Tools to make your life easier and more efficient in the kitchen.
Everyone has a different style, different characteristics, odd habits and old patterns. I’m not going to suggest you throw out any of your stuff out and start over, G-d forbid! What I will do is lay out a list of tools, explaining their uses, making suggestions that will aid you in creating a better work flow, your cooking adventure more pleasurable, easier and more efficient.
Baster This funny looking tube with a bulbous end is not a necessity but I find it makes basting a bit easier than with a spoon. Place in bottom of pan, press rubber bulb and the liquid is sucked up, press again and the liquid goes where you want it.
Bench Scraper Very useful and simple device. A square piece of metal attached to a wood or rubber handle. Can be used to cut bread dough effectively. But what I love about this tool most is how easy it makes cleaning up after kneading bread on your kitchen counter or rolling out pie dough. You know how after you’re done kneading bread by hand, there is flour and sticky stuff all over your counter which gets stickier and messier when you try to clean it with water and a sponge. Not any more, just scrape the stuff stuck to the counter away with the bench scraper while dry. When all the crumbs are gone, then wash away, soooo much easier. (Oxo)
Blender another very useful tool for blending everything from drinks to sauces, crushing ice, preparing smoothies or baby food. Blenders are indispensible. These days an easy alternative is the hand held immersion blender. With an immersion blender, you can puree soups and sauces by just sticking it into the pot directly on the stove. (for tabletops I like Cuisnart and Waring, Oster is also good; for immersion blenders I like Cuisnart and KitchenAid)
Bundt Pan or Tube Pan is a pan with a hollow tubular center and which produces those great ringed cakes. A great pan to have around, look for ones with a heavier gauge metal and the quick release coating. (I like Kaiser baking pans, Nordic is also good, as is Chicago Metallic)
Cake Stand when you bake a cake, a beautiful way of presenting it is on a cake stand. They are made with many different materials but its primary component is a stem attached to a heavy base and a large flat surface to place your cake. Look for a stand without a lip around the side so taking the cake on or off will be easy. Made of glass, porcelain or metal.
Can Opener – Might sound silly but a good can opener can save you so much frustration in the kitchen. The one I use and have found to be best and most effective is the OXO brand. It works, feels great in your hand and is easy to use. Costs a bit more than others and is some of the best money you will spend. Avoid electric can openers, too much money for something that eventually will stop working and cause you more headaches and frustration than not. (Oxo)
China Cap also known as a Chinoise in French, is a conical steel mesh strainer that is sturdy and durable. If you are going to be making stocks, this tool is invaluable, as it will hold up to heavy duty use, such as pressing the valuable juices from vegetables and bones to extract those wonderful flavors.
Coffee Grinder Get the coffee grinder and by all means use it to grind fresh beans to enjoy that perfect cup of coffee. However, if you are using it for spices, which I strongly suggest you do, DO NOT EVER use it for coffee. Use it to grind fresh spices, enabling the release of its fresh oils and flavor. Best to have two coffee grinders in your kitchen, one for coffee and one for spices. (Krups or Braun are my choices)
Colander a very important tool for your kitchen. Pouring off hot water from pasta or potatoes is easy with a good colander. Look for one with a sturdy base and lots of holes in the bottom and sides to enable the quick draining of water. I prefer stainless steel or aluminum as they hold up well but there are plenty of plastic versions that are fine too. Make sure you choose one with enough volume so you won’t struggle when cooling your pasta, potatoes or vegetables.
Cookie Cutters they come in thins that contain about ten rounds, each fitting into the other. The small ones you’ll find you won’t use often but the larger ones are very good to have on hand, not only for making cookies but also for empanadas, small tart shells and many other items that require puff pasty or pie dough in small forms. (Ateco)
Cork Screw Another got to have tool in the kitchen. How many times has a recipe called for wine, which you either bought or had on a shelf with no corkscrew to be had? Ever try pushing the cork into the bottle? Ever wind up with wine all over your nice clean shirt? Oh yeah! Have a cork screw around at all times and no more problem. I like the regular old reliable waiter’s cork screw. The kind that folds up into a three-inch rectangle. The end leverages against the rim of the bottle, the screw goes in the cork and you lift. There are many many kinds out there, find the one which works best for you and know where it is. It’s like knowing where the emergency flashlight is in time of a black out.
