Cooking is faster, easier and a lot more fun when you have the right tools and accessories in your kitchen. Whether you are a novice just beginning to set up your kitchen or a more experienced cook upgrading your current space, here is a handy checklist of items to include.
1. High Quality Knives
A good set of high-carbon stainless steel knives can set you back quite a bit, but it’s a purchase you will never regret. A good, sharp chef’s knife will make quick work of chopping onions, dicing carrots, or mincing celery, while a good carving knife will cut razor-thin slices of meat. If you’re on a budget, an inexpensive stainless steel set is a good choice until you can afford high-carbon stainless steel knives.
While you’re at it, don’t forget a sharpening stone. Stainless steel knives will need sharpening more often.
You will need a blender for everything from smooth, creamy soups and dips to healthy flavourful sauces and smoothies. If you’re short on space, a one-cup blender, hand immersion blender, or food processor will come in very handy.
3. Small Refrigerator
There’s nothing worse than an oversized fridge stuffed with too much food. When you can’t easily see everything in your fridge, you just know that something is going to go bad. Keeping smaller quantities of perishable food means that you can aim for the freshest ingredients for your cooking.
Stainless steel pots with copper bottoms have an inner core made of copper that improves their heat conductivity. They are worth the investment and will last forever. A large, enameled Dutch-oven is great for anything that needs heavy searing followed by gentle cooking in the oven like a pot roast, chili or stew. You should also consider a 12-inch straight-sided sauté pan with a lid, and a large stock pot for big jobs like simmering meat scraps and veggies, along with a few smaller sauce pans.
Every kitchen needs at least three essential skillets: a 7.5 inch all-clad, a 10-inch copper-bottom with a lid, and an enamel-covered cast iron for cooking on the stove and finishing off in the oven.
For lasagnas and casseroles, a large high-quality glazed ceramic casserole baking dish is just the thing. They’re easy to clean and perfect for serving up tableside.
Don’t forget the rimmed baking sheets and cooling racks for everything from reheating frozen French fries to cookie-baking to doubling as a square pizza pan. They are inexpensive, so you will want to keep several of these around.
7. Cutting Boards
You will need several, both wood and plastic. Assign one just for onions and garlic, another only for meats, and another for veggies. That way, there won’t be a risk of transferring bacteria or strong flavours.
8. Instant-Read Thermometer
Even if you are an experienced cook, an instant-read thermometer will take the guesswork out of judging when the steaks on the BBQ or the prime rib roast you’re making for your new neighbourhood friends is cooked to perfection. It’s easy to be multi-tasking and miss setting the timer when the meat goes on. Make sure the thermometer is easy-to-read and shatterproof.
9. Electric Mixer
When it comes to whipping up cream cheese for that cheesecake you’re making for the family reunion, it is essential to use electric beaters. Either a hand mixer or a larger stand mixer will do. The smaller hand mixer takes up less room and is more portable, while the stand mixer needs a dedicated space on your counter.
10. Small Kitchen Accessories
Here are some of the small accessories welcome in a well-equipped kitchen:
- Lemon reamer for juicing lemons
- Micro-plane or hand grater for grating hard cheeses (like parmesan), citrus peel, ginger, etc.
- Tongs for handling all sorts of things like meat, pasta, and salads
- Good-quality vegetable peeler
- Set of wooden spoons for stirring everything from soups, sauces, to cake batter
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Last but not least, the best garlic press you can afford