10 kitchen items I can’t live without
As is very clear from the existence of this blog, I love cooking. But only in my own kitchen. Or in a kitchen that is adequately equipped. But what makes a kitchen adequate? Whenever I cook in other people’s kitchens, it just never turns out quite right, and then I realised it’s because of these 10 items that I use in just about every recipe I make. I have even been known to carry some of these things with me when I go to a dinner party, as I just can’t imagine cooking without them! So here they are, in no particular order.
1. Betty Bossi Onion Chopper
Oh, Betty Bossi. You clever vixen. Before I had this miraculous contraption, I used to avoid cooking with onions, as I just couldn’t be bothered to chop them. And anybody who has seen me cook knows that I swear by this bright little item. No more tears! It chops not just onions, but garlic, ginger, carrots, fresh herbs… You name it, it’ll whirr the blades. I’ve even used it to mash potatoes for Cullen Skink!
Sadly, this is only available in Switzerland… but if you have any connections there, tell them to order it here.
2. Kitchen tissues / paper towels
This might seem trivial, but kitchen tissues make cooking so much easier! Whenever I peel or chop anything, I just put the scraps on a kitchen tissue so that I can then pick up the corners and throw it all away at once, minimising mess and avoiding finding spare scraps the next day. They’re also indispensable for wiping up any messes and drying off my fingers, and can be used to soak up excess water or fat from meat and cheeses.
3. Knives, serrated and non-serrated
I’ve read before that you should be willing to invest in good knives if you want to be a good cook. Well, mine cost around 4 Swiss francs (£3) and they remain the best knives I’ve ever used. Why? They’re Swiss! Victorinox, to be exact. I don’t know what I would do without them – whenever I use other people’s knives I get panicky. You see, the sharper the knife, the less dangerous it is, as you don’t need to use physical strength – all you need to do is guide it. With blunt knives, there is the danger of ‘sawing’, and the likelihood of slicing off your finger is all the higher! It’s also important to know which knife to use for what: serrated (the jagged one) is best for onions, tomatoes, lettuce and spring onions (love the sound it makes…) and non-serrated works well for cheese, meat, garlic, carrots and apples.
Depending on what you’re cooking, it’s essential (!) to have the right oil for the job. I use sesame and chili oil for East Asian food, vegetable/sunflower oil for Indian cuisine, olive oil for most Western dishes, and truffle oil for drizzling and general food happiness.
5. A rubber spatula
This is amazing for everything (except serving liquids). It stirs really well, catches everything, doesn’t peel at the edges, and mine is pink! They’re great for getting all the food out of your pan or bowl so that you can eat more! I got mine from John Lewis but you can find them anywhere, including Amazon.
6. Masala tin
Every good (Sw)indian must have one of these. My favourite part of it is the smell when I open the lid – sometimes I do that when I’m not even cooking, just to feel happy. Salt always goes in the middle, and the other spices I keep in there are ground cumin, ground coriander, garam masala, chilli powder, turmeric and whole cumin seeds. Particularly useful for Indian cooking, but also great when I want to make my mustardy vinaigrette! I got mine from India, but you also get it from Spice Kitchen UK.
7. Rice cooker
Just like I avoided onions before I got my onion chopper, I used to choose pasta over rice as it always seemed to get slightly stodgy, sticky or overcooked. But no more. Rice cookers aren’t just for making rice. The biggest benefit of them is that you can completely focus on the main dish that you are cooking without being distracted by a bubbling rice pan (which also takes up valuable stovetop space). I use this one, which holds up to 8 cups of rice and keeps it warm after it has finished cooking (no need to re-heat!).
8. Creole salt
This is one of the things I didn’t realise I needed until I had it. Thank you to the friend who sold it to me when she moved house – since I got it 6 months ago, I’ve used it for soup, hummus, smoothies and even to make Thai green curry paste! Like the rice cooker, the brand I have is Cookworks – you can buy it here. It’s a little pricy (my friend gave me a good deal), so try and get it second-hand if possible.
10. A trusty kitchen assistant!
This is usually my flatmate or my boyfriend, who are amazing at doing pretty much anything that my extra hands would do, if I had them. Whether it’s handing me what I need, doing some extra chopping or just engaging in conversation whilst I’m cooking, the food always tastes better when they’re around!
Do you agree with this list? What does yours look like?