Cutting Board Many of us overlook this necessity. Many people have these little tiny boards they’ve used for years and wonder why working in the kitchen is so difficult. A good cutting board really helps cutting anything a real pleasure. So, what is a good cutting board? For years I used only Maple Boards. These are great boards, thick, great for maintaining a sharp knife, they don’t wear down easily, but they are usually heavy and cumbersome.
These days, I’m using Bamboo Boards. One thing I’ve learned over the years is to go for quality and convenience. A cutting board comes on and off the counter several times in the preparation of any meal, to the pot, in the sink, wiped off, reused, rinsed, etc. That means lots of lifting and manipulating. A heavy board is nice but makes it difficult. Bamboo is light and semisoft which is great for keeping your knife sharp. They are cost effective, costing much less than Maple and they are fairly thin, making them light and easy to move around the kitchen. Easy to clean, if they wear out you can easily replace them without breaking the bank. 12 x 14 and 14 x 18 are good sizes to have on hand.
I’m not a big fan of Plastic Boards, especially the ones that are flexible. The Flexible Boards are a good idea for transporting vegetables to a pot for instance but terrible for your knives and they just don’t feel like anything. Remember that with any board, a damp towel under it will keep it from sliding when you are cutting. (John Boos makes a great, sturdy, thick Maple cutting board. If you are looking for Bamboo Totally Bamboo is a reliable brand)
Digital Scale is a good tool to have in your kitchen but not essential. It will provide you with accurate measurements, especially when baking. Most cookbook recipes however are written with cups and spoon measurements so you will have to convert recipes to pounds and ounces, which is a lot of work. But, once done it is a faster and more accurate way to measure than with cup and spoon measurements. Professional bakeries and kitchens will use scales to measure ingredients. Make sure the scale you choose has a removable plate on top to make your cleaning easier. It is preferable to choose a scale with a tear weight function. This will automatically subtract the weight of the container being placed on it. It is a little more costly but worth it. (Oxo, Escali or Taylor)
Dredger is what many would call a shaker or duster. It is usually stainless steel and has many holes or a mesh cover with a twist off top. It’s used for dusting powdered sugar and may also be used on meat etc. by filling it with mixtures such as salt and pepper or seasoning of your choice.
Digital Timer Works wonders when you are busy running around for this and that. It is so easy for forget that and this. A digital timer is a good friend in a busy kitchen and reminds us of that cake in the oven, while you are busy tying the roast or cutting the potatoes. Really good tool and not too expensive. Look for one that has a magnet on the back so you can stick it on your oven or refrigerator. Really helpful if you like to do lots of baking. (Taylor or Presto)
Food Processor I love having a food processor, extremely useful, especially for larger parties. The only cautionary note regards space. If the processor is on my counter, I use it. If I have to schlep it out of storage every time I want to use it, forget it. A food processor is an investment, it will save you time, make your food prep easier, and your workflow smoother. If I have room for one large appliance on my counter, this is the one. My favorite is Cusninart; it has a really strong motor and holds up to lots of heavy-duty use. (Cusinart has always been my favorite)
French Press Coffee Maker These classic coffee makers are sheer genius in their simplicity. They make a perfect cup of coffee without destroying the bean. Coffee is done quickly and the pot looks elegant on the table. They also work well for tea bust should not be done in the same pot as the coffee. (Bodum)
Garbage Can or Trash Bin – is an often-overlooked tool in the kitchen. Most people use anything they have and put it under the sink with a plastic bag in it. This is a good and functional way to go, however, if you have the room for a freestanding garbage can, Get One. Things to look for, stainless steel is best, it looks great and is easy to clean. A food opener is good but I find these too often break or do not function well after time. Look for one whose entire top comes off (this is good when changing bags and cleaning). Also, look for one whose lid will stay open (you will be glad of this when cooking for a large party) (Nine Stars, Simplehuman, iTouchless or Oxo)
Garlic Press this is one of those tools that you either cannot live without or can absolutely do without. I am in the latter group as I find smashing and chopping with a good chef knife works well for me. However, I have used these handy tools; the thing that annoys me about them is that they are a bit of a pain to clean after use.
