Let's face it. How often do you cook live lobster? Unless it's something you do on a regular basis, you don't need a lobster pot. Instead, just commandeer a large pot that's able to accommodate lots of water for boiling. You will need about 2 ½ quarts of water per lobster, so 20 quarts is perfect for a family of four. If you prefer steamed lobster, simply fill with 2 inches of generously salted water, and add the lobsters one at time. While a steamer rack that fits the pot is helpful, it's not necessary. When you're not using the stockpot for lobster, it's great for boiling fresh corn on the cob, cooking for a crowd or preparing large batches of soup to freeze for future consumption.
If you've acquired all the cookware essentials you need and feel like adding something more frivolous to your collection, consider a pizza pan. Whether you want to make a pie from scratch, bake one from the supermarket freezer, or just reheat a slice from your local pizzeria, it makes a great kitchen addition. Look for a pizza pan with perforated holes, which allow air to circulate freely to achieve a crisper crust. If you pick one that's nonstick too, try using it to make oven fries that crisp up without any oil.
If you are mulling over which types of pots you'll need to begin a basic cookware collection, don't overlook a large (at least 8 quarts) stockpot. Since you'll probably be using it mainly to boil water for pasta, or perhaps for blanching vegetables, this is one case in which you don't want a heavy-feel. You want to easily lift the pot when it's full. If you plan on making large quantities of soup or stock with it, choose one made from good quality mid-weight anodized aluminum. Buy the cheapest, lightest stockpot you can find if you're only going to be using it to boil water for pasta.
For the combination of top-performance and affordability, it's tough to beat Cuisinart cookware. In a 2006 equipment test conducted by Cook's Illustrated, the Chef's Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized Omelet Pan was the highest-rated, among several competitive nonstick brands. Testers observed that it had the largest cooking area of all the skillets and declared, “this pan impressed us with its sturdiness and heft,” commenting that the salmon used in testing was “beautifully and evenly browned.” Consider this cookware if your budget is tight, but you still seek quality in the kitchen.
Sometimes you want the ease and convenience of a food processor for a small job, like chopping onions, pureeing a sauce or
mixing a dip. For those times, try the Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus. This compact, easy-to-store or keep-on-the-counter processor features a clear 21-ounce work bowl that handles a variety of tasks, from blending salad dressing to mincing garlic and herbs to making pesto. You can even use it to make homemade baby food. An exclusive auto-reversing blade grinds hard foods like coffee beans, nuts, seeds and even spices, like cinnamon sticks. Touchpad controls wipe clean effortlessly, and removable, dishwasher-safe parts add to the convenience.
Do you love digging into the tender meat in a perfectly cooked beef stew, yet lack the patience or time to wait for hours at home as it simmers? With the Cuisinart slow cooker, you can toss together ingredients in the morning, leave for work and return to a delicious, fully-cooked meal. It features high or low temperature controls that may be set for up to eight hours. When simmering time is up, the settings automatically shift to warm, to ensure food remains hot, but never overcooked. The ceramic cooking pot is removable for easy cleaning, and for even more convenience, does double duty as a serving piece. A sleek, brushed aluminum exterior makes the Cuisinart slow cooker an attractive addition to any countertop. For dessert lovers, it includes a rack for use with ramekins and other bakeware, and for cooking inspiration, there is a recipe booklet.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|