Greetings, Tea Friends! This is the first official entry in the Chef’s Corner, where we will occasionally dedicate a corner of our newsletter to thoughts and things from the kitchen. I may share a recipe with you, some handy tricks and tips, or just a few thoughts for rumination with my fellow food and tea lovers. If you have a question or tip you’d like to see in this space, please let us know! I’d love to give you all a chance to peek behind the curtain, or fix that florentine with more confidence. Without further ado, let’s get to it! This installment is about the basics—the top 5 must have list for any kitchen. A few of my chef friends and I came up with a top 10 list, and these five were on everyone’s lists.
1. An instant read thermometer.
Food safety is very important. How do you know if that pork roast is done? I’ll tell you. You stick a thermometer in it. If you need to, look up proper temperatures, and make a fridge note
for yourself. Use it until it becomes habit. Your steaks (and digestive systems) will thank you. These also double for tea brewing thermometers and are just awfully handy.
2. A good 8-10″ chef knife.
Spend a little money on this, care for it properly, and life in your kitchen will be much, much better. I see so many people who want to cut an onion the size of a softball with a dull paring knife. Dull, undersized knives are recipes for stitches and hospital visits, along with frustration and poor results. I own an 8″ Henckel’s chef knife (I have small hands) and I could throw all the rest away. Seriously.
3. A good, heavy bottomed sauce pan of reasonable size (4-5 quarts).
Get at least one pan with a nice, heavy bottom. Heavy gauge stainless steel will work, but I prefer something clad. These usually look like they have an extra plate stuck on the bottom of the pan. (You can go expensive or thrifty, there are lots of choices. I have a set of Wolfgang Puck pans from Sam’s club that I love, and they were about $180 for a 12 piece set.) The layer in the middle helps to distribute the heat and the clad layers on the outside help retain the heat. It means you don’t have hot spots in the shape of the burner, and the pan is evenly warm all the way to the edges. This is critical for making things like custard or reducing sauces.
4. A good sauté pan.
I like the commercial ones you can buy at Gordon Foods for about $30, but anything with sloped sides and a reasonably heavy gauge metal is great. Don’t get a non-stick coating.
5. A 6 cup measure/batter bowl.
Useful doesn’t even begin to cover it- a pyrex one is even better!
There you have it! My top 5 must-haves for a kitchen. Happy cooking, and remember to have fun!