Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Visions" of Risotto - Baby Greens and Chevre Risotto

SO, I found this interesting White Corningware pot at the Goodwill awhile back.  It is marked as a "Visions H 12" (with no hyphen) even though it is white.  It had no lid, so I had no idea whether this was a goof at the Martinsville plant (who produced Visions in the U.S.) or if it was made this way on purpose.

I decided to drag it home anyway and started poking around on the Internet to see what I could find out about it.  Evidently, this is the Visions Chicken Fryer.  I still cannot explain why it is white, for there are Amber and Cranberry Chicken Fryers too.  In fact, the lids for the Amber and Cranberry Chicken Fryers (V-12-C) will fit this white model as well.  It's all very strange and weird, but I don't judge. Besides, I know there is a clear V-12 lid out there, somewhere.

The only conclusion I can draw, at this point, is that Visions made a white model of their Chicken Fryer to accompany the Rangetop line from the 80s. (as opposed to the Rangetoppers line from the late 70s)  The Rangetop line is better known as the S-series round saucepans that have "built in" pyroceram handles attached to their sides and no aluminum on their bottoms.   

After my research I began wondering what I was going to use it for, since I don't fry chicken.  I already have perfectly serviceable pieces of Corningware and didn't really NEED another one, unless it could serve a special purpose beyond what my Cornflower or Wheat pieces were capable of.  I was just about to sell it on eBay or something when it hit me......  with the higher sides (significantly higher than those of the P-series "skillets") this would be perfect as a saute pan.   I have always wondered.... for all the lines that Corningware produced, they really only produced Skillets and Sauce Pans (OK, and Bakeware) which have different dimensions than Saute, Chef or Windsor style pans.

And thus it was, armed with my new Corningware "Saute" pan, I embarked upon one of my favorite dishes....   Risotto.

Historically I have made my Risotto in my 10 inch Pyroceram Skillet (with Pyroceram Lid), but I have discovered that this mysterious white "Visions" Chicken fryer is the best possible pot for making Risotto.  (I am sure that a Visions Amber or Cranberry would work just as well)  It's dimensions are perfect for providing just the right amount of surface area for the liquid evaporate at the perfect rate.  As an added bonus, the waffle bottom ensures there will be absolutely no stickage AND it provides a secondary surface for gently abrading the rice grains to release to perfect amount of amylopectin into the stock, thus creating a perfectly creamy sauce to envelope the perfectly al dente rice grains.

Did I mention that this pot is "Perfect"?  LOVE IT!!!!

There is something about making Risotto in Corningware that I must caution you on.  Corningware holds onto heat like cast iron.  Because of this, and especially with Risotto, you will need to remove the dish from the stove just before the rice would be considered "al dente", in other words, you want it to be a little under-done.  It will continue to cook for a good 3-5 minutes while it is in the "resting" phase and be perfect afterwards.  Remember.... Squishy Risotto defeats the whole purpose.

I have gotten hooked on the "Power Greens" mixes that have been available in the stores lately, but this is just as delicious with ALL Baby Spinach or ALL Arugula... (though you may want to give those a rough chop first)  I just think the mixture of Spinach, Chard and Kale, makes it a little more interesting.

Baby Greens and Chevre Risotto

2 TB Olive Oil
1 Shallot, minced
1 cup Arborio Rice
1/2 cup Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or other White Wine
3 - 3 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
5 oz Power Greens (Baby Kale, Baby Chard, Baby Spinach, etc)
4 oz Chevre or Montrachet, crumbled

Corningware "Visions" V-12 Chicken Fryer or Corningware 10 inch Skillet (P-10)
Corningware 6 cup Teapot (P-104)

Begin by pouring the Chicken Stock into your 6 cup Teapot (P-104) and setting it over Medium-Low flame. (It needs to come to a simmer)

So while you are waiting, go ahead and crumble up the Chevre and set it aside. (It's easier to crumble when it's cold)

Place Olive Oil in the V-12 Chicken Fryer and set it over Medium flame.

Once the Oil is hot, toss in the Shallots, sauteing until softened.

