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Cookware | Manolo's Basement of the Bargains
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Now You’re Cooking!

Ah, that wonderful time of the year is here! I speak, of course, of Sur La Table’s annual sale. Right now you can get 20% – 40% off of dozens of gadgets, pots, pans, and serving pieces that will make your culinary life both easier and prettier. Twistie’s choice? Take a look:

Sur La Table 9 Piece Cookware Set
Isn’t that a lovely set? Each pan is made of an aluminum core sandwiched between two layers of sturdy stainless steel. This combination is great for quick heating and even conduction. It also has the advantage of looking superfantastic with minimal fuss on your part. The firmly riveted handles are also designed to keep cool and be comfortable to hold.

You get the 1 1/2 and 3 1/2 quart covered saucepans, 3 quart covered saute pan,  6 quart covered stockpot, and 10″ open skillet. That’s nine basic pieces in all. Whether you’re just starting out with a new kitchen or upgrading defunct cookware, that should be enough to get you properly started.

So what will all this cost you? I thought you’d never ask! Purchased separately at regular price, all these pieces would set you back $449.75. Not bad for a whole new set of basic cookware of this quality. However, if you purchase the set in one go, Sur La Table usually gives you a nice price break and lets you have it for $349.95. Now that’s a nice price. But you’re looking during the annual sale when the price is slashed to just $269.96! Why you could spend that much on a set of much, much lower quality.

But you wouldn’t be that silly, would you? I didn’t think so.

A Starring (Casse)role

During the holidays, many of us spend a lot of time feeding more people than we usually would. Friends, family, co-workers, they’re all hungry, and they all know what a good cook you are. It’s possible, though, that you don’t have enough large cooking vessels to handle all that food.

Of course, you can always buy more. But if you can get top-quality cookware at moderate prices, that’s the way to go.

Enter Williams-Sonoma. They’re having a huge sale right now on Le Creuset  cookware.

Le Creuset Cocotte This is the four quart Le Creuset Cocotte. It’s a lovely oval casserole that will be perfect, whether you’re making a large casserole or a whole braised chicken. It’s available in three different colors that go from oven to stove top to tabletop equally gracefully.

Best of all, it’s a great deal at Williams-Sonoma. Regularly priced at $290.00, it’s on sale until 12/13 for just $119.96!

They cooked up the deal, now you can cook up a storm.

Carve Out a Great Deal

If you spend any time at all in your kitchen, then you know how important good knives are, both for ease of effort, elegance of result, and safety while cooking.

One of the best names in the business is Henkels. They’re beautifully balanced, sturdily constructed, comfortable in the hand, and quite attractive to look at, to boot. They keep an edge well, too. In fact, the one drawback to Henkels is the retail price. The penny they cost is every bit as pretty as they are.

Henkels Knife Set The good news is that sales are out there if you know where to look for them. You might start at Cooking.com where this gorgeous 11-piece knife set is on sale for less than half price.

You’ll get:

  • 2.5-in. Peeling Knife
  • 4-in. Paring/Utility Knife
  • 5-in. Serrated/Utility Knife
  • 6-in. Utility/Sandwich Knife
  • 8-in. Chef’s Knife
  • 7-in. Santoku Hollow Edge
  • 8-in. Bread Knife
  • 4.5-in. Steak/Utility Knife
  • Kitchen Shears
  • 9-in. Sharpening Steel
  • Hardwood Block
  • How much would you pay for all of that? Retailers would like you to pay $486.00. Cooking.com usually would like you to pay $229.99 if you buy now.

    I think I like that price a lot better.

    Friday Finds Under Fifty: The Half-Baked Edition

    One thing’s for sure: if you bake, the holidays are the best excuse in the world to do it. Of course you need good equipment to make the best cookies, cakes, pies, and breads. Here are a couple of my budget-friendly picks to make your life in the kitchen happier and more successful.

    Rachel Ray Cookie Sheets Every year I swear I’m going to get new cookie sheets. I don’t have enough and I don’t have any that are nonstick. This year, I may just go ahead and do it with the deal I found on this Rachael Ray 2-pc. Nonstick Oven Lovin’ Cookie Lovin’ Set at Cooking.com.

    You get two 17″ x 11″ nonstick cookie sheets with large and bright orange silicone handles for  easy handling. They’re dishwasher safe and able to withstand heat up to 500f. What’s more, with every purchase, a donation is made to Rachel’s Yum-o charity dedicated to teaching kids and their families about healthy relationships with food, as well as feeding hungry children.

