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I love cooking. I am constantly berated by my wife for ransacking charity shops and bringing home weird cookbooks from the 70s complete with garish photos showing everything set in aspic and about three veggie recipes per 200 pages (I live in a fairly hippified household). Despite that, sometimes I feel I can't be bothered to cook, and reach for the takeaway menus. Then I remember the last time I ate Domino's pizza and felt like I'd eaten a bag of unmixed tiling grout, and soon reconsider and decide I can be bothered after all. Pampered Chef's stoneware makes this so much easier.
Pampered Chef is ace. I was fortunate to receive a stash of their products as a wedding gift, including some pieces of stoneware. The main one we use is the rectangular 12 inch baking dish, as it makes more than enough for both of us, with leftovers for the next day, and it can be used to make lasagne, rice pudding, gratin... anything that can be baked, and more besides as I was soon to learn.
Pampered Chef host a series of promotional parties in people's houses, which are basically like Tupperware parties on steroids, with the advantage that the hosts make some really nice food to demonstrate the goods. They're also the most outrageous advocates of culinary cheating; at the evening I attended they made risotto IN A BAKING DISH. This seemed sacrilegous to me, as I was taught the laborious process that takes all day and sullies every saucepan in the kitchen. Their results were amazing with minimal effort. Whack all the ingredients in the stoneware dish with some stock, bung it in the oven and forget about it until the timer bleeps. Pampered Chef provided a handy booklet of these easy recipes with the dish, from curry to cassoulet to cobbler... the number of easy meals that can be made with this stoneware is great.
What's even better is the reduced washing up. The instructions actively encourage you *not* to scrub off all the baked-on brown residue that gets left over, as the stone is unglazed and it 'absorbs' the flavours, making the stone darken and mature with age, making it a more effective cooking tool. Just rinse it with warm water, and use it again. Anything involving less elbow-grease for better results is a total win in my book.
Several years ago there was an epidemic of Pampered Chef parties in the small town where I live. We would congregate in each other's houses, drink wine, nibble tasty treats and ooh and aah over the extortionately priced kitchen utensils on show. To most of us it was a nice social event and if we felt sufficiently guilty about our hostess's hospitality we would purchase the cheapest item from the range. However there were a few items that really appealed to me and at one such event I decided to make a purchase.
I selected the large Pizza Stone. This circular stone slab is 13" in diameter with smooth, rounded edges and weighs in at a hefty 4lb. I can't remember the price but I think it was about £19.
Pampered Chef promote their stoneware collection a lot. The collection forms the cornerstone of their market and the products are available in a variety of shapes, either glazed or unglazed. The natural clay base from which the stoneware is made is supposed to provide excellent heat distribution and this should produce even results when baking.
My stone arrived a week or so after the party and was packaged in a thick environmentally friendly cardboard box accompanied by a small recipe card and a plastic scrapper for cleaning the stone. The box was quite substantial and I stored my stone in it for several years before it became too tatty and I threw it away. Due to the weight these products can be difficult to store as you don't want to risk them falling out of a cupboard as they would cause a nasty injury. Luckily I have a large food cupboard and I store it flat in there as I worry that it would chip some of my more delicate kitchenware if I stored it in my ordinary cupboards.
When the stone arrived it was pale beige in colour with a slightly matt surface. There were instructions which stated that it needed to be primed with a light covering of oil to make it non-stick before its first use. I used a small amount of olive oil and rubbed it lightly into the surface.
Although this is called a pizza stone it can be used to cook all sorts of different items. The manufacturers recommend that it is not used to cook large frozen items but otherwise virtually everything is suitable.
This stone has now become a staple cooking utensil in my house. I use it for frozen items such as oven chips, fish fingers or chicken nuggets which result in a nice crispy finish and no sticking. I regularly use it to cook chilled pizzas; I particularly like the thin crust type and these go lovely and crispy on the bottom but without burning. I also use the stone for making open-pies using a puff pastry base and then folding the edges around a multitude of fillings, these are family favourites and cook brilliantly on the stone.
Using the stone does mean that I tend to cook the food for a slightly shorter time than recommended by the manufacturer as it seems to transmit heat really well.
Great care has to be used when removing the stone from the oven and for quite a long time afterwards as it does stay extremely hot for a prolonged time. A good pan stand or other heat protection is needed to protect surfaces.
Since this is a stone rather than a non-stick tray it is really easy to cut items on it with a knife as the surface does not get damaged, you can also use metal utensils with no problems. This is really handy for pizzas and pies.
