My Favorite Kitchen EquipmentSeptember 16, 2010
When people come over to my house they all want to know what kids of pots I have, what gadgets and equipment I use at home.
My kitchen cabinets are filled with a mishmash of stuff for cooking and baking. I would have enough to outfit someone’s new house and still have a full kitchen set up, but I can’t part with any of it. I haven’t used some things in years, but I may at any moment, so I need to be prepared. A teardrop shaped pate mold; a 2-foot-tall croquembouche mold; a lady finger pan; a 16-inch tamis; shark, crab, poodle, and dinosaur cookie cutters; not to mention several of every baking pan shape and size you can imagine. I don’t dare step foot in Cookin’, the second hand cookware shop on Divisadero, in fear of finding some obscure piece of equipment I have to have.
However I don’t have a complete set of pots and pans. Sets are good for the company selling them, but not for the consumer. You never use everything they put in a set. You have your favorites and the rest merely take up space in the cabinets.
The ones I use the most are: Le Creuset pots for soups and stews; a smaller orange one for pasta; and two large heavy blue ones for bigger batches of soups, pasta sauce and stews. I have a copper pot for making jam, a 14-inch All Clad sauté pan, a couple of medium sized KitchenAid saucepots and about 10 half sheet pans.
I use the sheet pans for cooking as much as I do baking. Perhaps it’s because I am a baker and I am in and out of the oven all day. When I prepare dinner I am more apt to put vegetables on a sheet pan with olive oil, salt and pepper than I am to cook them on the stove top. Asparagus, butternut squash, even peas taste great this way.
My mom and dad owned a cookware shop on Sanibel Island, Florida in the 1980’s and I got a lot of my cookware from them. Many pieces have nicks or dings, which made them unsellable but that doesn’t affect the quality.
On the electric front, I only use my second hand microwave to defrost frozen soup for dinner. Of course my KitchenAid mixer gets its fair share of use, more when I am testing recipes for one of my books. My food processor has lasted 20 years and is still going strong.
I get by with just a few knives most of the time—a large and medium chef knife, a serrated knife and a paring knife. I use the serrated knife to chop chocolate and the smaller chef’s knife to bone chicken.
Much to my chef friends’ chagrin I have an OXO garlic press that I love. I hate chopping garlic.
A flat rubber spatula is the tool I use the most. You can stir or fold with it and it’s heat resistant. I don’t like the ones with a scoop in the spatula part. When I use the latter to mix two batters, one of them always stick to the scooped out part and I have to scrape it off.
A mini off-set spatula, made of metal, makes spreading batter faster and more evenly. The off-set component helps get into small areas. Even though it is small I can still use it for big jobs like frosting a layer cake. It’s very versatile.
I have several whisks but I always reach for the one that feels the most comfortable in my hand.
My favorite rolling pin is one I got in Mumbai, India on a culinary trip with Julie Sahni, the noted Indian cookbook writer. It cost about 35 cents and is small enough to fit into a canvas bag or my carry on suitcase. It’s great to take on trips where I need to roll something out but don’t want to be stopped at security for bringing on a deadly weapon.
I’m attached to my kitchen equipment like some women are to their clothes.
So what are your favorite kitchen tools?