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Fazor
2010-Jan-18, 08:32 PM
I'm not trying to capitalize off a certain other thread's popularity, I swear!

. . . oh, anyway. I was wondering if you chefs out there had any particular companies you swear by? I think I need to start getting some knives (probably one at a time, as I don't exactly have a money surplus.) Any good brands out there?

We don't really have any good kitchen supply stores in town. There's one at . . . the mall *shudders* . . . but it looks like they carry a lot of that "as seen on tv" stuff. I can't tell from the website if they have any good stuff as well. Though their only pasta-press is a cheap one.

Any tips on what to look for?

NEOWatcher
2010-Jan-18, 08:44 PM
...Any tips on what to look for?
I'm not sure I have tips, but growing up, we had an excellent set of knives.
They were very thin, durable, and were easily sharpened.
It looks like they (http://www.macknife.com/original.html) are still in business.

Swift
2010-Jan-18, 09:14 PM
I don't have a particular brand to recommend, but if you have any Crate & Barrel stores around you, they are a pretty good place to look. Not as a expensive as William Sonoma or similar, but a good selection.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Jan-18, 09:17 PM
I know Alton Brown swears by Shun (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVCM5BfeA8c).

I checked the prices:eek:

Fazor
2010-Jan-18, 09:22 PM
I know Alton Brown swears by Shun (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVCM5BfeA8c).

I checked the prices:eek:

Heh, those prices aren't that much higher than what I was looking for. I don't mind spending for knives that will last and do a good job. But I want to make sure that they will, well, last and do a good job.

Would be nice if they'd also do the grocery shopping and clean the kitchen when I'm done. But I haven't seen those features listed on any knives yet.

PetersCreek
2010-Jan-19, 08:26 PM
I have a block full of Zwilling (J.A. Henckels) Vier Sterne (4 Star) knives that I pieced together over the years. I've been looking at the Shun knives with great longing but I can't really justify replacing a serviceable set of knives...at least not yet.

Other names/recommendations from our kitchen:

All-Clad cookware—I bought the Williams-Sonoma 15-pc stainless set a little over a year ago and I'm extremely happy with it. You can get 14-pc sets all over the place but the W-S exclusive set includes a tall, 7-quart pasta pentola (open stock price: $385) rather than the typical wide & low 6-quart stock pot. I took advantage of their periodic free shipping deal which really took the sting out of mail order, to the tune of $125. Since then, I've supplemented the collection with a couple of sauciers, non-stick fry pans, and the 12-quart mutli pot.

Le Crueset—we have a couple of their french ovens, some utensil crocks, and other odds and ends. Heavy enough to cook evenly...and ward off home invasion in a pinch.

Lodge—hard to beat for good old-fashioned cast iron cookware, whether in terms of price or quality. I can't recommend their enameled pots because ours stained severely and eventually chipped. Stick to Le Creuset for that kind of thing. Lodge's new higher end cast iron looks nice, though.

Kitchenaid—I love my 6-quart "professional" model stand mixer. It knocks out my bread, pizza dough, and sausage with ease. The grinder attachment also got me started in sausage making. I'm eyeballing the pasta attachments now.

Miscellaneous gadgets and stuff...

Microplane—I have a handful of these wicked sharp graters, including the nutmeg grater/storage box. It gratifies my inner manly-man that the company got its start making woodworking tools. I owned those products, too...way back when.

Bamboo spoons and spatulas—I've got pieces that are more than 10 years old and still going strong. I've never gotten this much service out of wood.

Calphalon plastic utensils—I was really underwhelmed by their anodized cookware (which the All-Clad replaced) but I still have the same set of nylon/plastic utensils I bought more than 10 years ago. Haven't broken, burned, or melted a single one.

Buttercup
2010-Jan-19, 08:33 PM
Black & Decker. :p

kleindoofy
2010-Jan-19, 08:42 PM
The knives in this set are very good and the knife block helps relax tensions. ;)

It's called "Voodoo" and was designed by Raffaele Iannello.

http://img163.imageshack.us/img163/5808/messerblockvoodoo.jpg

NEOWatcher
2010-Jan-19, 09:11 PM
...
It's called "Voodoo" and was designed by Raffaele Iannello...
One of those matches my latest surgery scar perfectly. (no, not the top one)

Swift
2010-Jan-19, 09:58 PM
A few thoughts on particular brands

Calphalon - We have a couple of pieces (big pot, big deep pan) and unlike Peterscreek (sorry dude) we've been very pleased with them. We probably use each of these pieces a couple of times a week on average and have had them for at least a decade (probably more like 15 years). The All-Clad stuff is very nice too.

