Cooking can be a lot of fun -- and produce tasty results -- but it's also a lot of work. Like any chore, cooking is easier when you have the right tools.
A friend that's getting married asked me what kitchen items she should include on her bridal registry. She's a novice cook and is overwhelmed by the vast array of merchandise to choose from in the store. I emailed her a list of suggestions and thought others might find it useful too.
Whether you're purchasing things for your first home, looking for tools to make cooking easier or new ways to use tools you already own, I thought I'd share my list of kitchen must haves with links to recipes that use those items. This list only includes tools used to prep food. It isn't all inclusive, but these are the tools I rely on when I'm cooking for three or twenty three.
Dry Measuring Cups: These cups are designed for dry ingredients such as flour, sugar and shortening. The blue set is a standard set with sizes ranging from 1/4 to 1 cup. The orange set includes the standard cups plus 2/3 and 3/4 cup. The metal cup is a 1/8 cup that comes in handy when I need 2 tablespoons of an ingredient.
Liquid Measuring Cups: These cups are designed for wet ingredients. They range in size from 1 to 8 cups and have a pour spout. They're also useful for melting butter, margarine or shortening in the microwave. I have these in 1, 2 and 4 cup sizes.
Kitchen Shears: Unlike regular scissors, kitchen shears have one serrated blade and one regular blade. They make easy work of jobs that would be difficult to do with a knife. Use shears to cut dried herbs, dried beef, uncooked bacon and canned whole tomatoes into small pieces. Spraying the shears with nonstick cooking spray makes chopping dried fruit a breeze.
Santoku Knife: I bought this several years ago and I absolutely love it! It's shorter than a chef's knife and has a straighter blade which doesn't allow for a "rocking" motion like a chef's knife. The grooves on the blade prevent food from sticking when being cut.
Bread Knife: This knife has a serrated edge which makes it ideal for slicing a loaf of bread without tearing it up. If you can find a loaf of unsliced cinnamon bread, use this knife to slice it for French Toast Souffle.
Turner: This is ideal for turning pancakes, but you can also use it to turn French toast, grilled cheese sandwiches and remove cookies from a baking sheet to a cooling rack.
Wooden Spoon: I don't like metal spoons, but I don't always want plastic either. Wood is a good alternative.
Pasta Fork: I use this to stir pasta while it's cooking. You can also use it to transfer pasta from a serving platter to a plate.
Ladle: Use a large ladle for big jobs -- soup or chili -- and a small ladle for small jobs like queso dip.
Slotted Spoon/Spoon: Use the slotted spoon to retrieve food from a liquid. Use the regular spoon for stirring.
Since the list of prep tools is pretty extensive, I'll make this a two part blog. Check back later this week for my kitchen must haves for cooking and baking.