Kitchen Essentials – Part I

4158684770 cfdba808bf o Kitchen Essentials   Part I

Recently I received an e-mail from one of my good friends who asked me, “What are some things that you think are essential in every kitchen?” See, the reason that my friend was asking me this was because she’s starting up her own kitchen. She’s in her early twenties and on her own now. She knows how to cook and all, but she’s unsure what to have in her kitchen. So, this post is basically an answer to her question. I would love to share it with those of you who are starting off your own kitchen because these are basic things that every good cook shouldn’t be without, however, I have included some things that are optional to have.

Since this is a lot to take in all at once, I will be dividing this post into two parts. Part two will be tomorrow on Pots and Pans.

Also, if I missed something on the list that you feel is essential in every kitchen, please leave a comment below so we can hear your thoughts.

KITCHEN APPLIANCES

toaster oven- My family can’t live without this thing. It’s amazing. It’s great for reheating slices of pizza that we had from the night before and especially great for baking in small increments too. It uses a lot less energy compared to a regular oven and it makes for great croque madames.

electric mixer- this thing saves us so much time in the kitchen, it save every cook a lot of time in the kitchen. If you have no space whatsoever in your kitchen, I would suggest getting a hand mixer. It’s easy to store and it doesn’t take up as much space as a Kitchen Aid. However, if you do have space and love to bake, I would suggest in investing in a Kitchen Aid. They’re amazing!!! They also do a good job looking sexy on your countertop.

coffee grinder- this machine is super versatile! If you love to cook and use different spice, might I suggest getting your spices whole and grinding them yourself? I love grinding my own spices and for some reason my ground spices taste better than the factory ground spices. Go figure. These little gadgets are super affordable (less than 20 bucks). I would suggest that if you like to grind your own coffee beans to get two coffee grinders. Set one aside solely for spice grinding and the other one for coffee grinding.

blenders- I would suggest investing in a good blender. Nothing too expensive, though. Blenders are great for that perfect smoothie on a hot summer day, or for a great mango lassi. If you’d like to, I’d suggest buying an immersion blender (a hand held blender) if you like making soups. But if you don’t make soups often, I’d just use a regular blender for the job.

food processor- these come in all kinds of sizes, which is the good thing. Some of the good ones come with attachments, which are great. These are great for whipping up doughs for scones or even making pesto. I would suggest buying one if your not space challenged, but if you must have one, they have mini versions which work well.

•  kitchen scale- This is not an absolute necessity. Unless you do a lot of baking like I do. I mean on a daily basis, you do not need one. It’s great when determining portion sizes for certain recipes, or especially when a recipe in one of your French Cookbooks only calls for weighted measurements of ingredients. I would suggest buying this one. It’s very affordable and I have it. No problems yet. It very accurate, durable, convenient and small.

COOKING UTENSILS

wooden spoons- have an assortment of these gems. They are super cheap and even good quality one’s can be found in the dollar store. They’re great for sautéing veggies.

• tongs- Yes, tongs, not thongs! You mustn’t get the two mixed up! Tongs are also essential in ever kitchen! I actually have three different types, but all you need is two. 1 large and 1 medium sized tong. You don’t need any fancy-schmancy tong. You just need the kind that are easy to pinch and can hold up to do a job without breaking. I have a large sized tong that you’ll see around a lot, one that has two handles, and one that is made specially to make Indian Flat Breads with.

slotted spoons- I have two of them. This is a must in every kitchen. When you’re trying to remove big solid food from any liquid, it works the best.

cutting boards- This is when it’s your preference to invest in a wooden/bamboo cutting board and in some plastic cutting boards. Some people say that they feel that their knives slip on plastic cutting boards, that’s not the case for me probably because my cutting board is heavy-duty. Get a few plastic cutting boards and a wooden, or just get all plastic, but I would suggest getting the plastic one’s in different colors so you prevent cross contamination and nasty stuff like that. I don’t suggest having a glass cutting board. I loathe them with a passion. Those are things to look out for when using your knives. They’re slippery and are evil little things. You could lose a few fingers before you get dinner on the table thanks to those stupid things.

