Food is absolutely central to human culture and memories.
It takes little more than the scent of certain spices or a roast to move us back to a holiday or event; a meal is more than sustenance, it is the sum of everything that comes with it.
Many of us revel in spending time in the kitchen, creating the perfect meal or bake to share with friends, family or colleagues. And whilst many a tasty treat comes from the simplest of kitchens, having the right tools in place can enhance both the food and your enjoyment.
So, here are my top ten kitchen essentials:
1. A quality set of knives.
Ask any chef and they will tell you that their knives are the most important thing in their kitchen. In fact they’re often treasured to the point that the knives follow the chef home, lest they leave them in the hands of their colleagues! If you do take the plunge and invest in a quality set of knives, have you thought about how they should be stored? Throwing them in the drawer could lead to sliced fingers and will likely blunt the blades quicker. Check out The Kitchn for some useful tips on storage.
Looking to treat yourself, or someone else, to some new knives? BBC Good Food has a handy guide to purchasing the perfect set.
2. A cast iron casserole dish.
For me, my kitchen would be woefully incomplete without one. I use mine for all sorts of tasks, from stove top soups and chili-con-carne to baking of the perfect sourdough (it mimics the water injections of commercial bakery ovens which help create the perfect crust) – it’s so versatile.
You really don’t need to spend a huge amount of money to get a decent pot either, I bought mine from a supermarket sale last year for around £15. Significantly cheaper than well known alternatives, which are priced at more than £100.
3. A food processor.
I personally have a more expensive food processor, which whilst pricey holds its value incredibly well (I bought mine second hand). As well as dicing, it’ll grate, beat, mix and help you create the perfect pastry in next to no time.
4. A DAB Digital Radio.
Whilst a kitchen is the perfect time to relax, I’ve been grateful for the company of the radio, especially during late night sessions on Christmas Eve. Nothing beats singing along to Christmas tunes to get you set for the day ahead.
5. An oven thermometer.
Relying on the thermostat of any oven, old or new, can make a fool of the best cook! Don’t get caught out, invest in an oven thermometer which will give you confidence when following recipes, and save potential blushes.
An oven thermometer is the cheapest thing on this list, but if you’re baking new recipes regularly, it may be the most valuable.
6. A slow cooker.
I have to admit, one of my colleagues would not be best pleased if the slow cooker did not place as a must-have in the kitchen, and rightly so. A slow cooker can create the most beautiful tender meat dishes with minimum effort. My slow-cooker favourites include beef goulash and a wonderful dal. There are a huge number of possibilities using the slow cooker, and one of my colleagues shares her slow cooking adventures on twitter.
7. A pizza stone.
The stone crisps up your base, and makes your home made pizza equivalent to the wood fired pizza that restaurants can offer. It can do more than just pizza though, check out this blog for some other possibilities.
8. A hand blender.
A hand blender is useful when making soup and a great alternative to using a food processer. My tip would be to look for one that comes with a mini chopper which means you have something for small jobs rather than using a food processor every time. I frequently use mine to blitz up homemade pesto.
9. A pan pouring spout.
There is nothing worse than having a lovely sauce or gravy spill all over the work surface. An attachable spout for your pans will help ensure that spillages are a thing of the past. At under £5, it would undoubtedly be money well spent.
10. A good set of scales.
Getting your measures right when baking can be the difference between brilliance and catastrophe. Getting a good set of scales may help to spare your blushes. BBC Good Food has the low down on some choices.
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