Friday, January 25, 2008

Equipment I cannot cook without

* Professional Blender
* KitchenAid stand mixer
* Mini-Prep Cuisinart. I usually object to keeping appliances that I don't use weekly, but the mini prep is an exception. I really only make hummus and tapanade in it, but I can't imagine using anything else for the job.
* Cuisinart. Everyone's got to have a food processor.

* 10" cast iron pan
* 8" and 10" nonstick omelet pans
* Covered pyrex bakers for marinating meats
* Steamer insert
* Le Creuset dutch ovens - 4qt, 6 qt
* 4.5 qt All Clad saucepan

Cooking Tools & Utensils
* Food mill
* Zyliss garlic press
* Microplane zester
* Short and Full-sized off-set spatulas
* High-heat spatulas - I love the ones that are one-piece. I listed the Rubbermaid professional since I've had it forever. I just got another one - at TJ Maxx - that is all one piece, and a bit shorter, more like 10-inches. You really can't make scrambled eggs without one of these.
* Chef knives. These are so personal. I recommend spending some time in a shop and really getting a sense of how a knife feels in your hand. That said, find two chef knives, one about 6-inches and another somewhat larger (I think my biggest isn't quite 8-inches - I don't like anything any bigger), get a carving knife, a 3-inch paring knife or two, this 5-inch serrated utility knife, a 10-inch or longer serrated bread knife. My favorite brands are Henckels and Wüsthof and I have a fantastic Rösle chef's knife that I love.
* Variety of ladles
* Mesh Strainers

* Silicone pastry brushes - I use these to soak cake layers, to baste my pizzas, to slather panini oil on baguette. I love how they don't shed (I worried about even my best bristle brushes shedding on a wedding cake) and how they don't retain odors or oils. This particular one from Crate & Barrel really holds liquid better than some of the other ones I've (briefly) owned.
* Parchment paper - I buy these for my half-sheet pans (they measure apx. 13x18"). I cook everything in my oven on these pans, and all my baked goods get a sheet of parchment.
* Half-sheet pans - You can often pick these up at restaurant supply stores as well. I have 6-8 of these. And Bed Bath & Beyond sells one with it's own plastic cover!
* Pyrex liquid measuring cups - You really need a one-cup, pint (two-cup) and quart (4 cup).
* Melamine mixing bowls - Get the three-pack of these (and look at TJ Maxx, too - I've seen them there before). They're great for all your baking.
* Ramekins

Misc. Essentials
* Splash Shopper
* Desk Calendar - blotter type - use to plan weekly meals to give you a better sense of how you intend to eat on a monthly basis.
* High Heat Canola Oil (spray)

Where do I find all this stuff?
Target, Sur la Table,, Chef's Catalog and Williams Sonoma are always reliable. Both Bed Bath and Beyond and TJ Maxx frequently surprise me with their selection and competitive prices.