Friday, May 11, 2007

In the Kitchen With....

In this week's New York Times column, The Minimalist*, Mark Bittman offers his advice on how to equip a kitchen to handle almost any cooking requirements -- without breaking the bank. Since I'm in the market for some new pots, I read the article with interest.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I have a fairly well-equipped kitchen. All I need to round it out are some pots and one or two other items, like a mandoline (even though Bittman considers this among "the almost luxury items") and a whetstone for sharpening knives (something I've been meaning to invest in for a while since my chef's knife is woefully dull.)

A must-have item that I don't have and don't plan to buy is a food processor. I recently bought a KitchenAid 5 qt. Artisan stand mixer -- considered a "can live without" item in Bittman's view -- and love it. So I'll make do. My recent cookware research led me to Cuisanart as an affordable, quality option for pots. Now I think I'll head to Bowery Restaurant Supply, as suggested in the article, to pick up what I need. I'll report back when I give those items a test run.

Here's the list of recommended essentials. How many are in your kitchen?

1, 3 and 7 qt. saucepans
Pot cover for these
10" nonstick frying pan
14" steep-sided skillet with handles
13"x18" sheet pan
Nonstick loaf pan
Roasting pan
1-1/2, 3 and 5 qt. mixing bowls
Measuring cup
6" strainer
14" aluminum colander
Wooden spoons
Slotted spoon
13" solid spoon
Bread knife
8" chef's knife
Paring knife
Heat-resistant spatula
9" tongs
12" whisk
6 oz. ladle
12"x18" plastic cutting board
Instant-read thermometer
Can opener
Japanese mandoline
Microplane grater
Salad spinner
Food processor
Coffee/spice grinder
Measuring spoons

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May said...

would it surprise you that we've got it all(or a close approximation) except the Mandoline?

Theresa said...

Funny - I also have everything, including the mandoline (which gets used about once every 10 years)! Well, I don't have a whetstone, it's on my shopping list, but I have an old-fashioned sharpening steel, one my father used. From my reading, the really good knives I now have should be sharped by a whetstone, not an iron, hence it's on my list.

I, of course, can't live without my food processor. I use it more than just about any other appliance in my kitchen, except the microwave. I even hive a mini-model for small chopping jobs.

Anonymous said...

I'm like Theresa, I have a sharpening steel and also an electric knife grinder (Chef's Choice, Christmas present.)

My frying pan is cast iron and my loaf pan is stick (as opposed to nonstick.) I also think you need at least 2 loaf pans.

Measuring cup - 2 for liquid (1 1-cup 1 2-cup) and a set for solids.

What's a skimmer? I use a large spoon. We just got tongs after watching a lot of Alton Brown and I don't know how we lived without them. They're the spring kind with rubber on the grips.

No instant-read thermometer, no mandoline. What's a Microplane grater? I have the square kind that stands up and also a little one that goes flat over a bowl. I used to have a coffee grinder but got rid of it. Ditto the salad spinner. I have 2 food processors (one big one tiny) but don't use them much.

I would add (for bakers) a jellyroll pan (I like it for cookies); an 8" square pan for bars, brownies, etc.; a muffin pan (useful for muffins and cupcakes); a pie pan or two (they're nice for toasting nuts and breadcrumbs too); etc.


Anna van Schurman said...

I'm missing the heat resistant spatula (but I keep meaning to get one!) the mandoline, the microplane grater (but my six sided does have a reasonable equivalent), a whetstone and a salad spinner.

Of course, last Sunday was the first time I've been in the kitchen for ages! (Using a tube pan)