Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Giveaway, Meal, and Review

Warning: Long post below.

First the giveaway. $65 dollar credit to CSN stores, an online place selling everything from dining tables and furniture to frying pans (check out these sweet ones) and other cookware. How to get it? I agonized for about 10 min over what I should ask for in exchange for the credit. But really, just leave your first name, last initial, and current city of residence and we'll go from there. Feel free to say more if you'd like--I'm certainly curious to know who is reading (there are at least a few of you) and what you like about this blog or don't--but I'm just going to pick a name from the comments out of a hat. That is unless someone says something really good--then that person will win. Most likely it will be the hat method though.

Second, the meal. Pictured above is farfalle with sausage, broccoli rabe (rapini), chard, garlic, the tiniest amount of anchovy, red pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese. The rabe was blanched whole (in boiling water that would eventually cook the pasta), cooled in ice water, chopped up, and set aside. Between the high quality rabe and the blanching, there was not even the slightest amount of unpleasant bitterness.

For the chard, the stalks were lightly peeled, chopped pretty fine, and sauteed in olive oil with salt, pepper, and an anchovy fillet. The cooked chard stems got set aside and replacing them in the pan went some Italian sausage that had been removed from its casing and some red pepper flakes. That got chopped and browned. Once the pork was cooked back in went the chard stems along with the leaves and some minced garlic. The chard cooked down and its still damp leaves added some extra moisture to the pan which kept the garlic from burning.

By the time the chard leaves had wilted and were tender the pasta was cooking away. About 3 min before the pasta was done, the blanched and tender crisp rabe got heated up with the pork-veg mixture awaiting the pasta. Once cooked, the drained but wet pasta went in with everything else, cooked for a few seconds, and the heat got turned off. In went a generous handful of parm, a check for salt and pepper, and off to the table it went. I've never found a better way to eat chard or broccoli rabe. Or pasta for that matter.

Most of that stuff was from the Peninsula Farmers Market. Best as I remember pork was from Curly Tail, rapini and garlic from Urban Growth, and the chard from Infinite Garden Farm.

And finally, the review. Here's a link to the Sitram frying pan I did most the cooking in. It was less expensive a month or so ago, and was provided (with the addition of my $8 supplement) by CSN, the same folks giving some lucky commenter $65 ($5 more than I got). Coincidentally, I cooked the pasta in a saucepan from the same brand, but a different line. Bottom line--I really like the pan. I had been wanting to upgrade from a restaurant supply 10" aluminum pan for a while but just couldn't pull the trigger. This was a nice opportunity.

In my mind, there are lots of great options for cookware. The biggest thing is to match the cookware with the cook. I really don't believe there are universals. To that end I wouldn't recommend this for everyone. It's not exactly inexpensive--check out this super adequate set if you're looking for a few pots and pans to get started (or this for a few bucks less)--if you're on a limited budget, and it's not a piece of artwork, if that's your thing (it is kind of pretty though). However, it heats pretty quickly and evenly, and is heavyweight enough that burning things is likely to be due to operator error, not equipment failure. And stainless steel is the only material that's in contact with food, so it's nonreactive, which is nice when cooking with acidic ingredients. Plus the handle never seems to get hot on the stove, which is a bonus, and it's all metal, so you don't have to think twice before throwing the whole thing in the oven (or even under the broiler). Going from the stove to the oven is very important to me--it may not be for you.

Also, I love the absence of rivets attaching the handle to the pan. I know people love rivets and welds are more prone to failure--I've been in a busy restaurant kitchen, waiting impatiently by the window for some food to come up, only see the chef grab a pan off the stove, spin around to start plating, and gasp while the pan and its contents fell to the floor with the chef left holding the pan's delaminated handle and probably thanking god he hadn't been working on a flambe. Yes, welds no doubt fail, and I'm sure when this one does it'll be at the worst time possible. But my other welded handled cookware has been going strong for years in my little residential kitchen, and I'm pretty rough with my cookware. I'm all for well designed stuff, and rivets are certainly no deal breaker, but there is a such thing as over design. This pan is tough. And cleaning around rivets sucks.

So I like the pan, a lot. Claded stuff is nice, as are carbon steel pans like the ones linked way above. But as noted cookware should be matched to cooking style. For me, having a nonreactive pan that heats up quickly, can be banged around, and won't freak out if I let it soak with detergent for a day (or two) fits the bill. I'll save the babying for my chef's knife. And it's just a pan, so dropping a car payment for the thing doesn't make too much sense to me no matter how cool it is. All in all, two thumbs up.

Good luck winning the $65 credit. Contest ends this Sunday at midnight.


Brad said...

Brad G.
Lyndhurst, Ohio
clevelandfoodandbrews@gmail.com is my contact email.

Not much to say other than I love your blog, your food write up about the farfalle was excellent. I'm really hoping I win because I really want this type of pan for my home cooking! http://www.csnstores.com/All-Clad-6206-SS-AAC1012.html

Lizzie Ackerman said...

Lizzie A.
Cleveland, Ohio

steve said...

East Side, although apparently confused about that.
Wasn't Sunday great at the Fig? We tried to save seats for you but you went off into the other room. If you talk to Virginia before they leave for Italy remind her about the garlic, she will know what it is about. Lastly, we have some friends coming to town from Denmark and something impromptu may occur on the weekend.

Ben said...

Ben M.
Cleveland Heights, OH

We (Sarah and I) are still enjoying the blog, although we're usually not dedicated enough to get all of those great ingredients. We're running low on meat, though, so we should definitely get back to North Union soon.

Congrats on the write up, by the way.


The CFT said...

Thanks everyone so far. These are looking like pretty good odds.

Steve, the Fig was great, if a bit claustrophobic. Will talk to VA. And keep me posted.

rosy girl baked goods said...

cio f. and michael h. !!
cleveland, oh

Domestic Diva said...

Kay G.

Fresno, CA

tattgiff said...

Amber G
Washington State

Cage Free Tomato, you are my new bloggy home,
Your pictures of food mean that I'll never roam!
I"m dreaming right now,well it's more of a wish,
That you're at my front door holding a dish!!

Thank u for the giveaway!!
tattgiff at centurytel dot net

chudson said...

Cynthia H.

Thanks for the giveaway!

Sharon said...

That dish looks sumptuous (no anchovies, though) and the Sitram pan is very nice (I went and checked them out on CSN).

Sarah S.
Lafayette, LA

Anonymous said...

Ana B.
Cleveland, OH

I love that when I google "cage free" the first option is "cage free tomato" before "care free eggs."

Seriously though, I love the excellent food porn, the abiding commitment to locally sourced food, and recipes that leave me inspired to go into the kitchen and cook. That's why I keep coming back to The Cage-Free Tomato!

Liz said...

Liz M.
Detroit, MI
eemoody77 at gmail dot com

Great review, although now I'm scared of the perils of rivetless pans! I'm pretty sure mine all have rivets, though... anyway, I think I'd use the gift code to get a dutch oven, so no flambe dangers with that!

Live to Cook at Home said...

Am I too late? I love your support of our local farmers!