While I like to think of myself as a minimalist, and as someone who hates clutter, I’d be the first to admit that the right tools make such a difference in the kitchen – as anyone who’s ever tried to make chocolate mousse or meringues without an electric whisk will tell you. Yet there’s nothing so sad as an unloved doughnut maker or pasta machine, gathering dust on a shelf, possibly still in it’s original packaging, after the initial enthusiasm has worn off.
It’s a bit of a trade-off, trying to have all the tools you need while keeping storage space and money spent to a minimum (especially when you have a postage-stamp sized kitchen like mine). There’s no one definitive list of essential kitchen gadgets, because each cook has their own must-haves and level of tolerance for clutter.
But I thought it might be interesting to list my favourites over a couple of posts, maybe followed by a post about what I’d like, and what I deliberately don’t have. I wasn’t sure how to order the list (and to be honest, am writing this in the 30 minutes before Game of Thrones comes on, because I seriously cannot miss that) so I’m just going to jump straight in with five of my current favourite pieces of equipment, in no particular order. Some are basics, and some are probably a bit more esoteric – but I’ll try my best to justify them below.
Ok, I know, it goes without saying and is unbelievably clichéd, but it’s true. Cooking with a blunt knife is just sheer misery. You don’t need to spend a fortune (the one pictured below was a Christmas gift and I don’t think it was too expensive) and you don’t need a bunch of knives (I use this one about 90% of the time). If you’re pushed for cash, get one good sharp medium-sized knife and a bread knife, if you make your own bread. And don’t buy one of those sets in a block of wood – prioritise function over looks.
Heavy rolling pin
This probably seems like a bit of a basic as well, but I used to have rolling pin that had handles that stuck out wider than the shaft and so there was a gap of a few millimetres between the pin and the work surface, meaning that I couldn’t roll anything out thinner than that. I think the pictured pin cost about £4 from Amazon and it’s well worth it. Choose a pin without handles and better to buy a big one than small, as it’s more versatile.
This one’s probably a bit more unusual and it a relatively recent addition to my kitchen. It allows you to finely slice vegetables, much more thinly than you could by hand. I used it to slice the mushrooms for my pizza last week, for example, and to slice the ginger for my pickled ginger, something which I’d have really struggled with without it. I absolutely love it, but beware – it’s one of the more dangerous kitchen tools, so NEVER use it without the attached finger guard (spoken from experience).
I also got this as a Christmas present, and I don’t just love it because it’s pretty and red (but if you are going to get a hand blender, it might as well be red, right?). Before I had it, I had to blend soups in my jug blender, which meant letting them cool down, getting the blender down off the inconveniently high shelf it lives on, ladling it in and then having loads of washing up to do. Let’s just say I make blended soups way more often now.
See above re making chocolate mousse and meringues. Actually, I’ve never made meringues, but I like the thought that I could. Not sure what the curly attachment is for as I’ve never used that (perhaps to make meringues??) but I do use the whisk a lot, to whip cream, make mousse, make naans – I just don’t have the arm strength for using a normal whisk clearly.
That’s my list for now, but I’ll continue with some more favourites next week. What are your favourite kitchen gadgets? are you a minimalist, or do you like to fill your cupboards with stuff? And do you have any weird gadgets you swear by?