A few tips from Cooking Allergy Free. Please refer to the book for a more indepth look at your kitchen and pantry.
As you can imagine, the range of kitchen products on the market is vast. You may find yourself asking if you really need some of the things being sold as must-haves. I’ve compiled a list of the basic everyday items I use in my home kitchen. As a general rule, buy good-quality stainless steel and heatresistant equipment. It might be more expensive up front, but it will last you a lifetime.
»» Stand mixer. I swear by my KitchenAid® and prefer the smaller artisan model because of the tilting head, which I find easier to work around.
»» Food processor. I like the Magimix® and Robot Coupe®.
»» Blender. Although this is not a must, a blender is a nice addition to my kitchen and really aids in making soups, smoothies, sauces, and soups. The Vitamix® brand is terrific.
»» Cookware. Calphalon®, Anolon®, Le Creuset®, and Cuisinart® are my top choices.
»» Knives. Make sure you have a good chef’s knife, paring knife, and large serrated knife for
cutting breads. I like Global®, Wüsthof®, and Victorinox® brands.
»» Stainless tongs. Necessary for frying and flipping meats.
»»Measuring cups and spoons. I prefer stainless steel to plastic; you can find cups online
that have a full set of odd sizes, including 2⁄3 and 3⁄4, which I find very helpful in baking.
»» Ice cream scoops. Buy several sizes for varied uses, including making uniform cookies and muffins.
»»Microplane®. Necessary for zesting citrus and grating spices.
»» Offset spatula. Must-have for baking and prepping.
»» Fish spatula. Perfect when working with delicate ingredients.
»» Heat-safe silicone spatulas. A must-have for everything else!
The French call it “mise en place,” which literally means “putting in place" and is used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging everything. Before attempting a new recipe, make sure you have all the ingredients and utensils out that you may need. That way you don’t have to go searching for things with dirty hands. I also measure out what I will need before I start, which keeps me and the kitchen organized and leaves very little room for mistakes. As you finish with ingredients, put them away. This will make for easier cleanup later.
Tips From a Professional Kitchen
I’ve learned a lot over my years of cooking professionally. Some of these are common sense but worth repeating.
»» Always taste your food before serving.
»» Read through the recipe before starting to cook.
»» Know the difference between chemical leaveners (refer to the cookbook for more information). They have different purposes for the outcome of your baked goods and can’t be substituted for one another.
»» Make sure to clean as you go or you will end up with a pile of dirty dishes.
»» Experiment with flavors and keep track of your changes to a recipe as you make them.
»» Keep two side towels on hand at all times—one to dry off your hands and one to take
things out of the oven. Trying to take a pan out of the oven with a wet towel from hand
drying will result in some nasty burns.
»» When cleaning a blender or food processor, add hot water and soap then turn on the
machine for a few seconds to start the cleaning process before removing the unit
from the base.
»» When baking, check for doneness by poking the top of the baked item with your finger. If it bounces back and is golden brown and firm to the touch, the baked item is done. While others will advise to test for doneness by piercing the cake with a skewer or knife, I am firmly opposed to this method because piercing will let out all of the steam, making for a very dry result.
»» When boiling soups and water for pasta, rest a heatproof spatula across the pot to prevent the contents from boiling over.