Stocking your kitchen with the right tools can be a daunting task. There are a lot of resources to consider, places to shop for cooking tools, and it can all get a little overwhelming. Plus if you’re like me and have a minimum amount of space to work with, you need kitchen tools that won’t take up a lot of real estate. Whether you’re a confident cook or someone who is just starting out, these five tools are going to get a lot of usage and will do a lot of the hard work for you!
A Good Cast Iron Pan
Cast iron gets a bad rap for being high maintenance, but I believe it’s often misunderstood. I love my cast iron pan because it heats evenly and can go from stovetop to the oven. I can literally use it for searing, sautéing and baking. Yes, cast iron is porous, so it’s not a great idea to use a strong soap to clean it. You also have to “season” your cast iron pan. You can achieve this by rubbing some high heat oil into your cast iron pan, wiping away the access and baking the cast iron on a high heat in your oven until there’s no longer any sticky residue. The best way to clean a cast iron pan is by throwing some cold water in a hot pan to “deglaze” any remaining debris or grease, then wipe the access water away. Cast iron tends to get better with age and the more you season it and use it!
If you want to become a better baker, using portions scoops to measure out cookies, muffins, cakes, and truffles will give your baked goods a professional and even look, but they’ll also cook at the same rate for more consistent results. You can also use these for savory applications as well. Portioning out crab cakes, fritters and anything else you want to be the same size!
Microplane or Rasp
Another tool with a lot of versatility is the Microplanes. It zests any citrus, turns nutmeg into a fine powder, and even transforms Parmesan cheese into a fluffy pile for your pasta. The best way to maintain this tool is to only go against the grain of the blades, especially if you’re grating something hard. This tool will maintain its edge for a very long time when used properly. You’re also getting more use of your ingredients, especially whole spices, by grating them by hand rather than buying them pre-ground.
I’ll admit that this was a tool that I thought I was too cool for. As a line cook, I was confident that my hands were perfectly good lemon squeezers. Then you squeeze a few too many lemons and realize how many tiny little cuts you have on your hands and realize the juice just isn’t quite worth the squeeze. Once I switched over to this tool, I realized how efficiently it squeezes any kind of citrus. The design has you put a half of any citrus cut side down (facing the holes), when you squeeze the two handles together it completely inverts the fruit, getting every little drop out. Buy the biggest one that you can find, lemons and limes will fit inside the one meant specifically for oranges!
A Sharp Knife
Many chefs have a favorite brand or style that they prefer, but the best knife for you is a sharp one that feels good in your hand. The Chopping Block’s Knife Skills class in invaluable for someone who wants to find their perfect chef’s knife and one of my very favorite classes. You can “test drive” a knife before you commit to buying one! To maintain the edge of your blade, hone your knife on a steel to realign the edge and keep it straight. Use a whetstone or bring your knife in to be professionally sharpen to recut or sharpen the edge. Avoid a knife block, and use your money to buy one solid chef knife that you like. If you like your knife, you’re more likely to not think of chopping up your ingredients as a chore because it won’t feel like one!
These are my favorite must have tools for any cook, whether you’re just beginning or well-seasoned! If you buy good quality tools and maintain them, you’ll be surprised how long they’ll last and how much easier they’ll make cooking.! What are your must have tools in the kitchen? Let me know in the comments.
Check out an upcoming Knife Skills class so you can become confident weilding one of these fantastic knives. We offer this class several times each month at both of our locations so check out our calendar for the best fit for your schedule.