CONFESSIONS OF A KITCHEN WENCH – COOKWARE ESSENTIALS

Those Tasty videos made by BuzzFeed make cooking look so easy. If only it truly were that easy to prepare a meal at the snap of our fingers. But behind every perfected recipe, what you don’t see are plenty of burned hands or arms, sliced fingers, and other kinds of comical mishaps that would make your kitchen adventures look like a slapstick comedy.

Home cooks (like us at BuyandShip) like to think we have things under control, we watch one episode of Masterchef and think we can compete. But the reality is, like it or not, most of the time we don’t know half of the cookware and utensils they use on the show and hope that our single wok and spatula are enough to make things happen. It’s also tough when your kitchen counter real estate is precious commodity, we cannot afford to buy every piece of kitchen equipment we think would enrich our lives. Yes, I’m eyeballing you, bread maker.

So we decided to do some research and see what exactly are the items that any chef can’t live without, and scour the internet for the best of! All of them HDB (size) approved.

ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK

One of the things many chefs tell you to do is to start off right from the moment you do food preparation. A sturdy, good quality chopping board, together with the right attitude and technique, can make sure the process of chopping, slicing, dicing, or julienning is time effective and safe. Jamie Oliver always recommends placing a damp kitchen towel underneath a heavy wooden chopping board to prevent it from slipping, good advice considering that you’d be handling a pretty sharp chef’s knife. On Food52 a chef recommended getting a bamboo chopping board like this Premium Butcher Block off Amazon, she found that it has natural anti-bacterial properties, she didn’t need to oil it much, and it’s lasted her 15 years! Good investment for your kitchen if you ask us.

UNDER THE GRATE

A Microplane might feel like one of the fancy, costlier items you’d never have any use for. But believe us when we say that a cheap basic grater you might pick up in Ikea will not hold a candle to it when it comes down to grating. You’d be amazed at what this humble little kitchen item can do. Use it for mincing garlic and ginder for your chicken rice paste, for parmesan cheese in or on top of pastas, zesting citrus fruits for all kinds of cooking and baking, and you can even use it to grind down fresh nutmeg and cinnamon bark. In fact, in terms of necessity we rate the microplane on the same level as a vegetable peeler. That’s right, we said it! We found this rather good sized one from UK store John Lewis for a pretty good price. Shop and accumulate up to $50 to get free shipping to our UK warehouse address. It’ll be worth it, we promise.

GETTING SHARP

One of the things that newbies at home cooking struggle with is getting pristine and precise cuts on their meats and veggies. When we see some instructional cooking video and watch people cut up an onion, it leaves us wondering how come the cook is making the chops with such ease. The answer, friends, is because of knife sharpness. A chef’s knife is one of the most basic tools in the kitchen, and can be used for everything from veggies to meats. You can use it to fillet or even debone. But most of the time we don’t maintain our knives and then we get surprised at how we aren’t getting the best results. Keeping knives sharp doesn’t only reduce our effort at the food prep stage but also makes it safer by reducing unnecessary slips in the event you’re trying to force the knife a certain way. Zwilling has an easy to use and affordable handheld knife sharpener stocked in Food52 that is perfect for beginners in knife honing skills

CASTING ON IRON

We mentioned earlier that we are pretty big fans of the Tasty series. Thank the stars for YouTube nowadays, it’s where we learn most of the basic cooking skills we didn’t have the foresight to learn from our moms. One of the things the team at Tasty has got us sold on is to invest in a cast iron skillet. The Chinese cooking the equivalent is a cast iron kuali (to be used for anything and everything), but a skillet is that much more versatile because not only can you use it over a stove, but you can move it into an oven after searing to finish up your food. Try doing that with one of those non-stick pans with a plastic handle. The beauty of cast iron skillets is that they are built to last. Even if they suffer neglect and build up a little bit of rust, it can be scrubbed down and seasoned again to bring back the non-stick qualities. If you aren’t sure what size of a skillet you should be getting, the Royal Kasite set of 3 skillets would be pretty value for money. They even come pre-seasoned so you can use them straightaway!

SCALING UP

One of the biggest mistakes most people make when starting out in the world of baked goods is only following cup measurements. Sure, cup measurements may seem convenient, but the problem is that it might only work with certain recipes. And we are pretty sure most don’t know that you need different measuring cups for dry and wet ingredients! (We sure didn’t.) So it’s always best to play it safe and get a digital weighing scale. The initial cost does seem pricier than just relying on the good ol’ cups, but in the long run the positives sure outweigh the bad (pun intended). You get more precise measurements, which means your cakes turn out more successful, and you will have less cups to wash at the end of the day. Get this stainless steel Taylor weighing scale from Crate and Barrel, it looks sleek and easy to clean!

ROCK-A-MY-LUNA

Now, this item that we want to feature may not necessarily be an essential item in the kitchen. But, it was first seen repeatedly Nigella Lawson’s cooking series and we love how much she made it seem like such an essential item. It doesn’t hurt that the domestic goddess always makes everything seem so inviting with that voice of hers and the way she describes everything. A mezzaluna is mainly used for herbs, and because of the sharp curved blade the rocking motion that comes with using it makes sure that you get all the tough leaves without bruising them too much. As a testament to how sharp it is, Nigella even used them to chop up dark chocolate for her luscious desserts. She used it so much she even produces one under her own kitchenware brand that has unfortunately gone out of production. But never fear, you can still channel your inner kitchen god or goddess with this Triangle brand mezzaluna from Amazon UK. Plus, it ships free to our UK address!

There you have it. You may not become an expert in all things cooking and baking after accumulating all the essential equipment, but we like to think of ourselves as enablers for you to practice at it!

If you’re really into cooking, do share some of your self-prepped meals here. We do like us some foodporn.