Washing the stone can be a bit of a nuisance. Stoneware cannot be put in the dishwasher or be washed with detergents as the surface is porous and can absorb the chemicals so the manufacturers suggest you soak the stone in water and then use the plastic scrapper supplied with the stone to clean it. Unfortunately because the stone is so big it doesn't fit in my washing-up bowl so I have to stand it up in the sink and wash it under running water. I try to be careful as I am a bit worried that the stone might scratch the sink surface but it doesn't seem to have ever damaged it. I have had the stone for a long time and food really doesn't ever stick and even if I have burnt something (luckily a rare occurrence, I am not that bad a cook!) it scrapes off easily. If the food has been particularly fatty I find that I have to use really hot water and a lot of scraping to remove the greasy film that I can detect.
When the stoneware arrives it is very pale but as it gets used more and more it becomes seasoned and becomes darker in colour. Mine is now a very dark brown with a slightly paler centre. The more seasoned the stone is the better its non-stick quality is. Although I have always found it easy to remove food it is not simpler than ever.
Due to the porous nature of the stone I was worried that it would carry smells and tastes and would taint other items that I cooked on it. This has never happened and the stone doesn't harbour any aromas as all.
I have used the stone successfully for a vast majority of foods but I soon worked out that is something was extremely fatty and would lose a lot whilst cooking such as party sized sausage rolls the stone wasn't a good idea. Since it is completely smooth with no lip then fat runs straight off onto the base of the oven or the floor making a delightful mess.
The large size of the stone also means that it is great for presenting large deserts as well, even if they are not cooked. There is no lip to make it difficult to remove portions and as I said before you can use sharp knives without a problem.
Although this was an expensive purchase I must say that I think I have got my moneys-worth as other non-stick trays I have used have come and gone when the surface got damaged but this one just keeps on going. Due to its appearance it is perfectly acceptable to use as a serving tray straight from the oven although good heat-protection is a must so it is very versatile. The stone is very heavy so you do have to be careful when using it as it would easily result in broken toes and a smashed stone floor if it got dropped.
Pampered Chef are an American company and they expanded in this country thanks to a system of party organisers a little like the Ann Summers ones but without the raucous drink fuelled bbehaviour and laughter. A friend used to be one of their party organisers and that is how I came to be the owner of a couple of their items, which are not cheap but they are hard weearing and reliable and both items can still be found in my kitchen still and they function pretty well.
I own a medium size baking tray and a pizza stone, the latter has been excellent for pizza making as the stone dsitributes the heat evenly which menas you get a nice crisp and even base to your pizza with no black burnt bits, that is unless you leave it in the oven too long then there is no hope for you as it would be with any other appliance. All their products are made from lead free clay so they are very safe to use, also the more you use these products the more non stick they become which is something I was not convinced about at first but after using them I can see that the claim holds up.
In order to build up the non stick quality you should cook some high fat content items, for example I cooked some cheap pork belly strips and also sausage rolls were recommended, this allows the non stick qualities to build up, something they call seasoning, and it really does work. It will also see the dish change colour as well to a darker brown and become smoother to the touch however this process takes a good few cooking sessions to develop it is worth the effort. You need to apply a very small amount of oil in the beginning but after a while you will find yourself using a fraction of teh oil that you would ina conventional baking tray and food does not stick to the stoneware.
All the products come with a nylon scraper which once it has cooled you use to remove any food debris and then just wash with hot water, the range cannot go in the dishwasher and you should not use washing up liquid on them. It is easy and the only pain is that you obviously have to wait for the stone to cool which does take quite a while.
A good thick pair of oven gloves are essential and they are quite heavy, even the pizza dish has a lot of weight in it. I find these two pieces a delight to cook with and they have been a really good investment however the downside is that they are not cheap, the pizza stone was about £20 and the baking tray was £32 and that was the price a few years ago.
Pampered chef stone ware is a range of baking trays and dishes . Rather than being made of traditional metal they are made of unvarnished stone. The idea is that the stone wear allows a more even distribution of heat and therefore more even cooking. The more you use the stone wear the more "seasoned" it becomes and the more non stick.
I do know a lot of people who rave about the stone ware but I have to say that although I think it is ok I don't see what there is to rave about. I don't find the heat distribution any different to a normal baking tray and the level of non stick is really any different from a good quality normal non stick making tray.
The seanoning actually means the stone ware goes from white to brown to black which to me actually looks a bit unclean! I prefer grey or black metal that you can get all the cooked food off.
