Beyond the Basics: 10 Can't-Live-Without Items for a Cook's Kitchen

Beyond the Basics: 10 Can't-Live-Without Items for a Cook's Kitchen

Eleanor Büsing
Aug 31, 2012

We're all about setting up home on Apartment Therapy this month, and that includes kitchens and what goes in 'em. A few weeks ago we shared our essentials for a first kitchen, but what about when you're a little past that stage?

I'm a pretty serious foodie, and have a well-loved collection of cooking equipment to back up the claim. In fact, I'm pretty sure my mum sent me off to university with as much kitchen stuff as some people have in their first home (and I was living in a catered dorm). So I consider myself qualified to offer up a follow-up, of ten must-have items for a dedicated cook's kitchen:

1. Dutch oven
This enameled, cast-iron kitchen workhorse is great for making soups, stews and braises — even for baking bread.

2. Big, deep pot
You might think you'll never use one, but it's amazing how versatile a large stock pot can be. Great for making stock and soup, cooking spaghetti, and sterilizing jars for preserving. A 10 quart size works well for most households.

3. Electronic scales
Many North American cooks think baking by weight is a bizarre European convention, and snub the poor scale. But using a scale makes things quicker, easier and cleaner, not to mention opens up a whole new world of European recipes!

4. Immersion blender
Sure, blenders and food processors are great, but I'll take my handy (and easier to store) immersion blender any day. I use it for soups, smoothies, pestos, and even hummus.

5. Microplane
This king of graters makes quick work of citrus peel, garlic, ginger, nutmeg and parmesan cheese.

6. Silicone tools
Particularly, a great spatula (I like the double-ended ones) and a great pair of tongs. The former is for all manner of stirring, flipping and tasting, while the latter is great for carefully turning things in the frying pan, or tossing pasta with sauce. Silicone means that both clean up easily.

7. Coffee/Spice grinder
Ideally, you'll have two of these: one for your morning beans and one for spices, to avoid tastebud contamination. If you don't grind your own coffee or use spices often, one will do fine.

8. Large glass measuring jug
My 8-cup Pyrex jug gets used often, as a vessel for my immersion blender to make sauces in, a baking tool, and even as a mixing bowl. Particularly useful if you make a lot of soup.

9. Salad spinner
If you eat a lot of leaves, this is a must-have. I like to use mine for herbs, which are so much easier to cut cleanly when they're dry. The two lower pieces can also double as a colander and a casual serving bowl.

10. Dough Whisk
File this one under things you never thought you'd read here. It might look bizarre, but this item is perfect for stiff doughs and batters which you don't want to overmix- pizza, pancakes and muffins will never be the same.

What do you think of this list? Anything you firmly agree (or ardently disagree) with? Let us know in the comments below!

Pictured above:
1. Le Cruset
2. All-Clad
3. Salter
4. Sur La Table
5. Microplane
6. Bed Bath & Beyond
7. Bodum
8. Pyrex
9. Sur La Table
10. King Arthur Flour

The Kitchn's Guide to Essential Prep Tools & Utensils
The Kitchn's Guide to Essential Cooking Tools & Utensils
The Kitchn's Guide to Essential Cookware
The Kitchn's Guide to Essential Baking Pans
The Kitchn's Guide to Essential Small Electric Appliances
The Kitchn's "Setting Up a Kitchen" Archive

(Lead image: Leela Cyd Ross for The Kitchn, all others as linked above)

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