Add the Rice and saute until it begins to smell nutty.  (about 5 minutes)

Add the Wine and stir until it has evaporated down slightly and a sauce begins to form.

Pour in a little bit of Chicken Stock, and continue stirring.

Continue in this way until you have used about 1/2 of the Chicken Stock.

Add the Greens to the pot and stir until they have wilted down and mixed in with the rice.

You probably won't need to add any stock for a few minutes, as the greens wilt down, they will release liquid into the risotto.

Continue adding stock and stirring until the rice is only a little bit toothy. (yes, you will have to check it with a spoon - cooking times always vary from 16-20 minutes as does the amount of stock needed)

Remove the V-12 Chicken Fryer from the stove and add the crumbled Chevre.

Cover with a Dish towel and allow the Risotto to rest for 3-5 minutes.

Stir everything together to achieve creamy deliciousness.



Where is your Corningware??

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Life is Sweet with Corning Heat n' Eat

I figured that it was about time that I do a post specifically on the Heat n' Eat line.  They are the saviors of left-overs and a boon to the lunch eaters.  So here are all the lunch time companions.

First, and probably the best known of all the Heat n' Eat line... The 15 oz Grab-it bowl (P-150-B) with it's  Glass lid (P-150-C) released in 1977. (these also had several styles of plastic lids available) At first, these were offered as a porringer to accompany Centura dinnerware, it wasn't long before they hit the Microwave Heat n' Eat line as the ever popular "Grab-It" bowl...  These are the Chili bowls that I grew up with as a child.

The Sidekicks (P-140-B) weren't released until the next year in 1978.  They measure 6 1/2 x 4 1/2, which is just the right size for a couple sticks of Cornbread. (After all, you can't eat chili without a couple of corn sticks on the side now can you?)  Though not really available to the public until '78, these little devils had been "flyin' the friendly skies" for years as airline plates with a model number of PL003.

The Casser-ette (P-14-B) with a glass lid (P-14-C) entered the area in 1979.  It holds 14 oz of your favorite ready made meal.  I personally love these when I make things like Chicken or Turkey Tetrazzini.  I'll make up several and store them in the freezer.  The only downfall of the P-14 is that no plastic covers were made; or at least none that I have ever seen, so once you have placed the lid on top, you have to wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap if it will be in the freezer for any length of time.

Suddenly there was a disturbing trend sweeping across the United States... People were eating Tomato soup out of their Grab-It bowls, instead of chili. It was utter chaos and pandemonium for the poor Sidekick just wasn't large enough to support a Toasted Cheese sandwich.  Luckily, Corningware Research and Development were on the job and by 1981, the Snack-It plate (P-185-B) appeared.  This 6 inches square and just the right size shoulder the cheese laden burden and peace and harmony were restored to the Western world.

Then the super-size craze began.  Thus in 1982, Corning released the 24 oz Grab-a-Meal bowl (P-240-B), for those who wanted a REALLY big bowl o' chili.  These were only available with glass lids (P-240-C).

As you can see, the Grab-A-Meal bowl is significantly bigger than the original Grab-It.

There were a couple of other pieces that were available here and there.  The Platter/Main Plate (P-811) which was original considered a platter for the Centura Dinnerware line, was also available as of 1977, but I am not sure how long.

There was also the larger Casserole.. as opposed to the Casser-ette.  This 1 1/4 quart round dish (P-270-B) with a glass lid (P-270-C, which also fits the M-225-B) showed up on the scene sometime in the mid 80s, but I have no idea how long it was available either.  This is an excellent Crisp/Crumble pan, if I do say so myself.  It is also an excellent "Casserole for two" dish. (I do not know if this dish has it's "own" plastic lid but the M-225-PC plastic lid fits the P-270-B casserole)

Where is your Corningware??

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cradle Your French White/Bisque/Bleu & Classic Black in Comfort

I promised that I would write up a post on the French White Cradles, so that people would know what to look for the next time they are out questing for Corningware.   To date, the only ones I have mentioned are the Platinum Cradles simply because those are my favorite and what I have the most of.  The Platinum Cradles were not the first, nor would they be the last.  For today, though, I think I will just stick with the French White/Bleu/Bisque & Classic Black cradles.

