If you can't see the bottom of your kitchen-gadget drawer but still don't have the basics, Caroline Roessler reveals what you need.
How is it that your kitchen drawers and cupboards are bursting but you don't have what you really need? Here's a guide to what's actually useful. P.S. It's not about mod cons, just the things that serve a purpose.
Chef's knife A chef's knife will become one of the most-used utensils in the kitchen as it's perfect for cutting meat and vegetables as well as chopping herbs. The knife's blade should be between around 20-30cm long (try a number of sizes in your hand and see which one you feel most comfortable with). This is something you don't want to scrimp on as a good knife will last you years and make cooking easier and much more enjoyable.
Paring knife A paring knife is typically between 6-10cm and is used for delicate procedures such as peeling and coring fruit, deseeding chillies or creating garnishes.
Serrated knife A serrated-edge knife is ideal for cutting bread.
Carving knife A carving knife is similar in size to a chef's knife but the blade is slimmer, making it easier to cut thin slices of meat, such as a roast or ham.
Sharpening steel A long rod with a safety handle used to sharpen knives by creating friction along the blade. There's a knack to using them properly, so don't be afraid to ask someone to demonstrate.
Pots and pans
Stockpot Stockpots can be used for stocks, soups or boiling pasta. When buying, there are two main things to consider:
Size - A larger stockpot will be more versatile than a smaller one as it's easy to cook a small amount in a larger pot, but impossible the other way around. Make sure your pot will also fit comfortably on your cooktop without overcrowding other burners or elements.
Structure - A good stockpot needs a thick base. This will prevent food sticking to the bottom and burning. Check for solid handles that will withstand lifting heavy weights, and make sure you buy one with a lid.
Two saucepans One large, one small. A larger saucepan is invaluable for boiling vegetables such as potatoes, while a smaller saucepan can be used for boiling eggs or milk. Choose saucepans with a heavy base.
Frying pan The biggest choice to make is whether you want a non-stick or traditional pan made of cast iron, aluminium or copper. Non-stick pans require very little oil to cook with and are easy to clean, but they lose their effectiveness after a while and need to be replaced. They also need utensils specifically designed not to scratch the non-stick surface. Traditional frypans will last a long time but need more cleaning and generally more oil to ensure food doesn't stick.
Cast-iron enamel pot Also known as Dutch ovens, these are great for cooking casseroles or other slow-roasting dishes and they can be used on a cooktop or in the oven. The cast iron distributes heat evenly and also stays hot longer, keeping the food inside warm. Such pots are available in a number of colours and can be taken from the oven straight to the table for serving.
Spatula; sifter; rolling pin.
Cake Pans Recipes often call for a specific sized baking pan. While you can generally get away with a slightly smaller or larger pan than is asked for, it's wise to have two pans of different sizes. A 23cm and a 30cm pan are a good start.
Notebook: - July 2010 , Page 160
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