So many times, people have asked me, “Hilah, what’s the secret to cooking great eggs?” or, “Hey, Hilah, how can I make perfectly julienned carrots?” or “Hey Mami, can I get in your jeans?” and the answer is always, “Get some good equipment.”
Here’s the elemental items of any kitchen, in my opinion
- 8-Inch Cast Iron Skillet Once well-seasoned , a cast iron skillet will be your best friend in the kitchen. Durable as hell, oven and grill-safe, smooth as silk, and very affordable — cast iron is my all-time favorite cookware.
- Chef’s Knife I like this Santoku style knife from Henckels. It’s a good size and weight, keeps its edge well, and Henckels is just a quality brand in my opinion.
- Stockpot with Lid A big pot has many uses. Boiling pasta, making soup and chili, even canning if you’re ever curious to try that
- Go ahead and get a sturdy metal spatula (or “turner”) like this since we’re not messing around with those non-stick sissy skillets. With a spatula you can flip pancakes and grilled sandwiches, turn steaks and chicken, and toss things around in a stirfry.
- Cutting Board I strongly recommend a large wooden cutting board as opposed to glass or plastic and I’ll tell you why. Wood looks better longer, is easiest on your knives, and no matter what you’ve heard, it does not harbor bacteria from food prep. Glass cutting boards wreak havoc on your knife edge, and are dangerously slick. Plastic ones just look bad, sorry.
Some “next-steppers” items I find extremely useful are:
- Sauce Pot Anywhere between a 2-3 quart size is great for all sorts of things from rice to, yes, sauces. Get a metal or glass bowl that fits nicely inside it and you have yourself a double-boiler which is helpful if you ever want to melt chocolate or make a Hollandaise sauce like a fancy person.
- Locking Tongs I seriously use these every day for turning meat in the skillet to tossing a salad or a stirfry. These are also indispensable for safe deep-frying. Of course if you want dangerous deep-frying you’d just use your hands.
- A Big Spoon and a wooden spoon or two are great for not only stirring that sauce you made, but also serving it. Maybe a ladle, too, if you make a lot of soups.
- Paring Knife A little paring knife is the safest way to stem strawberries and other tasks that require precision and not cutting your finger off.
- Bread Knife If you like to bake bread, or buy unsliced bread or bagels a heavy, serrated knife like this is gonna come in handy.
- Finally, Kitchen Shears are great for snipping herbs quickly without getting out a cutting board, opening packages, and de-boning chicken.
- Also, get a Colander if you like making pasta. Of course, you can always strain it by just cracking the lid a smidge and pouring the water out but that’s a good way to burn the hell out of yourself and accidentally dump your pasta all down the drain.
The LEARN TO COOK Book is Here!
By popular demand, Learn to Cook is now available in print! Over 300 pages of knowledge between two soft covers.
Learn To Cook is designed to get you cooking for yourself like a civilized human being! Drawing from a lifetime of cooking and over two years experience making instructional cooking videos, author Hilah Johnson has produced a beginners’ cookbook for today’s young adults. The casual, straightforward style will appeal to anyone with a sense of humor and the focus on fresh, simple recipes will appeal to anyone who loves to eat. The book includes chapters on menu planning, knife skills, grocery shopping and more, plus a comprehensive spice chart and over 150 recipes from breakfast to dinner to snacks in between.