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The View from My Kitchen

Benvenuti! I hope you enjoy il panorama dalla mia cucina Italiana -- "the view from my Italian kitchen,"-- where I indulge my passion for Italian food and cooking. From here, I share some thoughts and ideas on food, as well as recipes and restaurant reviews, notes on travel, and a few garnishes from a lifetime in the entertainment industry.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bialetti Aeternum Ceramic-Coated Cookware

My New Favorite Non-Stick Cookware

These days, you can't sling a dead chicken in an American kitchen without it landing in a piece of non-stick cookware. Go to any major discount retailer and you'll find non-stick cookware of all kinds at all price points. Some of it is cheap generic stuff and some bears the name of your favorite high-dollar celebrity chef, replete with concomitant price tag.

Now, I don't use non-stick cookware for everything. In fact, I don't use it for much of anything. For instance, if you want to make a pan sauce using the bits of fond that stick to the bottom of the pan, you're out of luck with non-stick because......well......nothing sticks. No stickee, no saucee. And most non-stick cookware is not oven-safe and not real friendly with high temperatures in general. So for most of my cooking applications I stick with.......pardon the pun.......high quality stainless steel, seasoned carbon steel, or good ol' practically invincible cast iron.

But there are some things for which non-stick cookware is a must. Eggs, for example. I don't know anybody, pro or home cook, who doesn't use non-stick for eggs. And non-stick is fabulous for sauteing vegetables. You don't need a lot of oil with non-stick cookware.

As I said, non-stick cookware is available everywhere these days. Good quality non-stick cookware is a little harder to find. In general, good quality cookware is a cook's best friend. And I do mean good quality. You can trundle on down to a discount retailer and pick up a five-kajillion-piece set of non-stick cookware for ten dollars. Not only will you get what you pay for, but you'll continue to pay for it every time you incinerate something in it.

Non-stick cookware has a relatively short lifespan. Some of the cheap, discount store stuff can be ruined the first time you use it. But even the manufacturers of better quality cookware project a useful life of between three and five years. Much depends, of course, on how you use and/or abuse it.

Non-stick has come a long way since Teflon. There used to be a lot of health concerns centered around Teflon and other PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid ) non-stick coatings. Some of them were deserved. Older coatings often emitted a noxious gas when heated to high temperatures. And you know the age-old question, “If nothing sticks to Teflon, how do they get Teflon to stick to anything?” Well......sometimes not very effectively. The older coatings were notorious for pitting, peeling, and flaking off. Not only are flakes of polytetrafluoroethylene not generally called for in most recipes, the underlying perfluorooctanoic acid emulsifier was not good eats, either.

Ceramic non-stick coatings are all the rage today. Bypassing the toxic effects of older substances, these coatings most commonly utilize a combination of ceramic silicate powder and titanium that is sandblasted onto a pan's surface and then fired to a temperature of about 2000° F. This produces what many manufacturers tout as an “eco-friendly” and “safe” yet durable non-stick surface.

I'm a big fan of ceramic coatings. I have a beautiful ceramic-coated cast iron Dutch oven that is absolutely wonderful for soups and stews and braises and just about anything else you can think of. The biggest drawback is that my wife can barely lift it. With the lid in place, that rascal weighs in at just shy of fifteen pounds, empty.

Anyway, when it came time to replace some of my old non-stick stuff, I knew I wanted to go ceramic. I had heard of Bialetti's new “Aeternum” line, and then I saw one of my favorite Italians, Fabio Viviani, using it on his online “Chow Ciao!” cooking program. So I decided to give it a try. I'm very glad I did.

“Aeternum” saute pans are available in 8-inch, 10.25-inch, and 12-inch sizes. With a colorful exterior and a brilliant white interior, they are not only functional but kinda pretty, as cookware goes. The “Aeternum” line has recently expanded to include an 8-piece set that contains the aforementioned 8-inch and 10.25-inch saute pans as well as a 2 qt covered saucepan, a 2.5 qt covered saucepan, and a 5 qt covered stockpot. Other open stock pieces, such as a square griddle, are also available.

Here's the description from the Bialetti website at http://bialettishop.com/CWAeternumMain.htm :

Our beautiful "Aeternum" line of cookware combines a beautiful design with modern eco friendly cooking technology for best results.

The eco friendly Aeternum cookware line is free of PFOA, free of PTFE and free of Cadmium.

The interior features a new "nano-ceramic" coating which is a water-based coating made of titanium and suspended silicate micro-particles (the main component of glass); one of the purest and most ecological materials in nature. This material resists scratches, abrasions and offers a smooth, compact and uniform surface that makes it easier to clean. The white color provides a unique and extraordinary cooking experience.

