So you’ve spent good money on creating the perfect space in which to create the perfect meal. The problems is, no matter how much you’ve forked out on that oven, those cabinets and cupboards, a good workman or woman is only as good as the tools at their disposal. Not that we would ever advocate blaming your kit when things go wrong, of course.
Having a variety of quality equipment at your disposal in the kitchen will open up countless possibilities in terms of what you can cook. Imagine inviting friends over for penne and porcini mushrooms, and then revealing you made the pasta yourself. Or frying up some sirloins, complete with griddle marks. Few things are more satisfying than serving properly made dishes, so here’s a checklist of essentials you should always have to hand before you start showing off any culinary expertise.
In layman’s terms, this is really just a large spoon with a bent handle and deep serving cup. Ideal for soups, obviously, it’s difficult to perfect a Vietnamese noodle pho without one of these.
Chef’s knife and sharpening block
Ideally you should be looking for an 8-10″ blade with a thick bolster to act as a finger guard, and the knife itself should sit comfortably in your hand. A sharpening block is essential too, otherwise preparing meat will be rather troublesome after a few months.
Grater and microplane
Most of us have a grater somewhere in the home, but we recommend looking for one that also allows you to microplane- you’ll need that for zesting lemons, grating Parmesan, herbs and spices, which is important in more complex dishes.
You won’t be able to make fine cuts- for example coring tomatoes, other fruits and vegetables- without one of these. One word of advice; if the blade doesn’t extend into the handle put it back on the shelf and look for another.
Cerated bread knife
Let’s face it, your weekday morning toast is fine from a loaf of pre-cut bread, but if you’re sitting down to a hearty winter stew and want a crusty baguette you’ll need a suitable knife to carve it up.
Look for a bulky plastic can opener that has a twist knob on top, rather than the more old school all-metal version. Chances are the latter will cause you more trouble than it’s worth, and nobody needs trouble.
Wire mesh colander
If you’re cooking pasta then this is a key purchase, even if that pasta is shop bought. Try to find one with a foot at the bottom, thus meaning your spaghetti won’t be left sitting in a puddle of water in the sink.
There are almost as many pasta makers on the market as there are types of pasta, and so it can get a little confusing. Our preference would be to choose on that offers between three and five settings for various pasta shapes- any more and chances are it will be a jack of all trades, master of none.
Although no longer the exotic pan it once was, woks are probably the best investment you can make for the kitchen. Ideal for stir fry dishes and other oriental meals, there’s also nothing to stop you using this for a plethora of other offerings.
Last, but definitely not least, is the griddle plan. This is the best possible way to fry meat and fish with aesthetically pleasing griddle marks. Look for the heaviest you can, which is usually a good sign of quality, and one where the metal runs into the wooden handle.
Image (C) Didriks via Flickr