My Favorite Kitchen Equipment

September 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?


  1. I have a favorite wooden spoon that I like to use more than the many other ones we have.

    I know what you mean about spatulas. I prefer the flat kind, and not the scoop for pouring out batters.

    My small flat spatula does alot of work, however,
    with all of our gadgets, we still don’t have an off-set spatula. Time to go shopping. 🙂

  2. My favorite used to be my neon green silicon spatula but nowadays, it’s the flexible dough scraper (I have been making lots of tarts and yeasted treats lately) and the digital weighing scale. And of course, my all-time favorite KitchenAid mixer.
    Oh, I have a stainless steel scent eraser shaped like a bar of soap that’s perfect after handling garlic or any heavy-scented ingredients. Works everytime!

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