed down from generation to generation. Other companies, such as Lodge, manufacture cast-iron skillets today. They can be found in department stores, big box stores, and kitchenware stores.
Nonstick skillets were first produced by DuPont in 1956 under the Teflon brand name. Since then, improvements have been made, including the development of nonstick surfaces that either are more resistant to or impervious to scratches, such as the high-end brand GreenPan™, which can be heated to 450°F and is also ovenproof. When purchasing a nonstick skillet, choose one that has more than one layer of nonstick coating and feels heavy, which means it will retain heat well and brown foods better. Look for oven-safe handles so the pan can go from stovetop to oven with ease.
Appreciated for their sleek look, stainless steel skillets have the ability to hold heat well and cook food evenly. They are also extremely durable. High-end brands, such as All-Clad, boast a hand-polished, mirror-finish exterior. These skillets are produced using a three-ply bond core that incorporates an aluminum center, which helps conduct heat better.
Enamel cast-iron skillets, such as Le Creuset, have been produced in France since 1925 and are meant to last a lifetime. These skillets have either a stone-colored enamel interior or a matte black enamel finish that is practically nonstick. Enamel cast iron distributes heat evenly, which prevents hot spots and also retains heat longer than some other cookware, which is especially useful when serving directly from the pan.
The first electric skillet was manufactured by Sunbeam in 1953 and was called a "controlled heat automatic fry pan." The square-shaped cast-aluminum pan had a built-in cooking element and a heat control in the handle. The brochure featured an aproned homemaker happily cooking up nine fried eggs at one time. Electric skillets range in size from 12 to 16 inches and often come with lids. They are available round and square, and some are nonstick. Electric skillets are appreciated for their ability to maintain constant heat.
Sizes and Shapes
Skillets range in size from about 6 inches to 14 inches. For most kitchens, it is recommended to have a small skillet (6 to 8 inches), a medium skillet (8 to 10 inches), and a large skillet (11 to 12 inches). Skillets are measured across the diameter at the top.
Basics for Care
These days, cast-iron skillets often come already seasoned (nonstick). If you buy one that isn't, here's how to do it: Wipe the inside of the skillet with a light coating of flavorless vegetable oil. Place the pan in a 350°F oven for 1 hour. Remove it from the oven and let it cool completely, then wipe the skillet dry with a paper towel.
To clean a cast-iron skillet, rinse it under hot water as soon as it is cool enough to be handled to prevent any food from sticking, then use a nonabrasive powder cleaner or kosher salt and a stiff brush to remove any food particles. Dry the pan immediately to prevent rusting.
To ensure that the coating of a nonstick skillet lasts, clean it gently and avoid scratching the surface. Wash the skillet using hot, soapy water and a sponge or nylon scrub pad. The nonstick surface should prevent any food from sticking.
To clean a stainless steel skillet, immerse it in warm water once it has cooled down slightly. Apply a paste of nonabrasive powder cleanser mixed with water and rub in a circular motion from the center outward using a sponge or nylon scrub pad. Wash the pan with hot, soapy water, rinse it well, and dry it thoroughly. Avoid using a steel wool pad, which would scratch the surface. These pans can also be washed in the dishwasher.
Enamel cast-iron skillets are easy to care for. Let them cool down completely before washing them to avoid shocking the enamel due to the change in temperature. Hand-wash the pan with hot, soapy water, then rinse under warm water and dry it thoroughly. If any food remains stuck, soak the pan for about 15 minutes, then use a nylon scrub pad to remove the residue. Enamel-coated skillets are dishwasher safe, but it is not recommended, as the detergent will dull the enamel surface over time.
The lid of an electric skillet is dishwasher safe. The skillet itself should be washed by hand using hot, soapy water, taking care not to get the heating element or electric plug wet. Refer to the manufacturer's instruction booklet for details.
In A Wok: Make It Stir-Fried For Dinner
The word wok, synonymous with stir-frying, is a versatile cooking vessel believed to have originated in China around the 10th century. Woks are most often used for stir-frying, but throughout Southeast Asia they are also used for steaming, deep-frying, braising, and stewing. Traditional woks have a round bottom so they can be used on a pit stove. This stove has a hole in which the wok is set so it is surrounded by flames and kept steady. If you buy a round-bottomed wok, be sure to purchase a metal wok ring, which allows you to set the wok inside the ring to keep it stable. Woks also come flat-bottomed, making them a must for electric stoves and a good choice for gas stoves.
Although traditional Chinese woks are made of thin cast iron, carbon steel woks are more commonly used today. The more they are used, the more seasoned (nonstick) they become. Carbon steel woks are excellent for stir-frying, as they heat evenly and maintain their temperature. Woks are sold with either a long handle or two short curved handles; both work well.
Stainless steel woks are appreciated for their ability to both quickly heat up and cool down. The best models have an aluminum core sandwiched between two layers of stainless steel for superior heat conduction. These flat-bottomed woks often come with one long handle and a curved helper handle on the opposite side. Stainless steel woks are modern and sleek looking and sometimes come with a lustrous brushed finish.