Ice Cream Scoop Yes, the obvious is true, great way to get ice cream out of the container and onto your plate. It is also very useful in portioning out muffins into their tins (dip first in hot water & batter will come off scoop with no problem). Also works well for forming meatballs, crab cakes and lots of other little portioning jobs. Many sizes to choose from. (Zyliss, Norpro or Oxo)
Iron Skillet These are great for searing steaks, frying cutlets or chicken breasts, and essential for making blackened anything. They hold the heat incredibly well and you can put them in the oven with no fear. It is very important to season your iron skillet when you bring it home from the store you bought it from. Seasoning closes the pours of the iron and creates a natural non-stick surface. Season your pan by heating it with salt covering the bottom, the salt will bring any impurities up and out and help close the pores. After the pan has heated and smoked for 10-15 minutes remove from heat and cool, (be careful, the salt will be very hot for a while and will instantaneously melt your plastic garbage bag if thrown away too soon) discard the salt and rub the entire inside of the pan with Canola oil. Never wash your iron skillet with soap and water. To clean, use a clean paper towel and wipe out thoroughly, after which rub thoroughly with canola oil and store. Otherwise you will have a useless, rusted piece of metal. (Lodge)
Citrus Juicer This is a nice appliance that is light, easy to store and clean, inexpensive and will save you so much time, you’ll be glad you have it. They range in price from $20 to $200 plus. It’s nice to have the best but in this case, an inexpensive juicer is better than none at all. Buy electric. (Waring, Cuisinart, or Proctor Sylex)
Reamer When you only have two lemons or oranges to juice, you don’t want to schlep out the electric juicer. This is when a reamer comes in handy. Just reach into your drawer, cut you citrus in half and ream away. Always ream over a strainer so that the seeds from the citrus are separated while you are doing it, saves time.
Handheld Juicer These are great. Works like the reamer and citrus juicer except that it is very easy to use. Has a hinge that flips up, put your lemon or orange half in, flip the top over the citrus and press the two handles together, you got juice. Easy to clean, easy to store. A good buy – good choice.
Microplane Grater This simple tool is one of those things you scratch your head and ask why it wasn’t invented sooner, it is just such a useful tool. It comes in different sizes and shapes but the principle is the same in all. When you need Lemon or Orange Zest, this is the tool to reach for, it works, it is easy, safe, effective and easy to clean. Get it!
Box Grater – Got to have a grater. They are different than the Microplane in that they do the big stuff. In my opinion a box grater is most useful. It stands firmly while grating because is has a broad box base and has four sides to choose from.
Instant Read Thermometer Eventually you will be able to feel your meat and know it doneness just from touching and feeling it. Until that day comes, an instant read thermometer is extremely useful. Think your roast is done, stick er’ in and up comes the temp. Some thermometers even tell you what temperature whatever is in your oven must be in order to be done, whether poultry, roasts, or pork.
Kitchen String or Twine Love having this one around. Don’t use it every day but when you need it, it’s nice to have it there. Use it to truss whole chickens, tie roasts and steaks. Also good to tie bunches of herbs together for stocks and loads of other unexpected things you’ll find use for in the kitchen.
Ladle Often overlooked and taken for granted, this little ditty is so useful for all the obvious reasons. Serving that soup you just worked several hours on. Skimming that Stock you began. Portioning liquids, transferring small amounts of liquid from one pot to another (as in Risotto) etc, etc.
Mallet You are planning to make chicken or veal piccata or cutlets. You’re home with your chicken or veal but forgot to ask your butcher to pound the meat for you, what to do? This is when a Mallet comes in handy. Stretch out some plastic wrap onto your counter, place the meat pieces on top of the plastic, and cover the meat with more plastic wrap and pound away. When you are done, you have perfect cutlets, nice and thin, with nothing to clean up. Just prepare your meat and throw away the plastic, viola and away you go. A mallet it also useful in getting stubborn shells off nuts, helping a knife get through a lobster shell or breaking up crab legs.
