Cooking Equipment – Part II
Less crucial but still nice to have
Ramekins – You can cook a meal perfectly well without remekins but, I really like having my prep work done first, and lined up and ready to go in these handy little bowls. The French call it Mise en place – everything in it’s place. I guess that’s how my brain is wired. I just really dig it. You don’t have to get the fancy white ceramic ones. We just have a stack of the 6 ounce glass custard cups.
Meat Thermometer – Keep your first time cooking Thanksgiving dinner tear free with this handy gadget. No more guessing on whether that turkey is done or not.
I also use mine when baking breads to make sure the water for the yeast bloom is at the ideal temperature.
Digital Scale – I mostly use the scale for weighing meats before I put them in the freezer. Some recipes call for weighted measures. Especially useful when converting a European recipe. You can zero out or tare a container so you only get the weight of the food product. Once, on a catering job, I weighed the fish balls so they would all come out the same. (I weighed the fish balls?! I can’t believe I just said that).
Electric Mixers – Don’t feel that you have to invest in one of these. You don’t. But, if you see yourself doing a lot of baking you are going to want to. A stand mixer takes the grunt work out of any baked good, especially cookies, cheesecake and bread. Have you ever tried to make cheesecake without a mixer? I have and it’s not easy. Not easy at all.
We have the sausage attachment for ours and we love making our own Chorizo. Mmmmmm. I’m getting hungry.
Food Processor – This does save a lot of time and energy. Most recently I used it to finish off a batch of chicken liver mousse. I make my own gluten free bread crumbs with it. We’ve ground up hard cheese in it and even made our own gluten free flour. Especially handy for large batches of stuff, like grated potato for hash browns or sliced potato for casseroles. And it’s relatively easy to clean. That’s very important to me.
Immersion Blender – A God-send for soups, sauces, and gravy.
Slow Cookers and Dutch Ovens – I’m glad we have these, but we don’t use them all the time. The crock-pot is mostly used for stews. Robin makes his wonderfully rich chicken stock in his large crock-pot, set to low overnight and into the next day. Talk about set it and forget it! I use mine mostly for chili and barbecued ribs.
The Dutch Oven was inherited from my grandma Lucy and I realize now what a lucky find this was. Apparently Dutch Ovens are quite expensive these days. Mine is cast iron, perfectly seasoned, and an antique. I use it most for Coq au vin (that’s chicken in red wine and wow, is it ever good) and another chicken dish with leeks and mushrooms and cream. The whole point with a Dutch Oven is to braise meats that might otherwise be tough in liquid using lower heat over longer time, resulting in a very juicy and flavorful meal.
Blenders – We own a couple of them, but with all the other kitchen toys we have, these don’t get used a lot. I’m not into smoothies, but the Bullet blender handy for making salad dressings. I would probably use it more if it were easier to clean.
There is one gadget that I do not own and I don’t think I ever will, and that’s an egg separator. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty. It’s not that fucking hard to separate an egg. Don’t be the fool so quickly separated from their money.
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