What You Need to Show Off Your Cooking Skills, Like You Just Won 1st Place While Gordon Ramsay Was Yelling At You!
Do you find yourself sipping cocktails just to get through the drudgery of cooking? Would you rather wash dishes than hunch over a stovetop?
I’ve analyzed hundreds of kitchens, from spacious mansion kitchens to tiny closet-sized galley kitchens in apartments. It doesn’t matter if you live in a four-million dollar mansion or a $500-a-month apartment. Your kitchen needs the goods.
Unless you’re an appliance junkie, don’t feel the need to buy everything you see at the kitchenware store. Some kitchen tools are essential. Others are just plain indulgent and unnecessary (and others will break in two weeks, so don’t be fooled)I made a short list of serious home cooking gear you need. This stuff with launch your cooking experience into the stratosphere.
#1: An Apron You didn’t spend $75 on that killer sheath dress to splash tomato sauce on it, now did you? Get yourself an apron so you can get messy and have some fun. This way, you can get wet, wipe your hands on your apron front, or wipe away the onion tears, whatever. The point is, you’ll be protected from splashing and sloshing.
#2 High-Quality, Sharp-as-hell “don’t mess with me” Knife You know why you don’t like to cook? You’ve never held a good, high-quality knife in your hand. Forget those silly knives you got 30 years ago for your wedding. We’re talking about the real deal knives that make you believe in chopping onions again. You absolutely must experience the precision, speed, and strength of a sharp, durable blade.
Choose a high-carbon stainless steel blade with hard-rubber handles. My favorite is an 8-inch squared head knife (sometimes called a Japanese vegetable knife). I use mine every day for chopping, cutting, slicing, and mincing.
You’ll feel the power. You’ll never go without one again.
#3 Big, Spacious Cutting Boards I love my thick, wooden cutting boards. They’re essential for chopping vegetables. Thinner, plastic boards are perfect for stronger foods such as garlic, onions, and fruits and vegetables that might stain, such as beets or strawberries. No need for your cutting boards to look like they lived through a murder mystery.
#4 Blenders for days You need two types of blenders: a large tabletop blender with a heavy-duty base for grinding nuts and making smoothies without it shimmying across the counter top. Second, you need an immersion blender – basically a hand-held wand – that you can lower into any-size bowl or plop into a pot. Sometimes you’ll have to blend a soup into a creamy elixir, and you won’t want to transfer the soup to your heavy-duty counter-top blender to do so.
#5 Pots and Pans It’s quite simple: you need a big pot, a little pot, and a skillet. Easy peasy, so don’t cheap out. If you invest in high-quality pots and pans and take good care of them, they’ll last you for years and years.
For pots, go for the stainless steel heavy-bottomed pots, because they conduct heat evenly, making for good, even cooking. The thickness of the material can make all the difference between a nice sauté and charred-burnt food. These transfer heat easily, won’t warp over time, and won’t make the food taste tinny.
As for the skillets, I’d buy every size you fancy in cast iron. There’s nothing like a good cast iron skillet. Read up on how to take care of them, and they’ll last longer than you will.
#6 A Baking Sheet Your mind might go to cookies, but these are also a must for roasting veggies, nuts, and seeds. Measure your oven before purchasing. There should be two inches between the edges of the baking sheet and the sides of the oven.
#7 A Salad Spinner You’re not a huge fan of soggy salad, right? Spinning your salad will clean all those leafy greens AND remove excess moisture so you can enjoy perfectly crisp salads.
Once you have this basic gear, you’ll feel equipped and ready to cook your butt off. How do you think I’ve loved all the time I’ve spent in my kitchen? Follow this link to get a glimpse inside my kitchen from 2011 – you’ll see a few of those kitchen essentials I’ve been yacking about.
PART 2 of “Essential Kitchen Must-Haves” will follow on this next blog post. In Part 2, we get fancy with essential thing-a-ma-jigs that cost $10 or less. You won’t want to miss it.
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