Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Favorite Kitchen Helpers Part 2

My favorite things to cook with changes often, due to how I'm cooking and what season it is. But the everyday tools and gadgets that I can't rave enough about, are here in this helpful guide. Let's dive in!





1) A good cutting board is everything. I have two I use the most and could live with just them for the rest of eternity. I love the John Boos Block and how stunning it looks but also how durable it is. With minimal monthly maintenance it really is the best I've worked with. I keep it on my counter and use it all day every day. Every few weeks you need to oil it (this mystery oil they make is magical) to keep it from drying out or cracking. I also like this board, especially for raw meat/seafood because it's nonporous, low maintenance, and can be washed in the sink with soap and water. The well along the perimeter is great for catching any juice and is exceptionally nice for things like watermelon, slicing steak, or anything that would run off all over your counter! These two are my absolute favorites and always my go-to for gifting.

2) Knives are arguably the most important kitchen tool. They are truly something that should be picked out in person. You have to hold the handle and decide if it feels right for you. The weights of knives vary and you have to be comfortable holding it! At the end of the day, it doesn't matter which brand you choose, they just have to be sharp and cared for the right way to avoid injury. I learned the proper grip when I was in culinary school and it wasn't something I thought was important until then. There's a method to the hold for control and safety. All that to say, I love Shun knives. When I went knife shopping I gripped many and found the right fit in the Kaji line. They are comfortable, substantial without weighing me down, and look beautiful too. I've had mine for 4 years and they are still in excellent shape.

3) Tongs are great and there's plenty of options but I especially love the 12 inch with nylon coating. The longer handle keeps my hands safer from splatters and still provides good control. Most of my pots and pans are nonstick and I'm careful to keep them in good shape by not using anything that could jeopardize the coating. I also love the 16 inch stainless steel version for grilling. They close easily for storing, clean easily, and the nylon handle gripper keeps your hands protected from heat transfer. They are super inexpensive and last a long time! It says they are dishwasher safe but I tend to hand wash everything anyway.

4) A fish spatula is one of my favorites. Funny story, in culinary school each class we took the chef instructor advised us on tools that would be helpful to purchase outside of our knife kits. Our fish course obviously came with an advised fish spatula. When I went to Sur La Table to purchase the spatula, the metal version was much more expensive than the plastic and I somehow ended up leaving the store with the cheaper spatula and an ice cream maker...because...that seemed like a higher priority at the time. I wasn't successful with the plastic version (it melted) but this one has been used constantly since I wised up and bought a better quality. Here's why I like it. It's really lightweight and there's a slight bend to the spatula which creates an easier lift and flexibility that you just don't get with a regular spatula. I use this for flipping roasted veggies, burgers or beef cooked inside, roasted chicken, fish/seafood, and even on the grill for emergencies (falling apart salmon for example) but I try not to make a habit using it on the grill! I do not use this on nonstick pans or enameled cookware because it would scratch, but cast iron and baking sheets are fair game.

5) Ice cream scoops are commonly used outside the {ice cream} box and praised among many, but it still tops my list. I love to bake and aim to have a baked good on hand at all times, even if that means frozen cookie dough or cooked muffins. Although I love to bake, my flexible style of cooking doesn't always translate to success in that department. Having these scoops help to keep portions of batter more uniform and it's much simpler to work with than a spoon or free pouring. I have a large and small size and I use them much more often than I thought I would. Definitely a staple to have!

6) Baking sheets come in many shapes and sizes but I only have one style (a jelly roll pan) in two different sizes and feel complete with this lineup. I use them for the obvious baking tasks but also for one-pan dinners, roasted vegetables, and even cooking bacon. Often times, I line with foil first, and this helps with cleanup tremendously. Can you imagine cooking bacon and just lifting up the foil with all the grease and throw it out in one easy swoop...leaving the pan virtually clean? It's a real thing! Anyway, I have a half sheet and quarter sheet and am pleased with how well they hold up.


Did I miss anything? Let me know what your favorite tools are!




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