Ceramic knives are not as diverse as sizes and styles go and are generally limited to a few practical lengths. Quality ceramic knives are made of strong materials, usually zirconium oxide.
Most ceramic blades are white, though there is a growing number of grey and black ceramic knives. The hardness of the ceramic gives these knives their long-lasting good looks, as well as a razor sharp edge that does not require sharpening for years. That is why many chefs love using ceramic knives. This sharpness makes slicing easier, allows precise cuts and extremely thin slices.
The ceramic blade is stronger than steel but unfortunately, is more fragile because it is more brittle. That means that if you drop a ceramic knife or attempt to cut bone or frozen foods with one, it can break or chip.
Unlike steel knives which can be used for various slicing/dicing/chopping tasks, ceramic knives are limited in use mainly to slicing fruits, vegetables and boneless meats. According to some manufacturers, you can slice cheese with a ceramic knife, but not all agree.
And while some brands have limitations when it comes to certain hard vegetables and fruits, others do not list such notables. Manufacturers are looking for ways to make their ceramic knives more versatile and durable.
Other things that should be avoided is twisting, scraping or bending the ceramic blade and subjecting it to extreme temperatures. As for the knife handles, a well-designed ceramic knife will have a comfortable handle that completes the well-balanced feel, as well as provide a safe, sure grip.
When it comes to handling, ceramic knives are extremely lightweight and that may appeal to many because it reduces hand fatigue and requires less effort for certain slicing tasks. Don’t let the lightweight nature fool you; you can get the same great control as you would with a more weighty steel knife. It all depends of course on the quality and design of the knife.
Unlike a steel knife, a ceramic blade will not rust, pit or leave a metallic taste on foods. Blades will retain their sharp edge for a long time and must be sharpened either by the manufacturer or with a brand-specific specially designed ceramic knife sharpener.
Because they are very sharp and brittle, ceramic knives must be stored in a custom sleeve or box. They should never be stored in a drawer with other (steel) knives. Though some manufacturers say their ceramic knives can be washed in a dishwasher, most recommend hand washing and I agree. So do you need a ceramic knife?
Read more about ceramic knives here.
I have been making espresso at home for 30 years and have gone through 3 machines prior to purchasing the DeLonghi. The first was purchased in Rome in 1978 when home-brewed espresso in the US was a rarity. That machine lasted 10 years before the pump blew out and looking back it just made ‘acceptable’ coffee. I next purchased a Krups (from Amazon) and ran that one to death in 10 more years. It was a fine machine but not surprisingly, it did wear out. A good value for the price and I got a lot of service from it.
Then I got a Braun which was totally serviceable for yet another 10 years….do these things all last 10 years? I guess so. When it was time to purchase another espresso maker, I chose the DeLonghi EC702. What a nice surprise! It heats up really quickly, and despite the owner’s manual that says let it warm up for 15 minutes before you brew the first cup, I find you can get a perfect cup of espresso after only about 3 minutes of warm-up. Then, hit the ‘milk steamer’ button and in just one more minute it’s hot enough to do the milk for a great cappuccino. The steamer nozzle is the first I’ve seen that can be EASILY dismantled (two small pieces to pull off) and rinsed. Former models had to be scrubbed with a scouring pad occasionally to scape off the residue left on the nozzle.
This DeLonghi setup is far better and the steamer nozzle is always clean and ready for your next cappuccino. The drip tray (plastic with a metal grid) pulls off for easy cleaning too. Being a coffee-hound, I use the double-filter basket to make a single cup, although the photo shows two demitasse cups being filled side-by-side. Really, I’d recommend this espresso machine without reservation. It’s good-looking, easily cleanable, warms up super fast, quickly steams the milk to a lovely froth, and filling the water reservoir is a snap because it pulls out like a small drawer so you can squirt more water in from the sink’s dish sprayer without needing to remove the entire reservoir from the machine (at least that’s how I do it). A full reservoir makes about 4 good-sized cappuccinos with frothed milk before needing refilling. All in all, a GREAT machine at a GREAT price. Buy it!
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I’ve had this Rachael Ray cookware set for month now. I love the look of the cucina line and especially the agave color (see the 3 best Rachael Ray cookware sets). So far they’ve worked out well for my needs. I just hope they’ll hold up over time. I’m worried about the interior coating. I mainly use silicone utensils, with the exception of the two pieces that came with the set, but I have noticed faint scratches in a few of the pieces. Which could very well be from the turner and slotted spoon that came with the set, as they’re both made out of a hard plastic. For the price of around $150, this is not a bad set. However, these are pretty cheap pots & pans. Well made, yes, but not high end quality. They look really nice and the exterior coating looks like it will hold up well, but underneath is a thin wall of aluminum. The interior is non-stick and effective but again it is not high end quality. The handles are comfortable and I do like the silicon covers. Lids fit well and are clear glass which is helpful during cooking. Last & least are the utensils – throw them in the trash and you will be spared the disappointment.