Like most Pampers Chef stuff it is also very expensive and you won't see much change from £20 for even the smallest piece.
After a trend for pampered chef parties in my area last year I have ended up with quite a collection of stoneware. Stoneware is a range of posh cooking pots. The more they are used the more non-stick they become- they discolour with use but this is part of their charm. They cook food more evenly than regular cookware- so if you cook a lasagne the middle should be cooked at the same time as the edges.
They are not flameproof which is a shame as they are great for roasting meat- it would be so much easier if you could just transfer the dish on to the hob to make gravy after cooking the meat. We also use ours for making a Sunday morning breakfast- sausage, bacon and eggs all cook deliciously together and you only end up with one thing to wash.
They wash quite easily- not dishwasher proof but you just leave them to soak for a few minutes then they wipe clean- they come with a little scraper to remove anything that is burnt on. The pizza stone is fab- you can really tell the difference when a pizza is cooked on it and it is also useful for baking biscuits etc.
I had a couple of problems with them cracking at first- you are not supposed to let them change temperature too quickly (ie by immersing them in cold water straight from the oven) however the couple that broke were promptly replaced free of charge. I was a bit worried that I had made a silly impulse buy after I had ordered my first one but now I can't wait for the pampered chef trand to return!
visit my website to buy your pampered chef stoneware and other products! www.pamperedchef.biz/nicolarobertson
Hi, I am a Pampered Chef consultant in the Guildford area. If you would like to know more about The Pampered Chef, book a cooking show or if you are looking fora new flexible, satisfactory job, feel free to go to my website to find out more: www.pamperedchef.biz/kitchengemsGem x
Hi, I would like to hold a pampered chef party, please can someone provide me with contact details for this for the and also some where in the reading area, thank you
I just experienced my first pampered chef night.I thought it was fantastic. The representative was very professional and friendly.I used to love cooking before I got married or had my children but as everyone who has a busy family life ie .. work ,school runs ect.... you find you dont have time to cook,so you opt for the ready made meals.... but now that I have purchased some of the pampered chef kitchen range I now cook and the family help with the cooking too. With the safety features on the utensils I dont mind the kids helping out... meal times are fun now. I have also found that we eat so much more healthy now ... I can hide so much veg in the meals that the kids dont even realise!!!
Having been to a couple of Pampered Chef parties lately I have managed to increase my collection of Stoneware quite well.
--What is Stoneware?
Stoneware is a range of kitchen products like baking trays and pizza stones, only sold through The Pampered Chef, that are made using a natural lead-free clay. The result is a range of baking products that will cook your food exceptionally well by allowing the heat to distribute evenly over the piece of Stoneware and allowing you to use less or no added fat/oil as the surface becomes non-stick the more you use it. This is called seasoning and I will cover how to do that later.
You can get a wide variety of Stoneware products now including Muffin Pans, Loaf Pans, Deep Dish Bakers, Pizza Stones & Fluted Pans. This is just a small selection of the product range and I personally own the large Rectangular Baker, The Pizza Stone and the Small Bar pan. I will explain their uses later as well.
The Pampered Chef claim that no piece of Stoneware will be exactly alike, due to them being made from the clay I think but they do promise that you will have success with your cooking in these and therefore offer a three year guarantee on every piece, allowing you the peace of mind to try it and see what you think. The Pampered Chef will also replace like for like if your item breaks whilst in the guarantee period.
--What do you do then?
Well, when you first get your product, (I will refer to the Baker for the purposes of this review as this is the item I have had the longest and therefore the most experience with), it comes as a kind of sand coloured item. It is exceptionally rough to the touch, almost like pumice stone, and I held it as little as possible as it really did not feel nice, similar to nails on blackboard kind of feeling! You are advised to cook something with a high fat content for the first two or three times you use the baker. For instance a pastry dish, sausage rolls are a good one, or maybe croissants. This is so that the natural oils in the dish will begin the seasoning process.
The more you use your piece the more seasoned it becomes. It changes colour from the sandy pale colour I mentioned earlier to a dark brown. Mine is currently dark brown all round the sides and edges and a cross between dark brown and sandy on the base. It becomes smoother and nowhere near as rough as it is when it is new. Mine is now becoming a lot smoother although I would be happier if it hurried up and became like the one the representative had. For an idea of how long this process takes, I have had my baker since mid July and used it on average 3 times a week therefore around 36 meals to get a pretty well seasoned state.
