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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Thoughts on New Lagostina Cookware and Whole Wheat Linguine with Roasted Italian Sauce with Mushrooms

Wednesday morning we picked up our new Lagostina Collezion Pro 12 Elite Series cookware that had finally arrived via rain cheque.  We bought the set at a fantastic 60% off.  The cookware was bought to upgrade our cookware at home while allowing us to take our existing pot set down to our vacation home.  It was also bought with the goal of reducing the number of pots and pans needed to prepare certain dishes.  Instead of searing in a fry pan then transferring to a casserole dish, these pieces will allow us to do everything in one pan, stovetop to oven.  I have to be honest with you, aside of oogling the new cookware and reorganizing the cabinet to accomodate it, I did not use any of the cookware until this morning when I started a pot of navy beans for baked beans as part of our Easter dinner tomorrow.

Lagostina Renaissance
We bought a set of Italian made Lagostina Renaissance pots about 10 years ago.  They still look great and perform quite nicely.  As far as pots go, these are a delight to use with their heavy tri-clad bases that eliminate hot spots.  The handles have faded a bit from going through the dishwasher but they still have the high polish protective coating that keeps them shiny.  The only downside to this particular set, is they cannot be used in the oven due to the handles.  Other than that, they are great performers.  I really would not have thought of replacing them had it not been for our cooking style changing a bit and wanting a better set of pots for our vacation home.

Lagostina Collezione Pro in the box
We got a rain cheque for the Lagostina Collezione Pro cookware the day after the sale flyer came out.  It took almost two weeks for them to arrive.  We chose this set because it is a multi-material set.   Cookware is currently available in aluminum, stainless steel, copper, and cast iron.  A non-stick coating is a popular edition.  If buying non-stick, I highly recommend ceramic over tefalon for safety and durability.  At one time, Pyrex had a line of glass cookware available but there were shattering issues so it was removed from the market.  You can still find it at resale shops and yard sales from time to time.  Each of the cookware materials have pros and cons.  The best cookware is actually a combination of more than one material to give even heat conduction and distribution.  As you cook more, you come to realize to realize certain cookware material gives better results than others.  For example, a good sear is best done in a hot stainless steel pan because a non-stick pan cannot be brought to a high enough temperature for a good sear.  If you are getting creative with cooking, then a matching set like the Lagostina Renaissance is not a good choice unless you don't mind buying specialty pieces.

Lagostina Collezione Pro cookware set
The Collezione Pro cookware consists of two tri-ly clad sauce pans for true even heat distribution (eg. sauces, vegetables, soups), one bi-clad sauté pan with anodized exterior for even heat (eg. braising, searing, flambéeing), one tri-ply copper exterior saucepan (delicate sauces, reducing liquids), one tri-ply copper exterior casserole for precise cooking control and an enamel coated cast iron dutch oven for superior heat retention (eg. soups, stews, casseroles).  All of the cookware have matching lids. All of the cookware can be used on the stovetop and in the oven.  The set comes with a lifetime replacement warranty and if a piece is replaced under that warranty, the replacement piece is also covered by the original warranty.  Of not, the guarantee does not apply to any damage resulting from abuse, misuse, negligence, accidents, improper repair, commercial use or dishwasher.  Needless to say, this cookware will not be going into the dishwasher!

My concern was missing the Dutch oven from my old set.  It will take a bit of getting used to the new cast iron dutch oven.  It is more of a conceptual thing with me because the new Dutch oven doesn't look like it can be used on the stovetop.  I've seen the celebrity chefs using this style on the stovetop and so far this morning, the beans are cooking nicely.  I'll report back on those results shortly.
steamer baskets
Pots and pans do not always come with everything you want or need.  We do a lot of steaming, often have more than one steamed dish cooking at the same time so really needed steamer baskets.  Our pastaiola came with two steamer baskets, a rather deep one perfect for larger quantities of vegetables or cooking pasta then lifting out for quick draining, and a shallower one (with handle) that fit the Dutch oven of the Renaissance set perfectly.  I kept the steamer basket out of our first rice maker when it quit.  This basket fit the largest saucepan of the Renaissance set perfectly.  Neither of these steamer baskets fit the new Collezion set perfect but they are useable.  The larger one fits down into the new Dutch oven still leaving space between the water level and basket.  The smaller one fits the larger tri-ply clad stainless steel saucepan, sticking up by about a half inch but it will still work.  In the meantime, I will keep checking the resale shops for steamer baskets that might fit a bit better.

whole wheat linguine with roasted Italian sauce and mushrooms
My husband and I really enjoy our pastas!  There are so many varieties of pastas that we just never really tire of it.  We enjoy both dry pasta and fresh made pastas using the Kitchen Aid pasta attachment.  I have been working towards making some of our favourite pasta meals a bit healthier.  All of my tomato based pasta sauces are home canned or homemade from scratch.  While they are rich, full bodied and flavourful, I seldom add salt so they are low sodium.  All have a little olive oil in them which makes the anti-oxidant lycopene more accessible to the body, making them a healthy sauce.  I often top pasta dishes with chopped fresh herbs and vegetables along with a little shredded cheese.  There are now a lot of healthy choices for dried pastas.  Some are made with whole grains while others have vegetables added and some are a combination of both.

Catelli has a line of dry pastas called Healthy Harvest.  I bought a 375g box of their whole wheat linguine that gives 75% of the daily recommended whole grain servings and is a high source of fibre.  It only takes 9 minutes to cook to perfection.  I topped the pasta with home canned roasted Italian sauce with mushrooms, shredded Asiago cheese, chopped green onions and chopped tomato for a lovely, healthy and meatless dinner that was low sodium and low fat.  The entire meal took under 15 minutes to prepare! 

If you have not tried whole wheat pastas, they are well worth the slightly higher price.  I like the whole grain pastas.  They have just a bit  firmer texture than white wheat pastas.  There is a bit more texture, just a slightly noticeable grainy texture.  Whole grain pastas cook up more of a light tan than a pale creamy yellow.  Other than that, whole wheat pastas can substitute in any pasta dish.  This pasta is available in various shapes.  A multi-grain line of pastas is also available from Catelli so you are sure to find one to please.

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