Besides your trusted Santoku or Chef’s knife and a large chopping board, what should be in a Kitchen Wizard’s tool box?
It all depends on what type of food you cook. Having a small kitchen, mine is pretty minimalistic. I don’t even use a garlic press any more. (I mince it with my Santoku.)
In addition to the regular things that most people have, my top 10 items I can’t live without are:
- Magic wand (Immersion/Stick blender)– especially great for pureed soups.Stick right into the pan and puree. No wait, no mess.
- Toaster Oven (large enough to allow a round or square 10″ baking pan) – No need to pre-heat, or even if you choose to do so, much quicker. Shortens baking/roasting time significantly and saves gas/electricity.
- Microplane — grates everything, especially works well for hard Italian cheeses.
- Good vegetable peeler — OXO and Kuhn Rikon are my favorites — Good ones are so much easier to use. You can also use it to shave vegetables thin and add to salad, quick Japanese style stir-fry (kimpira) etc.
- Oven-proof Skillet/pans (min 400F, including handles!) — saves time changing the pan to an oven-proof dish etc. Great for tarte tatin, frittata, etc.
- Oven-proof dishes/plates — you can make single portions, stick right intothe oven and eat from the same dish.
- Mesh colanders and strainers: Drain water a lot more effectively and keeps the food inside — even angel-hair pasta. Choose colanders that are elevated, so that the drained water doesn’t touch the food inside. I have many different sizes, stand alone, with a handle for different usages, etc. A mesh tea infuser with a handle is very handy for flouring meat. (Saves a lot of flour!)
- Spider strainer: great for scooping up anything from water or oil: ravioli, vegetables, flitters, etc. You can buy one for cheap at hardware/cookware stores in Chinatown.
- Tongs: for mixing salads, grabbing spaghetti, and of course for grilling. Makesure to test them before you buy. Some are much easier to use than others.
- Food processor: Especially for pizza dough and slicing and chopping large amounts. For smaller amounts or very fine work, I use Benriner slicer, instead.
Thats’ about it. I have other tools and I barely use them… Growing up in Tokyo, and living in a relatively small house, I needed to be selective with my tools (and I love things that make things efficient and versatile. )
Please post what your must-have tools are, and why you can’t live without them. We can all benefit from each other’s expertese!