In a continuation of our ‘Sandy’s Six‘ blog series, Executive Chef Sandy DiGiovanni at The Culinary Center of Kansas City shares a bit of insight from her wealth of culinary knowledge…
There is no end to the number of appliances, gadgets, tools and gizmos that you can buy for your kitchen, but there are certain basics that every person who is serious about their cooking should have. Heads up! I use the term ‘appliance’ loosely here, as the following necessities may not fall squarely within the exact definition of appliance. Regardless, I wouldn’t do without these in my kitchen.
- A couple of cutting boards. Save one for use just with chicken. What kind of boards should you get? I’d suggest a plastic or silicone one for meats. I carve meat on a wood one, though. Bamboo ones work really well, and you can find them at a low price. Don’t use glass cutting boards. Not only do they make a really irritating sound when you cut on them, knives easily slip on them because there is no good grip. Same with marble boards. Both are pretty, but that’s not really what’s important here, is it?
- The best knives that you can afford. Price doesn’t define the quality of a knife, mind you. Do your research; visit a local knife shop. Ask questions. Hold the knife in your hand. Make sure it feels right for you. Find one with carbon from the tip of the blade right through the handle. Your knives don’t have to be a matching set – look for each knife individually. A good chef’s knife and sharpening steel are essential in the kitchen. If you don’t have a honing stone, make sure to take them to a professional for sharpening at least three times per year. There is little that is more dangerous in a kitchen than a dull knife!
- Food Processor. Get the best size and quality of food processor you can work into your budget. Make sure it includes all of the different attachments that you’re likely to use. Once you get it, use it! You’ll find that you can use your food processor in many more ways than you ever imagined in your cooking.
- Kitchen Aid Mixer. I’m not a name-brand shopper, I’m really not. But Kitchen Aid just makes a great mixer. There are different ‘levels’ of Kitchen Aid Mixers available at different stores. In the case of mixers: “you get what you pay for.” Save up for the one you’ll want to include in your will – a good one will last you a lifetime and beyond. And, as with the food processor, use it to its full extent. It’s for more than just stirring cake mixes. Learn about all the attachments available, and make it work for you!
- A good set of stainless steel pots and pans. (And one Teflon pan for making eggs, if you haven’t gotten the knack for making them in stainless steel. Plus a cast iron pan.) Have I mentioned we offer a great Pro Series Cookware set of stainless steel pans designed for The Culinary Center of Kansas City, available online and in our Kitchen Shop?! To check them out, click here…
- Crock Pot or Porcelain Dutch Oven. There’s just no excuse not have a good, healthy meal when these make it so easy. And there are lots of options available on the latest crockpots – set a timer, sear your meat, etc. Even the busiest person can spend 5 minutes in the morning prepping a meal. And bam, dinner is ready when you get home. There are thousands of crockpot and Dutch oven recipes available in cookbooks and online. Try some!
What are your kitchen essentials?