Love channelling your inner Masterchef and cooking up a storm in the kitchen? With the ever rising popularity of TV cooking shows and a resurgence of public interest in making proper food from good, honest ingredients, food and food-related topics seem to be on everyone’s lips. Whether you’re a dab hand with a whisk or a total beginner that can’t tell your stir-fry from your souffle, having the right kit in the kitchen can make the difference between culinary success and disaster. So what should you be sure to have on your shelves?
For any aspiring foodie, one of the most important pieces of equipment you’ll need is a decent set of knives. While any bargain store will offer both sets and individual knives for an unbelievably low price, you do get what you pay for. Invest in a good set of knives and you’ll notice the difference straight away. Chopping vegetables quickly becomes a pleasure instead of a chore when working with a razor-sharp blade – just remember to be careful and keep your fingers well away! With proper care and attention, and regular sharpening with a whet stone, a good set of knives will last a lifetime.
Pots and pans
The next thing to think about is what cookware your kitchen needs. You might have got by in your student days with one saucepan and a battered frying pan, but a grown-up kitchen needs a serious attitude to pots and pans. Think about what type of dishes you like to cook (or want to learn) and choose the appropriate kit. Make lots of hearty dishes like casseroles and pies? You’ll want lots of deep dishes to accommodate plenty of rich sauce, as well as a decent non-stick pan for slow cooking your meat. Like cooking Asian cuisine? A good, carbon steel wok is an excellent investment – season it before its first use with aromatic herbs and roots, the rinse it rather than wash it for a long-lasting cooking implement that requires minimum fuss. Check out Argos for good deals on both flat and round-bottomed woks.
Mix it up
Now that you’ve got all of the essentials taken care of, it’s time to treat yourself to a few luxuries. Whether it’s for making soups, blending sauces or mixing smoothies, a good mixer or blender is an excellent addition to any kitchen. If you usually only make small batches of recipes, or if you’re short of space in your kitchen, a hand or stick blender is a great choice. It will fit comfortably in your kitchen drawer and can be used to blend ingredients while still in the pan – saving on washing up too! If space isn’t such an issue, or if you regularly want to blend bigger amounts, a counter-top blender could be perfect for you. Fill with fresh fruit and ice for delicious smoothies, or add milk or ice cream for tasty milkshakes. At the other end of the scale, high-end mixers are fast becoming the accessory of choice for those with ‘statement’ kitchens. Capable of performing almost any task from kneading bread to whisking egg yolks, these appliances are sure to be a talking point whenever you have friends around for dinner.
These days, there is a kitchen gadget for just about everyone, whether you want an electric mill that grinds your pepper or spherical ice cubes that melt slowly to avoid watering down your drink. Although many of them are tempting and seem like genius ideas at first, put some thought into gadgets before you buy them to avoid ending up with cupboards full of things you’ve only used once or twice. Think about what you do in your kitchen, and whether something will really make your life easier. A coffee machine, for example, is a great time-saving device for people that make several cups a day, while a juice extracting machine is ideal for anyone wanting to add more fruit and vegetables to their diet.
Things like ice cream makers, soda machines and chocolate fountains can seem fun at the time, but think seriously about whether or not you actually consume enough of that product to warrant buying (and storing) a special gadget. To find out what sort of gizmos you could be buying to jazz up your kitchen, check out the kitchen appliances section at I Want One of Those.