Read: What is the Healthiest Cookware to Look For
They are very good quality and will probably last many years. The rubber grips are nice and give you a good grip when picking them up. They also cook much better then our old stuff. They clean up easy as well. The best set I’ve ever purchased and I’ve bought higher priced, supposedly higher quality sets numerous times. As long as you don’t use cooking spray in them or put them in the dishwasher they will remain awesome. NO need to put them in the dishwasher as a wet paper towel makes for easy peasy clean up. One of my tests was for poaching eggs in the small pot. I use the old-fashioned method – I put water in the pot, bring it to a boil and drop the eggs in – put a lid on and let it sit off the burner for several minutes. I’ve got the timing down to a science, so always get eggs with runny yolks, perfect for corned beef hash or English Muffins. What drove me nuts before, was all the egg stuck on the pot that made clean-up difficult. No problem with this Rachael Ray cookware – I spooned the eggs out (more egg than I usually get), and the clean-up was a breeze!
Cooking a big pot of delicious and healthy rice shouldn’t be all that difficult, or at least that’s what most people think. Unfortunately cooking rice can go wrong very quickly, you only need to get distracted for a few minutes to wind up with most of your rice either welded to the pot, or undercooked to the point that it’s still crunchy. Neither of these is a good thing to happen to you when you’re in the middle of preparing a meal.
Homes all over the world are consuming far more rice than they ever have before mainly because it’s a healthy alternative to chemically processed foods, or trans fat-soaked fries for example. Rice cookers, despite the name, aren’t just for preparing Asian rice dishes, and you can easily use some of the more versatile rice cookers to prepare soups, stews and more traditional rice-based dishes like a risotto, for example.
Basically if you eat a lot of rice as part of your personal or family diet an automatic rice cooker can save you an awful lot of time and effort, so we created this guide to help you figure out which of the thousands of different rice cookers on the market will best suit your needs. Oh and we’ve also included a set of reviews on some of the most highly rated rice cookers available today too.
What Is a Rice Cooker?
This type of cooker is basically a small electrical appliance which is made up of an external “pot”, which contains a heating element of some kind, and an inner pan which is usually made of a non-stick material. You place a measured amount of rice and water in the inner pan, adjusting the settings for your rice cooker, put the lid on and let it do its thing. Once your rice is ready the cooker can shut itself off and go into a rice warming mode instead, keeping your rice ready to eat for up to 24-hours.
What Kind Of Cook Are You?
Everyone has their own cooking style and their own way of preparing any given meal, and the type of rice cooker you purchase will depend a lot on how you go about preparing meals. Are you a perfectionist who allows plenty of time for meal preparation, or are you always running at least 10-minutes late for every single meal you’ve ever tried to prepare? Basically certain types of rice cookers will suit the more time-challenged cook, whereas others are more suited to a cook who has plenty of time to get things done. (Related post: Surprising things you can make in a rice cooker)
The majority of rice cookers have a very small physical footprint, so they’re not going to take over your countertop. But it never does any harm to measure twice, so you’re not just guesstimating how much space the might take up instead. It’s also worth thinking about whether or not you plan on leaving your rice cooker in place permanently, or if you’ll need to store it when it’s not in use.
So how many people will you need to cook rice for on a regular basis? The cooking capacity of any rice cooker is measured in cups, which might be a tiny bit confusing if you’re not somebody who cooks rice on a regular basis. A typical rice cooker for use at home will have a capacity of between 1 and 10-cups, with 1 cup of unboiled rice being enough to feed one person. Based on that a capacity of between 5 and 6-cups will suit an average family, and a cooker with a 10-cup capacity will work out better for larger families. In terms of price the larger the capacity of the rice cooker the more you’ll wind up paying for it.
So here’s the stuff you need to add to your check-list when you’re out shopping for a new/replacement rice cooker:
How many cups of rice do you need your new cooker to be able to handle? You’re better off choosing a cooker with a higher capacity than a lower capacity – you can always simply prepare smaller amounts of rice in a bigger cooker, which isn’t something you can do in a small cooker.
