Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Favorite Kitchen Helpers

As a chef, I love all the tools, appliances, and gadgets! But as home chef and mom, I need things to work double duty! I try to avoid a gadget or tool that only does one specific thing, like a corn husker for example. While I love the idea of so many of them, I just don't have room in my kitchen for single purpose gadgets. I am often asked, what are my favorite tools, and here's my answer! This is a two-part post because I have more to share!

1.) A cast iron skillet is one of my favorite things to cook with! I feared them for a long time because of the cleaning and maintenance but let me tell you, it's not scary! I'll share a post on this soon. The fact that I can cook with this on my cooktop and then transfer to the oven is glorious. This is how restaurants achieve their famous crusts on seared meats and seafood and it's easy to replicate at home! If I had to use one pan for the rest of my days, it would be this one.

2.) I love to steam veggies and when making baby food for Graham, I steamed a ton of fruits and veggies! I originally bought a fancy baby food steam and puree appliance but ultimately returned it and purchased this steamer basket for just a few dollars. It has withstood the test of time and even took several beatings (make sure you have water in your pot when steaming-another story for another day!) with true resilience. I used to "steam" in the microwave with a bowl and a piece of plastic wrap but this is just as simple and easy to clean.

3.) I know, it's a luxury, but these enameled pots and pans are not only beautiful but they are so wonderful to work with. I bought this one with my very first bonus as a working 20 something and I've worked on my collection over the years for Christmas, Birthday gifts, and savings. I keep this out on my cooktop because it's just as much a piece of decor as it is cookware. I almost bought the smaller version but I'm so glad I made the investment for the larger size! For our wedding we registered for a really nice slow cooker and although it's easy for slow cooking (obviously) there is no comparison when we make the same slow cooked meals in the Le Creuset. The caramelization and reduction that happens inside that pot is pure magic and I use it as often as I can in the fall and winter for big batches of soups and slow braised meats. Good luck picking a color, they are all stunning! I've  stuck to the Indigo because it's a classic blue that goes with everything else in my kitchen but the options are endless!

4.) In culinary school we used wooden spoons for everything but in my own kitchen I love using silicone spoons. Of course, these are not as durable as wooden spoons, so consider this when using them. I wouldn't use this for scraping up crispy bits on the bottom of a pan, but yes to most everything else! I have a few gray spoons that have shown the test of time and this new white set that surprisingly doesn't stain as I had anticipated! The minis are perfect for baking, scraping up purees out of a food processor, or even cooking a small pan of scrambled eggs. I use both the small and large spatula on a daily basis. There are many options out there but I've had excellent luck with the ones from Williams Sonoma.

5.) I have to include this coffee maker because let's be honest, I run on coffee. I love this Nespresso machine because it's sleek and doesn't take up too much counter space. The coffee and espresso is delicious and it's so versatile for whipping up lattes, double shot espressos for my husband, or regular coffee (my drink of choice). Ours is a few years old so the frother is a touch different but I actually like the look of this one better than what we have. We have a Keurig and coffee maker as well, which we used to keep out as options but slowly we've switched to using our Nespresso machine exclusively and stored the others for future use. I look forward to the mornings when I can have my coffee and often make affogato for dessert with ice cream and decaf espresso. It's the perfect before bed treat! My favorite coffee for the Vertuo machine are Stormio, Melozio, Odacio, and Intenso. My husband likes the Diavolitto espresso but truthfully, we haven't had any that were bad by any means!

Stay tuned for my second installment of favorites!

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