measuring spoons & measuring cups- essential in every kitchen. I hope you’re not using your regular tablespoon or that coffee mug of yours to measure things with, because if you are- shame on you! Haven’t you heard of something called the dollar store? It actually carries these things. You don’t need a $50 set of measuring cups and spoons. The plastic dollar kinds are just as good. Trust me.

ladles- I would suggest having a large one and a small one. Again, you don’t need the expensive kind, but get a good quality one that will last you. Don’t get plastic.

pastry brushes- You don’t know how many different types of these darn things I see! I mean, really how many different pastry brushes do people need? The classic wooden one’s work great and that’s what I suggest getting. You don’t need a $20 pastry brush!

whisks- I would suggest having a balloon whisk, a regular whisk, a silicon whisk and a flat whisk. I personally don’t have a flat whisk because I find that my silicon whisk gets in the corners of my pans because they’re pretty flexible, but if you seriously want to invest in a flat whisk, get one.

rolling pins- Would it sound wrong if I said that you only really need one? Well, I personally think you only need one. Some people may say that you need one with handles for pie dough, a copper one, a silicone one, a nonstick one, and a French-style (nonrolling) pin. Well, I say that’s bogus. Unless you have all the space for 20 different types of rolling pins, and all the money in the world, go ahead, buy 20 different rolling pins, but you don’t need more than two. Unless you’re running a bakery out of your kitchen, two is good. Okay?

spatulas- This is a must in every kitchen. If you don’t have a spatula, well, you have a problem! Now, how are you going to make that grilled cheese that you so desperately want? With your teeth? Okay, joking aside. You will need one to flip and turn things with. And if you’re a serious baker, well, you need a few offset spatulas, and when you’re making an omelet or scraping that mixing bowl of yours when you’re baking brownies you’re are going to need a couple silicone spatulas.

spider strainer- Also known as a Chinese Strainer. Great to use when you are frying and boiling foods. You don’t have to stand over hot oil with a pair of tongs to retrieve a batch of french fries- just use one of these and you should get all of them at one time.

vegetable peeler- This may seem self explanatory, but it really isn’t. You want to invest in a good vegetable peeler one around 10 to 15 bucks. Yes, it may seem like a lot of money for a vegetable peeler, but trust me, if you get one of those cheap $1 vegetable peelers from the dollar store, you’re likely to get something that’s worth a dollar. I would recommend an Oxo vegetable peeler because it lasts really long and you won’t have any problems with it.

microplane grater- These little babies work wonders when you’ve got to zest a lemon, grate some cheese over freshly made pasta, and grate some nutmeg into a dish that everyone can’t figure out what that secret ingredient is…

colander- You’ll want a large one of these. Preferably one with pretty large holes to drain pasta and any other uses you have for a colander. This is a must in every kitchen.

parchment paper- Can you say greatest thing ever invented? This stuff is great for lining baking pans and cookie sheets to get that perfect golden brown bottom on your cookies and cakes. This is a must if you want perfectly delicious and great looking cookies!

kitchen twine- Also known as kitchen string. This stuff is great especially when you’re making a roast chicken, but don’t worry if you run out of this when roasting a while chicken! Want to know a secret? You can use aluminum foil, which works just as fine! Here, check my roast chicken post out, just so you know it does…

knives- I am going to try to make this part as brief as possible. One thing is that you don’t need a billion knives! I’d say the most important knives that you’ll need are:
– a chef’s knife (preferably with a blade 8 to 9 inches in length)
– boning knife (not 100% needed, but it’s good for deboning things like turkey)
– paring knife (great for peeling things like veggies, fruits, etc.)
– serrated knife(ideal for cutting breads and tomatoes)
– honing steel- to keep your knives sharp…

So, I don’t want to hear all of that funny business about a set of 30 cheapo knives because you probably don’t need all of them! These are the most essential knives. Please keep in mind that you want good quality knives! You don’t want cheap knives that’ll wear out on you in a month- you want something that will last you years on end.

