Pots and Pans- Here are a few general considerations when considering your pans;
- Can they go from stove top to oven? If they can’t this will greatly limit their use.
- Are they well made and will they distribute heat evenly. Quality pots and pans make cooking much easier. It’s very tough to make a great sauce or stunning stew in a thin grade aluminum pan.
Cast Iron Pots- I can’t say enough about the importance of using heavy duty pots, as they distribute heat well and will give vastly superior results. The initial investment is a bit more, but they last a lifetime. Some top brands are Le Creuset and Staub.
Large Non Stick Sauté Pan- This is a must in any kitchen for omelets, quick sautéing and seem to last best when hand washed and put up after use. I have had the best results with All Clad stainless non stick.
Wok- I find that unless you have a dedicated wok burner on your range, it’s quite difficult to manage the traditional style, so I prefer the ones with handles. Not fully authentic, but the results are what counts, and they are starting to catch on throughout Asia.
Tongs- These are staple in any professional kitchen and for good reason. They are versatile, fast and efficient. A few sizes will be very helpful.
Knives – This should be one of your best and first investments. Just remember that sharp knives cut far fewer people than dull ones, as dull knives will slip. I use Wusthof with wonderful results.
Cutting Board – Plastic and wooden only. No glass or hard surfaces, or your lovely knives will be dulled within minutes. The key thing to remember is to try and have a surface that can be cleaned properly and if possible to use one board for meats and one for vegetables and other non meat products.
Sieves- I find so many uses for my small and medium size sieves, that I can’t imagine cooking without them. You may also use professional china caps, but some small simple sieves are indispensable.
Potato Ricer- If you want the fluffiest mashed potatoes, this is the way to go. It is also a great way to mash parsnips and other vegetables.
Wooden Spoons- I treasure my wooden spoons, as they become more comfortable with age. I find that the most basic are best. They do not need to be expensive. I few sizes are very helpful.
Spatulas – I cannot say enough about how handy these are. I actually have given them to people as a holiday gift and they have told me it is their favorite kitchen tool. Buy a few sizes and make sure you have one, which is extra small to get into the small dishes, ramekins and food processors.
Metal Measuring Spoons- Spend the extra money and go for these, as the plastic ones are just not worth it. Have two sets, so you won’t need to be washing in between use.
Measuring Cups- I find that a medium and then a large size is most efficient, and best if they can be made of Pyrex and can handle high heat. For baking the metal measuring cups with handles are the best.
Scale - A small kitchen scale is essential. Many people use them for weighing out ingredients when baking, however if you want a basic every day scale, it should be able to measure smaller quantities.