Kitchen Basics: Measuring Cups

RSVP Measuring Cups ? 7 Piece Stainless Steel Set By RSVP

7 Piece Stainless Steel Measuring Set By RSVP

Measuring cups may seem a little boring to start off a regular series with, but when it comes down to it, those little cups are pretty darn important in the kitchen.

There are two different kinds of measuring cups, one kind for measuring wet ingredients and another for dry. It’s important to use the right kind for whatever you are measuring. Will you get close if you use the wrong type? Sure, but be forewarned! If you use cups designed for dry ingredients to measure liquids, you will always short the liquid or end up spilling and if you use those designed to measure liquids for dry ingredients, you will always be over since there isn’t an easy way to level without tamping down the ingredient you are measuring. I’ve found that I use measuring cups most often when I am baking and with baking it is uber important to get your measurements correct. A bread made with too much dry ingredients and not enough liquids isn’t going to turn out right.

Measuring cups for dry ingredients are normally metal or plastic with a rigid rim and a sturdy handle. They usually come in sets of 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup and 1 cup and sometimes you can find sets that also include 1/8 cup, 2/3 cup and 3/4 cup like the set I have here from Cooking.com. For a very long time, I used only plastic measuring cups, but after about the fourth set of those in five years, I decided that was enough. I bought a metal set and I’ve never looked back. My plastic ones just didn’t hold up…they would crack or even melt in the dishwasher (despite being labeled as dishwasher safe) and one set even discolored weirdly. My metal ones are awesome. They stack up nicely, clean easily, and have a nice heft to them. When you are measuring dry ingredients, you should never press and compact the ingredient into the cup, except when you are measuring brown sugar which is always packed into the cup. To measure everything else, fill the cup to the brim lightly and then level it off with the flat side of a knife. Packing an ingredient that shouldn’t be, such as flour, will throw off your recipe.

Pyrex 1-c. Liquid Measuring Cup

Pyrex One Cup Glass Measuring Cup

Wet measuring cups are usually glass or clear plastic so you can read the amount through the side at eye level. They have a spout for pouring and usually have a handle as well for easy use. I would advocate going with glass and specifically Pyrex for a couple of reasons. First, they are glass, so repeated trips through the dishwasher won’t make them brittle. Also, the measurement marks on Pyrex are really baked on there, so they won’t scratch off with use. Finally, the handles are attached in such a way that they are stackable so you can have multiple volumes of measuring cups and they won’t take up a ton of space. Now, glass can break (it’s glass!) but I’ve been using my Pyrex measuring cups for almost 15 years and I’ve even dropped them from time to time (not recommending this) but they still look like they’re new.

I’ll be posting regularly on kitchen tools, terms, ingredients, and tricks, so keep an eye out for another useful Kitchen Basics review shortly!

Kitchen Hardware Review- Swiss Diamond 8 inch Fry Pan

Swiss Diamond 8

I was excited to receive this pan for review from the fine folks at SwissDiamondStore.com – initially because I was dying to have a smaller fry pan around that I could use for making little things like breakfast for my daughter and I without dragging out a full sized skillet. The 8″ Fry Pan from Swiss Diamond turned out to be the perfect fit.

I will say right off that I am not an easy guy on kitchen equipment and I am picky about my tools. I like good quality, heavy duty stuff that will hold up to a beating and not need to be replaced every 6 months, (especially at a $49.95 price point.) The first thing I did was applied what I refer to as the “Bourdain Test” this simply means that I ask myself the question “If I had to hit someone over the head with this pan – what would be dented? The pan or the skull?”

In Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain recommends the use of this test in picking pans as heavier pans will distribute heat better, eliminating hot spots and will last longer. I’m happy to say, the Swiss Diamond 8″ Fry Pan passed this test with flying colors. It’s very solid for a small pan and I have full faith in it as a compact self defense weapon. It was a pleasant surprise from an aluminum pan.

The claim to fame of these pans is that the non stick surface is made up of a “non-stick nano-composite using diamond crystals, up to 200,000 per pan, – the hardest material known to man – to form a virtually indestructible non-stick cooking surface that will not peel, crack or blister.” All I know is that after an initial seasoning, this pan has been slick as all get out with a number of different meals cooked in it from omelettes to huevos con chorizo to singles steaks and pan sauces.

One thing I found curious is an advisory to cook over low to medium heat due to the heat conductivity of the coating. I thought this was really odd as a tend to cook on high and medium high heat a lot when searing, etc. The Swiss Diamond 8″ Fry Pan performed admirably after a slightly extended warm up to medium heat and was able to sear chicken breasts and steaks just fine thank you – I actually had to back off the heat a bit.

The folks at Swiss Diamond claim that the plastic handle on the pan is good up to 500 degrees – but I haven’t done a Frittata or anything that required heat like that or oven finishing. I’ll update when I have given it this test. They also claim that the pan is dish washer safe and metal utensil safe, but I just wouldn’t do that to my pans in any case, so those claims are unverified with this tester.

All in all – I am pleasantly surprised and give the Swiss Diamond 8″ Fry Pan a hearty thumbs up. It has the feel of a pan that will both perform and last. If anything changes, I’ll be the first to let you know.

More reviews are coming on the ScanPan Titanium Professional Series 11″ Fry Pan and Classic Series 11 Inch Fry Pan from ScanPanCookware.com and on Debbie Meyer Green Bags for veggie storage (they rock) and Debbie Meyer Bread Bags (duh… for Bread) and the plastic Knork from the fine folks at Kitchen Collection.