Guest post by Kristin Rugg Dovbniak. Have you met the faulous Chef Kristin yet? Check her out at her very own blog Cook Bake Nibble as well as here at our school for some awesome One-On-One Kitchen Coaching sessions.
I think every cook has those few items they just can't live without. The tools they use over and over again until they're worn out and practically falling apart. At least I know I do. I've gone through three Williams Sonoma high-heat silicone spatulas in the last two years, the last of which ended up burned, chipped, scarred and eventually, in two pieces. All out of love, of course. And my Global 8” Chef’s knife? It’s like an extension of my arm.
Here are the top ten kitchen tools I cannot live without:
1. Three good knives: A chef's knife, a serrated knife, and a paring knife.
A Chef’s knife- I think it’s really important to find a good knife that you feel comfortable using. Bigger does not mean better when it comes to a knife, you want to feel in control of your knife- not the other way around. Don’t be afraid to spend a little bit of money on a good knife- it’s worth it’s weight in gold and will pay for itself in no time. You want to find a knife that fits well in your hand and is sharp- slips and cuts don’t happen with sharp knives, they happen with dull ones. Try holding a few different knives before deciding which one feels best for you. You should be able to use a chef’s knife for everything in the kitchen, so a good one is essential.
A paring knife is important for smaller items- peeling, coring, slicing, any little jobs that are too intricate (or dangerous!) to use a larger knife fo.
A serrated knife is essential for slicing breads and cakes. Be careful not to use this with anything that might slip- it leaves a nasty cut! They come in many sizes, make sure you pick one that is large enough to slice a cake.
2. A whisk. Whisks are so important! They'll make fabulous salad dressings sans-blender, get the lumps out of all of your batters, smooth out sauces, whip you up some mayonnaise... get a whisk, and use it!
3. A microplane grater. One of my most favorite and most-used kitchen tools. Use it for zesting citrus, grating whole spices, mincing ginger and garlic. I use it every time I cook dinner, at least once. They're about $20 and worth every penny.
4. A bamboo cutting board. You need a good, sturdy cutting board for all your chopping needs. I like bamboo because it is sturdy, eco-friendly, doesn't warp easily and is fairly easy to clean. (Since i don't eat meat I don't have to worry about contamination, but if I did I would buy a separate plastic board to use for meat.)
5. A high-heat silicone spatula. I use spatulas so much in the kitchen. Everything from getting that last bit of smoothie out of my Vitamix, scraping sauce from a pan onto my dish, sauteeing onions and tempering chocolate. I like a medium-sized one because it is just the perfect size for getting into smaller spaces, but is big enough for larger tasks as well. Make sure you get one that is good for high heat up to 500 degrees- you don’t want to worry about melting plastic in your food! For a slightly lower heat, I use wooden or bamboo spatulas.
6. A good blender. I am a huge fan of my hand-me-down Vitamix and though I do use my Vita at least once every day (or five times a day if I'm doing a smoothie cleanse! ) I don't think you necessarily NEED one- you just need a high powered blender! I have friends who are big fans of the Blend Tec as well, and I got away with using a magic bullet for a while with no problem (as long as I didn't try to use ice- ack!). Buy one that’s within your price range but make sure it will stand up to daily tasks in the kitchen.
7. A Cast-iron skillet. These babies are fantastic. Heavy, but fantastic. Make sure to always keep it seasoned with a good oil and it will last you a lifetime. They hold a smooth, even heat for a long period of time and create the most perfect sear on vegetables, fish and meat. Use it for absolutely everything- it's oven safe so you can even bake breads and cakes in it!
8. Glass Mixing Bowls. I have a set of three clear bowls (small, medium and large). I use these for anything I need to stir or mix, and I end up washing them almost daily.
9. Kitchen scissors. Oh, what these scissors will do! From nipping herbs to slicing open bags, they get a lot of use around this kitchen.
10. Tongs. I use tongs almost as much as I use my spatula! I have two pairs and I really should have about ten. I use them for all sorts of dishes- flipping tofu while it's baking in the oven, turning vegetables so they get a perfect sear, tossing salad and much, much more. They’re inexpensive enough that you can get two or three to always have one clean for whatever you need to grab or turn.
So there you have it! My top ten must-have tools in the kitchen. Like my personal dishwasher (husband), morning green smoothie or Tweetdeck, I don’t know what I would do without them.
And now onto our kitchen-tastic giveaway...
Giveaway: Free One-on-one kitchen coaching session!
In honor of the beginning of the school year arriving soon, and the start of classes at Meghan Telpner Culinary Academy- including new one-on-one kitchen coaching sessions with Chef Kristin Rugg Dovbniak, Kristin has decided to giveaway one FREE kitchen coaching session of your choice at the Meghan Telpner Culinary Headquarters in downtown Toronto.
A little more about these unique one-on-one cooking skills classes: You choose the skills, and we will cover the rest! Choose from one of six culinary skills topics, choose your preferred date and time and we will meet for 90 minutes of culinary fun, including demonstrations from Kristin, hands-on skills training, samples and the opportunity to ask any questions you'd like, gaining oodles of cooking knowledge in less than two hours. Choose from: Knife Skills, Use Those Tools, Basic Cooking Methods for Healthy Meals, The Spice is Right, Stocks and Sauces and Skills for a Plant-based Kitchen. This incredible opportunity is a $140 value.
For a more detailed description of the sessions, check out the private services page.
How do you win?
You have SIX chances to win this giveaway, as it is being presented on both Kristin and Meghan's sites!
1. Leave a comment telling us WHY you need a private kitchen coaching session!
2. Follow Kristin (@kristinsnibbles) and Meghan (@meghantelpner) on Twitter- leave us a comment letting us know!
3. "Like" Kristin (Cook Bake Nibble) and Meghan (Making Love in the Kitchen) on Facebook- leave us a comment letting us know!
Contest open to Toronto area residents only as session will take place in Downtown Toronto. Contest closes Saturday September 10th. Get those entries in!