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14 October 2009 @ 02:21 pm
Kitchen Stuff  
A couple of things this morning.

I know some of you are fans of the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.

FINALLY, the rest of the coffee world has realized what an enormous following this drink has. Torani has made for a couple of years now, as many of you probably knowpumpkin spice syrup, which is okay, but still lacks the same depth of the pumpkin spice flavoring Bux uses (it is literally the only drink with the power to still draw me back to their window. No, wait - the white chocolate peppermint mocha of the holidays is the other).

But now, Torani has finally realized that in order to lure pumpkin spice latte fans, they must produce a comparable product - I give you pumpkin pie sauce! I have ordered it, received it, and tried it. It is, indeed, at long last, a comparable flavor to the vaunted Bux version, except now I can make mine with less of the super sweet syrup and better coffee. Ah, nirvana! Note: I recommend a splash of vanilla in your cup as well. It compliments the sauce beautifully.

In other kitchen news, my mother, some years ago, purchased my sister a set of All-Clad pans. The try-ply aluminum core kind. I don't remember if they were for her birthday, or Christmas, or what, but Rhien!Sis went to the same culinary school Rhien!Mom attended, so they have this sort of culinary art bond that Rhien is not always included in.

In any case, she got them on some crazy sale, told me she'd get me a set next time they went on sale like that, and lo, years passed. Then out of the blue, my Mom called me a couple of weeks ago and told me she was looking in her chef's catalog, and while they have never had All-Clad on that same sale again, they have something comparable, and would I mind terribly if it wasn't All-Clad?

Keep in mind, Rhien!Mom has never purchased herself a good set of cookware. She has some individual pans, but not her own set of All-Clad or similar. So I say to her, tell me about these pans. And she does.

They are the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro, specifically, the 17-piece set.

She tells me about them, and they sound pretty much exactly like an All-Clad set, for a lot less money. Still expensive, but not impossible. She asks do I mind, I say "Heck no, I would love them!" Last week, they showed up on my doorstep.

As it turns out, I already had one of these pieces, the 6-quart sauce pot with cover. I bought it when the finish on the supposedly indestructible ScanPan 6-quart sauce pot I'd been using mysteriously starting bubbling and flaking. I had looked at All-Clad, but was able to get the Cuisinart for half the price, and so went with that, thinking "It will at least get me by until I get some All-Clad".

I don't know about you, but in my kitchen, the 6-quart pot gets the most use. I use it for spaghetti sauce, soups, stews, boiling eggs or pasta, you name it. It's the perfect "in-between" size, for more than your 3-quart sauce pan, but less than your 8-quart stock pot. I have often found myself using it, and wishing I had another (possibly because I didn't have an 8-quart. The next largest size in my possession then was my 10-quart, which is big enough to feel way too big for a lot of things.)

~ This set is built EXACTLY like All-Clad. Try-ply. Two layers of beautiful stainless steel sandwiched around an aluminum core that goes all the way up the sides of the pans, not just across the bottom, like some knock offs, or cheaper versions such as Emerilware, ironically made by All-Clad. Aluminum is a soft metal, but stainless doesn't conduct heat well. These two paired together combine the peerless conductivity of aluminum, with the beauty, durability, and versatility of stainless.

~ with that in mind, these pans heat quickly and evenly, allowing you to use lower temps on your stove. They also retain heat well, so if you're cooking with electric, it helps even out the usual temp ups and downs of an electrical stove, vs. the constant heat of gas.

~ They are an absolute dream to cook in. I haven't had ANY problems with food sticking, with the possible exception of eggs, but I simply use a non-stick spray, or spritz of oil. Meat browns beautifully to the bottom of the pan, allowing me to de-glaze it with the liquid of my choice (broth, a splash of wine, water, whatever). You CANNOT do that with non-stick, and then you lose all of that lovely flavor. I threw away my non-stick wok, and now just use the fry pan for stir fry. It cooks better, hotter, and has better flavor, IMO.

~ Cleaning them is simple, and can be done in the dishwasher, although I very much prefer to hand wash. Apply hot soapy water and a sponge, and it's clean just as fast as any non-stick pan I've used. I've had that 6-quart pan for over a year, and the All-Clad saucier for two years. They clean up just the same, and both are still gorgeous pans that simply put, just do exactly what they are supposed to!

~ you can also pop these right in the oven. So, oven to stovetop or vice versa, as some recipes call for, doesn't require any complicated switching from one pan to another.

~ The metal handles stay nice on cool when cooking on the stove. they are riveted on, and will not loosen over time. The metal lids fit well, and won't break the way glass lids might. Also, each lid this set comes with fits multiple pans - less lids to store for all those different sizes and styles.

~ these pans have a nice weight to them. Not too light (they won't tip over with a heavy utensil in them) and not too heavy (not hard to lift from the cupboard to my stove, the way the anodized aluminum can be.)

~ stainless steel is the most sanitary cookware you can buy. You can get it perfectly clean - if the bottom stains from browning your meat, rinse it with a little vinegar - it will come right off!

~ The lip of the pans is shaped perfectly for pouring without spilling all over your counter or down the sides of the pan. I love this feature so much!

These are truly a lifetime product, just as beautiful, functional, and durable as All-Clad stainless, without the heavy price tag. I can't recommend them enough. Why wonder whether or not aluminum is "safe"? Why worry about chemical treatments for anodized cookware? These are not like the cheap stainless steel pots of my childhood, which I hated using and cleaning because everything stuck to them. They are truly a joy to use, for a reasonable price. If I could give them six stars, I would. There is not one drawback I can think of, making them for me, at least, the "perfect cookware".

I should mention that the 12-piece set might be more affordable as a starter set, but I wouldn't give up my double boiler, or my favorite pan of the bunch - the 6-quart sauce pot (I gave the new one to my mother, since I already owned it) - neither of which come with the 12-piece set. Other pieces not included in the 12 piece set - 4 quart sauce pan, 2 quart saucier, and large, 5 1/2 quart saute pan (the 12-piece comes with a smaller, 3 1/2 quart version). The 17-piece is truly worth the extra money.
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