Now that the new year is upon us, what better time is there to either give your kitchen a good clean out or if you don’t have too many things, stock up? My kitchen is a bit like Mary Poppins’ bag – it just has everything. Now don’t get me wrong, I love that it’s got so many things, it definitely makes cooking easier. But a lot of it isn’t really essential. So whether your kitchen is minimalist, or you have utensils, pots and pans collecting at the bottom of your drawer or the back of the cupboard that you’d completely forgotten about, it’s always important to at least have the essentials.
This is my guide to kitchen must-haves that I think are essential for every day food preparation and cooking (in no particular order):
1. Chopping Boards
Chopping boards are not only essential for preparing ingredients, but they’re use has extended to serving foods as well. Anything from bread to meat, cheese to salads and even desserts (thanks for the ideas Jamie Oliver!)
For general ingredient preparation, I recommend a plastic board for meat, fish and poultry and a wooden board for everything else (i.e. vegetables, fruit, cheese, bread etc.) You can also purchase coloured sets of plastic boards: red for meat, blue for seafood, green for fruit and veg and white for dairy and others.
You can’t have chopping boards without knives to use on them. We’re lucky enough to have a set of six Global knives, which are very high quality and cut with absolute precision. Now not all six are necessary, nor do you need to get this brand, but buy the best you can afford. It is preferable to look for knives that have the metal from the blade extending through to the handle, as this provides more stability and if you take care of them, they will last forever. If you are only going to get one or two, make it a 21cm chefs knife and 11cm utility knife (approximate, as sizes do vary).
3. Wooden spoons
An essential for stirring, well, anything. What kitchen doesn’t have one (or 10) of these?
4. Silicone spatulas
These are indispensable. Mixing, folding, stirring, beating, it really can be used for almost everything. You just have to have one. And being silicone, it is of course heat resistant so can be used on the stove.
A box grater is a must, and a rasp (a very fine grater) or a fine microplane is great to have if you can get one. You can grate veggies for a salad or to mix into your bolognaise sauce, grate cheese and finely grate garlic into a puree to add to dishes, dressings and sauces.
6. Fish slice
Just what you need to flip burgers, toss veggies, carefully turn pancakes and omelettes and as the name suggests – turning fish. It’s also great for getting all those crispy bits that get slightly stuck to the pan when you’re making roast potatoes or other roasted veg and meat.
This handy utensil is good for tossing stir fries and pastas, turning meat in a pan, removing some veg from boiling water and even to turn pans around in the oven if you can’t find your oven mitts!
8. Immersion Blender
This may not seem like an essential tool but these are SO handy to have in the kitchen. It can do all the work similar to that of a liquidiser or blender, with less hassle and less clean up (win-win!) It can be used for pureeing soups, blending sauces or dressings and making homemade mayo. My favourite use is for a quick berry smoothie. You can get a really good quality blender for as little as $40!
9. Set of mixing bowls
Pretty self-explanatory, these can be used for basically everything whether it’s mixing, tossing, shaping or storing. I prefer stainless steel and/or glass, in a range of sizes.
10. Pots and Pans
There’s not much that you can’t cook in a pot or pan.
Three pots (small, medium and large) are all you need to cook pasta or rice, blanch veggies, make soups, stews or casseroles, heat up milk, stock etc., make risotto and big batches of bolognaise (it’s easier to do this and freeze in portions – just defrost in the fridge in the morning and you’ve got dinner sorted).
One large-sized pan (approx. 30cm) is perfect for sauteing veg, pan frying meats, cooking pancakes, frittatas and good ol’ scrambled eggs. Just make sure it has an oven proof handle so you can keep things warm or finish cooking in the oven
11. Roasting tins & trays
These are perfect for roast meats, veggies, lasagne, free form loaves & tarts and keeping food warm in the oven.
I hope that this gives you an idea of the basics that are great to have in your kitchen, but I’d love to know – what are YOUR favourite kitchen tools?