Nonstick woks make cleanup a snap. Choose one with a petroleum-free ceramic-based interior, which can stand up to high heat and is almost scratchproof. They are more expensive than other nonstick woks.
Electric woks heat up quickly and maintain even cooking temperature. A heat control knob allows them to be heated up to about 425°F, and they often come with a tempered glass cover. Electric woks are available with nonstick and stainless steel interiors.
Woks range from 8 inches to 30 inches. A 14-inch-diameter wok is a good choice for 4 to 6 servings.
Basics for Care
A carbon steel wok needs a little attention before it is used for the first time. Wash the wok in hot, soapy water, then dry it well and set it over medium heat. Add a little flavorless vegetable oil and wipe it over the surface with a paper towel. Let the wok get very hot, then remove it from the heat and let it cool. Rinse it with hot water and dry it well. After cooking, rinse the wok with hot water and wipe it dry. If needed, lightly rub the interior with a sponge to remove any food particles. Do not use soap, as this will remove the freshly seasoned surface.
A stainless steel wok requires the same care as a stainless steel pot. Once it cools down a little, soak it in hot, soapy water for about 30 minutes to loosen any food residue. Wash the wok with a sponge or nylon scrub pad, then rinse well and dry. Do not use a steel wool soap pad, as it can scratch the surface. Stainless steel woks are dishwasher safe.
A nonstick wok is easy to care for. Wash it in hot, soapy water using a sponge or nylon scrub pad. This wok is dishwasher safe.
Every part of an electric wok, except the temperature control and electric cord, is dishwasher safe. Alternatively, the wok can be washed in hot, soapy water with a sponge or nylon scrub pad.
In A Saucepan: Easy Breakfasts, Soups & More
Whether you're hard-cooking eggs, heating soup, or warming up leftovers, a saucepan is your pot of choice. A saucepan is a deep, round pot usually with one long handle and sometimes a tight-fitting lid. Saucepans are made from a range of materials, including stainless steel, enamel-coated cast iron, aluminum, and copper.
A Bit of History
Early man simply set meat, fish, or poultry over an open fire to cook it. Finding a way to heat water proved to be a challenge until it was discovered that it could be put into an empty turtle shell or large seashell and set over a fire. Native Americans used gourds and baskets that they made almost waterproof by coating the insides with a layer of clay and letting it dry and harden.
The development of pottery cooking vessels allowed for more possibilities. These vessels could be large or small and short or tall, depending on the specific need. Eventually pottery was coated or glazed, which made it waterproof, a great improvement. These vessels could be suspended over a fire, placed directly in a fire, or set over hot coals.
The development of metal cookware, which conducted heat more efficiently and was fairly indestructible, was the next major advancement in cooking. By the 1600s, many households had a cauldron (a deep cooking pot), a shallow pan, and a metal spit for roasting meats and poultry. By the 1700s, households often had various-size skillets, a kettle, and several wire-handled pots. Skillets were the first cooking vessels to have long handles. Cooking on a stove necessitated pots to be flat-bottomed for stability, while long handles made it easier—and safer—to remove them from the heat.
Types and Sizes
Saucepans range in size from about 2 cups to 4 quarts. Some have somewhat low sides and others have tall sides, but most are straight sided. Other saucepans have flared sides, which is especially useful for reducing liquids, as this allows more surface area to be exposed so the liquid reduces more quickly. When buying saucepans, keep in mind that buying a set is often a better deal than purchasing individual pans. Also, always buy the highest-quality pots your wallet will allow, as they will last longer than lesser-quality saucepans.
Stainless steel saucepans have many good qualities, including being rust-proof, nonreactive (they don't react with acid foods, such as wine or tomatoes), and sturdy. They are not the best conductors of heat, however, so high-quality stainless steel pans have a center core of aluminum or copper; both are excellent heat conductors.
Both stainless steel and aluminum saucepans are available with nonstick interiors. When purchasing, look for saucepans that are made of several nonstick layers, which make them more resistant to scratches.
Enamel-coated cast-iron saucepans are another good option. These pots heat evenly and are easy to care for. One downside is that they can be heavy and take more time to cool down.
If you feel like splurging, a copper saucepan is your top choice. These French-made pots are appreciated for their superior heat conduction, durability, and good looks. Originally, copper pots were lined with tin, which had to be reapplied from time to time. Now they have stainless-steel interiors, which are nonreactive and easy to care for.
Basics for Care
To clean a stainless steel saucepan, immerse it in warm water once it has cooled down slightly. Apply a paste of nonabrasive powder cleanser mixed with water and rub in a circular motion from the center outward using a sponge or nylon scrub pad. Wash the pan with hot, soapy water, rinse it well, and dry it thoroughly. Avoid using steel wool pads, which would scratch the surface. These pots are dishwasher safe.
To ensure that the coating of your nonstick saucepans lasts, clean them gently and avoid scratching their surface. Wash them in hot, soapy water with a sponge or nylon scrub pad. The nonstick finish should prevent any food from sticking.