    All that and a sale? Sign me up! Because right now at Cooking.com, you can save about a quarter of the price on these great cookie sheets. Regularly priced at  39.95, you can get them right now for just 29.99! Now that’s a great way to feel good about making those holiday treats!


    Creme de Le Creuset

    Longtime readers know my passion for Le Creuset cookware. The enamel-coated cast iron is the perfect combination of heat distribution and non-reactive surface to make sure your food is evenly cooked without a metallic tinge to the flavor. It’s also attractive enough to grace nearly any table top, and so heavy that it makes a great impromptu set of weights for strength training, as well.

    Unfortunately, the price can be just as heavy lifting as the pots…unless, of course, you know where to shop.

    Le Creuset 2.75-qt. Round Enameled Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, Flame This is the Le Creuset Cast Iron Dutch Oven in the popular Flame color. It holds 2.7 quarts for perfect braising, stewing, or steaming on a larger scale. It’s safe for both stove top and oven. It can go in the dishwasher, though handwashing is recommended. Don’t worry, my Le Creuset pot cleans in a flash by hand, no matter what I’ve put in it. Oh, and it comes with a lifetime warranty, too. If you ever manage to find a way to break it, the company will stand by their word and take care of the problem.

    And about that price thing, well, the recommended retail price is $160.00. Cooking.com usually gives customers a five-cent discount on that, which isn’t much of a difference as a general rule. Right now, however, they’re giving us a real break on the price. They’ve knocked it down to just $109.95! That’s a savings of more than $50.00, which is nothing to sneeze at.

    Oh, and if you’re not wild about the flame color, don’t worry. It comes in seven other colors, all on sale. Speaking of which, there are a couple of other Le Creuset bargains going at Cooking.com just now that you may be interested in as well.

    Bon appetit!

    It’s What’s Cooking

    Good cookware is worth it’s weight in gold. The more you use it, the better it should be. That’s why skimping on basics like saucepans is always a bad idea.

    Of course, just because you’re not skimping doesn’t mean you’re not going to save money if you can. Wasting money is just foolish, and you are not a fool.

    All-Clad 4-qt. Stainless Steel LTD Sauce Pan
    That’s why you’re going to head over to Cooking.com and take advantage of the
    big sale they’re having on All-Clad cookware

    This is the good stuff. It’s three layers of bonded metal: pure aluminum sandwiched between a  black anodized  aluminum exterior and a stainless steel interior for excellent heat conduction in a non-reactive cooking surface. It even comes with a lifetime warranty.

    Spend  $250.00 on All-Clad LTD and you can even get a free bonus  au gratin dish ($130.00 value, see site for details and restrictions) to boot. Or to cook in. It’s up to you, but I know what I would do.

    As for this handsome, sturdy 4 quart saucepan with lid, it usually runs $210.00, but at Cooking.com right now you can get it for the bargain basement price of just $104.99.

    All the looks, all the versatility, all the sturdiness, and all the extras for half the price? Now that’s what I call a good deal!

    What’s Cooking?

    Good cookware is an investment well worth making. It’s worth every penny you spend. In fact, I’m a firm believer in the idea that there are few worse investments to make than cheap cookware. It quickly becomes dangerous, between shaky handles and ill-fitting lids. Warped bottoms make cooking uneven, leading to raw and burnt bits in the same dish. As for the cost over time of replacing broken, bent cookware with more pots and pans that will fall apart in short order…well, it’s enough to make you cry.

    On the other hand, as I said, good cookware is a big investment.  It doesn’t come cheap. Every once in a while, though, it comes at a deal that makes the investment a lot less painful to your bank account.

    All-Clad 7-pc.  Master Chef 2 (MC2) Cookware Set
    All-Clad’s Master Chef 2 cookware is among the top-rated by professional chefs. Made of easy to clean, non-reactive stainless steel, it has a thick core of aluminum for superior heat conductivity. The three ply bonded construction distributes the heat evenly. The long handles are built to stay cooler, in case you forget to reach for the pot holder first, too.

    This seven piece set consists of: an 8″ omelette pan, a 1.5 qt saucepan and lid, a 3 qt saute pan with lid, and a 6 qt stockpot with lid. That’s a great start to any kitchen!

    The retail price of the set is $595.00, which really isn’t at all bad for that amount of that quality of cookware. Still, you’d like to do better. Cooking.com usually carries it for $559.95, which is better. But why settle for better when you can get astonishing?

    Now through June 15, Cooking.com is having a huge sale on All-Clad cookware in which this set is marked down to just $288.99! That’s a savings of more than three hundred dollars!

