cooking with Iittala

Tools from Iittala.jpg

The Tools range from Iittala, with roasting trays, saucepans and saute pans, was designed by the Swedish designer Björn Dahlström in 1998. 

The material, described by Iittala as “compound technology”, is a sandwich with an inner core of aluminium, to give an even distribution of heat through the whole pan, but with outer layers of stainless steel for durability.

The pans can be used on all types of hob, including induction hobs, and can be used in the oven so the casserole can be used for browning and the initial stages of preparing a recipe and can then be transferred from the hob to the oven. 

Robust, sensible handles means that lifting the pan is easy and the simple lines and rounded angles makes cleaning straightforward.

The roasting pans are fantastic for vegetables or meat and can be taken straight to the table for serving. The smaller pan (shown above) is 41cm by 36cm, including the handles, and is 6cm deep and there is a larger pan 37cm by 41cm, including the handles, which is again 6cm deep. 

The larger pan somehow seems to look relatively small in the shop but rather larger on the work top in the kitchen so ... as a slight word of warning ... if you are taken by the larger pan then just check that your oven is wide enough to not only get the pan into the oven but that there is enough space to pick the hot pan up or pull it forward by the handles on either side when taking it out of the oven.

I apologise for the smears on the casserole in the photograph - this is my pan on my stove just before I started cooking - but it would appear that I am rather more skilled at taking photographs than I am at washing up ... but at least it shows that my review is very much from hands-on experience.

The 3 litre saucepan

Menu Bottle Grinders

This pepper or salt or herb grinder comes from Menu and was designed by Norm, a design studio in Copenhagen that was founded in 2008 by the architects Kasper Rønn and Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen.

Good design usually comes about through one of three approaches: a designer can come up with something completely new ... a new and inspired object for a new function to produce something we didn’t even know we needed ... or a designer can take something we use every day and refine it and improve it and develop the form and construction or, as here with these grinders, designers can take something we take for granted ... surely there are hundreds of pepper grinders in the shops and a pepper grinder is a pepper grinder is a pepper grinder ... and go back to basics and rethink the whole thing.

With the Bottle Grinder you snap apart the two halves to put in the the peppercorns or rock salt or dried herbs or whatever and just snap the grinder back together. Simple. But I’ve never seen it done like this. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve ended up with pepper corns rolling around all over the kitchen work top or the floor as I’ve tried to pour them into a little hole in the bottom of the grinder with it’s silly little cork or rubber bung or tried to feed the corns in around the vertical axle of the mechanism having taken the wooden top off one of those tall wooden grinders where you twist the top and the pepper comes out of the base.

Menu Bottle Grinder.jpeg

With the Bottle Grinder, after you have filled it, you invert it; twist the two halves against each other; adjust the wooden dial in the top if you realise you want something finer or courser, and then you just stand it down. None of that business of pepper clagging up around the base where the work top has got wet and the base of the grinder damp. The finish is soft plastic ... sort of rubberised ... so you can grip the thing easily and clean off finger marks afterwards.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to go back and start the design process by rethinking the whole thing if, like the team at Norm, you want to design a good, practical and stylish product.

H Skjalm P

Close to Le Klint, on the east side of the square dominated by the church of St Nicholas, at 9 Nikolaj Plads is H Skjalm P. This amazing shop will be 60 years old at the end of this year and is still run by the widow of the founder Hagbarth Skjalm Petersen.

The shop has a narrow frontage to the square and just inside the door there are steps up to the raised ground floor and steps down to the basement. The lower level is like an Aladdin's Cave of kitchen equipment with racks and drawers and shelves full of anything and everything you might need for cooking and a lot of things you had no idea you needed until you saw them here, or rather, you want them even if you are not quite sure what they are for. 

The upper floor has displays of linens and fabrics in an almost unbelievable range of colours. They have a remarkably good and very sophisticated web site but even that cannot replicate or do justice to actually visiting the shop. Last time I was there “just looking” I came away with 6 tea towels I didn’t know I needed and four drawer knobs that I’m sure I’ll find a use for sometime.

design classic: the Sarpaneva casserole

This cast-iron casserole was designed for Rosenlew by Timo Sarpaneva in 1963 but has been reintroduced by Iittala. The ingenious curved wooden handle can be used to carry the pot from the oven to the table and then can be slipped out and latched into the top to remove the hot lid. The heavy iron ensures slow even cooking and the enamel lining means easy cleaning and maintenance.

Just a few points: don’t leave the handle on when the pot is in the oven (as if you would!) and as with all cast iron, dry the pot well immediately after washing. If you do forget the casserole when it’s in the oven and it burns dry then don’t panic and plunge it straight under the cold tap - a sudden change of temperature can make any enamel lining “crizzle” - better to allow the pot to cool slightly and then fill with warm water and leave it to soak.