I know that not everyone has the same packed cupboards as I do -- what with my tortilla press, pasta machine and baking gear -- but that doesn’t mean you can’t produce some epic meals with but a few items. Other than the obvious essentials (one good knife, a cutting board, measuring cups and spoons, and mixing bowls), you need these affordable kitchen tools that will have you cooking like a pro!
Think fudge, candies and brittles are outside of your abilities? The only thing standing between you and your indulged sweet tooth is a candy thermometer. Just don’t blame me for enabling the candy addiction or send me your dentist's bill.
Cast Iron Skillet
This one is a must-have in my kitchen. It’s a frying pan, casserole dish and cake pan all forged into one. I make everything from cornbread to fruit crumble to breakfast skillets in the trusty cast iron. Plus, with its stove-to-oven capability, it makes putting an egg on it a breeze. Do learn how to care for it properly, and it’ll serve you (and your heirs) well for years to come.
A coffee grinder will not only change the way you get that morning caffeine fix by giving you a fresher cup than pre-ground beans, it’ll also open up a whole world of flavour. I’m talking spices. Those ancient ground dried spices in your pantry have nothing on freshly toasted whole seeds. One buzz in just an inexpensive coffee grinder will send you flavour town!
Don’t want to splurge on a blender? Get yourself the cheaper, space-saving stick version. It does everything a blender does from pureeing soups to whipping up those green, kitchen-sink, I'm-on-a-cleanse smoothies that are all the rage right now. You don't have to worry about blending in batches with the stick. Plus, if you find one with a small chopper attachment, then you’ve got yourself a mini food processor, too. Think bread crumbs, dressings, even taking the tears out of chopping onions.
Not to be confused with a mandolin (sure, taking up a musical instrument would be equally cool), but a mandoline will change how you slice, forever. Suddenly, those perfect julienne or super thin vegetables are possible, even without knife skills. Though many stores offer a cheap version, search out the Benriner Japanese mandoline at a local Asian grocer. It’ll be the best $30 you’ve ever spent. Crispy skinny fries for days!
A microplane, or a rasp (as it's known in woodshops) is merely a very fine grater. You think the smaller side on your box grater already does the job? Think again. The microplane produces the finest citrus zest around and grates garlic and ginger with ease; it even makes that block of Parmesan last longer by making fluffy cheese mountains.
Fluffy cheese mountains, people!
Mortar and Pestle
There’s a reason these can be found in cultures all over the world since the beginning of time. Perfect for grinding spices, it’s also great for pesto, salsa, guacamole, even aioli. Just add elbow grease.