This is my favorite part. The toys. Another secret of chefs? We dont spend money on stupid gadgets. Know how to peel garlic? Smash it with your knife and use your fingers. Want to know how to chop up onion or garlic? A knife. The gimmicky gadgety crap is junk sold to home cooks, chefs aren’t that fancy and their fingers reek of garlic and onions. This is just the way things are.
This is a list of basic kitchen tools you should have, and I guess more to the point, that I use on a regular basis.
I can’t tell you what kind to buy. I can tell you that expensive doesn’t always mean the best and you should go with whatever feels the most comfortable in your hand; knives are an extension of your arm and need to feel that way in your hand. Never buy a knife without handling it first, especially if its expensive. Most important part of a knife is the edge, doesn’t matter if its a $300 Chefs Knife if its dull; whatever you have keep it sharp.
Some of mine are expensive, others not so much, bottom line I love them all and can use them all with confidence. The favorites that I own and use daily:
- 10″ Furi Chef Knife w stainless handle
- 8″ Furi Coppertail Santuku
- 6″ Furi filet knife
- 6″ Forschner boning knife
- 2 cheap paring knives
Smallwares & Tools
- A good pepper grinder. Pre-ground black pepper really shouldn’t be a thing.
- Vegetable peeler – a decent one
- Box grater
- Microplane zester
- Thermal rubber spatulas – long handled & short handled
- Wooden spoons – I have a bazillion different kinds & shapes
- Old school potato masher – the curvy one, not the grid one
- Full set of dry measuring cups & spoons
- Liquid measuring cups
- Metal kitchen spoons – slotted & not slotted
- Turner spatulas – I have metal & plastic fish ones, burger style ones
- Offset Metal Spatulas – I have a mini one & a 8″ one – ones used for cake decorating
- A good ice cream scoop or paddle
- Portion scoops – blue handled large cookies, black & purple handled smaller cookies
- Wire Whisks
- Stainless steel mixing bowls – I have them from 1qt up to 12qt
- Half sheet trays
- 9×13 roasting pans
- Cakes pans – 8″,9″ rounds, bundt, angle food cake, 9″ spring form
- Muffin Pans
Pots & Pans
Obviously who wouldn’t love to have a full collection of AllClad? I’ve been collecting a piece at a time for years…it will never stop. I’m ok with that. But you don’t HAVE to have AllClad to cook good food…its just nice.
That said I do think its good to spend money on certain things and kind of a waste in others. Saute pans? Spend some money. 2qt sauce pot? Not really necessary. These pieces take the most abuse in my kitchen.
- 12″ Non-stick AllClad Saute Pan
- 10″ Coppercore AllClad Saucier w lid
- 10″ Calphalon Saute Pan – this one has a wicked heavy base
- 12qt All Clad Sauce Pot
- 12qt Le Creuset Dutch Oven
- 12″ AllClad Griddle
- 2qt AllClad Sauce Pot w lid
I use other random pots & pans, but these ones get washed. A lot.
The Expensive Toys
- Kitchen Aid Mixer – not necessary but incredibly useful. Any stand mixer really, I have just have a long time love affair with my Kitchen Aid Commercial.
- Hand Mixer – mine is also a Kitchen Aid, its a little beast.
- Food Processor – spend the money on the Cuisinart or Kitchen Aid. I have an old Cuisinart 10 cup that is a beast and I love. It was my very first broke as a joke splurge on a straight up kitchen toy. I will have it until it dies. But the $40 one at Walmart? You will get exactly what you pay for…junk.
- Blender – I also have a good one of these. Wedding gifts FTW!
- Stick Blender – I do NOT own one of these yet for some stupid reason and I kind of hate myself a little for it because I find at least 3 things a week that would be much easier if I had one.
- Parchment paper sheets. These making baking a DREAM.
- Good pastry tips & disposable pastry bags. Totally worth the expense.
- Cup cake cups. I never remember to buy them when I need them. Ever.
- Silpats – nifty silicone baking mats. I have a few of them, terribly convenient to have them when you need them & easy to clean.
- Cooling racks – especially convenient if you have limited counter space, they come in stackable.
- Aluminum foil – the heavy duty kind. Makes clean up much easier very often.
- A Garlic Keeper – aka a terra cotta pot w lid over the top. It really does help bunches of garlic stay fresh for long time.
- Rolling Pin – one of those things you dont think about until you need it. I have a simple French style wooden pin and love it. The rolly handled kind are not a fave.
- Hand strainers – very useful for all sorts of things
- Kitchen Scale – not a necessity, but awfully helpful to have around, especially for portioning.
- Spice Grinder – I have a $15 Krupps one that works just fine for what I do to it. Note: once a grinder is for spices you will NEVER want to use it for coffee again. Unless you’re into bizarrely flavored coffee, then have at it!
I’m sure this will get added to and subtracted from, but another snapshot of the nuts & bolts of my kitchen. Really does make up the majority of the stuff that ends up in my sink multiple times a week. Also makes me think about all the stuff in my kitchen that I really dont use all that often…but thats a path I think best left untraveled. I like my stuff!