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:
Kitchen Essentials Video
Kitchen Essentials! Here is the only equipment you need to start cooking!
- 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.
- Knife. For a good “starter knife” I like this J.A. Henckels 8-Inch Stainless-Steel Chef’s Knife. It’s a good size and weight and keeps its edge well. If you have a little more money to spend, I really love this Wusthof 8-Inch Chef’s Knife. A bit heavier in the handle, with a sturdy blade, it is my go-to knife and will last you years and years.
- 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:
- 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.
- Sauce Pan with Lid Anywhere between a 2-3 quart size is great for all sorts of things from rice to, yes, sauces. Get a metal or Pyrex 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.
- 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.
- Break-Apart Kitchen Shears are great for snipping herbs quickly without getting out a cutting board, opening packages, and de-boning chicken. This particular set, I love because the blades separate for thorough cleaning.
- Finally, 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.