Every time I go to my Parents house my Mother wants me to cook, or rather show her how to make a new dish, a new technique. Which I am in favor of and don’t mind one bit. The problem is as growing up and now, the kitchen equipment was always lacking, or excessive in the wrong ways. For instance, my mother likes to use Farber wear pans, which are aluminum but far to thin to have real control of heat. Then I received an old article written by Mark Bitmann posted on the essentials of a kitchen. I like most of what he had to say, I do like the guy. He knows his stuff, check out his books if you get a chance. So in Response to Jonathan Blundell, this is my list of Basics.
I know that the big question is always on knives, they are meant to be functional, they can be works of art though. I don’t think you have to go out and spend $$$ on a Shun or Korin right off the bat. Just find one that fits in your hand. The blade should be stiff, and It should have a Full Tang, a single pice of metal that runs the length of the blade and handle, this helps with durability and balance. If it is going to be your chefs knife 8″ to 10″ is good, I use 8″ Caphalon Katana, because it was given to me and I like the way it fits in my hand. You don’t have to spend a lot of cash on a knife like some that I want (in to the $800 range), just find one you like.
Now on to the Rest, all the hardware you need to have and for not much cash.
$23 4 1/2 qt cast aluminum sauce pot, my go to all-purpose pot. Just refrain from highly acidic foods. This is the way to go.
$17 1 1/2 cast aluminum pot just because sometimes you need a smaller pot, works great for clarifying butter, and boiling/poaching eggs.
$30 – Cast aluminum Non-Stick pans best for creeps and egg cookery, just because it’s non stick doesn’t mean you don’t have to use butter or oil. And don’t wash it, wipe it out with a soft cloth and put it away.
$35 this is prefect for all of your saute and braising needs for most things. You can pay a little more for an Aluminum cast stainless lined, Great heating and non reactive. you might want one in 10″ and 14″ for larger chores.
These two are a pair to have, 1/2 sheet pans runs $7 used it for everything from cookie sheet, overflow tray for pies/tarts, a trusty pot cover. Use it with the cooling rack ($5) for a roasting pan. It’s nice to have a pair of these around.
$30 – This is a Silpat, made of high heat-resistant silicon use it for all your baking and candy needs, nothing will stick to this, we have used if for fruit jellies to caramel. I have even used it to roll sushi, so the rice doesn’t stick. Just remember to hand wash, air dry, never use a knife on it, and always roll it back up when it is dry.
$12 – high heat spat gets used for any stirring job in my kitchen, I use it in my non stick pans so I don’t ruin it. Try it with your scrambled eggs/omelets/frittatas, I keep a few around because it is just what I reach for.
$3 tongs indispensable for grabbing your hot items, my hands can handle heat up to 160F(…for short periods of time.) But, sometimes you need something else, like turning steaks, frying items, and pulling pasta out of boiling water.
$5 thermometer one of the best tools to have when you know how to use it. I have used it in roasting, bread baking to get the artisan bread just right, Chocolate tempering. It’s main goal is to keep us safe from the invisible bugs.