Friday, May 31, 2013

Saucy Corningware Rangetoppers - Quick Tomato Sauce and Bechamel

In September of last year (2012) a reader posed a question regarding Corningware Range toppers.  I had heard of them, but I had never seen one in person. At some point during the 70's or 80's, maybe, I am not sure which, Corningware introduced a line of Pyroceramic cookware with a bonded aluminum bottom.  Evidently, the purpose was to distribute heat more evenly.  Now I suppose the theory is sound, but honestly, I have never really had a problem with hot spots when using my original version of Corningware.

Pyroceramic cookware acts a lot like cast iron, thus it absorbs heat readily and, though it may take just a bit longer to come to temperature, it holds that heat really well.  The only rule of thumb I follow is to NEVER go above Medium heat.  Copper is the same way; medium is the highest you should ever have to heat the pan.  If I am deep frying, I use a deep fryer or a cast iron pot.  I say this with the proviso that on my old gas range, in San Diego, I would often use medium-high heat, but the modern Cooktop I have now is capable of producing significantly more BTUs than my old gas powered dinosaur from the 40's. 

So, if you have a stove that is from the 70's or later, you should never use anything higher than medium heat with Corningware.  Even that has a proviso... If you are boiling water, medium-high heat is fine.

That being said.....  I actually found one of these "Rangetoppers" a couple weeks ago at the Good Will.

It's a 1 1/2 quart sauce pan (N-1 1/2-B).

I am just getting around to playing with it... (I got side tracked cleaning my Electromatic Cornflower Percolator and my Stove Top Black Starburst Percolator that I have not posted about yet)  In order to put it through it's paces, I decided to make sauces.  The most touchy sauces I could think of (aside from cheese sauce)

Tomato Sauce and a Bechamel.  Both of which can scorch fairly easily if the heat is too high or if there is a hot spot in a pan. As an added bonus, I can use both of these sauces to make the world's most perfect food....  Lasagne!!!!!

Now for the actual "Chicken, Cauliflower, Fennel Lasagne" recipe your going to have to check out Culinary Alchemy, but here is how I make Quick Tomato Sauce (when I don't have 7 hours to make my Slow-Cooked Tomato Sauce) and onion laced Bechamel.

Quick Tomato Sauce

1 1/2 TB Olive Oil
1 cup Onion, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
35g Carrot, shredded (about half of a medium sized)
28oz can Crushed Tomatoes
5 Basil Leaves, chiffonade
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Heat oil in the in your 1 1/2 quart Rangetopper (N-1 1/2-B) set over low heat.

Once oil it hot, add the Onion, Garlic and Carrot, then sweat for 30 minutes (yep, low and slow.  I guess my "quick" tomato sauce isn't as quick as I thought)

Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine.

Raise the heat to medium.... and cook, stirring constantly, just until it comes to a simmer....

Reduce heat to low again and simmer for 15 minutes longer.

Remove from the flame and stir in the Basil.

Season with Salt and Pepper, then pour into a bowl and allow to cool.

So here is the pot, after cooking the tomato sauce...

No scorching and easy cleanup; but my regular Corningware does that too so I am still unconvinced.

Now for the Bechamel.........

Onion Bechamel

4 TB Unsalted Butter
3 TB finely minced Onion
2 cloves Garlic, minced
3 TB AP Flour
3 cups Whole Milk
1/4 tsp Nutmeg, grated
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Melt butter in your 1 1/2 quart Rangetopper (N-1 1/2-B) set over medium heat.

When the foam subsides, add the Onion and the Garlic, then saute for 4 minutes.

Add the Flour and whisk until well combined...

Continue cooking for 2 minutes to remove the raw flavor from the Flour.

Whisk in the Milk, and bring to a simmer over low heat.

Add Nutmeg and simmer for 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens.

Remove pan from the flame and season with Salt and Pepper.

In this case, divide the hot Bechamel by placing 1 cup in a small bowl and the remaining sauce in another bowl, then cover both with plastic wrap on the surface to prevent crusting.

And look at our pan.....  No scorching with the milk sauce either.

Conclusion:  I really am not convinced that the applied aluminum bottom really makes that big of a difference.  Maybe if I tried to cook on high heat, it might.  But I would not make tomato sauce or bechamel on high heat, even in one of my copper pots.  As a result of the metal bottom, these pans CANNOT be used in the microwave, which reduces their multipurpose capability.  In essence, defeating the whole idea of having Corningware.  The bonded Aluminum is non-magnetic, so they cannot  be used on Induction Cooktops either...  Then again, this is true of regular Corningware pans as well.  

It makes a great display piece though.

Where is your Corningware??

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Drip Drop Drip Little Coffee Showers - Corningware Drip Coffee Maker

I originally posted this July 7th 2009 on Culinary Alchemy.  It pre-dates the creation of Corningware 411, but I feel that it should be included here due to it's particular subject matter.  It will continue to reside on Culinary Alchemy in it's original form, since it was part of the "Coffee Talk" series, but I have revised it just little before posting it on here.  I have recently discovered, through my research for this site, that the term "Drip-O-Lator" is a registered trademark of Enterprise Aluminum Company.  Thus I have removed all references to this product.  I did, however, choose to leave my comments regarding Percolated Coffee intact.... It was 4 years ago after all, and though I have changed my tune a little since then, it's STILL not my preferred method of brewing.  What can I say, I am a hard core Vacuum Pot & French Press guy.  That's just the way it is.

But enough of that.... Here are the instructions for usage of a Corningware Drip Coffee Maker (P-114).......

