Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pyrex...my favorite cooking gear, a slight obsession

For years as a kid I would watch my mom (many of you know her as Texas to Mexico) feed her dish/kitchen gear obsession through trips to vintage and thrift stores, eventually her hobby became employment when she turned her interior design and collecting skills into a booth at a local antique store. I never put much thought into her collection because really as a kid who cares about old furniture and plates and such?

Truth be told it has rubbed off on me. It first struck when I was in college and started grabbing bits and pieces of Harkerware until I ended up with a nice large set of plates, serving plates, small bowls and other odds and ends. The Harkerware fit in neatly with my love of 1950s/1960s style kitchen stuff, at the time I was convinced I would one day have a kitchen full of vintage appliances, etc. Funny how the ease of finding modern pieces supplanted that! Next on the list came Fiesta dishes, which I adore but I came late to the party when it comes to collecting Fiesta and the prices are already higher, so it's more of a splurge for me.

Of late I haven't actively searched for a lot of specific types of dishes but when my great-grandmother passed away two years ago I did inherit some neat pieces, including some Pyrex Visions cooking pots, at the time I thought, sure I'll see if I like them but didn't think much about it. Silly me, the two pots I inherited from Nana have become the backbone of something I have found to be an invaluable tool on a near daily basis.

I have always loved the colorful array of mixing and serving bowls that have been made by Pyrex,I'm currently lucky enough to have two sets of them, one is a great multi-colored set of mixing bowls, of which I just adore the ad that went with them originally:

I've also got a beautiful turquoise and white collection of 'Cinderella' bowls, again, I love the original ad...I'm a bit of a vintage ad junkie : )

Pyrex is fantastic because it comes in a variety of kitschy vintage colors and patterns but also because it is durable, easy to clean and easy to cook in. Outside of the pretty Pyrex live my favorite, the Visions cookware, it's not the most beautiful dishware you've ever seen but it is fantastically durable and has been fantastic, especially lately with the candy, chocolate, etc. that gets cooked up around the Christmas holiday!

My set of Visions cookware has been used and abused so I went searching for an image just to show off what it looked like originally out of the box (not that I ever saw the box):

I have an array of pots, skillets and even a well loved double boiler. So, after my lengthy rant about some of my favorite vintage kitchen goodies I thought it would be prudent to share a few of the candy recipes I made in my favorite pots, enjoy : )

Fleur de Sel Caramels
*Adapted from Martha Stewart's Recipe

1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon fleur de sel*
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water

1. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly oil parchment.
2. Bring cream, butter, and fleur de sel to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.
3. Boil sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light golden caramel.
4. Carefully stir in cream mixture (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248°F on thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into baking pan and cool 2 hours. Sprinkle about 1/2 tsp Fleur de Sel over the top.
5. Cut into 1-inch pieces, then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting 2 ends to close.

Brandy-Caramel Truffles
*Adapted from Cooking Light
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons evaporated whole milk
1 tablespoon golden cane syrup (such as Lyle's Golden Syrup)
Dash of salt
1 tablespoon brandy
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1.75 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1. Combine brown sugar, milk, cane syrup, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until sugar dissolves.
2. Remove from heat. Stir in bourbon and vanilla extract. Add chocolates; let stand 1 minute. Stir until smooth.
3. Pour into a shallow dish; cover and chill 4 hours.
4. Heat a tablespoon measure with hot water; pat dry. Scoop chocolate mixture with spoon; dip in cocoa. Roll into balls. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Both of these were tasty and fabulously easy to make, I'll be adding them to the annual cookie/candy list for sure, what I love about the truffle recipe is you could swap in just about any liquor you like and change the flavor to the tune of infinite possibilities!


Reeni said...

My Mom has some old Visions pans! She doesn't use them anymore but I dust one off occasionally and use it. She has a big Dutch oven that I love. I bet your candy is scrumptious especially the truffles!

Anonymous said...

Those 'cinderella' bowls are gorgeous! Yummy sweets!

Angie's Recipes said...

These pyrex bowls look great! You made some perfect caramels.
Have a great weekend!

grace said...

i've seen some of those patterns before in my grandmother's kitchen, which just goes to show how resilient and amazing pyrex dishes can be.
meanwhile, homemade caramels are a tricky endeavor, but OH-so-good! :)

girlichef said...

Oh, those caramels!! I want some :) I love fiesta, too...but yeah, so expensive. And those Cinderella bowls are so cool! Such a fun obsession ;)

Tangled Noodle said...

I've always approached my Pyrex as simply utilitarian ware - I didn't really realize how lovely the vintage ones are! I actually left my glass casseroles back in the US and have discovered that they are so expensive here. Pyrex is a top brand! 8-)

I'll have to console myself with caramel truffles....