Le Crueset - We got one of the dutch ovens a couple of years ago and they are great.

J.A. Henckels - Excellent knives

One other general piece of advice - If you can afford to do so, buy high quality stuff. In the long run, it will actually save you money (because it lasts so long). I apply the same idea to the tools in my workshop.

Fazor
2010-Jan-19, 10:05 PM
One other general piece of advice - If you can afford to do so, buy high quality stuff. In the long run, it will actually save you money (because it lasts so long). I apply the same idea to the tools in my workshop.

Yeah. I don't think I could spends as much as, say, the Shun knives cost. I think Tara would use them to kill me if I did.

But I'm willing to spend a bit, and buy one piece at a time. I'm trying to refine my knife skills, but it's hard to even just hold the knife properly when you have to use a death grip to keep it from slipping while you pound the back of the knife with your fist to get enough force to cut through the butter.

Oh, okay, so our current knives aren't *that* bad. But close. The potato rounds I made last night were so oddly cut and uniformly non-uniform, it was pathetic. Tasted good though. I guess good variety in texture too; the thin ones were crunchy, the medium ones were soft and baked, and the fat ones were crispy and uncooked. Yum. (Okay, so they weren't that bad either).

HenrikOlsen
2010-Jan-19, 10:40 PM
The knives in this set are very good and the knife block helps relax tensions. ;)

It's called "Voodoo" and was designed by Raffaele Iannello.

http://img163.imageshack.us/img163/5808/messerblockvoodoo.jpg
Cute, but it looks like the knives are resting on their edge, that can't be good.

mike alexander
2010-Jan-19, 10:45 PM
My wife's father was a cook and we inherited several items. My favorite is an 8" carbon steel knife that must be 60 years old. I have to remember to clean and oil it after each use, but that sucker takes an edge like a razor and stays sharp a long time. Then a lick or two on a steel and it's right back.

Another one is my wife's grandmother's meat grinder. That's more like 75 years old and will probably last several more generations.

kleindoofy
2010-Jan-19, 10:47 PM
Cute, but it looks like the knives are resting on their edge, that can't be good.
Nope.

Friends of mine have that. The handles are solid and relatively heavy, at least so that the knife is well balanced for cutting.

In the block, the knives rest on the blunt end of the handle on the front of the "body." The sheaves in back are just for protection, not for supporting the knives.

PetersCreek
2010-Jan-19, 10:57 PM
Yeah. I don't think I could spends as much as, say, the Shun knives cost. I think Tara would use them to kill me if I did.

But I'm willing to spend a bit, and buy one piece at a time. I'm trying to refine my knife skills, but it's hard to even just hold the knife properly when you have to use a death grip to keep it from slipping while you pound the back of the knife with your fist to get enough force to cut through the butter.

Check out Wüsthof knives. They offer respectable quality-bang-for-the-buck. A basic 8-pc block set is available from both Williams-Sonoma (http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/wusthof-classic-8-piece-knife-block-set/?pkey=cknives-wusthof%7Ccutwuscls) and Chef's Catalog (http://www.chefscatalog.com/product/11914-wusthof-classic-knife-block-set.aspx) for about $300...and the block leaves you a little room to build your collection.

Whatever you opt for, spring for professional sharpening every once in a while. My local shop charges $2-3 per knife and it's more than worth it.

PetersCreek
2010-Jan-19, 11:23 PM
Calphalon - We have a couple of pieces (big pot, big deep pan) and unlike Peterscreek (sorry dude) we've been very pleased with them.

No need to be at all sorry. I'm glad you've had better luck with the brand than I. They were a joy to cook in but they just didn't hold up in the long run. I was meticulous in their care but after about 4 years, the anodization had pretty much worn out of the most-used pieces, the sauce pans and stock pot. I'm pretty sure I could have gotten warranty replacements but I just didn't want the hassle of doing that and then possibly/probably doing it again another 4 years down the road.

Swift
2010-Jan-20, 02:58 AM
No need to be at all sorry. I'm glad you've had better luck with the brand than I.
I wonder if the quality went down hill over time. Like I said, ours are probably 15 years old.

Both my wife and I had a couple of Revereware pots from each of our mom's that have to be 50 years old and are still in usable shape. They were good stuff in their day. However, as near as I can tell, the modern Revereware stuff is cheap garbage.

