We get emails and comments from fellow home cooks who want to know what we use and love in the kitchen. I try to link to any special tools I use in recipes here on the blog, but I thought it might be fun to take a peek into my kitchen and see what I really use. Except we made this pretty collage of all the items instead, because, well, my real kitchen gear is pretty much in a constant state of use (aka it's all got dry, crusty flour caked in the cracks or something equally delicious looking).
Ahem, without further ado...1. KitchenAid Mixer in Persimmon. I didn't get into baking and cooking until I was 22 years old. I think if I showed 22-year-old Emma my kitchen gear today, she would probably spit in my face and call me a rich person. And that's because 22-year-old Emma is a jerk, apparently. But seriously my mixer is one of those items that is a bit of an investment. It took me years before I finally decided to buy one. And now I use it at least a couple times every week. It's awesome! You can knead dough, easily mix any kind of batter, effortlessly make mayonnaise, whip up the perfect meringue, and that's not even scratching the surface. I feel like I should be a spokes lady for KitchenAid (Dear KitchenAid, Hi. I'm a fan. So, like...). But seriously, I highly recommend them. Get one. Do it.2. Cast Iron Pans. I know what you're thinking: Emma, those are like so country looking. Dude, what's wrong with country stuff? Geez. What a snob. (Blogging is like talking to yourself on the internet.) I truly cannot sing the praises of a good cast iron skillet enough. You can cook on the stove top, you can pop it in the oven, and it's pretty enough to serve in. I have a few different sizes, and I love making anything from baked macaroni to fruit cobbler in them. Love it. Warning: they do require a little special care and matience. You can read more about it here.3. Silpat Mats for baking. Want your cookies to bake more evenly, get a Silpat! Seriously, they are wonderful. I like using parchment paper too, but here's two things to consider: (1) Items baked on a Silpat vs. parchment paper will bake more evenly (see an example here). And (2) it's probably better for the environment to use and reuse a Silpat mat rather than all that disposable parchment paper. But hey, if you hate Mother Earth that's fine. Whatever.4. Ramekins! I think most people associate ramekins with creme brulee. Which, yeah, you totally need ramekins for that. But they are so useful beyond that, because they are basically just tiny individual casserole dishes. You can make baked oatmeal, green bean casserole, or use them to serve nuts/dried fruit in on a cheese plate. Super useful, super cute—done deal.5. KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment. Yeah, so did you buy that mixer since we last spoke? No, not yet, because you've been reading a very long-winded blog post. Fair enough. Guys, I love making homemade ice cream! It's so fun to get to make up your own flavors. I'm obsessed. My favorites this year (so far) have been lavender, cereal milk and cinnamon dolce.6. Immersion Blender. Confession: I'm an immersion blender freak. And that's because I also happen to be a bit of a soup freak. And homemade soup is an immersion blenders soul mate. (Oh, excuse me, I'm starting to get pre-Valentine's Day fever where I want to do nothing but watch The Notebook on repeat, eat chocolate that tastes like either red wine or potato chips, and turn everything into a love analogy.) If you want to make creamy soup, but you don't like transferring super hot liquids from a pot to a blender to a pot again (madness!) then get an immersion blender for crying out loud. You can do other things with it too, like whisk stuff. Do I really have to list things you whisk? You get it.7. Dutch Oven. Also sometimes called a French Oven, but let's not mince words here. This is basically a heavy duty pot you can cook in, bake in, or (drum roll) fry in. I always fry in my dutch oven. I made these easy biscuit donuts in a dutch oven. Also chili, and soups, and bread, and casseroles. They are extremely useful but also quite pretty. I usually leave mine sitting on top of my stove at all times, so it's kind of a decor statement too (mine's red—if I ever get another, I will probably try white).8. Food Processor. No, it's really not the same thing as a blender. Unless you have a truly fancy blender. But I don't... so... yeah. A food processor was probably one of the first over $50 investments I made in my kitchen gear some years ago. I just got tired of seeing things I wanted to make only to find the directions said, "Then put it in your food processor." Curses! So I got one. You make hummus, peanut butter, bread crumbs, hollandaise sauce, the list goes on. Forever. Ok, not forever. But you see my point.
9. KitchenAid Pasta Attachment. Ok, so I just got this. It was a birthday present from Trey. Yes, I'm bragging. And I've only used them once. So I'm probably not really qualified to recommend these yet. But they worked like a charm and made me feel like a pasta-making rock star on my very first attempt. And that's a good feeling in the kitchen, when so much can go wrong. Or maybe that's just me. :)10. Mason Jars. Cliche? Maybe. But mason jars aren't just for hipster crafts or weddings. Mason jars are extremely useful in the kitchen too. There's the obvious uses, canning and as rustic drinking glasses. But I also regularly use mine to mix and store salad dressings and cocktails. You can also bake in them (pies in jars!) or use them in your crock pot (dulce de leche!).11. Mandolin Slicer. No, this is not a musical instrument. This is the best way to slice vegetables or other items super thin. Are you gearing up to make homemade pickles? Slice your cucumbers the perfect amount of thinness with a mandolin. I love to use my mandolin to slice veggies before stir frying or apples before baking a pie. It's awesome.12. Cutting Boards. This probably seems like a no-brainer. Cutting boards are kind of an essential. Duh. I really like cute, colorful plastic cutting boards, because I can just pop them in the dishwasher after use. But I also highly recommend getting a few pretty wood cutting boards. They will need to be washed by hand but what I love about wood cutting boards is that you can both use them for a work surface but also to serve on (like a pretty cheese platter for a party). Splurge and get a few wood cutting boards.
Thanks for letting me share a few of my favorite kitchen tools! xo. Emma