July 7th, 2009
Coffee – a dessert time beverage for some, a ritual of friendship for others, and a morning necessity for almost everyone else. It’s one of the hottest commodities on the planet, only shadowed by crude oil. I was originally preparing an exposé on Coffee, but once I started looking around the net I realized this approach has been done a million times already and there really isn’t anything of value I could add to the superfluity of information available. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…… Let’s get a little more specific…

I am going to talk about brewing methods… I have several available to me, for I am one of the people who fall into all three categories… It is a dessert essential, a joy when congregating with friends and the necessary catalyst for my morning transformation from “swamp thing” to a human being.

For this first method, we are going to have to travel back in time to a dark point in American coffee culture… the 1960s…. a time when the sinister percolator ruled the household and mud was served daily… and even worse… people liked it. (shudder) It truly was a bleak time in American history. The percolator is the worst possible way to make coffee for several reasons.

  • The water can, and usually does, boil– This is too hot for proper extraction and makes for acidic highly caffeinated coffee.
  • Once the extraction begins, the water saturated with “coffee” is heavier and falls to the bottom of the percolator, reheated to a boil and in effect burnt… then it ends up being shoved back up through the tube, to run back through the grounds again… Blech! (shudder)

Repeat after me…. Percolator is BAD….. (OK, maybe not SO bad)

But dawn was breaking in the mid 60s… It was not the messiah of coffee brewing, but it was a step in the right direction… for the theory is similar to that of espresso… One pass through the grounds.   In 1965 Corningware released a new gizmo for coffee preparation…. The Drip Coffee Maker. Now this is not to say they were responsible for a “Star Turn” in the saga of coffee extraction methods. That was already the province of Italy where Espresso was already being pulled from beautifully crafted machines. But, America was “waking up” to the realization of what coffee could be…

What the heck is a Corningware Drip Coffee Maker you ask? Well, it’s basically a manual version of what most people set every night before going to bed. (P-114)

It comes in several parts… So let's begin and I’ll walk ya through it.

First, water must be heated in the kettle (P-114-B or P-104) on the stove to between 200 and 205 degrees. NEVER use boiling water for coffee… not even with a French Press (Future post)

Meanwhile, place coffee in the bottom receptacle (I use about 1.5 TB per cup for drip)

The glass bowl screws down onto the bottom receptacle. (P-114-U)

Now this little plunger thing (flow control valve) prevents the water from flowing from the glass bowl into the coffee ground receptacle.

Once the water is ready, carefully pour the hot water into the glass bowl. (P-114-U)

Place the whole assembly into the pot. (P-114-B or P-104)

Pull the plunger to allow the water to drip through the grounds

and into the pot below. (P-114-B or P-104)

After about 4 minutes, (I usually whistle a little tune while I am waiting)

you have yourself a pot full of coffee.


with just a little half and half to create a “Paper Bag Brown” color…


In case you are curious... The particular pattern (Wheat) on my tea/coffee pot was originally planned as the standard design for Corningware, but in the company's haste to get the product to market, the cornflower was used instead and it eventually became the brand symbol of Corningware. Later, the wheat pattern was revisited and released on a limited number of pieces (I have seen a pie plate on eBay and I have a 4 quart roaster)

Cin Cin!!

Where is your Corningware??

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

About Town With Corningware - Tea for Four and Four for Tea

Found, at my brother's house... Didn't even know my Sister-in-law had this one.

After a little research, I found that this is but one from a series of 4 teapots made by Corning in 1971.  The series was called "Garden of Teapots".   As far as I know, this was for 6 cup teapots ONLY and does not extend to any Corning Ware casserole, percolator or ovenware pieces.

My sister-in-law's teapot is called "Bantry". It's strawberries and what I think are buttercups, though they could be yellow wild roses.  This should not be confused with "Strawberry Sunday" which is only strawberries and no buttercups.

As luck would have it, my Aunt has Chelsea with what are either blue daisies or asters, not sure which.

The other 2 teapots in the series were Canterbury (blue bells/harebells with violets)

and Lancaster (Yellow Tea Roses with Blue flower accents).

Where is your Corningware??

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bountiful Gifts of Nature - Corning's Nature's Bounty Limited Edition Gift Line

The "Nature's Bounty" pattern was done as a specialty gift line back in 1971, so the pieces are fairly rare (like the infamous Renaissance pieces

The items had different designs on each side.  The only pieces I am currently aware of are the 1 3/4 quart Saucepan (P-1 3/4-B), 2 1/2 quart Saucepan (P-2 1/2-B), 8 cup Brew N' Serve (P-508), 4 quart Sauce Pot (P-84-B), 10 inch Skillet (P-16-B) and the Bread Pan with a Gold color plastic lid (P-315).  There may have been a broil and bake tray as well as a percolator, but I have never seen one in the Nature's Bounty pattern.

Nature's Bounty saucepans & the skillet all sported the Pebble textured lids that were found on the Renaissance Limited Edition Gift line from 1970.

Bread Pan (P-315-B)

 1 3/4 Quart & 2 1/2 Quart Saucepans (P-1 3/4-B & P-2 1/2-B)
(It should be noted that both saucepans have the same design)

8 cup Brew N' Serve (P-508) 1971 version

4 quart Casserole (P-84-B

 10 inch Skillet (P-16-B)

The differences in pattern on the skillet are more subtle than the other pieces.  I found it interesting that the 10 inch skillet is actually a P-16-B (which was labeled as 11 inches before 1971).

This particular dish also shows one of the failings of this pattern.  For some unknown reason, the enameled design has a flaking problem and peels over time.

Where is your Corningware??