Tuesday, 22 May 2012

My favorite tools: which ones to pick!

A HUGE part in the cooking and baking process is, well, the tools and pans you use. Yes, I have blogged about cookware/bakeware (I am 110% cookware GEEK, please ask me if you have any questions!) There are so many gadgets and tools on the market, it is hard to figure out which ones you truly need, and ones that are needed only for special dishes.

Below, is a detailed list of what tool is a staple and what material (plastic, stainless steel, nylon, etc) to look for to "get the most life" out of it. Remember, all tools have handles, and I highly recommend to "feel" in your hand to make sure you like it.

- Mixing Bowls: Needed for all-purpose cooking and baking actions. Pick 3: small-medium-large.
*Buy: Stainless Steel, first. Glass is decent, but it might break/crack. Plastic tends to be "soft," bendy, and wares down the fastest.

-Cutting Boards: Needed for all-purpose chopping/dicing/slicing. Pick 2: one medium, one large.
*Buy: Wood is the best and is "nicest" to your knife's blade, but it takes extra time to "care." Plastic is a great second choice, because it is dishwasher safe and pretty cheap. Buy one with a 1/2 inch thickness. Yet, it does ware down and plastic shavings could easily get in your food. Avoid any "super thin" plastic cutting boards.

-Knife: Needed for chopping/dicing/slicing. (I need to do a blog about knives....) Pick 3: one chef's knife (8 inch or 10 inch), one serrated knife (also called bread knife), and one paring knife (small knife). You will use those 3 sizes the most.
*Buy: High carbon stainless steel with a nice handle. "Forged" knives tend to be better than "stamped" knives.

-Pots and Pans: Needed for cooking. Remember, buy pans for YOUR lifestyle. Family of 5? Only two? Or just yourself? Most of us can get away with 2-4 decent pans.
*Buy: Either hard anodizied non-stick or stainless steel. The 3 sizes people will use most: Medium sauce pan (about 5 quarts), medium skillet (10 inches), and large skillet (12-14 inches). If you cook for more, you will need more sizes.

TOOLS-GADGETS: The most popular!
-Whisk: Stainless steel whisk head with stainless steel or silicone handle.
Spatula: Nylon or silicone head (both are heat safe to 400 degrees F) with stainless steel or silicone handle.
-Large spoons: Stainless steel.
-Turner: Nylon or silicone head, with stainless steel or silicone handle.
-Ladel: Stainless steel.
-Peeler: Stainless steel or nylon/silicone.
-Scoops: Stainless steel.
-Measuring cups/spoons: Stainless steel.
-Pastry Brush: Silicone or nylon.
-Tongs: Stainless steel.
-Mesh Strainer: Stainless steel "mesh" with either metal or nylon/silicone handle.
-Grater: Stainless steel.

Overall: Stainless steel has a very long "life." The downfall: stainless steel pans are a pain to clean and keep polish, and you will have to add more fat/oil when you are cooking with them. Stainless steel tools tend to be more expensive than nylon/silicone. Most people, including myself, have a combination of both.

My top 3 tips :
1) Have a budget: Tools can get pricey! Set a limit.
2) Know what you truly need/use: Never grate cheese? Only bake brownies rarely? Don't know what a pastry brush is? Know what you use on a daily basis.
3) Always "feel" the tool in your hand. Comfort is key, especially with cookware.

Happy Baking!

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