Martini Shaker, Stirrer and Measure, are essential tools for your bar. If you plan to prepare Martin’s, you need to have a shaker. Get one large enough to hold at least two cocktails. The stirrer is for those who prefer stirred not shaken and the measure makes it easy to really see what you are doing and measure correctly.
Mandolin There are many options when shopping for a mandolin. They range in price from $40 to $250. The Japanese versions are made of plastic and steel and are least expensive. The French version is usually made of stainless steel and costs reflect the build, going for over $200. This is a great tool for making Julienne or crinkle cut vegetables, done with uniformity and speed. Also great for slicing potatoes thin and quickly for potato gratin. (Microplane makes a great slicer, Kyocera or Zyliss are good inexpensive brands; if you go with a Bron, a French made mandolin, you will pay around $200)
Measuring Cups and Spoons For all you bakers out there, these tools are indispensible, you need them and that’s that. Baking is exacting and cannot be done properly without measuring. Look for a good quality stainless steel set of spoons; they feel good in your hand. With regard to measuring cups, having a nice set of stainless steel cups are great, with a one cup measure, a half cup, third cup and quarter cup. Equally as good, in my humble opinion, is a clear measuring cup, one that shows the amounts in red, clearly, on the side. Easy to read and use. (for a measuring cup, get Pyrex or good quality stainless steel set of measuring cups, for spoons get a good quality stainless steel)
Mixing Bowls Here’s another one of those useful tools we often overlook. It’s good to have a variety of bowls in your kitchen. I like to have inexpensive stainless steel bowls, the thin metal conducts heat quickly, and they are light in your hand, easy to clean, and just fantastic all around. They also work great for whipping cream or eggs and storing various foods and sauces. I like the polished thin stainless steel as opposed to the heavier and more expensive kind. Also the polished stainless is easier to clean than the brushed.
Stand Up Mixer Looks great on a kitchen counter, does wonders, love it. This is another one of those investment tools and if you are thinking of buying one, two things to consider: do you have room on your counter for it? If you have to take it out of storage when you want to use it, ask yourself honestly will you. And two, do you do a lot of baking? If you do a lot of baking the Stand up Mixer is an extremely useful tool and you will find it indispensable, well worth the investment. If however you don’t bake a whole bunch, there may be better places to put your money and save your precious counter space. My favorite is the 5 Qt Heavy Duty Kitchen Aid Mixer. If you are going to buy, purchase an extra bowl and extra whip, you will find it very useful when making Tiramisu for instance, where you have to beat egg whites, egg yolks and whip cream. Also, a nice add on is the pasta attachment (if you think you’ll be making your own pasta). Don’t get the juicer, buy a separate machine. (KitchenAid, my choice)
Electric Hand Mixer These are great when you have to beat egg whites or cream in a hurry and don’t want to schlep out the stand up mixer. Just take out the hand held motor, place the beaters in and you’re on your way. Easy to clean and store. I like the Kitchen Aid hand held’s, they have variable speeds and an on/off button. (KitchenAid, my choice)
Mortar and Pestle This is another one of those tools we all imagine having in our kitchens and when we get it there too often do not use. There are cooks who swear by them and use them on a regular basis. They are great for bruising herbal leaves as in the preparation of Pesto, as opposed to masticating them in a processor. Also great for smashing spice seeds.
Muffin Tin They come in regular size as well as oversized and minis. There are even muffin tins that are shallow for those of you who love the crown of the muffin only. The regular sized muffin tins also work perfectly for Yorkshire Puddings. (I like Kaiser baking pans, Nordic is good too as is Chicago Metallic)
Pasta Spoon That weird looking thing that often stays in the drawer not knowing what to do with it. It has these prongy things sticking out of it, which makes one wonder what use could this possibly be for. Well, when you use it for what it was designed for, easily and effortlessly removing long pasta from water, you will be amazed at how wonderful this tool really is and how you ever lived without it.