The base provides excellent thermal conductivity and guarantees optimum heat distribution resulting in less energy required to maintain desired cooking temperature. The also scratch resistant hi-temp silicone exterior makes this cookware easy to clean (recommended hand-wash only).

Our Aeternum cookware is suitable for use on gas, electric, glass and ceramic stoves and is manufactured in China.

I'm not too much on that “manufactured in China” line, and I don't know that company founder Alfonso Bialetti would be either. But then again my genuine “Original Panama Jack” hat also says “Made in China” on the tag inside. Things are what they are, I suppose.

Regardless, the Bialetti brand has a great track record for quality. And the cookware is reasonably priced. The 8-inch saute pan retails for around $20 at most places. The whole 8-piece set goes for about $130.

I've read a couple of critical reviews from people who complain of pitting and chipping. And they say that the coating “bubbles” after a very short period of use. I'm sorry. These people obviously don't know how to handle non-stick cookware. You have to baby it a little. You can't just throw it in the dishwasher. It says so right in the instructions that most folks don't bother to read. You can't use metal utensils or abrasive cleaners. It's not oven-safe and you really shouldn't use high heat on the cooktop. That goes for any kind of non-stick cookware. So if you stick your new Bialetti “Aeterum” saute pan on a super hot burner, use a metal fork or spatula, then toss it in the dishwasher, guess what? The coating is going to pit and chip and probably bubble. Duh!

I've had my 10.25-inch pan for a couple of years and I've yet to see the first mark or mar on the coating. The red bottom has darkened a little with use, but the white interior is just as bright and flawless as it was the day I got it. And it is easily the best non-stick surface I've ever used. You don't need much of anything by way of oil or butter when you cook. A few drops of olive oil or a quick spritz of non-stick cooking spray is all I ever need to turn out perfectly sauteed or pan-fried food. It is absolutely my “go to” pan for eggs. And clean up is a breeze. The surface wipes clean with hot soapy water and a dish cloth. My wife loves the Bialetti non-stick as much as I do, so I'll probably wind up acquiring the whole set eventually. (Are you listening, Santa?) I recently purchased the 8-inch pan. My old 8-inch non-stick saute pan had seen better days, having fallen off the pot rack a time or two. You see, most non-stick cookware is made of aluminum, a relatively soft metal not noted for enjoying a fall from six or seven feet in the air. So in addition to being very well used, it was also quite out of round. I really needed a new one, and the Bialetti was perfetto.

So if you're in the market for some affordable, good quality non-stick cookware, don't look for a celebrity chef's picture on the label. Just look for l'omino con i baffi. That's what they call “the mustachioed little man,” a caricature of Alfonso's son Renato, who serves as the company's mascot. Well, nowadays Fabio's picture is on some of the packaging, too. But the other little Italian guy has been around for many years. And with proper use and care, so will your Bialetti “Aeternum” cookware. 

Buona cucina!

10 comments:

  1. Wow ! Awesome Post! Electric griddles let you cook your favorite diner-style breakfast or Sunday Brunch at home. They're portable, so you can also take them with you to the vacation condo or cabin.Thanks!

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  2. Awesome post ! Very useful ! It would probably be cheaper in the long run to buy a new one as the cost of parts and labour could exceed the cost of a new hob or cooker.
    Thanks !

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  3. Ceramic coated cookware is a good answer for its non stick layer, easy to be cleaned. Cooking is always happy and fun using ceramic coated cookware.

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  4. There are literally dozens of options to buy from when it comes to a kitchen tools or kitchenware. Innumerable manufacturers and brands are available in the market as well, and this makes it daunting to know what to look for.

    HILL

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  5. Awesome post!Made it with turkey breast (keep kosher, so no pork) and it was absolutely delicious!!!!!!!!! I used the same technique of slicing in half and scoring, and it cooked to juicy perfection. Served with white rice and your Pickled Ginger & Asian Pear Coleslaw...a wonderful meal!!!!! I also love cook!Thanks!

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  6. Thanks for the review. I always like to se non-stick ceramic pans and I think they are healthy compared to other cookware. Seems like this Bialetti Aeternum is eco-friendly and good quality. I'm going to try it someday.

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  7. Don't waste your money on these pans. they work for a few weeks, but after that you'll be using more and more oil to keep food from sticking. Eventually even the oil won't help. One of the worst kitchen utensils I ever bought. 

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    ReplyDelete