As I test my way through recipes for a new book (more on that later), I realize that I have essential and indispensable tools in the kitchen that make life easy, making cooking extra fun, and make food delicious. They’re often simple things, but they’re essential and I thought it was time to give you an update. Here’s a dozen essential kitchen tools I can’t live without.
My first list of essential tools are tongs, fish bone pullers, strawberry hullers, a small “spider” for skimming everything out of boiling water, from blanched vegetables to pasta. Multi-sized ladles, and a wide vegetable peeler are vital, and of course copper pots are nice to have. And don’t forget the hearts and little messages. They make everything taste better.
You may not think of them as essential kitchen tools but tasting spoons are so handy – these sit near the stove and go into sauces, soups, stews, custards, jam…anything that needs a quick taste to get it right. My favorite are wood spoons handmade in Konya, in Turkey. They don’t absorb flavors, they do get just the right amount. Any soupssoup spoon do, though.
I can’t cook without pastry brushes. They work for brushing egg glaze on a tart, brushing butter or oil on fruit or vegetables before they hit the grill, brushing flour off of pastry before filling it, brushing bread with oil before toasting it…and then there is the Peugeot pepper grinder. It is a lifetime investment that won’t let you down. The pepper inside? Voatsiperify, from Madagascar, the very best.
Chopsticks and miscellaneous wooden utensils come in handy all the time. Somehow, a chopstick is the perfect tool for stirring chocolate, mixing spices into rice, breaking up pasta in water. And all those spoons – they’re for mini tastes of everything and the wooden spreaders work for making sure that jam is smooth on the bottom of the tart, or the chicken liver pate is perfectly presented, or the aioli looks just right in the bowl.
LEARN THE TECHNIQUES FOR USING ALL THESE TOOLS PLUS OTHER FRENCH COOKING TECHNIQUES AT COOKING CLASS IN LOUVIERS.
Finally, a big mortar and pestle is indispensable in my kitchen. I use it to make pesto, aioli, hummus, spice mixtures for marinating meat and poultry, nut butters. I love looking at it too, it’s regal.
If you have a mortar and pestle, here is a great pesto recipe from Nuts in the Kitchen (William Morrow, 2010).