It’s time for guest post. This month it’s going to be a non-recipe post but an interesting and informative post from Sebastian of http://www.twokitchenjunkies.com. He has an amazing blog with loads of information about kitchen gadgets and their reviews. He sent this post well ahead but with other guest post in line I couldn’t post this right away. I would like to thank him for this wonderful post and without any further delay, here is the post.
The differences of cooking vegetarian and meat meals:
The processes that we use cook vegetables or meat is very different to each other. Meat is often cooked at a higher temperature and generally for longer. Vegetables generally cook well in water and at lower temperatures. Because different types of cookware have different strengths and weaknesses you should be looking to make sure that you have the right cooking equipment to get the best results in the kitchen. What is not good for cooking meat may be great for vegetarian meals and the other way round?
When it is right to use Teflon nonstick and when it is not?
There has been a lot of debate on this topic (I have written extensively about it here (http://www.twokitchenjunkies.com/ultimate-guide-to-healthy-cookware/ ) for many the thought of using nonstick Teflon is not something that they want to entertain. The truth is that while there are potential hazards to cooking with nonstick it can be very good in certain situations. Vegetarian food is usually cooked a lower temperatures and often in a water base. This means that the temperature of the pan does not go above 100 degrees C and so there is never a problem with overheating.
Because vegetables cook faster and at lower temps you can even fry them and this will not be a problem. In short anything that that you are cooking in water or a source then you should consider Teflon, it is also generally a cheaper option if that is something that needs to be taken into consideration. Teflon also makes cooking a lot easier and is a time saver making it a popular choice for those who are lead busy lives.
Using Ceramic for vegetarian food:
There is also another option that is a little more expensive generally but can make cooking even easier, this is ceramic cookware. It is a little different to Teflon in that the coating on the pan is much more durable (it is a ceramic based coating) and so longer lasting. You are able to cook at higher temperatures and get good results for both vegetarian and meat dishes. It is however usually more expensive then the Teflon range. I have always had a preference for ceramic as I feel more comfortable with it as I like to have something that is a little more robust as this suits my cooking style.
Ceramic is great as you can cook without oils and even without water should you want to as it can take much higher temperatures. One of the things that I love about ceramic is that you can get this cookware in so many vibrant colors and different shapes. There is literally something for everything and this is important to me as I think that half of the battle with cooking decent food in the kitchen is happy and having fun when you are cooking.
Ceramic cookware is great for doing things like a stir fry where you need more intense heat to quickly cook vegetables and keeping them crunchy.
Cooking vegetarian meals with stainless steel cookware:
Stainless is good for high temperature cooking, but for many of the things that you cook you will need to add some sort of oil or fat so that the you don’t get anything sticking to the bottom of the pan. There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to stainless steel but it is far more robust then the ceramic or Teflon. One of the things that you can do with stainless steel is steam your veggies. Because stainless steel is robust you can easily cook with any utensil and not worry about scratching them. You can also use stainless steel on any cooking surface including induction cooktops (http://www.twokitchenjunkies.com/best-induction-cooktops/) which is super-fast and responsive like gas but with less fuss.
One of the things that I like about stainless is that you can put it into the oven, unlike the other two above that can really only be used on a cooker or stove top you can use stainless in the oven or under the grill. This is very handy if you are making a dish and you want to brown the top. I like a little cheese on my veggies from time to time and I love grilled cheese even more, once I have cooked the veggies I simply sprinkle the top with cheese and put the pan under the grill.
Stainless steel will give you this versatility and it is this that makes its a favorite among the best chefs. It is a good idea to make sure that the handle for your pan is also metal as rubber coated ones will melt
Just remember that if you have not cooked with stainless steel it will take a bit of getting used to but it will be worth it in the long run as it is so versatile and extremely robust
Cooking with Cast iron:
I have left this one till last as this is a biggie in my books. There are a lot of types of cast irons pots, pans and things like Dutch ovens; you can also get cast iron in enamel coating.
If you look online there are many websites dedicated to sharing what cast iron enthusiasts have learned. Cast iron divides people; you either love it or hate it really. I think that one of the reasons is that there is always a lot of preparation that goes into cooking with cast iron. There is a lot of maintenance that is needed as well. Add all of this together and you have something that requires a lot of effort to get used to using.
One of the things about cast iron is that it is a great retainer of heat, and while it may not be a great conductor of heat it does make the distribution of heat very even. This is a valuable property when you have to cook things at high temperature (like searing steaks) or when you are cooking using fire. It is in my opinion almost an over kill for cooking vegetables. Having said this there is one item that you can use and love – the cast iron skillet.
Using a cast iron skillet for cooking vegetables:
The cast iron skillet is one of the most robust and versatile items that you can have in the kitchen. If you learn how to use it and maintain it properly there are a lot of things that you can do with it. Here are just a few of the things that can be done.
- Frying – perfect for awesome stir fry’s and the like. You are cooking with a pan that will help evenly spread the heat when you cook.
- Grilling – if you need to grill something this is the perfect vessel to do this with.
- Roasting – because there is nothing on a cast iron skillet that will burn you can simply pet the whole pan in the oven (some even come with a cast iron lid making them practically bullet proof.
- Pizza – you can make pizzas in them, that in itself is a big plus in its favor.
Something that I feel is important to mention at this point is that the quality of any of the cookware that you choose should always be the best that you can afford. This is one of those areas in life (I feel) that there should not be any compromise on. I am all for saving money but this is something that will have a long term impact on your cooking. If you are looking to improve your cooking and get the best out of what you cook then this is something that you will just have to do. There are often bargains and discounts about on some of the better brands so look around before you buy. Remember, you never see chefs cooking with cheap cookware, there is a reason they go for the best, if you are passionate about cooking then so should you go for the best that you can afford.
There are lots of options that you can use for your cooking; it is always good to have an idea of what you want to cook and how you are going to cook it. Different cookware all has their strengths and weaknesses. Armed with a little knowledge and knowing what you want to cook will help make cooking more fun. There is no one size fits all; you can always tell how good a person is at cooking by how many pots and pans they have in their kitchens. There is always the perfect piece of cookware for whatever you want to cook.
Image Credit : Sebastian Beaton