10 March 2009

Buying Kitchen Essentials

Years ago when I had to make decisions about what to buy for the kitchen (our very small kitchen), what we HAD to have, and what we could live without I would have loved to have come across a comprehensive list of the essentials. Rule #1: Purchase the best you can afford and take care of it so that you may never have to purchase it again. (at least until it wears out) Purchase knives that feel good in your hand. All are not created equal. This is one area where I wish I had splurged long ago. Cookware that is substantial and heats evenly is important. I'm not a fan of the lesser expensive non-stick cookware as it always has to be replaced before long. Utensils that are sturdy and well-designed are better than plastics that are flimsy or trendy utensils. For example, I have some of those super cute rubber spatulas that have cupcakes and holiday designs printed on them, found in upscale kitchen stores. They were fun for awhile until I ran them through the dishwasher several times and now the rubber top doesn't stay on the wood handle.

Here is what I recommend for a well stocked kitchen:

FOR BAKING
Essentials:
* 8 x 8 inch pan
* 9 x 13 inch pan
* 10 inch pie pans, heavy aluminum, ceramic or glass
* Cooling racks
* Cookie sheets
* Jelly-roll pan or (half -sheet pan)
* Loaf pans
* Muffin tins
* Bundt pan
* Stainless bowls, various sizes
* Pastry or bench scraper

For the serious Baker:
* Ramekins in various sizes
* Gratin dishes in various sizes
* Cake Pans in various sizes 6, 8, 10 inch round and square
* Cake Plate(s)
* Silpat (one for each half sheet pan)
* Mini muffin tin
* Copper sugar pot
* Spring form pans
* Tart pans with removable bottoms, various sizes

FOR COOKING
Essentials:
(All-Clad, Mauviel, Le Creuset)

* Stainless steel saucepans in various sizes
* Stainless steel fry pan
* Stainless steel saute pan
* Cast Iron Skillet (Lodge)
* Heavy roasting pan
* Heavy enameled Dutch oven
* Enameled or stainless stock pots for stock, tomato sauces and soups

For the serious Cook:
* Non-stick frying pans, 6” and 10”
* Wok pan
* Copper, stainless steel sauté pans and bowls for crepes and soufflés

DINNERWARE & SERVE WARE
Essentials:
* Serving platters in various shapes and sizes
* 8 - 3 piece place settings (bowl, salad/tapas plate, dinner)
* Flatware
* Glassware, including wine glasses

For Serious Entertaining:
* 3-Section serving dish
* Handled soup tureen with ladle
* Large serving bowls

ELECTRICS
Essentials:
* Electric hand mixer (Kitchen Aid is the only way to go)

Great to Have:
* Food processor (Cuisinart or Kitchen Aid)
* Blender
* Electric stand mixer (Kitchen Aid is the only way to go)
* Coffee grinder (for grinding spices, nuts and more)
* Immersion Blender (another awesome gift from my fiance)

KNIVES
Essentials:
(Wüsthof- now my favorite because of the paring knife my fiance bought me at Christmas)
* Paring knife
* 8 or 10-inch chef's knife
* Boning knife
* Serrated bread knife
* Slicing knife
* Diamond steel for knife sharpening

Great to Have:
* 4-inch paring/utility knife
* Tomato knife
* Tapered paring knife
* Santoku

EVERY KITCHEN MUST-HAVE
Essentials:
* Rolling pin
* Measuring spoons (best quality are more accurate)
* Measuring cups, dry and wet (best quality are more accurate)
* Bowls of various sizes
* Parchment paper
* Wooden spoons
* Vegetable peelers
* Scissors
* Cotton kitchen string or twine
* Pastry brushes
* Strainer
* Fine mesh sieves of various sizes
* Colander
* Metal spoons with and without holes
* Ladle
* Whisks of various sizes (even a tiny one)
* Spatulas
* Box grater for hard and soft cheese
* Corkscrew
* Mandoline
* Digital instant-read thermometer
* Microplane zester
* Tongs (more than one pair)

Great to Have:
* Soufflé dishes of various sizes
* Food mill
* Pasta machine or attachments for Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer
* Baking stone for bread baking and pizza-making
* Pizza peel
* Mortar and pestle
* Salad spinner
* Skewers
* Small Asian sauce bowls (lots of condiment uses for these)
* Batter Bowls
* Olive/cherry pitter

6 comments:

TonyM said...

Phew! Helpful list. Being somewhat addicted to buying kitchenware I am relieved to find I have most of this!

Carmela said...

Welcome to foodie blogroll.

What a great list, it should be given to every bride-to-be before she registers for her wedding and shower gifts. She will end up with a perfectly outfited kitchen.

Buon appetito,

Carmela

Sarah Herman said...

I agree with all the items on the list, and have almost all ( except cherry pitter)! However the item that I think is MOST important in the kitchen is a great set of knives! I personally have global knives but buy what feel most comfortable to you! What a lovely site, good luck with your business.

Melanie said...

Tony- I added an immersion blender to the list today. I got one last year and really love it. (It's a Viking)

Melanie said...

Carmela,
First of all, I love your name. My best friend's name is Carmela Dawn. And, yes, I would have loved to have had this list years ago. I'm a bride-to-be once again but we won't be registering for gifts. : (

Melanie said...

Sarah-
I agree completely about the knives. I added an immersion blender to the list today. Thanks for the well wishes!