Welcome to our website !

Getting the basics right - kitchen equipment

By May 16, 2015 ,

So you like to cook, you've read the books, you've read the blogs, and you have the gadgets, but do you have the right ones for you?

When I was training at Leiths many years ago we used to have demonstrations from various chefs. During those demos they might have used one or two gadgets and naturally most of us went out and bought the gadget that a particular chef may have used. It was about 2 years later when I moved house and was boxing up all my kitchen equipment that I realised how much cooking stuff I had accumulated and didn't use. So much so, that I was able to give another budding chef enough equipment they needed for their catering course.

My other half thinks I'm an ocd minimalist, well I suppose its true, I'm not a big fan of clutter and I will get stressed out if kitchen surfaces are a mess or there's too much on them if I'm cooking. So when cooking I try to keep mess to a minimum and the same goes for equipment. I try and keep to what I need rather than have all the latest gadgets (sadly the same rule does not apply to cookbooks). You're probably thinking what about the sous vide, what about the Magimix, what about the kitchen Aid, the Big Green Egg, that you have etc, etc??? Well I do use them and use them often.

So when equipping a kitchen, think about what you're going to cook, how often and whether its the right thing for you to buy.

So where to begin...

Knives, ah yes, before you get carried away, you're only ever going to need 3 or 4, a chefs knife, a fruit knife, a larger chefs knife and a bread knife. I myself also have a boning knife and a filleting knife (amongst others), but I like to bone my own meat when possible and fillet my own fish. Most of us have butchers and fishmongers that will  happily do most of the boning and filleting work for you, so use them instead. Back to your knives, get good quality ones, not cheap ones that you'll end up replacing continuously.

Get a knife sharpener and make sure you sharpen your knives before each use. Don't worry about getting a steel if you haven't used one before just get one of those generic sharpeners. You'll end up blunting your knives if you don't know what you are doing with a steel. Be aware, certain foodstuff will blunt a knife quickly such as chillies, tomatoes and aubergines, this is where your fruit knife comes in handy for those vegetables. Another important thing to keep in mind, please, please, please do not wash your knives in the dishwasher it causes more damage than good! That is a shooting offence in my kitchen.

Next a chopping board, again don't skimp on this either. You need a good solid block of quality wood. I've had my chopping board for 17 years now and it doesn't look its age at all. If you have a good block, then look after it, keep it clean and try and oil the board once a week. You can do this by pouring some cooking (olive or sunflower) oil and rubbing it in with a piece of kitchen towel. You can also purchase wood block oil from kitchen shops.

What's up next? Pots and pans I suppose. Firstly yourself a good solid casserole, cast iron preferably. Again, quality is what counts, so consider brands such as Staub and Le Creuset. Now you've got your casserole, so you'll also need pots, a small, medium and large should do the trick. Try and get three ply aluminium if you can as they are more durable and retain heat better. For frying pans, get a good medium sized one (28cm), preferably non stick and if you like to stir fry a wok is always handy.

Baking and roasting; if this is what you are into, team yourself up with a good solid roasting tin, a flat baking tray/sheet and some pyrex dishes for cooking various desserts in. You'll also need a couple of bowls for mixing ingredients in, so get ones of varying sizes. If you like to make cakes then a springform tin is good purchase and a rolling pin is useful for pastry.

If you like to make soup, a blender or food processor is always handy or a stick blender is good if you're tight for space.

Equip yourself with wooden spoons (or plastic if you prefer), spatulas, ladles, fish slices, measuring jugs, a good weighing scale and a whisk. Good salt and pepper grinders are a useful purchase as well, brands like Peugeot or Cole and Mason make good durable grinders. I've had my pepper grinder for about 17 years now. It wasn't an expensive purchase, rather I'm embarrassed to say, it was appropriated from a restaurant in London (said establishment is no longer around and my other half claims it was because I nicked the grinder).

I would also recommend a good meat thermometer which is useful when roasting to ascertain if the meat is ready.

Like all equipment try and buy the best you can within your budget. Remember if you buy cheap then you'll end up paying more constantly replacing it.

Get the basics right and you're good to go.

You Might Also Like