Easy to Clean
Until you’ve had the pleasure of trying to dislodge rice which is welded to a pot or pan you can’t understand how important having a non-stick cooking pan/bowl for rice actually is. A well constructed rice cooker should have a bowl you can simply rinse clean, dry and then store. Read the full details here…
More reading: 3 of the best Zojirushi rice cookers
I am in LOVE with my new Rachael Ray pot and pan set. We just recently moved to another house and needed a new pan set. I can say this pan set is awesome. The set comes in 12 pieces which includes : 2 utensils – a cooking spoon and a spatula, both are heat resistant up to 400 degrees F. You also get a 8.5 ” frying pan, a 10″ frying pan, a 3 qt. sauté pan, 1 Qt. sauce pan, 3 Qt. saucepan, 6 Qt. pot and 4 glass lids. All the pots and pans can be stacked into each other for easy storage without taking too much space. I also like that this set is not lightweight, it is indeed on a heavier side which is great. Its not made out of thin material, its very durable and sturdy.
You can cook most things and have no problems with that sticky grimy mess due to the non-stick coating. The remnant of leftovers are easy washed away. The color on the pans is stable. It has not faded or cracked.
These pots and pans work great for anyone on a budget. My favorite pot is the medium sauce pot because it is a bit taller than other models and the perfect size for my soups and chilis. You are not to use these on high heat because they will warp. You are also not to wash them with anything that can scrape the material. I cook often, so they’re used all of the time! I am beyond pleased with the quality! I’ll even tell you a little story. My forgetful self left an entire pot of grits on the stove for hours. I went back in and they were burned, but the burn didn’t stick to the pot! The pot was still in excellent condition. Literally like it never happened!
Since I purchased the Rachael Ray pans they have stayed in great shape. I think its been about 3 months now and it came with care instructions which I follow to the T. The bottom has no warped or changed color because I never heat it up more than medium and I have an electric stove top range. Washing them are easy so I don’t put them in the dishwasher, because the instructions said that it is not recommended.
So where should you begin? The first aspect you should decide on is comfort, what are you comfortable with? Would you rather have a coffee machine that brews perfect espresso and cappuccino with a click of a button or are you more of a “hands-on” person?
As you might know, the classic Italian, semi automatic espresso machine, requires quite a bit of skill to operate. However, just like with a Ferrari, the pros always get the best results with manual transmission. In order to brew the perfect cup every time, you need to practice and learn the different subtleties of your machine. Whether it’s worth $500 or $5,000, you could always improve the end result your semi automatic coffee machine produces. Once you’ve honed the skill of using the manual coffee machine, you’ll be very selective of whom you brew coffee for, since you know they’ll keep coming back for more. (See more: Affordable best espresso makers for home)
Fully automatic (or “super automatic”) espresso machines on the other hand do the work for you. Some are so sophisticated, that all you need to do is load them with coffee beans, milk and water, and the coffee machine will combine them all for you to for a perfect Italian cappuccino, rich with flavor and aroma.
Semi automatic machines: The ancient Italian craft
The semi automatic machine usually works with ground coffee beans. The machine has what’s called a portafilter, which is basically where the coffee grounds go, a brew group, the place where the hot water is pressured through the grounds to extract the espresso, and a steam wand to froth milk. These various parts mean that there is more work and more things can go wrong. However, most connoisseurs swear by their semi automatic machine and claim that the perfect cup can only be obtained by using this breed of machine.
Another point to consider when opting for the semi automatic machine is the coffee grounds. If you buy a semi automatic coffee machine, you’ll probably want to buy a coffee grinder too, since machines vary in their pressure and each machine needs a specific grind level. Moreover, the different blends have different amounts of coffee oils in them, so you might need to adjust the grind level if you switch blends. However, as said before, if you are a “hands-on” person and you’re not deterred by all of the above, you will soon find yourself loving the process of brewing each golden cup of espresso or creamy cappuccino. After a little while, you’ll understand why most cafés still use semi automatic machines and why all of a sudden, you’re friends always want to meet at your place.
Fully automatic machines: Espresso meets technology
The fully automatic coffee machine is great if you consider yourself part of the “instant generation” (not to be confused with your parents, the “instant coffee generation”). Most of the automatic machines are a little pricier, but if you do the math, substituting takeout coffee with home brewed saves you roughly the price of a coffee machine in one year. Even better is the fact that when you have people over, there will be no nasty drip coffee served. Everyone gets a latte, cappuccino or espresso, and all you have to do is press a couple of buttons. True, the end result will not be as great as the handy work of an Italian master working with a semi automatic machine, but on the other hand, neither is the end result of the teenager working behind the counter at your local café.
Shared from Coffee Machine Advisor