If you know me, it’s no secret that both Andrew and I spend a lot of time in our kitchen. We love to try new recipes, whip up old favorites and challenge ourselves to recreate a meal from our travels. Theme food nights have always been big in our home! The lack of travel for 2020 has made themed nights even more important to us. We don’t have the biggest or the best kitchen but we know our way around it!
Here are our must haves in the kitchen, in case you need to prep for the holidays!
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- Old School Cast Iron
We have quite the collection of cast iron cookware and they are some of the most used items in our kitchen. Cast iron is one of the best cooking products on the market. If you’re searching from something eco-friendly that will last a lifetime, cast iron pans should definitely be in your kitchen. Our collection is old and well seasoned. Many pans come pre seasoned but they have a bumpy texture which makes them not as nonstick as they should be. Andrew found a way to fix that with a newer skillet that we were gifted! You need to sand it down, bake it on the clean cycle and then re-oil. It may sound a little ridiculous to have to season something that comes “pre seasoned” but trust me it’s worth the little extra effort.
2. Carbon Steel Skillet
This is Andrew’s new favorite go to pan and we can thank Alton Brown for this one. We have some pretty wild Friday nights around here! One of them consisted of a Good Eats marathon….we’re so wild and out of control. Alton did a whole episode on eggs and he used a carbon steel skillet, his eggs just slid off the pan. Carbon steel pans are a favorite of chefs because, like cast iron, they are non-stick without a coating. They can also take very high heat and heat quite evenly. Carbon steel pans are lighter and more traditionally pan-shaped than cast iron pans, making them a bit easier to use.
3. Microplane Grater/Zester
A simple microplane is a great tool to have in your kitchen. It doesn’t take up a lot of space and is surprisingly versatile. You can use it for fresh grated parm on your pasta, zested lemon in your sauces, fresh nutmeg in your apple crisp(smells so good), or finely grated garlic for a garlic butter spread.
4. A Good Chef’s Knife
I would always use a paring knife whenever I was chopping up veggies or meat for dinner and it would take me for-ev-er. I was just never comfortable with large knives. Andrew picked up a German style chef’s knife when we were in NYC years ago, it’s been his favorite knife since. It definitely makes short work of veggie prep! Fun fact: As long as a blade is well maintained aka sharpened you are less likely to cut yourself. Dull knives cause more injuries than sharp ones. The more you know.
5. KitchenAid Stand Mixer
If you’re a baker like me, this kitchen standard is a lifesaver. I can’t even tell you how many cakes, whoopies, breads and pies have come out of this little 5 quart mixer! I also love that it can bring pop of color to your kitchen. The amount of the attachments you can get for this one appliance is amazing. We have the pasta, meat grinder and sausage attachments, all have worked out great. We bought a friend the juicer so that may be next one our list.
6. Cuisinart Food Processor
When I have big chopping jobs to do…especially around the holidays I really rely on this heavy duty kitchen tool. I swear it weighs more than my stand mixer! It’s great for whipping up a quick salsa, hummus or just evenly dicing veggies. It pulverizes graham crackers into the perfect pie crust consistency is seconds. So much easier than putting the crackers in a bag and trying to crush them with rolling pin or a hammer. (I’ve done both and it usually ends with my ripping the bag and crumbs everywhere).
7. Le Creuset
We love anything French in this house and kitchenware is no exception. Le Creuset enameled cast iron is not only beautiful but it’s amazing to cook in. It brings a pop of color to your stovetop and makes any dish look extra special. We have this dutch oven and the signature braiser, they may be a bit pricey but you get what you pay for.
8. Sous Vide Precision Cooker
Sous vide, which means “under vacuum” in French, refers to the process of vacuum-sealing food in a bag, then cooking it to a very precise temperature in a water bath. This cooking technique utilizes precise temperature control to deliver consistent results, like restaurant quality results. It’s makes having a salmon dinner on a Monday night less stressful when all you need to do is throw the fish in a bag with some herbs and forget about it until the device beeps. There are many things that you can make with this device! Yogurt, desserts (think creme brûlée), eggs, and we’ve cooked almost every type of protein this way. It comes out perfect each time.
9. Digital Kitchen Scale
When we got one of these I didn’t realize how much I would use it. A lot of the recipes that I bake have the amounts in grams and come to find out it’s the most accurate way to bake. There is always room for error when filling a measuring cup but when it comes to weight you are almost always on the money.
If you are great with a knife, a good mandoline will still probably speed things up in your prep. And if you’re less than great with a knife in your hand, it can help you make perfect slices — even paper-thin ready for the fryer potatoes! Make sure that you wear safety no cut gloves when using your mandoline, the blades are super sharp and you’re moving so quickly that accidents can definitely happen!
**Bonus** Really Good Cookbooks
I’m a book lover and cookbooks are essential in our kitchen. There are a million cookbooks out there and we probably own at least 50 plus we have a file of printed recipes from the internet but there are a few that we always come back to. How to Cook Everything, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Rustic French Cooking Made Easy, and So Sweet are the most well loved, covered in stains cookbooks in our kitchen. We’ve given several of them as gifts and they are always well used.
Well, there you have it our most used kitchen items. You may have noticed that I don’t have any uni-tools listed, tools that are for one purpose only. Our kitchen is not the biggest so we’re really careful about what we buy and we seem to be doing alright without an avocado slicer.
What are your favorite kitchen tools? I’m looking for holiday gifts 🙂