My mother tells me all the time, "Don't spend money on really nice things for your kitchen before you're married!" I understand why she gives thing warning, but I have to say, there are a number of must-haves that every newbie chef should have in his or her kitchen. Below I've compiled a list of the top 5 must-haves that I feel are necessary in any kitchen. These items will get you through just about any recipe - cooking or baking. Perhaps in the coming weeks I will do an additional post, "I Have a Little More Money to Spend of My Kitchen...".
Take a look at what I feel every young chef should have on hand. Let me know, is there something that you cannot live without in your kitchen?
- Chef's knife: Be sure to get a size that fits you! Generally these knives will come in two different sizes, large for larger individuals, small for smaller. This may be an additional items, but it is smart to have a good durable plastic or resin cutting board that you are able to put in the dishwasher. It'll help make the clean-up easier!
- Spices and herbs: This is an absolute must for cooking. A few staples to have on hand at all times would be: basil, cayenne, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, rosemary, sage and thyme. Spice mixes can be a great item to have on hand as well, take a look at Cajun seasoning, Chinese five spice blend, herbs de Provence and Italian seasoning.
- Dutch oven: I myself just got a dutch oven for my birthday. More and more I am seeing that slow is the way to go with cooking these days. There is nothing better on a cool fall or winter day than some comfort food for dinner. Be sure to season your dutch oven and remember, this may take time. In fact, my mother now has my grandmother's dutch oven and it cooks beautifully.
- Pans: You should have one excellent nonstick small skillet for eggs and crepes, a large pot for pasta, and then regular sized pots for multiple uses. Having a variety of shapes and sizes will give you options when cooking different components of meals - sauces, pasta, reductions.
- Baking sheets: Preferably not dark sheets - these are coated with teflon and generally nonstick. While they may be great for the occasional baker, they bake fast and may not be true to time or temperature. Instead, go with plain metal stainless steel sheets. Have a ready stock of parchment paper and use the sheets for baking or broiling.