You can cook. This has been my whole thing, with every post I’ve written. Food is not some exclusive club you have to be on some list to get into, and we should never feel intimidated to try something new. It’s all a matter of having the right tools, and understanding the basics. A few people have asked me to write about my favorite, basic cooking tools and this is that post.
We have partnered with our friends at Blue Apron to give you the run down on my list of kitchen items I use nearly every time I cook and to spread the word about their Thanksgiving Dinner Drive. You can visit http://cook.ba/donate before noon on Friday 11/20 to donate a Blue Apron Thanksgiving Dinner to a family in need. It’s an amazing feast with enough food for a family of six. Last year 35,000 meals were donated and this year the goal is 75,000. I know we can do it!
You don’t have to be a Blue Apron member to donate a meal, but I honestly can’t say enough how much I love their service, and the food is always spot on. They deliver recipes and farm fresh ingredients to your door every week in refrigerated boxes, perfectly portioned so there’s no waste. Every dish can be made in less than 40 minutes and there’s always some cool new ingredient I’ve never tried before, or at least some I can’t get anywhere in our small town. On our busy weeks, where I still want my family to eat fresh and healthy, but sometimes I don’t want to plan a menu, make a list, go shopping, and portion out my ingredients–Blue Apron is the perfect solution for us. Time is a commodity, and where I work full-time during the days, those hours between 5pm and 7pm (when Greta and Faye go to bed) are precious.
On to my favorite cooking tools! (This particular evening we made their Stir-Fried Beef & Udon Noodles.<—that’ll take you right to the recipe, it’s ridiculously good.)
I talk about this all the time, but having a large cutting board will make your cooking experience dramatically better. Too many times I’ve cut things on a small cutting board only to have them roll onto the floor. I have this exact cutting board that I bought from Amazon years ago, and I’ll forever use them. They’re cheap, durable, and won’t damage the knives you use on them.
A decent set of quality, melamine mixing bowls will be one of your greatest investments. And it’s important to note that “quality” doesn’t mean “expensive” in this case. The pictured bowls we bought at Target, but you can also find similar sets on Amazon. I use them every time I cook. Every. Time.
Our long-time readers know that I’m a Wüsthof guy. I’ve used Shun, Zwilling and a range of Japanese blades with names I can’t remember but price tags that made me gasp. I have never come across a blade that out-performs Wüsthof. Having a good quality knife is essential to everything you do, and even though you may be looking at a higher price point, simply by taking care of it (hand wash only, dry immediately, store properly etc), these knives will last you for decades.
A lot of people would consider this an optional thing, but I’m telling you it’s not. The first step in healthy cooking is having the tools that allow you to get the most flavor from your ingredients. A microplane does exactly that and is perfect for pulling as much flavor as possible from ginger and garlic, as well as adding a bright freshness to salads and stir fries from the zest of a lime. I’ve found there are very few dishes that aren’t improved with a little fresh lime zest added.
I’ve used my share of cheap pots and pans, and sometimes that’s all you have. But I encourage everyone to invest in at least one high-quality, versatile sauté pan. Something with a thick, copper base for optimum heat transfer and retention. This pan from Anolon is the single greatest cooking vessel I’ve ever used – it works as a wok, sauté, or frying pan.
Another one of those “this isn’t necessary” things, but I tell you what, explosive diarrhea is a bear and cross contamination is how you cause it. Not to mention bloody stool, vomiting etc etc.. Raw meats should always be handled with care, and using disposable gloves has become the norm for me, out of respect for my friends and family.
I own several pairs of OXO Good Grips tongs, and they’re the best. I love it when the best things aren’t the most expensive, don’t you? The spring, the lock, the handle – all of it is designed for comfort and they just work flawlessly. These come in metal and nylon tips, and I suggest at least one of each – nylon for use in non-stick pans, metal in stainless.
With these few basic tools and great ingredients, you can make awesome food. Healthy, delicious, awesome food. You can actually find a lot of the high quality kitchen utensils I talked about over in Blue Apron’s marketplace.
And what’s better, Blue Apron is giving 2 free meals to the first 50 of our readers who order from them today. Click here to get set up – I’m serious when I say you’ll love it, because I genuinely love it myself. I can’t wait to demolish a heap of their Crispy Pear and Goat Cheese Salad, and I’m sure you’ll dig your meals as well.