Enamel-coated cast-iron saucepans are easy to care for. Let them cool down before washing them to avoid shocking the enamel due to the change in temperature. Hand-wash them with hot, soapy water, rinse under warm water, and dry them thoroughly. If any food remains stuck, soak the pot for about 15 minutes, then use a nylon scrub pad to remove the residue. Enamel-coated saucepans are dishwasher safe, but it is not recommended, as the detergent will dull the enamel surface over time.
Allow copper saucepans to cool down before washing them. Use hot, soapy water and a sponge or nylon scrub pad to remove any stuck-on food particles.
To keep the copper looking shiny and new, use copper polish or try this old-fashioned method: squeeze fresh lemon juice all over the exterior of the pot, sprinkle it with kosher salt, and rub with a damp sponge or your fingers until the copper regains its luster.
In A Dutch Oven: Bountiful Stews, Braises & Chilies
The term Dutch oven refers to a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid that is commonly used for slow-cooked braises and stews. Early Dutch ovens had three legs so they could be placed on top of hot coals. These pots were used for baking, boiling, braising, frying, and roasting.
There are several theories regarding how the Dutch oven got its name. As one story goes, in the 17th century an Englishman named Abraham Darby traveled to the Netherlands to learn about the Dutch process of manufacturing cast-iron cooking vessels. This process created a surface superior to the one developed by the English. In time, Darby patented a similar process for pots that he called Dutch ovens. These early pots were appreciated for their versatility and durability. In fact, they were so coveted that George Washington's mother put her cast-iron cookware in her will.
There are basically two types of Dutch ovens:
A "camp, cowboy, or chuck wagon" Dutch oven has three short legs, a heavy wire handle, and a concave lid. Hot coals can be placed in the lid so the food cooks from the top as well as from below, creating an oven-like environment. This Dutch oven is usually made of cast iron but some are also made of heavy aluminum.
Flat-bottomed Dutch ovens can be used on the stovetop and in the oven. They can be made of cast iron, enamel-coated cast iron, aluminum, stainless steel, or stoneware. They all come with a tight-fitting lid so moisture doesn't escape. Stoneware Dutch ovens are very versatile; they can easily go from stovetop to microwave to table.
Sizes and Shapes
Dutch ovens range in size from about 2 quarts to 8 quarts. They are most often round, but some larger ones are oval.
Basics for Care
It is important to season a cast-iron Dutch oven before it is used. Wipe the inside with a light coating of flavorless vegetable oil, then place the pot in a 350°F oven for 1 hour. Remove it from the oven and let it cool completely, then wipe it dry with a paper towel.
To clean it, rinse it under hot water as soon as it is cool enough to handle to prevent any food from sticking, then use a nonabrasive powder cleaner or kosher salt and a stiff brush to remove any food particles. Dry the pan immediately to prevent rusting and apply a very light coating of vegetable oil while warm. Cast-iron Dutch ovens are not dishwasher safe.
Heavy aluminum Dutch ovens are easy to clean and hard to scratch. Allow them to cool down, then soak in hot, soapy water for about 30 minutes or until the food particles are softened. Scrub the pot using a scrub pad or steel wool soap pad. This type of Dutch oven is dishwasher safe.
Enamel cast-iron Dutch ovens are easy to care for. Allow them to cool completely before washing to avoid shocking the enamel due to the change in temperature. Hand-wash these pots with hot, soapy water, then rinse with warm water and dry well. If any food particles remain, soak these pots for about 15 minutes, then use a nylon scrub pad. These pots are dishwasher safe, but it is not recommended, as detergent will dull the enamel surface over time.
It is recommended to season a ceramic Dutch oven before it is used for the first time. Check the manufacturer's instructions for details. This Dutch oven is simple to clean. Soak the cool pot in hot, soapy water for about 30 minutes to help remove any stuck-on food particles. The pot can then be scrubbed clean using a nylon scrub pad. Stoneware Dutch ovens are dishwasher safe.
In A Roasting Pan: Hearty Main Dishes—Beef, Pork, Chicken & More
Roasting is a dry-heat cooking method where food is cooked in the oven at a moderate to moderate-high temperature. The ideal cooking vessel is a rectangular roasting pan that has 2- to 3-inch-high sides, which allows the heat to circulate easily, ensuring a crisp surface and good browning. Some pans come with straight sides, others with flared sides; both work equally well. For easy use, roasting pans have handles at both short sides, and some also come with a flat or V-shaped rack that fits inside the pan. These racks are excellent for roasting chicken, turkey, or meat, as it helps food to brown—even on the bottom.
Heavy stainless steel roasting pans do a great job of browning and roasting to perfection. They also maintain even heat. These pans can also be used on the stovetop for deglazing and making gravy. And they're broiler-safe.
Stainless steel roasting pans with nonstick interiors are another option. These heavy pans offer an easy-to-care-for surface. Although these pans do a good job of roasting, not as many tasty browned bits—which contribute lots of flavor to sauces and gravies—are produced.