If you can’t afford expensive knives, please, don’t worry. There are chefs knives that are $15 that work just as good as some professional knives. I kid you not! We have a really expensive chef’s knife that works just as well as my $15 Santoku knife that I happened to cut three of my fingers with the first day I used it. Don’t worry about my fingers- they’re fine, intact, and the cuts that they suffered were minor.

So, remember- just get the best that you can afford because if you get a cheap knife, the quality is going to be lacking- keep that in mind.

mixing bowls- These are the most essential things that every kitchen should have. I don’t think I may need to repeat that again… YOU NEED MIXING BOWLS NO MATTER WHAT YOU ARE DOING IN THE KITCHEN! Sorry for the shouting, but it’s true. Even if you only cook, you need mixing bowls and not the plastic kind. I mean really, plastic? I’m not hating on those of you who do have the plastic kind, but how versatile is that plastic bowl when you’re trying to create a double boiler when you’re trying to melt some chocolate for those shortbread cookies that you plan on making? Hmm? I thought so. Get the glass kind. I have this set and I love it dearly! Part of my set has made many appearances in this blog- that’s how much I love them. And you can melt chocolate in them!

One thing that I do suggest having is at least one large metal bowl. This is essential when you have to beat egg whites. If you’re pocket is full and you can afford it, go ahead and get a copper mixing bowl to beat egg whites in!

Mortar & Pestle- Every kitchen needs at least one descent size set of these. I’d suggest getting a pretty good sized one! I’d try to lean away from the wooden kind, though because if you’re going to make some garlic paste, it’s going to be tough to get that taste out of the wood! You don’t need a highly expensive one. We have quite a few in my house, but I use this one the most. It’s affordable and worth the ten bucks!

potato masher-There’s no sake in telling you that you need to get this because you should have a descent potato masher. If you don’t, shame on you! What do you make your smashed potatoes with? Your hands? A ladle? Nu-uh! Just make sure you have a descent one…

thermometers- instant-read thermometers and candy thermometers are musts in any kitchen. They’re not that expensive, but I am not saying that they’re super cheap either. They’re definitely worth the buy.

BAKEWARE

cake pans- If you bake, these are a must! What the heck do you bake your cakes in? A can? You’ll need two to three 9 inch cake pans with 1 ½ to 2 inch sides. If you are thinking of buying anything Wilton. Don’t speak to me! The stuff is a name brand, but it doesn’t last as long as these. Sure, 10 bucks a pan may seem expensive, but they last way longer than the Wilton kind.

square pans- You’ll need one of these. A 9 inch square pan. One with sides around 1 ½ to 2 inches. They’re great for brownies! Sorry, didn’t mean to get you hungry there… ; )

muffin tins- This is where some people will say get silicon, and some people will say get metal. People, get whatever you think is right, just make sure that it’s from a good brand. Oh, and that it has 8 to 12 cups.

13-x-9 inch baking pans- You need this. This is great for baking brownies! You’ll find these made out of several different types of materials. This is definitely an all-purpose pan especially if you get a glass one!

cookie sheets- You want 2 good quality cookie sheets. They have to last a while. So don’t even dare to bring up Wilton here because they don’t last. You may want to buy two of these. They last way longer than Wilton cookie sheets. I promise.

pie pans- Want some pie? I know I do… You want to get a 9 inch pie pan with a rim. I personally have a pyrex and I love it because it’s glass, which I suggest that you get. Non-metal pie pans are best because they don’t scratch when you want to get a nice slice of pie.

loaf pans- You’ll definitely want one or two of these. They’re great especially if your planning on baking some banana bread anytime soon!

• cooling racks- You’ll need at least two of these depending on their sizes. They are essential in every baker’s kitchen and if you don’t have any, go out and get some. There are great

So, if you’re missing something on this list and you think you really need it. Go ahead, spend a bit of cash. It’s for a good reason!

{ click here for part two… }