We love our Dutch oven. Really love it. It never argues over $85 billion budget cuts or sends Kardashian-sighting Tweets. And it makes one hell of a cassoulet. But we recently wondered, by sudden necessity: Is that Le Creuset lifetime warranty that we've all heard so much about really legit? "Defective cookware will be replaced free of charge, or replaced by a similar product or one of equivalent value if the product is no longer in production," according to the company website. They are promising a brand new pot.
Wait. The fine print. This is a "limited" warranty from a big corporation; we all know how this story likely ends. But last month, despite our better judgment, we shipped our pot to the company's headquarters in South Carolina. Besides, replacing it cold turkey at a (corporate) cooking shop would set us back $300. And we'd shown our patriotic support for the U.S. Post Office for the entire year (Did we mention the pot weighs a ton?), Saturday service or not. Now we got to wait five weeks to find out what that "lifetime warranty" really meant.
On our quest for the perfect pizza crust, we've broken pizza stones (more than one), tried all of the mock pizza oven tricks (Bricks!) and talked with chefs like Jeff Mahin over at Stella Rossa about our unfulfilled crust expectations. And now, the Baking Steel.
Baking pizza on steel is an idea Mahin turned us onto when he shared his own crust revelations. While experimenting with pizza recipes at home while Stella Rossa's pizza oven was being installed, he decided to toss a steel slab from the hardware store into his oven. "I was thinking [steel] is like a sauté pan: The thicker the sauté pan, the better it holds heat," he says. "Why not try it in the oven?"
Baking Steel founder Andris Lagsdin stumbled upon the same idea after reading a newspaper review of Modernist Cuisine. Nathan Myhrvold includes the suggestion to make your own pizza stone out of a steel sheet in the book. Or, if you happen to work for your family's steel manufacturing company, as Lagsdin does, you could launch a Baking Steel Kickstarter campaign to manufacture a line of pre-seasoned baking steels. Presto. Very heavy -- and very good, if a bit pricey -- baking steels. Get the review after the jump.
While Anaheim Angels first baseman Albert Pujols was hitting his 450th home run last year, his wife, Deidre Pujols, was knee-deep in calderos, the Dutch oven of Latin American cooking. The price tag comes with a good cause: Proceeds from her new cookware line, Pujols Kitchen Cookware, benefit poverty-stricken families around the world by providing meals and other necessities. The couple's Pujols Family Foundation already assists impoverished families in Albert's native Dominican Republic (Deidre traces her culinary roots to Mexico).
The cookware includes various sauté pans, a glass baking dish and assorted kitchen tools (spatulas, spoons, ladles), but the stars here are the calderos ("cauldrons") in various sizes.
Get more after the jump, including Deidre's pollo guisado, the spicy Dominican chicken stew that she calls "home run chicken" for its purported effects on her husband.
If you're a fervent canner and preserver, twiddling your thumbs until that next Master Food Preservers class begins, the plastic Re-CAP Mason jar lid (a pour cap lid for your Mason jars) might be just the diversion you need.
Bonus: While you're waiting for your lids to arrive, the website is filled with "wide mouth" jar lid updates and FAQs to get the ideas flowing ("My spout lid is tight, what can I do?") as well as a brief history of the mason jar. And -- Are you ready for this? -- a link to the original patent documents for the Mason jar (inventor Karen Rzepecki is currently awaiting patent approval).
If you've ever fancied yourself the next George Foreman Grill inventor but don't have the cash or engineering know-how to give it a whirl, Quirky could be your ticket to Home Shopping Network fame. The company is a social media-influenced product developer with a wide range of kitchen gadgets. For $10, you can submit your product idea and Quirky's "global community of 220,000 members weighs in and collaborates on every aspect of product creation, from sketch to store," according to a company representative.
Well, presuming your revolutionary new knife sharpener is one of the two products on average that company executives select weekly to undergo the community design process. Founded in 2007 by 20-something Ben Kaufman, the company receives as many as 1,500 idea submissions a week. Product inventors get a sales cut (pretty small when you read the fine print), as do the "community influencers" who had a hand in changes to the final design. Kitchen products include the Mercado Farmers Market Bag ($24.99). Get the review after the jump.
Even before the The Ninja arrived on our test kitchen doorstep, friends offered their unsolicited opinions about modern slow cookers. "Anything with Ninja in the name sounds like it could be cool," said one. Another: "Why would anyone need a high-tech slow cooker?" We tend to agree with the latter, as our basic hand-me-down electric crock has always worked fine on those days best suited to the slow-simmering of pinto beans. Still, the idea of a tech-savvy Dutch oven is intriguing on days when we can't stay home and watch that simmering pot.
Judging by the cookbooks recently released on the subject, we're also in the midst of a slow cooker revival. Among them: In The Italian Slow Cooker (2010), Michele Scicolone inspired us to think of a slow cooker not just as a time saving appliance, but as a way to maximize flavor. America's Test Kitchen documented the Slow Cooker Revolution last year, and Kendra Bailey Morris has a Southern recipe-themed slow cooker cookbook due out next year. Scicolone, Morris, Lisa McManus: if you're reading this, we'd love to hear what you look for in a slow cooker. In the meantime, did we think the $200 Ninja (!) was worth the price?
Over the weekend, folks of all stripes landed in Orlando, Florida for Star Wars Celebration VI, the ultimate Star Wars fan convention that undoubtedly was more fun than the Republican National Convention will be this week. Of course, where there are Star Wars geeks, there are ingenious Star Wars-themed kitchen gadgets. Case in point: A slick Death Star Tea Infuser sold by ThinkGeek during the event, and now available on its website.
"Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. An elegant weapon for a more civilized age," Obi-Wan Kenobi said, introducing Luke Skywalker to the lightsaber, the Jedi's weapon of choice. Which brings us to Kotobukiya's line of Star Wars Lightsaber Chopsticks, not as clumsy or random as a spork, an elegant utensil, if you will, for a more civilized eating age. Unlike the real lightsabers in the fictional Star Wars universe, however, the original version of these chopsticks did not light up. This was, in the word of Kotobukiya, a "fail."
For guitar amps, gently-used "attitude tees" and vintage poster art, eBay is that ephemeral, endless Target in the sky. Most of us also know by now that there is no better source (save a millionaire foodist's estate sale) for odd and esoteric kitchen gadgets. Whether you're looking for a new addition to your "technemotional" cooking armory or some weird granny cookware, eBay spills forth with dazzling options. Read on for five you might want to place a bid on.
Laurence Segal of Westside Sharpening & Cutlery Center has precisely the personality you need in a go-to knife guy. He's intensely opinionated about your blade choice ("Only stainless, never, ever carbon steel") and satisfaction-guaranteed confident ("Yeah, some people think they can sharpen knives, but just wait until you try your knife out tonight"). He also harbors a few obsessive-compulsive knife storage issues. "You should have seen his reaction the time I put one of his [handmade] knives in the kitchen sink," jokes his wife, Cecelia Diaz. "There was no water in the sink, even!"
Hey, if we owned a knife half as stunning as the hybrid Inuit Eskimo-Chinese knives (!) Segal designs and makes by hand at his tiny alley-side shop in Santa Monica, we'd probably be just as uptight about proper knife handling.