Heavy aluminum roasting pans also do a fine job of browning poultry and meat and caramelizing vegetables.
Glazed porcelain and ceramic roasting pans, sometimes called roasters, also do a good job and are favored by many French cooks. These pans are also used for casseroles and baked fruit desserts. The undersides of these pans are often left unglazed to encourage the maximum amount of heat absorption. Ceramic roasters are microwave- and stovetop-safe, while porcelain roasters are microwave-safe.
Granite Ware, also known as Agate and Enamel Ware, has been around since the 1800s and was often used by cowboys and pioneers. Although it was originally produced in several colors and patterns, the one most commonly found in homes today is black with white speckles. Granite Ware is made of enamel-coated steel and is naturally nonstick. The roasting pans are moderately priced and can be found in hardware, chain discount stores, and big box stores.
It's nice to have at least two different-size roasting pans on hand: a small roasting pan about 9 x 13 inches, a medium roasting pan about 10 x 14 inches, and/or a large roasting pan at least 11 x 17 inches for roasting a turkey.
Basics for Care
To clean a stainless steel roasting pan, first let it cool down, then soak it for about 30 minutes in hot, soapy water to help release any stuck-on food particles. Use a nylon scrub pad and nonabrasive cleaning powder to remove any stains or food residue. Avoid using steel wool soap pads. These pans are also dishwasher safe. If the pan has a nonstick interior, clean it with a sponge or nylon scrub pad to avoid scratching the surface.
Aluminum roasting pans are easy to clean and very durable. Allow the pan to cool, then soak it in hot, soapy water for about 30 minutes. Scrub the pan clean with a nylon scrub pad or steel wool soap pad and dry it well. This roasting pan is also dishwasher safe.
Ceramic roasting pans should be seasoned before they are used the first time. Check the manufacturer's instructions. Glazed porcelain and ceramic roasting pans are easy to clean. Soak the cooled pan in hot, soapy water for about 30 minutes to help to remove any food particles that stick. The pan can then be scrubbed clean using a nylon scrub pad. Ceramic and porcelain roasting pans are dishwasher safe.
To clean a Granite Ware roasting pan, first soak it in hot, soapy water for about 30 minutes to dislodge any stubborn food particles. Use a nylon scrub pad to remove any remaining food. Rinse it well and dry it thoroughly to prevent rusting.
Weekend Roast Beef with Crusty Potatoes
In A Casserole Dish: Comfort-Food Entrées
A casserole dish is a type of bakeware that can withstand long cooking without drying out or burning the food. A typical casserole dish is round with a tight-fitting lid and two handles, which allows it to go from oven to table with ease. The term casserole also refers to a type of recipe.
Casserole dishes can be ovenproof, flameproof, or both.
Ovenproof casseroles are usually made of glass, porcelain, or stoneware. They can be used in the oven but not on the stovetop. Some are also freezer- and microwave-safe; check with the manufacturer. A baking dish can usually be substituted.
Flameproof casserole dishes can be used on the stovetop over direct heat and in the oven. They are often made of cast iron, enameled cast iron, or stainless steel. When it comes to one-pot cooking, using a flameproof casserole dish is great because it saves having to use an extra pot or pan for sautéing or browning. A Dutch oven is often a good alternative (just be sure the handle or knob is ovenproof).
Sizes and Shapes
Casserole dishes are available in a range of shapes (round, square, oval, and rectangular) and sizes (from a few cups to several quarts) and come shallow or deep. Choose the shape and size that best fits what you are preparing.
Basics for Care
For easy cleaning, once a casserole dish has cooled down, soak it for about 15 minutes in hot, soapy water to help loosen any food particles that cling. If needed, use a nonabrasive cleaner or nylon scrub pad, which won't scratch its surface.
In a Slow Cooker Easy-Does-It-Main Dishes
For over 30 years, the slow cooker has been a favorite way to cook one-pot meals. Originally it was marketed as the modern way to cook baked beans, with its slogan "Cooks all day while the cook's away." Eighty million pots later, the slow cooker remains a favorite among cooks. At its most basic, this lidded pot has electric coils wrapped inside an outer shell, a ceramic liner, and a dial for on/off, high, and low. At the low setting food can be ready in 4 to 6 hours, while at the high setting food is ready in 8 to 12 hours.
There are four types of slow cookers:
Manual slow cookers usually have three heat settings (on/off, high, and low), a removable ceramic insert that's dishwasher safe and doubles as a serving dish, and a glass lid.
Programmable slow cookers offer one-touch control with multiple time and temperature settings, a dishwasher-safe ceramic insert, and a glass lid. These cookers automatically shift to the warm setting when the cooking is finished and can be programmed to cook for as little as 30 minutes or up to 20 hours.
Cook and carry slow cookers are perfect for taking food on the road. They usually have two or three cook settings, a dishwasher-safe ceramic insert, and a glass lid that locks securely in place to help get food to its destination safely.
