Daily Archives: September 1, 2010

Must-Haves for the Kitchen

I’m a girl of simple pleasures.  I don’t go on shopping sprees, I never wear jewelry, and my money is best spent on food.

However, there is one thing I feel that I absolutely need—a well-stocked kitchen.

It’s hard for me to cook in someone else’s kitchen because they don’t have my “stuff”.  My pans, my gadgets, my knives…they all mean a lot to me and my cooking just isn’t as good without them.  I understand this may make me a subpar cook, but I just can’t help it.

Here is a list of things that call my kitchen home.  Consider making them a staple in your own kitchen, you’ll thank me!

Cast Iron Skillet

Cast Iron Skillet: This heavy-duty pan is a God-send.  It’s great for making burgers or steaks, especially if you do not own a grill.  The cast iron is a great heat conductor and cooks things very evenly.  You can also transfer these heavy guys to the oven for dishes like

-mac and cheese

-fritattas

- upside-down skillet apple pie

and so much more!  Plus, these things are cheap and last FOREVER.  The more you use the pan, the better (and more non-stick!) it becomes.

IMPORTANT NOTE: NEVER EVER EVER wash your cast iron skillet with soap.  I rinse mine out with hot water while the pan is still hot to deglaze it of anything that has stuck to the bottom, then wipe out with a paper towel.  This helps season the pan.  Also, DRY THOROUGHLY or it will rust.  You can set it in an oven at a low temperature.  I like to put mine back on the stove after I’ve rinsed and wiped it and put the heat to low until it’s completely dried.

Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus Food Processor

Mini Chopper:  Sometimes, admittedly, I do like to chop food the old fashioned way.  I’m certainly not as fast as I’d like to be, but there’s something relaxing about chopping up many vegetables in uniform size.  However, there are times when I’m running late or just don’t have the energy top do the handwork myself, so I pull out my “mini chop”, as I so lovingly call it.  They’re fairly cheap, about 30-40 bucks.  Though small, the mini chop is mighty!  Throw in a quartered onion and it has it chopped in seconds– tear-free!

My favorite thing to do with the mini chop is make garlic butter.  I throw in 2-3 cloves of garlic, depending on their size, and press the chop button til they’re in tiny bits.  Next, I dump in a stick of softened butter, cubed, and season with some salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper and fresh parsley.  Give it another whirl to combine and you’ve got great, homemade garlic butter for spreading on your favorite bread.

Immersion Blender

Immersion Blender: These things are, IMHO, one of the greatest kitchen inventions.  I’m all about blending, but HATE to clean blenders.  They’re big, bulky, sharp, and food always somehow manages to get stubbornly stuck underneath the blades.  The immersion blender lets you have the advantage of a blender at your fingertips, literally!  Most come with attachments, like whisks for things like mayonnaise or souffles! Some things I use my immersion blender for:

Soups: I make a mean tomato soup that’s garlicky and thick, without the cream!  Instead of waiting for the soup to cool before I blend it, I just stick my immersion blender in the hot pot of soup and go at it.  I have thick, smooth, and creamy soup in about a minute.  No cooling and re-heating required!

Smoothies:  Most immersion blenders come with a tall plastic mixing cup that the blender fits nicely into.  You can easily make shakes and smoothies in these cups.  Combine all ingredients, then insert the immersion blender and switch the on button.  You’ve got a creamy shake or velvety smoothie with no mess and no time.

Jade

Jade: for more explanation, please see my post “Kitchen Goddess

Favorite things to make with Jade: whipped mashed potatoes and cheesecake!

Smaller must-haves:

  • a sharp chef’s knife
  • silicone tongs
  • many rubber spatulas
  • wooden spoons
  • ramekins, ramekins, ramekins (for mise en place)
  • passion for cooking

Anyone else have any favorite kitchen must-haves?

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