When cooking for the first few times, you can add a small spray of additional oil, Fry Light for example, but once the pan has become seasoned you will not need to add any extra oil/fat as it gets more and more non-stick. This does sound hard to believe but I have cooked roast potatoes in mine, straight from the saucepan to the baker, then just adding a small spray of oil to the tops for crunchiness. They have never stuck to the bottom of the pan, as roasties are prone to do!
--How do you look after it?
This is the strange bit. You do not wash the Stoneware up in the sink using washing up liquid as you would with everything else. It is not dishwasher safe either. To clean it you use the nylon scraper that comes with the product. Basically once it has cooled down (takes a while as it really retains the heat) you scrape any food left over on the base, straight into the bin. Then you simply wash it with hot water and a sponge. I have occasionally used a very small squirt of washing up liquid on the sponge if the food I have been cooking is particularly greasy but other than that I just use hot water as stated.
I initially thought this would not clean the baker very well at all considering the kinds of food I was cooking in it but I was amazingly surprised at the way it works. This is all part of the seasoning process and if you constantly clean it in washing up liquid it will pull out the natural oils the baker retains and lose its non-stickiness. I thought it would leave the baker greasy and stained but not at all. The colour changes anyway so this is not a problem and you can feel it is not greasy just by running your fingers over a dry piece. Smooth but not greasy. I was concerned at first that the colour change was just food staining and sinking into the clay surface but the representative assured me this is normal and is what happens when the product becomes seasoned and ready for everyday cooking. It doesnt retain any smells from foods cooked in them either.
You mustnt pre-heat the stoneware items, as they can be prone to crack or break due to the extreme temperature changes. For instance if you are cooking a roast, do not heat up the pan first, just heat the oven and put the pan in cold. This even goes for Yorkshire Puddings, if you can believe it. I know someone who cooks her Yorkshires from scratch in her Muffin Pan and she does NOT heat the oil first. She simply spoons in the batter and pops into the oven COLD. They do not stick or flop and she makes lovely Yorkshires this way.
The Stoneware range is very heavy due to the substance it is made from and this has been one of the things I have had to adjust to. I was used to using metal pans, which are pretty light when lifting from the oven but the Stoneware is much heavier and therefore you will need a good grip when taking it out of the oven. This in turn means you will need to invest in some strong oven gloves as the Stoneware gets exceptionally hot and as you will need a firmer grip of the product you may well be burnt if you dont have thick ovenproof gloves. The fact that it retains the heat so well is an advantage though as it keeps food warm if you are going back for seconds!
You can put these into the fridge or freezer although personally I would find them too big for mine. You must however make sure that they are at room temperature before you put them into the fridge or freezer due to maintaining the temperature level.
If you wanted to order anything the website page to contact a representative is located here http://www.pamperedchef.com/our_products/info/request.jsp but if you just want to look at the website itself the link is here http://www.pamperedchef.com/
I love my stoneware items now. I was a little unconvinced when I first got them, but this was mainly due to the seemingly unfinished way they arrive. You expect your bake ware to be smooth and polished, if you are not using metal but these are simply glazed clay products and not in the same league as the stoneware. Once you begin to get a really seasoned edge to your baking dish or other items it will become a really classic and much used item in your cooking selection. I now use my baker for pretty much everything, from roast meats, which come out succulent and delicious, right down to chips and sausage rolls.
I also have the pizza stone, which is a new addition, but I have experienced a pizza cooked on this and the base is soft on the inside and just a right amount of crusty edge. I thought it would take a lot longer to cook things in these bakers but I have been told and found it to be true, that it will take no longer on an item of food such as a roast dinner (meat & potatoes) but if it would normally take just a couple more minutes in the stoneware for something that would normally take just 10-15 minutes to cook. I didnt want to keep using the large baker for small things like chicken breasts so I also purchased the small bar pan, which makes things much easier if you are only cooking small amounts.
The only off-putting thing about the Stoneware range is the price. I paid £39 for my large baker and £17 for my pizza stone. This does seem a lot for what you are getting but they should last for years if you look after them properly and also if you host a Pampered Chef show you can end up with some fabulous discounts and free products which is a great way to get some of the more expensive items you want.
Overall I heartily recommend this Stoneware range and have found it has improved my cooking no end, allowing me to leave it alone to cook. You dont need to turn food during cooking as it cooks really evenly and this frees me up to do other things while dinner is seeing to itself.
Anyone want a sausage roll?