Top-of-the-line slow cookers offer the ability to brown meat or sauté vegetables on the stovetop in an aluminum insert. Two handles make it easy to transfer the insert to and from the slow cooker or to the table for serving. These slow cookers are more expensive.
Sizes and Shapes
Slow cookers range in size from 1½ quarts to 7 quarts, with the most useful from 4 to 6 quarts. Depending on the size of the cooker, at least 2 or up to 12 people can be served.
On A Grill: No-Fuss Meat, Chicken, Fish & Vegetarian Dishes
Grilling imparts incomparable flavor to food, which is just one reason why it is a favorite American pastime. Whether the food is cooked on a state-of-the-art gas grill, a tabletop hibachi, or a kettle grill, all grills are pretty much the same. By definition a grill is a cooking unit that has parallel metal bars or rungs on which food is placed and is fueled underneath by charcoal or gas. Cooking over an open wood fire is also considered grilling, but nothing beats the convenience of a modern-type grill.
Americans love gas grills. Since introduced in the 1960s, gas grills have become the most popular way of grilling—and for good reason. They are easy to ignite, heat up quickly, and maintain constant heat. Lastly, they are a snap to clean. The simplest gas grill has two burners, propane ignition, a small end table, a storage bin, and a thermometer, which indicates the cooking temperature. Midpriced models have three burners, a built-in thermometer, propane ignition, a funnel and tray that collect the fat that drips off, and a warming rack at the back of the grill. High-end models resemble stoves with their sleek stainless-steel exterior, four powerful burners, smoker box, rotisserie attachment, side shelves, and storage cabinets. These grills are great for grilling a large amount of food at one time.
Charcoal grills are another way to cook outdoors. The most popular charcoal grill is the kettle grill, which was invented by George Stephen, a metalworker. He fashioned two halves of a nautical buoy together and the kettle grill was born. The concept behind this grill is simplicity itself: The coals are piled in the bottom half of the grill and a rack is placed on top. The domed lid, which has vents, allows the user to slow-cook whole chickens or large pieces of meat, as well as to smoke foods over indirect heat (not directly over the coals). When using a charcoal grill, allow about 30 minutes for the coals to become ashed over (light gray all over). Also available are portable kettle grills, great for tailgate parties and picnics.
The hibachi is a small Japanese tabletop grill that is fueled by charcoal. It consists of a small firebox for the charcoal and two square adjustable grates that can be moved closer to or farther away from the heat. Hibachis are best for grilling smaller foods, such as steaks, kebabs, chops, chicken parts, shrimp, and vegetables.
Newer to the market are electric grills, which resemble inverted broilers with the heating element underneath—instead of above—the food. The heat is regulated using a knob or touch-pad control, with tabletop as well as full-size models available. These grills deliver lots of heat and the ability to sear food well and provide grill marks. The drawbacks are a lack of authentic fire flavor and the inability to cook whole chickens or large pieces of meat using the indirect method.
Caring for Your Grill
When your gas or charcoal grill is at temperature but before you begin grilling, take a metal bristle barbecue brush and run it back and forth over the grill rack until all of the charred particles are removed. Alternatively, you can scrub the grill clean as soon as the food is removed (while the grill is still hot). Depending on how much you use your grill, the interior will need to be cleaned from time to time. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions.
Fueling the Fire
Charcoal briquettes are the most common fuel used. They are available in supermarkets, hardware stores, and some kitchenware stores. Also available are self-starting briquettes that have been infused with lighter fluid; a long match ignites them instantly. (Do not mix them with regular briquettes.)
Hardwood charcoal, also known as lump charcoal, is made from logs that are burned and broken into chunks. It is the fuel of choice for many grilling aficionados for its ability to burn very hot and because it is all natural.
Apple, mesquite, hickory, and oak wood chunks are another fuel option. They burn hot and impart tempting smoky flavor. Apple, hickory, and oak lend food a delicate smokiness, while mesquite lends food a more intense smoky flavor.
Lighting up the Grill
To light a gas grill, follow the manufacturer's instructions. For charcoal grills, there are several options:
A chimney starter is a large open-ended metal cylinder with a handle on the side. Crumpled newspaper is put into the bottom and topped with charcoal. The paper is lit through a hole in the bottom of the cylinder and glowing coals are ready in about 15 minutes.
An electric starter is a loop-shaped heating element that is nestled into the charcoal until the coals burn red, which takes about 5 minutes. The starter is then removed and the coals are given time to become ashed over (light gray all over). Be sure to cool the starter on a heatproof surface, such as cement, safely away from where it could be accidentally touched.
Paraffin starters are small waxy cubes that can be used in place of newspaper in a chimney starter.
Lighter fluid is an easy and popular way to get a charcoal fire going. For safety's sake, douse the charcoal with fluid, then close the can and put it away before lighting the grill with a match or butane grill lighter.
Adding More Flavor to a Gas or Charcoal Grill
Apple, hickory, mesquite, and cherry wood chips add smoky flavor to grilled food without a lot of fuss. Soak about 1 cup of chips in water for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour and drain well. Toss the chips directly onto the hot coals or, if using a gas grill, put them in a smoker box or foil package with some holes poked in and place on the lit burners.
