Kitchen Essentials

Kitchen Essentials

WHAT TO COOK WITH - THE ESSENTIAL TOOLS

 

There are a number of what I would deem to be essential tools in the kitchen, there are also a few kitchen ground rules, I also have personal preferences which are nothing more than habit, tradition or nostalgia which I seem unable or unwilling to break. 

 

Cost over Covet

Firstly, buy only what you can genuinely afford.  Kitchens, even of the domestic variety, are an economy; anything coming in needs to be balanced by what comes out, what you get for your investment and how long it lasts.  Buy the best you can, even if you have to save up for a while to get it - that goes for cookware, meat, butter everything.  Generally in the kitchen (as everywhere) there is a cost on quality.    If there is no reduction in quality I have no problem whatsoever going for the cheaper option.

However...

When it comes to meat and poultry, for me where possible it has to be free range, it has to be ethically produced and it has to leave me with the overall sense of having done no unnecessary harm.  I was a vegetarian until I was 22, at which point I discovered animals were delicious (sorry animals).  I have tried since (without being entirely obsessive) to ensure I eat animals bred and raised in humane and ethical environments.  Yes, it is more costly, however I appreciate the meat more and savour the flavours of a well reared animal knowing I have not unconsciously contributed to cruelty, abuse or blind greed.  It is an individual choice though and I make no judgements - I am only responsible for and accountable to myself.

So, just what are the essentials?

For what it's worth these are some of the conclusions I have come to...

 

Le Creuset - for life!

Essential Investments

Excellent quality, long lasting cookware - at a bare minimum  2 frying pans, one very large pot, one small saucepan and one large baking tray.  My family and  I use Le Creuset pretty much exclusively.  When I turned 18 I was given a large oval pot in traditional French Blue.  I still have it and use it nearly every day.  Moreover, my mother still has hers which she received many decades before mine.  Yes the initial outlay is high, but to me they are essential and the return on investment is also high. 

Le Creuset forms an integral part of my kitchen, part design, part function, part love affair.  I am unrepentant in my adoration of the longevity of their products and treat myself whenever possible to one more piece. I am literally unable to divulge how many pieces of Le Creuset I currently own. 

 

KitchenOther essentials I have accumulated over the last few decades... 

 

  • Oven.  Bit of a no-brainer here if you are planning on cooking more than a couple of times a week.  I have a 900mm Smeg with six gas burners and an electric fan-forced oven.  It is by no means the most extravagant and is not a professional bit of kit, it is however excellent and I love it.

 

  • Mortar and Pestles.  Something of an obsession in my kitchen, but one large and one small is allegedly sufficient.

 Just a couple of Mortar and Pestles

  • For heaven's sake, get some decent cutting boards.   I don't care what they look like, just pay the money and get enough so that you can prepare meat, veges, and fish without infusing  your bread with unwanted flavour...  of course if you happen to have a chopping board in the shape of a bug all the better..

Bug Board and Victorinox knife

 

  • Get a Zester.  Ok, this one sounds preachy.... however I guarantee you will be pleased if you get one.  If you make cakes, jams, tarts or roasts regularly a zester is a must.  It is relatively cheap and a whole lot easier than finely slicing lemon rind. Most of my small kitchen equipment is Chef Inox - it's sturdy, stainless steel, and very good value for money.

 

  • Good quality, large pizza trays or baking sheets and at least one muffin tray.  They are pretty cheap, yet essential for the mass production of cookies, pizzas and sweet treats for friends and family at Christmas and throughout the year. I actually bought my pizza trays from a commercial catering supplier that, sadly, was going out of business.  The trays were cheap, huge and have lasted me 10 years so far.  Pizza stones are also brilliant, if you have the funds.  I have 2 very good biscuit sheets by Anolon which I love and a cheap muffin tray that does the business.  Note - I did have a muffin tray that lasted for about 20 years until it rusted through courtesy of the dishwasher,  so they don't last forever! 

 

  • A couple of rather lovely serving dishes. I personally favour plain white cheap platters, as most food looks lovely on a crisp white backdrop - it is like a clean white canvas when you are painting, it allows the food to shine. Also if you get a bit squiffy at your dinner party and break one it is not devastating.  

 

  • Measuring spoons/cups.  Yes it is a pest, but measuring makes all the difference when baking.  I have dozens of them - from serious stainless steel jobbies, through to novelty dollies, they are all good.

 

  • Splendid UtensilsSharp little knives - not super expensive flash ones, just some really sturdy, excellent quality sharp little knives that will make preparing veges, meat and dried fruit so much easier.  For this I use Victorinox knives, they have pretty blue handles and I love them.

 

 

  • Silicon egg slices/pancake flippers.   They are brilliant.  I have a couple of tiny, very cheap blue ones, and they have been used nearly every day for the last five years.

 

  • Jars.  Jars.  Jars.  Jars.  Jars. Cheap jars, posh jars, preserving jars, storage jars, left-over jam jars, free jars...  just get some.  I deliberately buy stuff that comes in lovely jars just so I can reuse them.  I make a lot of jam, marmalade and preserves, so I happily accept donations from friends and family in exchange for a jar of jam or piccalilli.  I also like to have all my essential ingredients in glass/stainless steel jars, as it makes me more likely to use them and get the most out of the ingredients. 

 Jars!