Posts tagged Staub

It’s the Little Things

Over the years, I’ve revealed a few facts about myself on this blog. For example, I often mention my Italian-American upbringing and that I currently live in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. You know that I’m married to a wonderful man named Jim, and that I join the local CSA every summer. Well, here’s another piece of information about me, albeit a bit more obscure: I have a fascination with small things.

Let me explain: In the back of my pantry, you’ll find an entire row of pint-size ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise jars. I used to collect sample packets of shampoo and hand lotion as a kid, and my Facebook photo is a picture of me eating a miniature creme brulee with a tiny spoon. Perhaps my obsession stems from the fact that I’m only 5 feet tall, I’m not sure. Whatever the reason, I’ve been fixated on little things for as long as I can remember.

On Valentine’s Day, Jim and I planned our menu around my small-sized fetish. A year ago we purchased two sets of Staub mini cocottes and promptly stored them away in the cupboard, forgotten. Cocottes are small cooking vessels, often shaped like Dutch ovens, that are suitable for individual portions of food. (Apparently cocotte is also the French word for a prostitute or promiscuous woman, but we’ll leave that discussion for another blog.) We pulled ours out from their dusty boxes on Valentine’s Day and finally put them to good use, primarily with the help of Le Creuset’s handy mini cocotte cookbook that we stumbled across during a recent trip to Pittsburgh.

First course
For the first course, we made French onion soup. Granted, the soup was first cooked in a big pot and then transferred to the tiny cocotte, but it fit the size requirement just fine. It was next topped with crusty bread, gruyère cheese, more onion, and baked in the oven for a few minutes. Hot and hearty, this soup was a cozy opening course on a chilly holiday.

Spinach souffles in mini cocottes

Second course
The next part of our tiny-themed meal arrived in the form of mini spinach soufflés. They had already started to deflate by the time I took this photo, and I’ll be honest, they weren’t the most successful part of our meal. We’re still not certain what went wrong; we beat the egg whites until they were stiff, and we followed the recipe closely. In the end the soufflés were a rather deflated and defeated mess of fresh baby spinach, eggs, and parmesan cheese.

Dessert
Moving on from our soggy soufflés, we ended our meal with vanilla creme brulee, served in two small ceramic hearts that Jim bought for our first Valentine’s Day together. They were rich, creamy pick-me-ups after our disappointing second course. And of course they looked absolutely adorable.

So that’s the photographic tour of our Valentine’s Day feast. It was pint-sized all the way through, from start to finish. I’d love to eat out of these cute containers every day, but that would be impossible; my appetite is anything but cocotte-sized.

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Knives!

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I love a good bargain, especially when it’s related to cookware; those of you who read my post about the All-Clad warehouse sale already know this about me. So while the end of November brings us Thanksgiving, it also reminds me of an important shopping event: the annual Zwilling J.A. Henckels warehouse sale in Hawthorne, New York.

The Henckels sale happens only once a year, but it stretches over two weekends. So if waiting on line and fighting the crowds for discounted, high-quality knives appeals to you, you’re in luck, as there’s one more weekend to go at the beginning of December. I headed over to the sale this past weekend and walked away with some satisfying finds in under 15 minutes. I may have thrown a few elbows here and there, but that’s all part of the fun.

My parents bought me a basic set of Henckels knives at this sale when I first moved into my own apartment many years ago. Over the past two years I’ve been attending the sale myself to slowly upgrade them. Last year I picked up a 5″ Santoku and a 6″ Chef’s knife from the Professional “S” line, while this year I bought a 4″ paring knife ($29.99, marked down from $72.00) and a 9″ bread knife ($39.99, marked down from about $100) from the same series. The discounts are deep, and the bins of each knife size and series seemingly endless. On that note, while the line to enter the sale may appear to stretch into infinity, it actually moves very quickly.

knives

J.A. Henckels recently bought Group Staub, and this year’s sale included many gorgeous items from this well-known line of cast iron cookware. I didn’t need any new cast iron pieces, but Jim stumbled across some cute, individual ceramic “cocotte” cups that we couldn’t resist ($22.00 for two). I had to hold myself back from the beautiful Staub grills, pans, and tea kettles that beckoned me from every corner of the room. The sale is also worthwhile for cheap cutting boards, various kitchen utensils such as spatulas, scissors, and garlic presses, and Henckels stainless steel cookware. So get on line early, you won’t regret it.

The J.A. Henckels Warehouse Sale, 171 Saw Mill River Road, Hawthorne, New York 10532. The sale occurs once a year over two weekends; there’s still one left from December 5-December 7. Click here for the hours.

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