Lemon-Soy Marinated London Broil with Celery Salad
In Something Different: Waffles, Panini Dishes, Pressure Cooker Specials & Fondues
Besides the pots and pans needed for day-to-day cooking, there is specialty cookware, such as waffle bakers, panini makers, pressure cookers, and fondue pots, that makes cooking special, fancier, easier, faster, or simply more fun.
Although Thomas Jefferson hosted waffle parties in the 1700s using waffle irons brought back from Europe, the waffle iron wasn't patented in the U.S. until 1869. It consisted of two hinged iron plates that fit together and were heated on a wood or gas stove.
Since then, waffle bakers (also known as waffle makers and waffle irons) have come a long way. They are electric and have a nonstick interior that ensures the easy removal of waffles. There is a dial to set the degree of doneness and an indicator light that signals when it is preheated. The batter is ladled onto the preheated grid, the lid is closed, and the waffles bake until a doneness indicator light illuminates. Waffle bakers can bake up waffles in a variety of shapes, including square, heart, and round, as well as Mickey Mouse.
To protect the nonstick interior from scratches, silicone, heat-safe nylon, or wooden utensils are recommended for removing waffles. Always allow the waffle baker to cool down before cleaning it.
To clean the interior, brush away any crumbs, then wipe the grid clean with a damp sponge or dishcloth. Wipe the exterior clean with a damp sponge.
To keep the exterior shiny, use a nonabrasive cleanser, such as Bar Keeper's Friend.
Paninis are Italian-style sandwiches. These sandwiches are often grilled in an electric press that has top and bottom ridged grill plates that give the bread grill marks, make it crisp, and heat the filling through. Paninis are versatile; they can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, as well as for dessert or as an appetizer.
When buying a panini maker, look for a model that has a hinged top plate that allows for various sandwich thicknesses. Most models come with easy-to-care-for nonstick interiors, stainless steel exteriors, and variable temperature controls. Panini makers also do an excellent job of grilling fish steaks and fillets, chicken breasts, chops, and vegetables.
To clean a panini maker, let it cool down, then use the cleaning "fork" the manufacturer provided or a nylon or wooden utensil to remove any food particles that cling to the grids. Then use a damp sponge or cloth to wipe the interior clean.
Pressure cookers are a cooking marvel, allowing food to cook in one-third or less the amount of usual time. The concept behind this appliance is simple: Once the lid is locked into place, the liquid inside the pot heats up and becomes steam. Since the steam is trapped, the pressure within the pot builds to the point where water boils at 250° instead of 212°F. At this higher pressure, food cooks much more quickly.
While the first generation of pressure cookers, with their jiggle-topped pressure regulators, does a good job, the newest models are considerably improved. There is no guesswork when high pressure is reached, the pots are made of heavy stainless steel, often with an aluminum or copper core for even heating, and some are nonstick.
If you take the time to care for your pressure cooker, it will last for many years. Here are some tips: Be sure to remove and clean the gasket (refer to the manufacturer's instructions). After washing the lid in hot, soapy water, check the vent area and wipe or scrub away any dirt. Clean the interior with a nonabrasive cleaning powder and a sponge or nylon scrub pad. Dry the lid and bottom of the cooker with a kitchen towel.
The word fondue comes from the French word fondre, which means "melt." Classic fondues are made of cheese or chocolate. For a cheese fondue, the cheese, seasoning, and wine are melted in a pot on the stove. The fondue is then transferred to a fondue pot and set over a burner to keep the cheese mixture hot. Diners spear cubes of bread with long-stemmed fondue forks and dip them into the melted cheese until coated. Fondue parties were all the rage in the 1960s. Recently this fun, communal way to share food with friends has regained popularity.
Fondue pots are usually made of enameled cast iron, stainless steel, or stoneware. The simplest models consist of a small pot, stand, burner, and six to eight fondue forks. Some stainless steel models come with nonstick interiors, while high-end models have cast-aluminum cooking inserts that are stovetop-safe, so the fondues can be cooked and served in the same pot. There are also electric fondue pots that have an adjustable temperature control, as well as a probe to check the temperature in the pot.
To clean enamel-coated cast-iron or stainless steel fondue pots, let the pot cool down, then soak it for about 15 minutes in hot, soapy water. Use a sponge or nylon scrub pad to remove any food particles and wipe it dry. Do not use steel wood soap pads.
To keep the outside of stainless steel pots looking shiny, use a nonabrasive cleaning powder. Let a stoneware fondue pot cool down, then soak it for about 15 minutes in hot, soapy water. The pot can then be scrubbed clean with a nylon scrub pad. They're dishwasher safe. If using an electric fondue pot, refer to the manufacturer's instructions.
In A Baking: Make It Sweet: Cakes, Quick Breads, Buckles & Bar Cookies
Whether baking a Bundt cake, quick bread, fruit pie, or favorite cookie, using the right pan can make all the difference when it comes to baking success. Baking pans come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so it's easy to find just the right pan to suit every baking need.
