A lot of people have asked me what they really need in their kitchen in order to cook. Some are moving into a new apartment, and some are moving into a new place in their life where they simply want to start cooking.
There are a few simple tools you need to get started, and why not do it this month, when inviting people in from the cold for a home-cooked meal is a ducky thing to do?
Your first assignment is to look through any knives you have. If you have some good-quality knives, they're probably dull – get them sharpened. Most kitchenware stores will do this for a small fee. Make sure the person sharpening your knives knows what they're doing. Many shoe-shine/key-making type joints offer knife-sharpening. Be very careful. Many a knife has been ruined this way.
Pots & Pans
Next, go through your pots and pans and get rid of any cheap aluminum pans that make you feel like you're camping, you know the ones.
If you're starting from scratch, or want to start over, this is what you need:
Newsflash: you don't need all the knives that come in those silly knife-blocks they try to sell you at Bed Bath & Beyond and Macy's. Don't fall for it! It's clutter. All you really need to get started is an 8"-10" chef's knife and a good sharp paring knife. But don't skimp – your knife should last many years.
I like Henckels' Four-Star series because the handle is a little soft and it fits my hand well. Most professional Japanese knives are also good. Trust me, you want a sharp knife. And that means two things: buying a sharp knife, and keeping it sharp.
Do yourself a favor and buy a nice 10" sauté pan and a good 3 or 4-quart saucepan.
Just start there, and see how you like it.
I use All-Clad's Master Chef line, which has the brushed aluminum exterior. It's not fussy, it's heavy-duty, and it's relatively inexpensive for a good-quality professional-grade piece of cookware. The best prices I've seen are at Cookware & More – if you don't mind very minor blemishes on the pans. Prices are deeply discounted. A Master-Chef 10" frypan (skillet) is $57 - retail is $85.
If you don't want to buy your pans online, and you live in NYC, go to:
I avoid places like Williams-Sonoma and Crate & Barrel; why not support the little guy? – it's in line with cooking at home, buying organic, and eating slowly. Both Broadway Panhandler and Bridge Kitchenware are family-owned businesses that have been in the city for years. Their staffs are knowledgeable.
Both stores also have great knife departments, and the Broadway Panhandler offers inexpensive knife-sharpening.
Get ready… you're set… it's time to start cooking.
What can you cook with two knives and two pans? Write us! It's that time of year! skgr