Pastry Bag & Tips –is very useful if you are entertaining a big crowd. Making Lady Fingers, for instance, is a breeze with a pastry bag. For decorating cakes, a pastry bag and tips is essential. There are two types, one where you place the pastry tip inside the bag, the other (better for cake decorating where you’ll use many pastry tips) has a pastry coupler head that allows the user to exchange pastry tips. (Ateco or Norpro)
Pasta Pot they range in size from 8 qt. to 12 qt., the 8 qt. being the most common. A good pasta pot doubles as a stockpot or soup pot. Great for cooking those fresh ears of corn, crab, lobster, etc. The come with a pasta insert with an optional smaller insert that works wonders when steaming vegetables. (Horwoods, All Clad, Kitchen Kraft)
Pie Blender – is a kitchen tool used to mix shortening and flour together in order to make pasty or pie dough. It is made of narrow stainless steel strips of wire attached to a handle. By pressing the butter or other shortening into the flour, the shortening is cut into the flour creating small specs of shortening evenly distributed throughout the flour, approximately pea sized in shape. (Oxo)
Pizza Cutter Essential if you are making pizza. Even if you buy the store bought Pizza’s, makes it much easier to cut, than with a knife. Also works great in cutting pie dough for a lattice pie topping. So too with cookie dough’s, phyllo or puff pastry.
Plastic Storage Containers Got to have a place to put that pasta after you’ve eaten most of it, where you going to put the leftovers? Plastic storage containers are the answer. When purchasing your containers, purchase squares or rectangles, they take up less space and are easier to stack in the fridge. Make sure they have a tight fitting lid and if you can find clear ones, all the better, as you will be able to see what you have in it.
Potato Masher Got to have a potato masher, mash those boiled potatoes or yams into the smooth and creamy mashed they were meant for. I like the kind with the wavy metal end as opposed to the circular piece at the end with holes in it; they do not work so well. Also, look for a masher that is one piece of metal as opposed to the ones, which have been spot-welded. You exert a lot of pressure when mashing and the cheaper two-piece types tend to end up that way, in two pieces, broken.
Pots & Pans You can go with individual open stock pots and pans or get a set. Some manufactures are better than others. The essential you should look for are an 8, 10 & 12 inch skillet with covers, an 8-12 Qt Stock Pot with Cover (a pasta pot will double for this), 2 & 4 Qt Sauce Pots with Covers and 4 6 Qt Saut Pan with Cover (on the larger saut pan, look for a handle on both ends to help with heavy loads.) Buy all stainless steel, DO NOT buy pans with plastic handles, as you cannot put pots and pans with plastic handles in the oven. Also, look for handles that are riveted to the side of the pan. (All Clad is a great manufacturer and their pans are well built and will last a lifetime but they are expensive, Calphalon is another good manufacturer, Cuisinart has a good stainless steel set that will not break the bank)
Ramekins– are very inexpensive and handy for preparing mis en place or for placing ingredients in while preparing your recipe. They are perfect containers for butters, dips, condiments and spreads, especially since they look so nice on the table. Perfect for crÃ¨me brulee. (Nor Pro)
Rice Cooker If you cook rice often, especially for sushi, get this. Otherwise, it is a bulky item to have around. If you do decide to purchase one, get the non-stick version. (Zojirushi is best, another good one is Aroma)
Roasting Pan – A vital piece of equipment if you plan to do holiday dinners, especially when roasting turkey (although an aluminum throw away will work too.) If you are going to spend the money on a good roasting pan, look for handles that are connected to the pan on the outside of the pan, with good rivets. Also, be sure the handles are not straight up but curve out a bit. The rack that comes with most good quality roasting pans is a good addition as it allows hot air under the roast, creating a crispier crust. (Cuisinart, All Clad, Calphalon)
Rolling Pin if you are going to do any baking, this is a must have tool. Even if you are not a baker, there may be times when you will need a rolling pin to roll out a puff pastry dough for a thin covering as with Beef Wellington. I like a heavier pin with good wood and ball bearings, it will cost more but won’t break down, will last forever and will protect your knuckles (the wood cylinder on cheaper pins is not thick enough, so you end up whacking your knuckles when rolling.) On the other hand, there is the French Pin, which is a large tapered wood and works great for rolling out pie dough. Both are good and have different advantages, it comes down to personal choice. (Vic Firth or Ateco)
Salad Spinner This takes up space in your storage shelves but if you like to eat healthy and salads are a big part of that kind of diet, a salad spinner is really helpful. Always wash your lettuce heads (the mixes found in bags in the supermarket these days are prewashed). Best way is to fill your kitchen sink with water. Cut or rip your lettuce and place the leaves in the water. Swish the leaves around thoroughly, make sure there is plenty of water; don’t want any bugs saying hi. Then put the cleaned lettuce in the spinner and spin away. Use what you need and store the remainder in the spinner in the fridge till your next salad. (Oxo)
Salt and Pepper Mills These grinders are indispensible and much appreciated. They keep your salt and pepper fresh and the fresh grind releases the essential oil from the pepper, making a real difference. The ability to control the grind adds to their versatility. (Martha Stewart, Vic Firth, Magnum, Cole & Mason, or Peugeot)
Squeeze Bottle I find this tool indispensible. For garnishing food before serving, a squeeze bottle works amazingly well. Fill it with Balsamic Syrup to put squiggles on top of just about any main course, chicken, beef and even fish. For desserts it is amazing, chocolate lines squeezed over Tiramisu or Chocolate Cake looks and tastes amazing. Fill it with berry purees and you will have a great color and taste addition to your dessert.