Round, square, and rectangular baking pans are the go-to pans for brownies, bar cookies, cake layers, old-fashioned pan cakes, and some coffeecakes. These metal pans are often made of aluminum, although some have a nonstick interior or a nonstick finish both inside and out. For the best results, choose a heavier pan over a lighter one to prevent uneven baking. By definition, a baking pan is metal, but glass or ceramic baking dishes can often be substituted.
A springform pan is the pan of choice for cheesecakes. The base (bottom) and side are separate pieces clamped together by a latch on the outside of the pan. The side of the pan expands when the clamp is released, making it easy to remove a cake. Also available are glass-bottomed springform pans, which are especially nice as the base can be used as a serving plate.
A tube pan is a baking pan with a center tube. A Bundt pan is a fluted round-bottomed tube pan. It gained in popularity in 1966 when Pillsbury sponsored a baking contest in which the second- place winner was a Bundt cake. Since then, nearly 60 million of these pans have been sold. Most Bundt pans are made of heavy cast aluminum (liquid aluminum that is poured into a mold, which produces a pan with a very thick wall) with a nonstick finish. An angel food cake pan is another kind of tube pan. This tall slope-sided removable bottom pan is the only pan for angel food cake. The tall center tube ensures the middle of the cake bakes in the same amount of time as the rest of the cake, while the removable bottom ensures that the cake can be easily lifted out of the pan. Some angel food cake pans come with small "feet" at the bottom. Since this cake is cooled upside down (so it doesn't collapse), the feet ensure that air can circulate freely around the cake. A kugelhopf pan is a tall fluted pan with an angled ridged pattern all around. It is typically used for baking a sweet raisin-filled yeast bread of the same name, a specialty of the Alsace region of France. These pans were originally made of tin, but now most are made of heavy cast aluminum with a nonstick finish.
A loaf pan is a metal or glass rectangular pan used for baking quick breads, loaf cakes, and yeast breads.
Pie plates—also known as a pie pans—are shallow round pans made of metal or glass, although many bakers prefer glass for its ability to brown. There are also deep-dish pie plates for extra-deep pies that usually only have a top crust.
A tart pan has shallow sides that are usually fluted and a bottom that is often removable, which makes for easy serving. The most common shape is round but you can also find rectangular tart pans, as well as mini pans for individual desserts.
Baking sheets come with and without rims. A jelly-roll pan is a rimmed baking sheet used for making a jelly roll, a filled sponge cake rolled up like a log. Cookie sheets are baking sheets with one or two low rims. Their design makes it easy to slide cookies onto wire racks. When purchasing baking sheets, choose heavy aluminum pans to ensure uniform baking.
A muffin pan (also called a muffin tin) is a baking pan with cup-shaped depressions that hold either 6 or 12 sweet or savory muffins. Muffin pans are typically made of stainless steel or aluminum. There are also soft, flexible silicone muffin pans and individual silicone muffin cups that don't need to be floured or greased.
Baking Pan Sizes
When it comes to round baking pans, the most useful sizes are 8 and 9 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep; larger and smaller pans are available. For most baking needs, 8- and 9-inch square baking pans are ideal; most are 2 inches high. A standard rectangular baking pan is 9 x 13 x 2 inches. Some have covers, which is great when taking baked goods on the road.
Springform pans range in diameter from about 6 inches to 12 inches. The most useful size is 9 inches across and 2½ to 3 inches deep.
A traditional Bundt pan holds 12 cups of batter and is about 10 inches in diameter. Many recipes call for Bundt pans by their cup capacity.
To measure it, put the pan on the counter or in the sink and add enough measured water to reach the top of the pan. Bundt pans are also available in 6- or 15-cup capacity. A standard angel food cake pan has a 10-inch diameter, while kugelhopf pans range from 6- to 10-cup capacity.
Standard loaf pans are 4½ x 8½ x 3 inches (6 cups) and 5 x 9 x 3 inches (8 cups). Mini loaf pans and extra-large loaf pans are also available.
A standard pie plate has a 9-inch diameter and is 1½ inches deep, while a deep-dish pie plate has a 9-inch diameter and is 2 inches deep.
The most useful removable bottom round tart pan is 9 inches in diameter, although they range from about 4 inches to 11 inches.
A standard jelly-roll pan is 10 x 15 inches. Most cookie sheets are 12 x 16 inches or 14 x 18 inches.
Standard pans are about 2½ inches in diameter, mini pans are 1¼ to 2 inches in diameter, and jumbo pans are 3¼ inches in diameter.
Basics for Care
Metal and glass baking pans are easy to care for. Once cooled down, soak them for about 15 minutes in hot, soapy water, then use a nylon scrub pad to dislodge any remaining food. Rinse with warm water and dry well.
Nonstick baking pans require gentle cleaning. Once cool, soak it in hot, soapy water for about 15 minutes, then use a sponge or nylon scrub pad to clean it well.
