My dear Mama, who I have always believed was the best cook in the world ever, swore by her Club Aluminum Cookware! My Grandmother loved her pressure cooker. And then there was my mother-in-law loved her Iron Skillets and a beautiful old French Enameled, Cast Iron Dutch Oven that was a light Turquoise with a little design around the bottom. Her other favorite was a Speckled (Graniteware) Navy Blue Oval Roaster that always showed up in her oven for Sunday Dinners. There were so many dents and dings in that old pot but the food was always so moist and flavorful!
When I first got married we bought one of those sets of “Waterless” Stainless Steel cookware. You remember, the kind you purchased at a Home Demonstration Party?? They were good but not my favorite. Ended up giving they away.
Then came a set of those new Teflon pots that were touted as being non-stick and they were indeed until the Teflon started to flake off into your food!! Not good at all.
I received a great Presto Pressure Cooker that I loved and used all the time after I finally learned how to use it and not blow it up!! I had this one for 49 years and just sold it at a garage sale!!
Next came probably the most expensive cookware I have ever purchased…..well, almost! It was a set of All-Clad Triple Ply Stainless Cookware. Wonderful pots, but I found something I loved even more and so much more affordable……
Here are pictures and a list of my current favorites!!
Curtis Stone Cookware…I must admit that I had a huge collection of All-Clad cookware. They were very pricey so I would have save up and buy one at a time when they went on sale. They are wonderful pots, they cook great, but I had to have the fanciest ones with the black coating on the outside and so they could never be put in the dishwasher……(not that I do that anyway) and required careful handling to not get scuffed.
One night at 3 a.m. I got a Tornado alert on my television. I went to take cover in an inside bathroom with no windows, got under a pile of quilts and pillows and waited in the bathtub until I got the “all clear”. With my heart still racing a half hour later, I just couldn’t go back to sleep so I started flipping through the channels and came across a demo of these pots with the man himself!! Home Shopping Network at 4 a.m., Really Chiqui??? In a weak moment after being so impressed, I ordered a 14 piece set and called it a night! Woke up the next morning and asked myself, “What have you done?? The last thing you need is another set of pots!” So I calmed myself done by rationalizing that I could always send them back if I didn’t like them in person……right??
Can I tell you that I am in love with these pots? Great to cook in, food never sticks, great variety of sizes and that tall pot with the handle is indispensable!! Perfect for brewing iced tea, cooking grits, and especially great for making Pralines and Almond Butter Crunch Toffee!! I also LOVE the see-thru lids with the tiny steam release vent! Great for cooking rice or a recipe that says not to raise the lid! Best part you can pretty much use any utensil in them but I always avoid metal whenever possible. I do take care of my cookware!!
Goes without saying, I gave my whole set of All-Clad to my daughter and son-in-law and have never looked back!! I talked so much about these pots one night while teaching a fancy cooking class that before I could finish singing their praises, one of my students ordered them right there on his phone!!
Now the ones in the picture with the Dura-Pan sticker are brand new ones I got for my son and his wife as a Housewarming gift and obviously have not been used yet; you do need to remove the stickers first! The others have been used all the time! By the way, they do come in a stainless steel version instead of a color!
Enameled Cast Iron Cookware…I adore my Le Creuset, my Emile Henry, and my Cuisinart brand pots!! But I really couldn’t afford to buy the big name brand version of a huge, oval shaped pot that I really wanted. So I looked on-line and found a 7qt. oval pot for around $75.00 in red to match my fancy ones! It has no brand name on it but I absolutely adore it. Perfect for big pot roasts, huge recipes of my Sunday Gravy, and great for making pulled pork in the oven! Always cook over medium-low heat when cooking in Enameled Cookware and NEVER EVER use abrasive cleansers or scrubbers to clean them. Dry the pot and lid completely before storing and putting the lids back on them. Notice I use the rubber edge protectors that came with the pots and I have that great shelf to display as well as store my collection!
Culinary Institute of America Non-Stick 12 “ Skillet…One of my favorite splurges and one of the best skillets I own. You can truly use any utensil except for a sharp knife, when using this pan. I love it!! It is heavy, triple clad for great heat distribution, and this pan holds a lot! With that said, it is an expensive investment, shop around the web for the best prices or look for sales when you can find them at good prices. CIA Picture Below priced at well over a hundred dollars but well worth it!!! Tramontina is another good brand for big non stick skillets; look for the heavier ones. I think Sam’s carries them; decent quality but not as sturdy as the CIA skillet.
