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What are the basic items of kitchen equipment for a newly wed couple? We paid for our own wedding and consequently are a bit cash-strapped, what are the best essentials to have in our kitchen? We have an oven, stove top, toaster and kettle. Whoohoo: four down, hundreds to go! Also please bear in mind that I'm not the world's most imaginative cook and regrettably have little time for the kitchen (we both work and study). Many thanks!
Posted by Taxboffin. Answered on 30th Jul 2011 at 12.00
Nigella gives a thorough rundown of useful kitchen equipment in Kitchen, p2-8 (and not so useful on p8-11) but there are a few basics that should see you through the early years. Knives are important, one small vegetable/paring knife and one medium-sized knife for larger chopping. A steel/sharpener is a good idea too as you will get much better wear and performance from your knives if you sharpen them a little before each use. If you can then get two chopping boards - one for foods that will be cooked and one for foods that will not need any cooking or further cooking before eating. This prevents cross-contamination of foods though if you only have one board then try to buy a decent non-wooden type that can be thoroughly scrubbed or put through the dishwasher. A whisk, wooden spoon, fish slice/flexible spatula (preferably silicone), pair of heavy duty kitchen scissors, tin/can opener and a set of measuring spoons are also good basics.
Saucepans are next with one larger stockpot-type saucepan (usually two handles rather than one) for potatoes, pasta and making stock (if you are so inclined) and one medium sized one. A non-stick frying pan (20cm/8-inch diameter or larger) and a wok will also enable you to cook a wide variety of dishes. A cast iron casserole pan (Dutch oven) is expensive but very useful for stews and braises and will last a lifetime. Nigella tends to prefer the Le Creuset shallow casserole (which used to be known as a "buffet casserole" and is often known in the US as a "braiser") in either 26cm (approx. 3 1/2-quart) or 30cm (approx. 5-quart) size . One small and one large roasting tin (pan), a heavy baking sheet and a muffin tin should complete your capsule "batterie de cuisine". Nigella suggests for saucepans and other pans that you should "either go for the good, expensive stuff or buy cheap and be prepared to replace when necessary".
If you are planning on making cakes then a free standing mixer and a food processor are useful, along with a blender. However if your kitchen is very small and budget limited then you may like to consider the combination of a hand-held mixer and a hand/stick blender which should cover most recipes. You could then add some cake pans (two 20cm/8-inch sandwich tins/cake pans and a 23cm/9-inch springform pan) and a loaf pan to round out your collection.
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