Offset Spatula As opposed to a long straight cake spatula, the offset spatula will keep your knuckles from sliding across the frosting as you frost your cake. Also feels better in the hand (personal opinion).
Silicone Spatula We all need a rubber type spatula in the kitchen, there are those empty cans to scrape, getting the last of the mayonnaise out of the container. Scraping leftovers into your plastic containers. Scraping cake batter into cake pans or whipped cream from the bowl.
What makes the silicone spatula the BETTER spatula is its ability to withstand heat (up to like 500F) which means you can put your spatula in the chocolate pudding and stir till your hearts content without fear of melting the darn thing or having a rubber taste in the chocolate. (Rubbermaid)
Fish Spatula What’s nice about a Fish Spatula is two fold; first it is extremely flexible allowing it easy access to foods in a pan. Secondly, the shape, it is long and wider at the tip which makes it ideal for turning that fish fillet, potato pancake or breaded eggplant, etc.
Slotted Spoon Making hard-boiled eggs? You know how difficult it is to get those eggs out of the hot water. A slotted spoon is perfect for removing them from the water and separating anything in liquid, really useful.
Wooden Spoon The cheapest tool in the kitchen is also one of the most useful. It doesn’t scratch the bottom of pans. It doesn’t get hot in your hand and burn your fingers. It is great for tasting sauces out of the pot as it won’t burn your lips as quickly as a metal spoon will, also you won’t taste that metal. Great for stirring sauces and for pasta, keeping it from sticking together in the pot of water.
Spring Form Pan this pan is indispensible if you bake. Cheesecakes are just not the same without these pans, since the sides are easily removed, making all the difference. They come with a standard flat bottom or a glass bottom, elegant and easy to sere on. You can also get the optional Bundt insert, which has scalloped sides and tube center. The average size is 9-10 inches; however you can find 4-inch spring form pans for mini cheesecake. (I like Kaiser baking pans, Nordic is also good, as is Chicago Metallic)
Stainless Steel Rings These are ideal for baking small individual cakes, especially for that special someone in your life. I love these because you can place them on a pan covered with parchment paper, spray the sides with non-stick spray (like Pam), fill and bake. When done, you release the sides and pull the ring up, voila; your dessert stands before you. Look for 3 x 3 inch rings. Best if you can find rings that have been cut from a stainless steel pipe as opposed to those made from a stainless steel sheet and then spot welded together. (Parrish Magic Line)
Step Stool – That’s right, another overlooked item. How many times have you given up going to that cabinet over the fridge because you just cannot reach it. A small step stool that folds up and can be leaned between the fridge and counter or next to the garbage is ideal to solve this perplexity.
Spider Basically a portable strainer. It has a flat mesh disk attached to either a metal or bamboo handle. Use to easily remove vegetables from boiling water or herbs from a soup or stock. Keep your pot of water boiling, blanch your carrots, remove with your spider, place your next vegetable in the water, remove with your spider, and repeat several times. Saves lots of time, you don’t have to keep reheating water to blanch your vegetables. Use the blanching water for stock. Also makes taking boiled eggs out of boiling water a breeze.