In A Bowl Or Pot: Stir It Sweet: No-Fuss Puddings, Sorbets, Compotes & More
Merriam-Webster's defines the word stir as "to disturb the relative position of the particles, by a continued circular movement." Whether you are making cake batter, pudding, sorbet, or poached fruit, chances are the recipe will call for stirring. This action is a way to mix different ingredients together or to turn them into something new. When egg yolks, brown sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, milk, and butter are stirred over gentle heat, they evolve into something totally new and delectable: a silky smooth butterscotch pudding. That is the power of stirring.
There are several utensils made for stirring, including wooden spoons, rubber spatulas, and wire whisks. What you choose depends on the ingredients and the desired results: wooden spoons are good for most stirring needs, rubber spatulas are especially good at gently combining ingredients without deflating them (known as folding) and for mixing batters and doughs, while a whisk excels at aerating (beating egg whites, for example) and gently but thoroughly blending liquids to form a new mixture, as in a sauce or custard.
Wooden spoons are a staple in any kitchen and can be used in any pot or pan. They will not scratch enamel cast iron or nonstick finishes. Wooden spoons don't get hot, and since they are made of a natural material, they are very comfortable to hold—even for a long time. They are made of olive wood, cherry wood, and beech wood, as well as bamboo. All are good choices. Wooden spoons come in a variety of shapes, including slotted, flat-ended, and flat. Wooden spoons should be washed in hot, soapy water (do not soak) using a sponge or nylon scrub pad. They are not dishwasher safe.
Spatulas and Spoonulas
Rubber spatulas have been a staple in kitchens for decades. Their only downside was not being heatproof. Then along came silicone spatulas, which are heatproof up to 800°F and ideal for nonstick cookware. They are available in a variety of sizes and in sets of two and three, which is often a better buy.
A spoonula is a silicone spatula that is a hybrid of rubber spatula and spoon. Its shallow cup shape makes it especially handy for stirring liquids and for scooping. The heads of silicone spatulas can be removed and washed by hand with hot, soapy water or in a dishwasher.
A whisk is the ideal cooking utensil for blending, emulsifying, aerating, or whipping. Most consist of a metal handle with wire loops that are looped and joined at the handle. Whisks come in a variety of shapes, including narrow, balloon, ball, and flat.
A standard whisk, also called a French whisk, has loops that are rather narrow, making it well suited for getting into the corners of straight-sided saucepans and for making salad dressings and marinades.
Balloon whisks have bulbous-shaped wires, which makes them great for beating egg whites or cream. As with most other whisks, they are made of stainless steel.
Ball whisks consist of a group of straight wires that stick out from the handle with each wire tipped with a tiny metal ball. These whisks are good at reaching into the corners of pots and for beating liquids.
A flat whisk, also known as a sauce or roux whisk, is different from standard whisks. It consists of a set of thick wire loops of different lengths that are arranged in a U-shaped pattern. Its flat shape makes it ideal of mixing batters and for gravies.
Cooking One Pot Stews
Stews have surely been around for as long as humans have had pots to cook in. Put some meat, a vegetable if you've got one, and some (but not too much) water into a pot and cook until the meat is very tender—and you've got a stew not so different from those of prehistoric times! Today's stews may require a little more preparation and a few more ingredients, but basically they are as easy to prepare as in the dim past, but with results that are much more flavorful and varied.
Stew recipes are so easy to make, so hearty and satisfying, so good the next day, and so easy to freeze
Stewing is by nature a slow way of cooking, which is not to say that it is labor intensive—indeed, most of the wonderful, slow-simmering time involved will not require any effort on your part at all. Still, most of the stews, except for the fish, seafood, chicken, and vegetable stews, will take several hours to cook. Except for the fish, seafood, and vegetable stews, all can be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated until you are ready to serve them, and many actually improve in flavor when made ahead and given time to rest.
Vegetable stews are best served on the same day you make them, but most can be served either hot or at room temperature. Don't refrigerate a vegetable stew before serving or it will lose some of its flavor.
Notes on One Pot Stews:
- An electric slow cooker can be used to prepare the chicken, veal, beef, lamb, and pork stews. You should brown the meat as described in the recipe, sauté the vegetables, combine with the liquid and seasoning, and transfer to the cooker. Follow the cooker directions, if you have them, for the timing. Most cookers have a high and low setting. If you choose high, cook the stew for five to six hours; if low, cook for eight to ten hours. Stir the stew a couple of times during the cooking process, but don't remove the lid for long or you will lose too much heat.
- Most stews are best prepared in a large, heavy pot. Have an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, preferably made by Le Creuset.
- Browning the meat before stewing it adds substantial flavor to the meat and the sauce. It is an important first step, but you don't have to be too fussy about it. If you brown the meat well on one or two sides, that's good enough. The browned flavor will come through.
- Many often double a stew recipe and freeze half for a future meal. Having a prepared meal in the freezer is like having money in the bank.
- When a stew calls for wine, try to use the same wine that you will serve with the stew. The flavor of the wine will be the dominant flavor of the stew. If you use a bad wine, you will have a bad stew.