If anyone wants to have a go at some of my recipes I thought it would be useful to go through some of the indispensable utensils I use. Most are available either in large department stores or good on-line retailers.
I’ll begin with the most important one, knives. The three i use most as shown above are a bread knife, a chef's knife (17.5cm) and a paring knife. The choice of knives available on the market is daunting, and according to what you buy, prices can be too. My wish list though is forged stainless steel . This means they will last for ages. A good handle, and the balance of the knife should feel right. A proper knife should be balanced, have a comfortable handle, and blade that isn't flimsy. To go with these you will need a knife sharpener. Steels are great, but you do need to have a certain technique in order to sharpen knives correctly. I have an idiot proof one shown above, (Anolon Knife Sharpener) the grooves are ready made for you. All I need to do is pull the knife through a few times. I do this every day before I start cooking. The best test as to how sharp a knife should be is to cut a tomato. The blade should slice it without squashing the tomato.
Next on the list are my stirring spoons. You need a sturdy spatula, great for removing all your sauces and purees from pans and bowls. A plastic spoon; excellent for stirring and not ruining your pans. Plus, I’ve found this flat-bottomed wooden spoon. It’s brilliant for scraping things off the bottoms of my pans. Things do stick from time to time, and this is the best tool for the job. The plastic ones won’t give enough force before they bend, metal ones wreck your pans.
Lastly, on the photo above is a pastry brush. The silicone ones are great nowadays as the bristles don’t keep falling off and they are also easier to clean. I’ve managed to find one that has very flexible bristles, some are a bit rigid.
When producing great food, there are couple of items I use almost everytime I cook to make things look far more presentable. My mini food processor with stick blender is a must. Every home needs one. The jug isn’t too big, just about 1litre. This is great for purees, chopping onions, making curry pastes and so on. The stick blender is great for blending in a pan directly as sometimes the contents are too voluminous for the processor. To go with these you must have a sieve to drain and pass sauces.The pen like object in the bottom right corner is my thermometer. It’s digital and can be used to help you cook accurately. More and more recipes these days say cook until X °C rather than for a given time as temperature is vital in every aspect of cooking.
I use set of plastic ended tongs for cooking meat and fish. A blowtorch is a superb addition to a budding chefs kitchen. Once you begin using it, you just find more reasons to get it out everyday. I have two micro graters, the large one in the top right corner will do everything. Zesting, grating and it even has a mini mandolin. These are all made by Microplane. The longer one is perfect when just a little zest or parmesan is required. Lastly I have my presentation rings, a 9cm one and a 6cm one. They really make portioning easy and make your plates of food look stunning.
Another great tool is a potato ricer. Not only does it produce restaurant style, super smooth mash. It is also great, as any undercooked potato will not be able to pass through the holes and end up in your mash! They are a nightmare to clean mind you. You must get a set of non-stick heavy based pans, with tight fitting lids (the ones that don’t have a steam hole in them). I have the ones with glass lids which is also an added advantage as you can see whats going on in the pan. I also have a cast iron casserole pan with lid, superb for the starting things on the hob and transferring to the oven. Also good for making stocks! Lastly, I have a non-stick frying pan with a metal handle. This is essential so you can also put it in the oven rather than transferring things to baking trays and creating more washing up!
Lastly but not least, I was bought a Screwpull wine aerator a few years back. To be perfectly honest they're just a gimmick, ask any of our experts on Evines.co.uk. They do have one great function though by working as a stopper for your favourite red wines. They are also a great conversation piece as they make a strange high pitched glugging noise as you pour!
It may seem like a lot of equipment, but it’s a relatively small list that will make life a lot easier and help produce outstanding food at home. The only other thing I would add is a good coffee machine so you can reward yourself in the daytime while cooking, when it’s too early for a glass of wine.