Behold... The French White Cradle.  (Also available, contrary to book publications, with selected pieces of Classic Black)

They are really a fairly simple design, being a single piece of wire, bent ingeniously and then welded where the ends meet underneath so your dish will conveniently hide said weld at the table.

So far, I have only seen 5 different cradles...  One for each of the main pieces in the French White (and Bisque) collection.   F-1, F-2, F-4, F-5 and F-6.  (The F-3 quiche doesn't have a cradle)

They seem to be made of Chromed Stainless Steele.

When they were originally sold, the boxes were supposedly marked with an LE prefix and an R suffix.... as in LE-F1-R being a 2.5 liter Souffle.  Personally, all I have ever seen is an entire set of the 3 pieces mentioned above being sold as a set under F-360.

They are not marked in any way shape or form, so you have to kind of wing it, when trying to decide which ones you need vs which ones you already have... Thus, I have several duplicates.  But that's OK... Cause I have A LOT of French White/Bleu/Bisque & Classic Black that needs to be cradled in comfort when setting on a hard table.  (it might get bruised otherwise)  However, in the interest of those reading this blog, I have decided to take measurements of all 5 of the ones I have found so far.  That way you don't have to keep purchasing the same sized cradles over and over and over... did I mention over?

That is what happened with these 3... The 3 most common...  The F-1, F-2 and F-4 cradle seem to be the most prolific.

Let me state that I am using Bisque here for demo, because it's readily accessible and the other "colors", aside from French White itself, are missing pieces...   French Bleu has no F-4 and Classic Black has no F-1..  Aside from French White, French Bisque is the most complete of the Frenches.  LOL

Here are the 2 souffle cradles... the LE-F1-R (right) and the LE-F5-R (left).

Note, the LE-F5-R cradle is small enough to fit "inside" the LE-F1-R Cradle.

The LE-F1-R is 4 7/8 inches deep across the bottom, 6 3/4 inches wide in the "front", 12 3/4 inches from handle to handle, and 4 1/4 inches high at the handle.

The LE-F5-R is 4 3/8 inches deep across the bottom, 6 inches wide in the "front", 10 3/4 inches from handle to handle, and 3 7/8 inches high at the handle.

We aren't done.... There are 3 more...

The F-2 Casserole (back), the F-6 small Open Roaster (middle) and the large F-4 Open Roaster (front)......

The LE-F2-R (Back) is 4 7/8 inches deep across the bottom, 9 3/8 inches wide in the "front", 15 inches from handle to handle and 3 3/8 inches high at the handle

The LE-F6-R (Front) is 5 inches deep across the bottom, 9 1/2 inches wide in the "front", 14 3/8 inches from handle to handle and 2 5/8 inches high at the handle

The LE-F4-R is 5 3/4 inches deep across the bottom, 11 inches wide in the "front", 16 1/2 inches from handle to handle and 2 3/4 inches high at the handle

Hopefully that will help at least a little bit... Just remember to have a tape measure handy the next time you are out thrifting....

Where is your Corningware??

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Corningware Microwave Plus a Whole Lot More - M-225 Steamer & Bunt Cake Pan?

I make no bones about not being particularly partial to Microwave cookery.  I use my microwave for 2 things and 2 things only... Warming up my coffee (only once, or it tastes funny) and bringing cold butter to room temperature (there is a trick to it).  Thus, aside from the occasional demonstration of how to make a Grilled Cheese sandwich in a Corningware Microwave Browning Skillet, I hardly ever use the thing.  Because of this distaste for all things from the Nuke-u-lator, I have to laugh at myself for acquiring a myriad Corningware microwave pieces.

Even though I have prided myself in the fact that I actually use my collection, instead of letting it set around and collect dust on a shelf somewhere; after all, Corningware that doesn't fulfill its stove top destiny dies a little on the inside, those Microwave specialty pieces will be doing just that.  They will sit and watch the world go by, because I will never actually use them.

