Hi friends... I've been working on this series of posts for a while but when I saw this article about the one trick ponies of the cooking world in the New York Times dining section, I knew I had to get on it.
As all (eight) of you know, I've been married now for almost 2 years.
This definitely makes me something of an expert. As you all know, I'm quite the domestic… except that I don't clean. Or do laundry… or really anything besides cook and leave a giant mess for my loving husband to clean up. While I'm not going to dole out marriage advice on this post (even though I know you're all just dying for it), I am going to offer some pretty solid tips on building a kitchen together from the ground up. I cook at least once every day so I have a good feeling for what we use and don't use (even if
I had a temper tantrum
in crate and barrel because I absolutely needed it we decided to put it on
the registry) on a regular basis.
I'm going to keep my suggestions pretty lean here because a. Ruhlman's done a great job and b. you really just don't need that much. This is especially true if you have a lot of awkward cabinet space and not a lot of quality counter space. A wise man once told me that nothing should be stacked on top of anything else unless what's underneath is exactly the same. Keeping that in mind, here are my suggestions for kitchen basics that use up limited storage space.
Pots and Pans
Yes… I will admit… the allure of a shiny new 12 piece cookware set is strong. But trust me... Avoid it. First of all, you are more likely to get all the pieces you want if they don't come in one giant $500.00 box and secondly, how annoying is it that the 3 lids that come in these sets are considered “pieces” (hint: VERY annoying).
I really recommend All Clad Stainless Steel cookware. It's a bit pricier but it is seriously worth the money as it will hold up well over time and you can get some good deals. It also has some heft to it so it will hold heat evenly.
All Clad 2 piece fry pan set.
All Clad Essential Pan
All Clad 6qt Deep Sauté Pan
All Clad Stainless Steel Soup Pot
(this place has some great pricing on all clad )
I'd say get either the Deep Sauté Pan or the Soup Pot if you don't have room or budget for all of these pieces.
I would also recommend two pieces of Cast Iron… A nice skillet (bonus, you can turn it upside down under your broiler and use it as the most effective pizza stone ever) and a Dutch Oven. These puppies are heavy and require a little extra care but they will last you forever. You will be handing them down to your grand kids fo sho.
Here are two great, inexpensive options… you can always go with Le Creuset or Staub if you’re fancier!
Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven
If you absolutely can't live without a nonstick pan, I recommend the Bialetti Aeternum Sauté Pans. We have recently acquired one of these after Bon Appetit Magazine recommend them and I have to say, they make my omelette making process significantly less f-wordy.
Here’s a perfect starter set from Wustof:
These knives can accomplish almost anything you need to do in the kitchen.
I have Shun knives. I have to say, they are beautiful AND amazing tools. I highly recommend them and I use multiple ones daily. Does everyone need a multi-piece knife set from Shun? No. Will the two piece starter set I just listed from Wustof do just fine? Yep! If you are constantly in the kitchen and cooking is one of your hobbies and you’d rather get knives than take a weekend trip somewhere then I would definitely suggest Shuns.
If you are not the person I just described then definitely stick with the Wustofs. I would maybe consider adding this Shun santoku to your collection though… it will make fast work of onions AND fingertips (I speak from experience here.)
My advice with knives is to take care of them. Hone them with steel regularly and take them to get sharpened at a local knife sharpener when they need them. Treat em well and they will last a long, long time.
One exception… I'm going to let you in on a secret. I have some other knives… knives that I use more often than my Shun. They're the sharpest effing knives I've ever used. and my 4 piece set cost me about 20 bucks… and I may or may not buy the paring knives in bulk… I hone them until the edge is worn down and then (carefully) toss them. They're thin but damn they're sharp.
Here's the deal though… if I tell you about them, you CANNOT buy them. If I try to go to the sketchy yahoo store and buy them next time and they’re sold out because my (eight) readers bought them all, I will be pissed. PISSED.
Here's the link What I would recommend you NOT buy from them is an 11” with a pointed end, an 11” with a blunt end, a 7.5” and the 13.5” cleaver. Don't do it.
Up Next: Cooks Tools and Big Ticket Items to round out your kitchen essentials.