I love to cook, although having gone to cookery school many years ago I’m better at cooking for a houseful than everyday cooking, and I don’t like to use recipe books much. My exceptions are Ottolenghi the Cookbook, Mary Berry’s Aga Book – the original version, now out of print but you can find it, and the recipes for potato dauphinoise and treacle pud are second to non - and Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course. Armed with these I’m perfectly happy and you can take your over complicated recipes elsewhere…..
There are some essential pieces of kitchen equipment, kitchen tools and gadgets that I would never want to be without. Yes I’ve whisked eggs by hand. Yes I’ve chopped onions by hand, but I’d rather have a great machine to do it for me.
The Kenwood Chef Stand Mixer is a feature in my kitchen. It never gets put away and I use it for most recipes where cake making egg beating or cream whipping is included. This is wonderful if you’re preparing food for large number of people and will last you for years. There are others of course but this one just happens to be my all time favourite.
An electric hand mixer is great when you don’t have a lot of beating to do, and also when your recipe calls for beating more than one ingredient that has to be done separately. I use this little mixer a lot, when someone hasn’t hidden the beaters, that is.
I’ve been through various makes of food processor but this is the one that has come out on top, both in terms of reliability and the number of things it can do, from chopping, slicing and grating to basic processing.
When you don’t have a huge amount of ingredients to blend or mash then the hand blender comes into its own perfectly. You may think that this is a lot of equipment that does the same thing but each has its own tasks and I wouldn’t be without any of them. And, of course, they last for years.
Every essentials list for cooks I’ve ever written has included this Gude Chai Dao knife which is absolutely brilliant for chopping anything and everything, smashing garlic and carrying whatever you’ve chopped, sliced or diced to the pot or plate. This is a serious knife but one which you’ll find you’ll use frequently.
No matter how many knives you have in your kitchen they’re no good to you if they’re not sharp. I’ve tried just about every different type of knife sharpener and this Any Sharp knife sharpener has come out the best, the easiest to use and simplest to store – you can just fix it to your fridge door. They make great cooks gifts as well.
Ok here comes another of my kitchen pet hates – those small thin slippery plastic chopping boards. Nothing works as well as a large piece of wood. I had one cut for my kitchen which is much larger than this and is constantly fought over when there’s more than one cook in the kitchen – to be avoided I find. This beech chopping board is a great alternative.
The double saucepan – also called a porringer or bain marie - is a piece of equipment I use over and over again, to make sauces, melt chocolate or butter (or both together) and I’m astonished how hard this has become to find, and how few kitchens own one. Who wants to have to balance a bowl in a pan when melting chocolate or making a delicate sauce? To me this is an essential piece of kit.
The simplest of kitchen scales by Salter have always worked best for me and these are excellent. Inexpensive and they take up very little space but they’re durable and easily cleanable plus they change type of unit on top rather than you’re having to fiddle around underneath.
Finally, the much overlooked spatula. I wouldn’t be without my Le Creuset spatulas because they’re made of silicone and so are strong and bendy. For scraping chocolate mousse out of the Kenwood bowl when there’s no one around to like to bowl to moving mash out of the pan this is the best one I’ve found.