Heavy Duty Magnalite Professional 20 qt. Roaster with lid, also Large Rectangular and Round, Two-Handled Roasting Pans. These have become absolutely indispensable when catering or hosting large family dinners. I can make huge recipes of Gumbo or Jambalaya, Chicken Sauce Piquant, Roasting a 24 LB Turkey or making huge amounts of Chinese Fried Rice. I also have a large round , two-handled skillet that is perfect for making Paella and PIZZA!!
This pot has a 3″ deep Cast Aluminum Lid (that matches the handles) and can even accommodate a turkey or a whole ham. This pot takes up two burners!!
This pan also takes up two burners, it’s huge!
That is 12 Stuffed Pork Chops in this pan! I am not sure these are even made anymore but I have been offered large sums of money to give them up and my answer is always, “Not a chance, Sugah!!” The grandkids will definitely inherit these!
Lodge 12” Round Cast Iron Skillet…Makes perfect Cornbread, fried Bacon and eggs, and Southern style Pan-Fried Chicken with Cream Gravy or Chicken Fried Steak. Not just for frying but I always use it to make a perfect Pineapple Upside Down Cake and fabulous Buttermilk Biscuits or Pan Rolls!! Just a little side note…..a good friend of mine once told me it also makes a great weapon… Some folks say she was seen chasing a man down the middle of the street who looked a lot like her husband early one morning…just sayin’! But seriously now, an Iron Skillet is the BEST pan in which to make a N’Orleans ROUX!!
Magefesa Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker…Another one of my favorite pots that I find myself using more and more! Perfect for cooking Red Beans in 45 minutes, Pork Shoulder or Chuck Roast in 50 minutes, Artichokes in 12 minutes (unstuffed), and fresh veggies (cabbage, corn, potatoes, etc.) in 10-12 minutes! Love this pot because it came with a vegetable basket that has small bubbles around the underside edges and it is perforated with tiny holes so you can cook just about anything without it sticking to the bottom of the pan! It comes with a handle attached for easy removal of whatever you are cooking, too. My pot also came with a shorter pot that fits the same lid. It was about 2 1/2″ deep, but one of my precious children accidentally threw it away when I moved!!!!! I was so upset but I think it can be replaced on-line! It is amazing!
Copper Clad Square Fryer with the Fryer Basket insert…I also find myself reaching for this a lot, too. You know you have seen it advertised on TV. I found this one at Ross for $29.99. I gave it to my son who loves to cook and boy, do we BOTH love to use it. He deep fries potatoes and fish for his yummy Fish Tacos! That basket insert is awesome. It is totally non-stick and really looks like new even though we have both used it many times. Takes well to high heat and can go directly in the oven, too!
Not an “I just can’t live without it” pan but the griddle below is so perfect for making pancakes. You can fit 4-4″ pancakes and they DO NOT STICK to the pan!! Great for Quesadillas, 4 Grilled cheese at once, etc. Gently clean with warm soapy water and a SOFT sponge! This was another “find” at Ross
Copper Sheet pan with Crisper Insert ….. It works on the same principal those air fryers do but without the pressure feature. I use it to make Crispy French Bread Croustades for Bruschetta, Garlic Bread, Frozen Pizza, Oven Fried Chicken or Pork chops, etc. I also just use it as a drying rack/cooling rack for fried foods, too!
Classic Nordic Ware Bundt Pan, White Non-stick Lined…I still have my Harvest Gold pan that is about 45 +years old!! This is a must if you are from the South for making your Bundt Cake for the Church Covered Dish Social!! Now next in line, even more important than the Bundt Pan is the Tube Pan (also known as an Angel Food Cake Pan) that is an absolute necessity for making a proper Southern Pound Cake. (See my posts on that very “sacred” Southern Tradition!!) I found an Antique Square Tube Pan at a Thrift Store that I use especially to take to Funerals….and of course Sugah, it always takes it’s rightful place next to the Deviled Egg Tray!
**Chiqui Note: I prefer to hand was ALL my pots and pans. Almost ALL of them look like new although I have used them for years!!
Stainless Steel Cake pans and Heavy Duty Professional Aluminum Cake Pans…The stainless steel cake pans, round, square, heart-shaped and rectangular always keep their shape, are easy to clean and release the cake perfectly after baking them at even temperature. I happened upon 2 9” square All-Clad cake pans at of all places a garage sale and scooped them up for $10.00 each…..retail price $120.00 each! One of my favorite the brands are Fat Daddios Anodized Aluminum cake pans. Always get great results!The Heavy-Duty Aluminum Cake Pans are great for wedding cakes and regular baking. Getting the Heavy ones almost always insures you that they won’t get dents! Batter bakes evenly and does not burn easily. And PLEASE…don’t forget the muffin pans….you will need two! I prefer the plain aluminum ones versus the dark ones.