    But wait, there’s more! Spend at least $250.00, and get a free au gratin pan direct from All-Clad. Spend $500.00 and get the au gratin pan, a Dutch oven, and a mitt set. See site for details.

    So, to sum up: seven pieces of top-notch cookware you can use for the rest of your cooking life, plus a freebie from All-Clad. The more you buy, the more freebies you can get.

    I don’t know about you, but when I can get the best for the price of something in the lower midrange…I get the best. So should you.

    The Perfect Blend

    In honor of the warmer weather it’s a good idea to think of ways to beat the heat.

    One of the best ways of doing that – in my not so humble opinion – is a long, tall, cold drink, the frothier the better. And how better to acheive that froth than a really good bar blender?

    KitchenAid 48-oz. Commercial Bar Blender  with Stainless Steel Jar Whether you’re making daiquiris or smoothies, this baby will do the trick. It’s by KitchenAid, so you know it’s sturdy. It holds 48 oz in the jar, so even if you’re mixing for a crowd you’ll have them cooling off in no time. Trust me, this is what you need for that pool party or that ‘I don’t have a pool, darn it’ party you’ll be throwing this summer.

    The good news? If you act now, you can get it for a song. The bad news? Well, there really isn’t any bad news. How about some more good news?

    The suggested retail price of this blender is $360.00. Cooking.com usually carries it for $299.99, which is a lot better. Right now, though, it’s on further sale for just $199.99! That’s more than $160.00 off the original price! Talk about good news.

    Now, about that banana smoothie….

    Process This

    There is cause for jubilation in the land of people who love to cook!

    Cuisinart has a brand new food processor, and I’ve found you an incredible deal on it.

    Cuisinart Elite 16 Cup Food Processor Check out the sleek new lines. This is a far more elegant look than in models past. Of course, that’s not the most important question, but we do care about surface as well as substance in the Manolosphere.

    As for how it works, well, it holds up to 16 cups, is designed to handle liquid ingredients more efficiently than previous models, has a retractable cord, and comes standard with three different sized bowls (16 cup, 13 cup, and 4 1/2 cup) that stack for easy storage.

    Also included are: two discs, two blades, an accessory storage box, a spatula, a how-to DVD, and a booklet of recipes.

    How much would you pay for all that? Don’t answer…and no, I’m not adding the fabulous Ginzu steak knife to the deal. The manufacturer’s suggested price is $545.00, which really isn’t all that bad for such a kitchen workhorse of an appliance. But we don’t deal in ‘not bad’ here at the Basement. We deal in the super fantastic. To get that, you’ll have to head to Williams-Sonoma, where they’re selling this baby for a mere $299.95.

    They must have used the fine blade to slice that price down to size!

    Wok This Way

    I love Chinese food. I have all my life. I may come from the transparent peoples, but I’ve been eating with chopsticks almost as long as I’ve been eating with a fork. I have fond memories of the nights my mother would announce that she was going to do a stir fry; watching her chop the meat and veggies just so, carefully putting out ramekins with measured amounts of the right spices and sauces so she could toss them into the mix at the crucial moment without stopping to pull out teaspoons, hearing the oil start to sizzle as she added the meat to the wok…and then the scents rising from the stove.

    Best of all was the moment when she would serve up heaping bowls of steamed rice and ladle up the goodies from her wok. I’d eagerly attack the fragrant dish with my chopsticks. When I was done with my portion, I’d always hope there was a bit more so I could have seconds.  On those nights, I rarely cared whether there was dessert. I just wanted more stir fry. I want to relive those nights, but in order to do it, I’m going to need a wok.

    Le Creuset Wok I’m thinking I might want one like this one by Le Creuset. Regular readers of this space will already be well aware of my fondness for Le Creuset. It’s the best cookware I’ve ever used, it’s hard wearing, and it’s so attractive it makes great serveware as well.

    As much as I loved my mother’s traditional iron wok, this one is super easy care, far prettier, and with its slightly flattened bottom, it’s stable on the stovetop without a special ring to hold it steady. Unlike so many modern woks, though, its shape is traditional enough that it works like the original article. All too many modern woks are really shaped more like slightly rounded saute pans, which just doesn’t cook the same way. The glass lid is also shaped correctly, but allows you to see what’s going on inside, unlike the classic ones.

    If you’re looking to do traditional Chinese cooking in a modern world, this could be the perfect solution for you.

    Oh, and did I mention the price? The retail value is  $225.00, but Williams Sonoma has it on sale in this fresh, cheerful lemongrass color for just $139.99.

    Anyone else up for Chinese food tonight?

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