I’ll hold my hands up and say, I love shiny new things. I’m a sucker for purchasing the latest gizmo or gadget for my kitchen as I’m scrolling through Instagram or flicking through the latest foodie magazines. But the problem is… there’s always something new coming out, with its headline label stating that it will guarantee to “Help Save Time or Money or Effort” – and the only thing I seem to do with them is use them once and then place them in the junk drawer (everyone has one of these at home, don’t they?!) That’s not to say there aren’t some amazing tools out there – there is – but you don’t need all of them to be a pro in the kitchen. Lockdown really got me thinking. We packed up our little London life in our tiny flat and moved to the countryside before the first lockdown and I realised that, when it comes to it – you only really need five tools to be able to create a variety of dishes. So, that fancy spiralizer may look cool, but how many spiralizer’s do you really need? Put it down – take it out your basket and go buy some delicious chocolate instead!
Here are my top five tools that are a must for any kitchen:
It goes without saying that you are going to need something to chop with. But knives can do so much more than just chop an onion. You can use them to create decorations from scoring bread loaves, creating chocolate curls to chiffonad-ing herbs (creating little thin ribbons – or rags – out of basil, mint or other greens) to finish or garnish dishes. There are multiple knives that chefs and professionals utilise on a day-to-day basis from smaller pairing knives (for fruits and vegetables) boning knifes (for meat and fish) to serrated knives (for bread or cakes). But not every kitchen will need that. Instead, invest in a good quality and practical “chefs’ knife” and you can do all you need with just this one tool. Mince garlic, dice and peel vegetables, slice fruits, chop nuts and so much more.
They say that cooking is an art and baking is a science. But I believe a combination of the two is just as important for both. Which is why scales are an important piece of kit in my kitchen. They are a great tool for not only ensuring your dishes are perfect every time by following a tried and tested recipe, but they are also incredible at helping to reduce food waste and therefore lowering costs. By scaling up or down a recipe and measuring it precisely you can ensure your sweet and savoury recipes are the best they can be. I love a digital pair of scales, although weighted scales work just as well. I prefer a pair that you can reset the measurement once you have weighed out the first ingredient into the bowl, that way you can save on washing up too and have less bowls and clutter around. Perfect for smaller kitchens or shared accommodations.
This is a bit more of an investment – but it’s 100% worth it, because it takes the place of so many other pieces of equipment. Within your Vitamix you can make anything from smoothies and batters, soups and sauces, pesto’s and nut butters to milling flour, grinding nuts, pulverizing your own spice or coffee grinds and even kneading dough. The motorized blender not only helps achieve the correct texture by chopping, puréeing, juicing or grinding quickly and efficiently and without the need for multiple pieces of kit but the fast motion can also create friction to heat up soups, sauces and preserves saving the need to use a hob or microwave, too. So, say goodbye to unnecessary items such as food processors, blenders, grinders or grain mills and hello to your new best friend.
4. Palette Knife
This amazing product normally gets shoved away with the baking kit – but it’s such an incredible all-rounder piece of equipment. From being able to spread batters and doughs into lined tins easily, flipping small ingredients like fruits, vegetables or tofu chunks in a pan (hello baby pancake cereal), spreading your favourite condiments or preserves onto toast to elevating your final dish. They are brilliant at lifting and moving small items without breaking them and to help you get precision in your plating. Of course, they are also still a great baking tool for frosting cakes with icing and especially licking the icing off.
5. Silicone Spatula
These are fantastic as they’re super flexible in both practicability and versatility. They’re perfect for scrapping out every last bit of deliciousness without scratching your bowls, pans or tubs. You can get into all the circular angles and corners with ease and they are super easy to clean and look after. Plus, they don’t absorb odours from your produce meaning they are longer-lasting and won’t transfer between dishes, making them a great tool if you are making multiple components to a dish in one appliance, such as the Vitamix – as you can scrap between uses, and not have to worry about scrubbing clean. Just scrape and wipe. And the same goes for baking or frying pans. They can withstand a high heat, so perfect for non-stick pans to stir or fold in ingredients to thicken sauces, for example. I prefer mine to have a wooden handle for a bit more stability, but the other variants work wonderful too. Plus, they come in a wide range of colours and designs, perfect for little helpers, to help with allergen/cross contamination, shared accommodation or just to match your kitchen’s aesthetic.