By the way, speaking of moms, while cooking with a very good friend of mine many years ago, I came to my only realization about cooking:

All cooking arguments ultimately boil down to "well, that's not how my mom did it".

Donnie B.
2010-Jan-21, 12:20 PM
I recently bought a set of Anolon cookware (exterior anodized, interior nonstick) that I like very well so far. They heat very evenly, much better than the cheap Revere Ware I was using before. The main problem is that the set has so many pieces I don't have room for it all, especially since I have a separate set of good skillets and kept a couple pans from the old stainless steel set for when I don't want to use nonstick.

Another recent change that made a big improvement in my kitchen -- and this is going to sound strange -- was a new Delta faucet. My old cheapo Peerless was still functional, but I wanted a high-rise spout for better clearance when washing large items. What a difference with the new, better-quality faucet! Much better control, a very nicely coherent stream, and the set even included a liquid soap dispenser so I could get rid of the goopy bar soap.

jokergirl
2010-Jan-21, 02:23 PM
I have Fiskars knives (These, to be exact. (http://www.shoppingbutiken.se/images/857133.jpg)). They're good quality, not expensive at all, and come in nice sizes for chopping veggies.

Other things I deem important in the kitchen:
1 big pot for making pasta (thick bottom is a bonus for making stews)
1 small pot for making rice (a rice boiler is useful but with experience you don't really need to watch a normal pot more either)
at least 1 cast iron pan. Because they're just that nice. Properly oiled and used in, and you never need to worry about non-stick pans wearing out again.
The drawback of course is that you have to handwash them promptly after cooking (which I rarely feel up to so I don't use mine as often as I should), they're heavy and they need to be thoroughly cleansed and re-oiled every so often if you are worried about smells and so on. But don't knock it until you've tried it. There really is a difference.

That's really all you really need. Well, lids for the pots and pans, and possibly a sieve for the pasta. All the other things are negotiable except a stove and the foodstuffs!

;)

geonuc
2010-Jan-21, 04:46 PM
I like my Shun santuko knife and use it for most things. I also have a set of Chicago Cutlery knives which I like.

Lodge cast iron skillet is indispensible.

I have an off-brand enameled dutch oven which works just as well as higher proced ones, I think.

Carbon steel wok is essential. Got mine from SF Chinatown but they can be ordered on the interwebs.

I use a hodgepodge of other pots & pans. As JG says, the heavy bottomed stuff is best. Some of the stuff is Analon, which is OK. Calphalon or other brands would be as good. Two big, stainless steel heavy-bottom pots for pasta and boiling artichokes and such.

For electrics, I must have a rice cooker. I have two, actually - one has a steamer option which is good for broccoli and stuff. My toaster oven is handy for smaller jobs so I don't have to fire up the main oven. Electric spice mill is useful. Electric crock pot gets a lot of use - I have an ancient one that works fine. I love my vacuum sealing thing. My electric skillet rarely gets use, as with the food processor. Wife uses the KitcheAid mixer sometimes.

Fazor
2010-Jan-21, 05:02 PM
I want a Kitchenaid stand-up mixer, but we are already more than out of space for appliances, and that's a biggie. It'll have to wait.

mike alexander
2010-Jan-21, 05:19 PM
A vegetable steamer, one of those stainless steel collapsible things that will fit in most any pot.

A pizza stone for the oven. Good for baking and rewarming pizza, and other stuff that you want to keep crisp.

captain swoop
2010-Jan-21, 06:15 PM
We have some Japanese Bunmei brand knives that hold an edge like a razor and a big Cleaver I got in Londons Chinatown.
Dualit (http://www.dualit.com/products/combi-2x2) Toaster, this is a Pro thing used in Cafes and Hotels
For slicing and dicing I have a stainless steel [http://www.nisbets.co.uk/products/productdetail.asp?productCode=D454]Bron Mandolin[/url] (mind your fingers)
We steam our veg in a 3 tier stainless steel Steamer.
Our Pans are stainless with half inch copper bottoms, we got them from John Lewis when we were in London, we have some Circulon roasting pans as well.

Plus a Kenwood Mixer (http://www.kenwoodworld.com/uk/Products/Kitchen-Machines/Chef-and-Major/Classic-White-Chef-Kitchen-Machine/) of course.