The reason I collect these pieces is purely for scholarly purposes.  They are part of the history of Corningware and, possibly even more importantly, the history of how Americans cooked.  They were a catalyst in the slow demise of Corningware from being a Stove Top saucepan to an Oven/Microwave casserole dish...  (sigh)  Sad, but true, I think.

Microwave cookery was ALL the rage once the prices dropped enough for almost every household to afford one in the 70s... By the 80s, when everything had to meet with the Yuppie's instant gratification style, it only increased the desire for Microwavable cooking vessels for quick nuke-u-lated meals. The P-series and A-series pans were perfectly capable of making the switch already, but people weren't getting it.

As a result, Corningware produced a plethora of "Microwave" cookware that, for the most part, was still perfectly serviceable on the stove or in the oven but Corning Consumer Products steered the packaging to emphasis it's ease of use in the Microwave.  Thus the "Microwave PLUS" line was born.  These are usually denoted by M-series pieces, though sometimes MR & MW series, depending on when they were made.

This is one of my favorite pieces from that Era.  It's the M-225 Microwave Plus Steamer.  Evidently, the plus part is that it's also a Bundt Cake pan...  Yeah, weird.  Luckily, the base can be used on the stove top and the plastic steamer basket is safe up to 400 degrees.  Then again, I refuse to cook in plastic, so I will probably never use it... But it is a neat little item of interest so I decided to add it to my growing collection of strange and interesting things Corning came up with over the years.

Introducing...  The M-225 Microwave Steamer & Bundt Pan?

The concept was neat; I just wish they had made the steamer part out of Pyrex Glass or Pyroceram instead, of that really hard and somewhat brittle "microwave" plastic material that they used to make Microwave Bacon Grills. 

I have no idea when this was produced, nor how long it was on the market....  My guess is that it was in the mid to late 80's.

It has the same lid as the P-270 from the Grab-It line (the one I made Rhubarb Crumble in a while back)

It even has the plastic storage lid, in case you have too many steamed veggies left over.  The nice part about that, is that it will also fit my P-270-B. 

The weirdest part is the cone.  My immediate assumption is that this is for baking Bundt cake.  Though I could be wrong.  I do not have any instructional materials with this piece.

I bake, A LOT, and I have made Bundt cakes many times before...  I am not really sure how well this will work as a Bundt pan.  (if that is even what the cone is for)  While a Bundt pan has a cone in the center, it is a hollow cone that allows heat to come up through the cone to bake center of the cake. This has a solid bottom and the cone just kind of sits in the middle.

I have a feeling that the cake would not get done around the cone because there is no heat rising through the cone.  But I may be willing to give it a try and see if it works. Stranger things have happened. Then again, I won't eat the cake, cause the cone is made of the same plastic material as the steamer insert.... Maybe if I wrap it in foil or something.  Hmmmmmmmm.......

So here is a list of all the parts to the Microwave Plus Steamer/Bundt Pan

M-225-B - 2 1/4 quart Bottom Dish - Stove top, Oven, Broiler & Microwave safe.

P-270-C - The same lid that was originally used on the P-270 (1 1/4 quart)

M-225-PC - Plastic Cover for storage which also fits the P-270-B

M-225-R - Hard Plastic Steamer Basket - Microwave and Stove Top safe (when used with the M-225-B).  Made of the same type of hard plastic as the old Microwave Bacon racks.  No doubt this type of plastic has been shown to cause cancer in the last decade or so.

M-225-RC - Hard plastic Cone for baking Bundt cake (evidently)  Made of the same plastic as the Steamer Basket

Cone fits over the "bumps" in the bottom of the M-225-B which keep the cone from slipping around when pouring the batter and baking the cake.

All the plastic pieces (aside from the storage lid) are supposedly safe to 400F degrees in the oven.  And the plastic basket can be used to steam vegetables on the stove as well as in the microwave, just be sure that it doesn't touch the stove element directly.

And there you have it... One of the weirdest pieces I have collected over the years.

Where is your Corningware??