You do not have to be a professional chef to cook like one. In fact, you do not need any training at all to cook delicious and easy meals. For the everyday chef, it is all about having the right tools and equipment. You would not expect a mechanic to fix your car without the right tools, and you would not expect your hairstylist to cut your hair without the right tools. So, in order to cook wonderful meals for your family, be sure that you have the following items:
Before you even make a sandwich or salad, it is important to have a great set of knives. In general, a set of five knives will get the job done. The largest knife in your set should be a chef’s knife, but you should also have a vegetable knife, a multi-purpose knife, and a slicer. Steak knives are also great, but they often are not sharp or precise enough for the average kitchen prep work. Along with your knife set, make sure that you have a sharpener. Believe it or not, dull knives are usually the cause of knife accidents in the kitchen. You should also make be sure that you have a few great cutting boards so that you avoid ruining your counter.
Though considered required kitchen equipment, many home chefs do not have an adequate set of mixing bowls. Though you can get by without mixing bowls, it makes almost any recipe much harder to complete. You should have at least two large mixing bowls, since you will use both for some recipes, as well as a medium-sized bowl and a small-sized bowl. Buying them as a set can save you a significant amount of money. Look for mixing bowls that have lids, so you can store food items as needed without plastic wrap. Additionally, choose bowls that are ceramic or stainless steel, as plastic bowls can take on weird smells and stains over time.
Every serious at-home chef should invest in some good cookware. Yes, you can purchase a mismatched set of pots and pans from yard sales and dollar stores, but the fact of the matter is that you get exactly what you pay for. Instead, spend the extra cash for cast iron pots and pans in a variety of sizes; making sure that the metal is not thin or uneven, which can mess up your cooking time. Also look for pots and pans that are oven-safe, as some recipes will ask you to move foods from the stovetop to the oven.
Whether you are making cookies or muffins, chances are that you will need a baker’s cooling rack. Cooling racks help to cool items more quickly, since you are removing as much heat from the pan or baking sheet as possible and allow cool air to hit the product from all sides. In many recipes, without a cooling rack, your food will taste burnt or overdone. If you love baking, look for a multi-tiered cooling rack; otherwise, a single cooling rack will get the job done.
Even if your oven has a built-in timer, consider purchasing a kitchen timer. They are inexpensive and can come in very handy. After all, you may be cooking more than one food item at once, and a single oven timer can’t keep track of both. A small kitchen timer can also travel with you, so that you can leave the kitchen and not have to worry about not hearing the buzzer from your oven.
Lastly, every home chef should have a recipe binder. As you cook more and more, you will begin to come across recipes you love and want to save. Some will be on small recipe cards, but others will be in magazines or online. You need a binder that can hold all of these recipes, no matter how big or small they may be. Look for a binder with plastic, like a photo album. That way, you can keep the recipe with you at all times while cooking without worrying about spilling something and ruining the recipe. Also look for a binder where you can see both sides of the paper or card you put in the binder, since many recipes are printed on both sides.
Just because you are not a professional does not mean that you can’t make restaurant-quality food in your home. Your kitchen simply needs the right tools to make that possible. Start out with the essentials, knives, pots, pans, and so forth, instead of spending money on fancy tools like egg poachers and ice cream makers. Once you have the basic equipment, you can start to purchase the fun items for your kitchen as well. Before long, you’ll have a great stock of tools and your family will be begging you to cook rather than wanting to go out to eat.