While kitchen tools may not be at the top of your list for things to spend your disposable income on, you might want to reconsider. By investing as little as a hundred bucks on ten essential tools, you can outfit yourself for years of quality cooking in your kitchen. You can go about this spending spree in several ways, depending on what your budget affords. William Sonoma is an obvious choice, though they tend to jack up the prices quite a bit. If you have a bit of cash you want to invest in these tools, I’d suggest Sur La Table (www.surlatable.com). They have a wide selection of every tool for every job or task you might ever need to do in the kitchen. You can invest in some really quality knives at Sur Le Table, and if you can find a store they’ll sharpen them and give you a demo.
To outfit your kitchen on a budget, head to Bed Bath and Beyond (www.bedbathandbeyond.com). You can buy a set of assorted kitchen tools for as little as seven bucks. You can also buy some pretty decent knives there, including sets of two or three knives for as low as nine dollars (shoot for ones in the thirty dollar range for durability). Catch all store Target (www.target.com) also has a well-rounded selection of kitchenware, including sets of pots and pans that will serve you well. That’s a topic for another article, but below find my ten tools to get your kitchen in cooking shape.
- Chef’s Knife- This is your workhorse in the kitchen. Use it to chop potatoes to make fries, lettuce for a salad, onions for your soup, and chicken for the grill.
- Paring Knife- Use this knife for jobs that require a little more precision and finesse, or jobs where a large knife seems unnecessary- Halfling cherry tomatoes, slicing a wedge of cheese, or cutting the tops off strawberries.
- Rubber Spatula- This is another hard worker in the kitchen. Use it to stir vegetables in your sauté pan, flip the edges of your omelet, fold ingredients into a batter, or serve up a big dollop of mashed potatoes.
- Ladle- This tool is great for serving up whatever it is you’ve been cooking. Ladle soup into bowls, sauce over pasta, risotto onto the plate, even punch into glasses.
- Spatula- As a guy, if you have any of these tools its probable this one. Use your spatula to flip those burgers on the grill, lift your omelet out of the pan, transfer your salmon fillet to the plate without it flaking, and to flip those grilled cheese in the pan.
- Tongs- Use these where a little more precision is needed. Think of them as an extension of your hands- Flip bacon slice by slice, turn chicken on the bone to brown it evenly in the pan, lift a portion of spaghetti out of the bowl, and rotate cobs of corn on the grill.
- Measuring Spoons- While your getting comfortable in the kitchen, its best not to eyeball measurements. Measuring spoons are the novice cook’s best friend- use them to hit that perfect balance in vinaigrettes and dressings, measure out the right amount of olive oil for a sauté, and the perfect amount of vanilla for cookies.
- Measuring Cups- I use these for more than just their standard measuring purpose. Scoop butternut squash sauté out of the pot and into the blender for soup, portion out equal amounts for burgers and crab cakes, and dole out the right amount of batter into the pan for perfect pancakes.
- Peeler- Use this tool for the obvious reasons; peeling carrots, apples, potatoes, whatever. But you can also use it to thinly shave zucchini or other vegetables for a ribbon-like salad that’s sure to impress. It’s like a makeshift mandolin.
- Can Opener – Nothing worse then having your ingredients but not being able to get at them. Keep this on hand to open cans of tomatoes for sauce, beans for creamy dip, or stock for soup.