Setting up a home kitchen from scratch CHANGING PERSPECTIVES-a new world is emerging!
The aftermath of the COV19 crisis is more likely to see us spending a great deal more time in our own home kitchens. As we are faced with looking at life from a totally different perspective, we may well find ourselves in a more self-fulfilling realm. My aim is to guide and mentor the home cook in all aspects of their newfound lives and to promote a healthy lifestyle. Most important of all to have fun and save money!
We may all look back and say “what have we been missing?”
Setting up a home kitchen:basic kitchen tools and equipment
CHEF KITCHEN KNIVES-you are more likely to cut yourself with blunt ones!
First and foremost, in my view, comes the subject of chef kitchen knives
“Why are most of us so woefully uninformed about our chef kitchen knives? We are intimidated by our knives when they are sharp, annoyed by them when they are dull, and quietly ashamed that we don’t know how to use them with any competence. For a species that has been using knives for nearly as long as we have been walking upright, that’s a serious problem”
There are many quality kitchen knife brands encompassing forged kitchen knives types.
My suggestion is a middle of the range set of three Victorinox kitchen knives comprising 1 chefs knife, 1 paring knife and a bread slicer. The latter does not necessarily have to be as expensive as Victorinox brand though. Being serrated it cannot be sharpened with a sharpening steel rod and they seldom get blunt anyway
The sharpening steel rod is the only implement to be used for proper knife care. Those little grinding gadgets should be avoided as they ultimately ruin the knife.
The reason that a knifes cutting edge becomes dull is that microscopic steel shards get out of alignment. The act of gently stroking the blade at the correct angle on the sharpening steel pulls the particles back into alignment as the steel is magnetized. Simple as that. The correct term would be honing rather than sharpening and I must stress that you need to hone at frequent intervals like every five minutes of use. If you do not adhere to this discipline your knife gets dull to the point of non return and needs to be professionally sharpened. Knives should never be thrown into the sink with other items nor in the dish washing machine.
Watch this short video on keeping your knives sharp
The old-fashioned wooden boards are now banned in commercial establishments as they are unsanitary.
This item has been replaced by plastic.
In commercial establishments color coded cutting boards are mandatory. Woefully they are not often seen in domestic use.
I would strongly advise you to put this system into practice in your kitchen particularly in view of the current virus wake up call!
A set of color coded cutting boards is inexpensive and available in many sizes. Also, purchase the storage rack if it does not come included with the set. Boards are wet after washing and storing them one on top of the other allows bacteria to form. The use of color coded cutting boards prevents cross contamination.
RED: Read meats
GREEN: Raw fruits & vegetables
YELLOW: Raw poultry
BROWN: Cooked foods (not shown in image right)
WHITE: Pastry & dairy
COOKWARE POTS AND PANS-a few decent ones are better than
loads of cheap junk!
Most important feature of good cookware is that they must have a heavy base.
Whilst copper cooking pots and pans are only to wish for, they are by far the best heat conductors, apart from being very posh!
Only very few of the top Michelin star restaurants can afford to cook in copper so my best bet for the home kitchen would be to go for stainless steel pots and pans as the alternative aluminum pots and pans do discolor some foods, or leave a nasty taste. You would have to determine what sizes and styles you require and how many, depending on the scope of dishes that you intend to prepare.
Calphalon non-stick pans: Good idea to have at least one of them. Teflon is also the same thing, just a different brand. This utensil should only be used when you want to make non-stick items such as omelets,scrambled eggs etc. Never use anything other than a wooden spoon or plastic spatula to stir with as, once scratched, its non-stick properties are ruined. Now there are also Teflon coated whisks on the market. Covered later.
On no account clean this pan with anything abrasive. I usually just wipe mine out with a paper towel even if I leave it a little oily. Don’t stack anything on top of it!
MIXING BOWL STAINLESS STEEL-not for storing leftovers!
Yes you will need one or two of these and a minimum two different sizes, one again depending on what you intend to do.
I say stainless steel but there are also Pyrex glass ones. It’s up to you but definitely not the Tupperware version.
Please don’t refrigerate and store things in your bowls as invariably you will need one for preparing a recipe,then hunt high and low for it and wind up saying “damn I left the leftover apple pie filling in it”
KITCHEN WIRE WHISK AND SPOONS-you need to beat and stir things!
I suggest that you have at least of at least two wire whisks of approx 30 cm from tip to handle. One should be of thicker gauge wire for stirring thicker preparations and the other known as a piano wire or balloon whisk for beating up egg whites that require a lot of aeration.
One or two wooden spoons and a plastic spatula will also do nicely as would an egg lifter and a pair of metal tongs
With where we are so far I could already cook up a small storm if not a hurricane!
GADGETS AND GIZMOS-don’t create useless clutter that you seldom use. Cant help the addicts!
There are literally millions of these out there. Many have them stashed in drawers where they have to be delved into to find if and when they are actually needed.
I have never subscribed to the likes of little garlic presses, measuring spoon sets and cups that eventually come loose from the little ring that holds them together and gets lost in one of the gadget drawers.
I use an accurate digital scale for all measuring. After all a cup of water is 250 ml is therefore 250 gm. Milk,cream,oil, vodka weigh somewhat differently but only a slight variance. What the heck this isn’t rocket science. No recipe needs to be that exact except when it comes to advanced baking and desserts. Going back to the vodka: 1 liter would actually weigh 914 gm so if you said it was a kilo there would be just that much left over for the chef to do his quality control!
No seriously if you are more comfortable with the little gadgets and marked measuring jugs, be my guest, cant rehabilitate the addicts. I must sat that I do feel sorry for the Brits and Americans dealing with their antiquated system of quarts, gallons, cups and so forth. So much easier to work in metric measures.
Back in the heyday when I was an Oliver Twist like trainee in the vast pastry section of a world-famous five star hotel, the executive pastry chef had a huge bag of oddly shaped river stones and pebbles and one of those scales like the scales of liberty with two platforms and a needle pointing to center. He knew the weight of each stone by heart and hence he would prepare his concoctions. You could see what was done but not exactly how it was done. Mentoring then was not as it is today.
More in my next blog when I take you further into the home kitchen