One of our main 'gadgets' is our Remoska (http://www.lakeland.co.uk/F/product/7669) It's a big dish with a heater in the lid. (No not oneof those 'slow cookers' or 'halogen' things. They are from the Czech Republic and we use ours to roast meat, bake potatoes and make bread.

PetersCreek
2010-Jan-21, 06:53 PM
A pizza stone for the oven. Good for baking and rewarming pizza, and other stuff that you want to keep crisp.

I have a large, rectangular stone that fills most of my oven rack. A lower cost (but less convenient) alternative is to pick up a few unglazed quarry tiles at your local home improvement center.

Speaking of cast iron, I failed to mention my griddle, also made by Lodge. Sunday breakfast is a big thing in the PetersCreek household. This thing is heavily built and spans two range burners, giving me a roomy cooking surface for bacon, pancakes, or eggs to order, including omelets. The flip side is ridged for grilling but the smooth side gets the lion's share of use.

I also have a wok that sees a fair bit of use...and don't laugh...it's the hand-hammered Great Wok of China, As Seen On TV, ca. 1990-ish. It was a gift from an ex and it's still going strong.

Fazor
2010-Jan-21, 07:22 PM
What's a 'Great Wok of China'? Easy, it's when you accidentally locked the wall gate key on the other side, and you have to go around! Thank you, thank you!

mike alexander
2010-Jan-21, 08:09 PM
The Great Wok of China is the only kitchen implement that can be seen from orbit.

PetersCreek
2010-Jan-21, 08:23 PM
That sounds like an untrue fact, mike. Wrong thread! ;)

captain swoop
2010-Jan-22, 09:53 PM
wok and wole

The Backroad Astronomer
2010-Jan-22, 09:57 PM
So if you worked in 24 hour chinese restaurant you would be woking around the clock.

Swift
2010-Jan-22, 09:59 PM
So if you worked in 24 hour chinese restaurant you would be woking around the clock.
And if your two tasks were to chop vegetables on a cutting board, and to cook them in a wok, you could say you were caught between a wok and a hard place.

captain swoop
2010-Jan-22, 10:13 PM
What have I started. Let's not hijack the thread or we will be pun ished

The Backroad Astronomer
2010-Jan-22, 10:13 PM
Wok along nothing to see here.

Donnie B.
2010-Jan-22, 11:02 PM
... or else they'll shut down this thread, wok, stock, and barrel.

Fazor
2010-Jan-25, 04:50 PM
I don't have a particular brand to recommend, but if you have any Crate & Barrel stores around you, they are a pretty good place to look. Not as a expensive as William Sonoma or similar, but a good selection.

We went out to Easton (http://www.eastontowncenter.com/) for lunch on Saturday. As we pulled up, I saw a Crate & Barrel! We checked it out; I was looking for a pasta maker. They didn't have any, but they suggested checking the William Sonoma a few stores over.

I'm in love with that store! (William Sonoma). Thankfully it's a pretty far trip (for what I normally am willing to make), or else I'd be broke. They were just out of the pasta maker I wanted though. They offered to order it, but it was on back order. I'd seen the same one on Amazon.com, for the same price, albeit plus shipping, and they have it in stock.

But they had the Shun knives. Gorgeous, but way out of my price range. They also had all sorts of do-dads and gizmos that I want. A nice mandolin slicer. A double boiler. Pots and pans that I recognized as being mentioned in this thread. Almost bought a nice stone mortar & pestle, but I ended up walking out of there sans purchase. It took some willpower, but I don't really have the money to spend at this particular time. I did, however, join their e-mail list, which is something I'm typically mortally opposed to.

Swift
2010-Jan-25, 06:30 PM
William Sonoma is a great store, but, as you've determined, they can be a little pricey and they have some great ways to spend one's money. They also do occasional cooking demos (my wife has been to a couple) - if you're on their mailing list, you'll hear about them.

A similar store that I like even more is Sur La Table.

Fazor
2010-Jan-25, 06:48 PM
There was a third upper-end cookware store at Easton, but it was on the opposite side of the complex and we were ready to leave. Can't remember the name now. I was happy enough with Williams-Sonoma. Their prices were high, but not higher than they should be (in my opinion). It was just a lot of good quality stuff, which is pricey by nature.

Donnie B.
2010-Jan-26, 10:07 PM
You people are evil. Even though I already have some decent knives, I now must have a set of Shun. I shall curse you when I see my bank balance plummet -- once the inevitable willpower collapse occurs and I buy them.