Wooden Spoons The cheapest tool in the kitchen is also one of the most useful. It doesn’t scratch the bottom of pans. It doesn’t get hot in your hand and burn your fingers. It is great for tasting sauces out of the pot as it won’t burn your lips as quickly as a metal spoon will, also you won’t taste that metal. Great for stirring sauces and for pasta, keeping it from sticking together in the pot of water.
Tart Pans are made with a removable bottom to keep you tart whole and beautiful. Its fluted sides allow for a beautiful crust that looks wonderful on your serving platter. They come in standard 8-10 inch rounds as well as tartlet pans of 3-4 inches. Look for the dark metal ones; they are the better quality pan. (Wilton)
Tongs This simple tool is one I have in my hand or in my back pocket nearly all the time. Consider them to be your hands extension. No more burns on those fingertips, easy way to grab things from the oven or off the stove. Just all around Useful! A Must.
Vegetable Peeler This is another MUST HAVE in any kitchen. Most of us began our kitchen journey with those stainless steel swivel peelers, that work ok but times have changed and technology has really perfected this tool. The only peeler I enjoy using anymore is the OXO Good Grip, it is sharp, comfortable and works perfectly. What is perfect, it peels and peels really well, removing the outer layer or vegetable in a very thin strand as opposed to other peelers out there that take half the carrot with the peel. Pay the extra money, get the OXO and do not look back.
Whisks – I like having at least two sizes in my kitchen. They work great for whipping up eggs for an omelet. Make whip cream without having to lug your electric beater out. Mix sauces on the stove, an exceptional tool no one should be without. A 12 is a good size for smaller jobs like mixing eggs or even cream. A 14 is better for sauces on the stove, keeps your hands away from the heat and the hot pot. The larger will also give you more leverage when whipping cream or egg whites. Always use your wrist and not your whole arm to whip, save your energy and make your life easier!
You may come across two types of whips, a French whip or a Piano whip. The Piano whip has a thinner gauge wire and is better suited for whipping eggs and cream and working with delicate sauces. The French whip works well with roux and heavier and larger sauces. Overall I prefer using a Piano whip. In most department stores, you will find whips that are somewhere in the middle, often with rubber handles, which I really like a lot.
Shopping All items can be purchased online. Some of my favorite sites for finding whatever it is I need in the kitchen is Amazon, http://www.amazon.com , they have just about everything, always a fair price and great service.
For knives, pots and pans, look at Cutlery and More http://www.cutleryandmore.com a great site to find what you are looking for.
Williams Sonoma http://www.williams-sonoma.com is a bit more pricy but have great quality items, a good site and good service.
Chefs http://www.chefscatalog.com a good site to check out, all things for the kitchen.
J.B. Prince in New York City is a great place to find those professional tools not found elsewhere, worth a look, http://www.jbprince.com
The best place to find any cookbook, even rare or out of print books is Kitchen Arts and Letters, in New York City http://www.kitchenartsandletters.com . This is cookbook lovers’ heaven.
Another good place to look online is Sur La Table, http://www.surlatable.com
If you’re in the market for a great Espresso machine, look no further. 1st-Line Equipment is the place for everything Espresso http://www.1st-line.com/index.html From great home models, to the best commercial sizes and quality. Give them a call if you can’t decide what or which, they are extremely knowledgeable and very helpful.
Look around on the Internet, there is so much to choose from; the above are some of my favorites.
Also, never forgot the beauty of a local cook shop. It is nice to go into a cook store and get an idea and feel for what is out there. The great thing about a local cook store is they are usually friendly and helpful, you are in a chef’s environment and it can be inspiring. Many local cook stores offer cooking classes and lectures by cookbook authors or chefs. One of the most important things in buying kitchen equipment, especially for knives, but also pots and pans, is to put them in your hand and see how they feel.
Each brand of knife is different, balance, weight and feel. What feels prefect in my hand may not feel as good in someone else’s hand. Same with pots and pans, surfaces and conduction qualities, build are all important but how it feels in your hand is equally important. If the pot or pan is too large or too heavy for you, the cooking experience may be diminished. The opposite of what cooking is all about.