Aluminum Half Sheet pans…Perfect for Biscuits, rolls, cookies, etc. Also doubles as a drip pan when lined with foil and a bubbly pie or casserole is placed on it when baking in the oven. And below is a great cookie sheet with the tiny “dimples” which allows air to circulate underneath the baking cookies for a crispy result! Great for Biscuits and Garlic Bread.
Oh wait!! I can’t for get about these:
Parchment Paper…An absolute necessity when baking anything, for pouring Pralines, Fudge, or any other “drop” candies. I get a big box from a restaurant supply house contains 1000 sheets for a full sheet pan….it lasts me 10 years, But you can get together with friends and split the costs and every one will have a long lasting supply. You only need a half a sheet to line a regular size cookie sheet for home baking. (See the picture with the King Cake above). I cut out my own cake pan liners, cookie sheet liners, etc. I also lay the whole sheets on the counter when I am decorating cookies, or even breading meat to fry!! Makes for a very easy clean up!
Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls…A must for so many reasons!! I have a set that ranges from extra large down to very small. The big ones are great for mixing large batches of Yeast dough that leaves plenty of room for rising, down to the smaller ones that are great for mixing marinades and sauces! Wolfgang Puck sells a set of 5 with great lids that are sold at Sam’s.
Ninja Blender…Not the fancy one with a million parts, just the base, jar, blade and cover! It makes great Pesto, Hummus, Smoothies, Sauces, Milk Shakes, Salad Dressings, Remoulade, Hollandaise, Tartar Sauce and Homemade Mayonnaise!! Chopped Veggies like Tomatoes, Onions, etc ; not forgetting of course that Royal Icing necessary for all those decorated cookies!!
Immersion “Stick” Blender…This is a must for pureeing Soups and sauces directly in the warm pot they are cooking in!! Much safer and less messy than trying to blend hot liquids in a regular blender!! Ask me how I know! I have also very successfully used this to create wonderful whipped cream by using the small Balloon Whisk attachment that comes with it!
Hand Held Electric Mixer…There will be many times when it just isn’t necessary to drag out the heavy duty Stand Mixer, For those special times, a hand help mixer is perfect.
KitchenAid Stand Mixer 5QT Lift Handle…I cannot say enough good things about this mixer!! I have had mine for years and years when Harvest Gold was in vogue! I finally wore it out and decided to order the new 6QT. BIG, BIG mistake, for me anyway. Once again I turned to Ebay but couldn’t find one that was in good condition but when my sweet sister heard my complaints she said she would trade me her old one for my new one! Hers was maybe used a handful of times a year! We traded and I was back in business! This is the 6qt. Mixer that the main motor lifts back.
Cusinart DLC7…..My Food Processor is quite old but quite indispensable (I do seem to use that word a lot, right?). I was one of the first households to have one because we once owned a Gourmet Shop in the French Quarter. My husband had seen it at a Restaurant Trade Show in Dallas and surprised me with it since I was home with our first baby and couldn’t go! He bought me every kind of disc and accessory they had to offer and I just LOVED it!! Over the years as I began to cater and started making Wedding Cakes and such, I finally bought the really large capacity one (DLC7E 14 cup) so I could whip up large quantities of Icing, etc, Both models have served me very well and I came to depend on them very much. Of course, I had great knife skills but when you are catering a wedding for 300 guests and you are working all alone…..you NEED every bit of help you can get! My first one finally gave out but the new ones couldn’t use the large collections of blades that I had come to depend on, so I looked on faithful Ebay and found my exact one that was barely used and got back to business!
Recently at a Church Yard Sale, I came across a mini Cusinart and scooped it up for $5.00, It was in the Original Box!! It looked like it had barely ever been used and now I reach for the small one when it is just right!
Baking Dishes, Casserole Dishes, etc……There is always the good ole reliable Corningware. My favorite casserole dishes for Lasagna, etc. is Emile Henry Stoneware. It comes in various sizes. It’s, heavy and distributes the heat beautifully. It comes in many shapes, sizes and colors, and looks lovely on any table. But beware, it is a bit pricey. Home Goods and TJMaxx usually have a few pieces every now and then.For baking pies I prefer a clear, glass Pyrex pie plate. It insures you will have a crispy crust and even baking and browning. But I have to admit, I also love my Aluminum Quiche pans with the removable bottom!! And I do love regular Pyrex casserole dishes, too!
WHEW!!!!!!!! Next time I will focus on Knives and Cooking Utensils that I love……..
Until next time……..Bon Appetit