Fazor
2010-Jan-26, 10:27 PM
You people are evil. Even though I already have some decent knives, I now must have a set of Shun. I shall curse you when I see my bank balance plummet -- once the inevitable willpower collapse occurs and I buy them.

Williams-Sonoma had a 7-pc (IIRC) set for the low price of $980 or so.

Donnie B.
2010-Jan-26, 10:31 PM
I've seen sets that size for a good bit less (online). Still not cheap by any means.

One online seller offers the 7-piece set with your choice of either chef's knife or santuko. I'm leaning toward the latter.

Really, though, I should chill a bit. Maybe I could spring for professional sharpening on my Wusthof blades and see if that's good enough.

Swift
2010-Jan-27, 03:12 AM
You people are evil. Even though I already have some decent knives, I now must have a set of Shun. I shall curse you when I see my bank balance plummet -- once the inevitable willpower collapse occurs and I buy them.
Maybe when you get the knives you could slice us up with them. Though it might be bad for the edge. ;)

Ivan Viehoff
2010-Jan-27, 12:18 PM
Whilst we use Le Creuset pans (now over 25 years old - they last) for most purposes, they have a pouring lip and you need a pan with a well fitting lid for rice and some other purposes. Unfortunately the supposedly indestructible non-stick surface of le Creuset non-stick frying pans is not indestructible, despite our care with it, using only wooden tools, etc. I also have a wok for stir frying, though it is only useful if you have a gas cooker. The wok lid is very useful, but as a frying pan lid.

The gadgets that get most use in our house are:

Aquasensor electric kettle with adjustable temperature - unfortunately they were only on the market a short period because they aren't very reliable: when my first one broke down after 3 years I got a replacement cheap on ebay, but I think they are now probably unobtainable. Shame because it is a brilliant idea, and we often do want 80C water - that's the water temp I make fresh coffee at in our Aeropress.

Panasonic bread-maker

Aerobie Aeropress - poor man's espresso device

Magimix food processor (just retired the Braun one after 20 years) - Magimix seem to be more robust than most

Electric hand-whisk

I have an ice-cream-maker (of the variety you pre-cool in a freezer, not the v expensive ones with electric cooling). I've not been able to find one as good as the Breville one I got in the 80s, which has left me disappointed with the Magimix one which was the closest replacement I could identify. The advantage of the Breville was its very large bowl with large thermal capacity, which rarely failed to solidify what I put in it. It broke after being dropped once too often, and the thermal liquid leaked out.

Fazor
2010-Jan-27, 01:21 PM
I've seen sets that size for a good bit less (online). Still not cheap by any means.

One online seller offers the 7-piece set with your choice of either chef's knife or santuko. I'm leaning toward the latter.

Really, though, I should chill a bit. Maybe I could spring for professional sharpening on my Wusthof blades and see if that's good enough.

I haven't looked that close at the Shun line, but I'm assuming they have different sets at different prices. I saw a 5pc set for $200 online, which is something I'd probably pay

captain swoop
2010-Jan-27, 05:44 PM
Never been a fan of Le Creuset. Give me stainless steel any day, plys the handles on ours don't get too hot to hold even after a long period of cooking.
I don't like bread makers, I make and knead the dough, put it in the Remoska, turn it on and leave it for half an hour.

PetersCreek
2010-Jan-27, 06:30 PM
Doggone you folks. Now you've got me thinking of buying a set of Shuns with my dividend in October! If I do, I'll be looking to sell my Henckels.

I did find a more economical alternative to those wanting some of the Shun quality. They have a better-than-entry-level line of knives called Wasabi. Amazon carries the 10-piece Wasabi block set (http://www.amazon.com/Wasabi-Black-10-Piece-Knife-Limited/dp/B002TYZOQA/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1264616198&sr=1-5) for US$299.95. You may also see these knives under the Kershaw or Kai company name. Kai is the parent of both Kershaw (excellent pocket and hunting knives) and Shun. They aren't as attractive as the Classic line...very utilitarian looking...but they seem to be a decent knife for the money.

mahesh
2010-Jan-28, 04:06 PM
...If I do, I'll be looking to sell my Henckels...
ahem...perchance, you could interest Fazor?

captain swoop
2010-Jan-28, 07:06 PM
Try the Bunmei (http://www.cutleryandmore.com/bunmei.htm) knives, they are ace. I have an Usuba and a Deba. They are like razors and the wooden handles have withstood years of use and abuse including a couple of inadvertant trips through the dishwasher.