My Kitchen Essentials

I started cooking professionally 10 years ago, and over the past decade there are a few tools that I've come to appreciate that make meal preparation a little easier. The truth is, you don't need a ton of fancy appliances to create delicious food—though there are some that are nice to have around. Here are a few of my essential kitchen tools (and a few things I dream of owning some day): IMG_7436

Wusthof 8-Inch Chef's Knife: Hands down, this is the tool that gets the most use in my kitchen. I never understood how important it is to have a sharp knife until I started working in restaurants, and for me, the 8-inch knife has the perfect heft while not being unwieldily. You really don't need a whole set of 10 knives—the only ones I use are my chef's knife, a serrated knife, and a small paring knife.

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Kitchen Tongs: I think these maybe cost $5 at a kitchen store in New York, but I use them for everything from tossing salads to stir-frying to serving pasta. These were another find from my restaurant days, and show that sometimes, the most utilitarian tool can be the most effective. I prefer 7-inch metal ones because they're easier to control and can be used on very hot pans or grills, but there are lots of silicone and metal options out there as well.

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Pan Rack: This is a new addition to my arsenal and happened to be already installed in our place when we moved in—lucky for me! In my old kitchens where storage was tight, pans were stored on the bottom shelves of cupboards, where they were hard to get at and awkward to remove. This rack ensures that they're always within easy reach, and I plan to have something similar in any future kitchens I have.

Wish List:

KitchenAid Stand Mixer: Classic for a reason, this workhorse of a mixer makes whipping up cakes, bread, and even meringues effortless. My handheld mixer works fine for now, but I'd love to have one of these some day.

BlueStar Range or La Cornue Range: As a renter, I've never gotten much choice when it came to appliances. Luckily our current place has a gas stove, but one day when I have my dream kitchen, it would be amazing to cook on a range like this one. BlueStar and La Cornue both hand-craft professional-grade stoves, and BlueStar in particular is a favorite of chefs and serious home cooks alike—plus you can choose custom colors!

VitamixAs someone who's had smoothie fall out of the bottom of an improperly screwed in blender multiple times, I appreciate a good one. Vitamix is always at the top of its category, and is said to be able to liquify whole vegetables with ease (which, incidentally, makes for healthier juice than a juicer because you get to have all of the vitamins in the pulp.) My friend Ariel swears by her Vitamix, and even pre-packages smoothie ingredients in her freezer to make mornings a little easier.

 

 

 

 

Before & After: Spice Rack

_MG_4488Sometimes I'm still amazed at what a little paint can do. As I've gotten older, I have become more and more of a fan of all-white spaces, even if they might not be very practical in my day to day life (I have, unfortunately been known to spill things every so often.) Someday when I have my own place, I will have a white kitchen with tons of light and marble countertops. But until that day -- since I can't change the generic wooden cupboards that seem to be in every New York apartment -- I'll have to update my kitchen in smaller ways. I had this wooden box from wine that seemed the perfect size to make a shelf, and since we are pretty limited on storage space, I thought it would be nice to display all of my various spices. And for a while, it got the job done. _MG_4977

But then the raw wood started to bother me, and I didn't like how all of the spice jars were different sizes and not all of them fit. I started looking for some spice jars but didn't want anything too pricy since this update was purely for aesthetics, and stumbled across these jars from Cost Plus World Market. At less than $1 apiece, they were within my budget and so far, I have been really happy with them. Sometimes, all you need is a little paint and a few matching items to make a big impact -- and I can keep dreaming of my ideal kitchen in the meantime.

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