Cooking doesn’t have to be difficult. Nor does it need super-fancy tools. Here are a list of some basics that will ensure that you can cook everything on this site, and a couple of extras that allows you to speed things up.
- Cutlery: Knifes, forks, spoons. You’d be surprised how much mashing and whisking you can do without purpose-made tools.
- Crockery: I could live without plates. Most of the food I cook seems to sit best in a bowl. I like the 3D effect and there’s something comforting about bowls. The plates come out when we have guests. (If they weren’t too big for the new dishwasher, we’d maybe use them more often.)
- Tea towels: Use to dry wet crockery, double up to use as an oven mitt, wrap around your throat to keep warm.
On the cooker
- Kettle: When I grew up, we didn’t have them. I told mum about kettles, she didn’t see the point. Two years later, she had one. They are genius.
- Pots: you get away with one, but 1 large, 1 medium and 1 small makes life easier.
- Frying pan: one is fine and almost everything here can be cooked with a small one. Non-stick is the thing.
In the oven
- Oven-fast dish: lasagne, pasta bakes, shepherd’s pie. This is what they’re cooked in. A lidded glass one is great, but a square ceramic one works too. If you need a lid, aluminium foil can do the trick.
- 23 cm cake tin: Get one with a removable base. In a pinch, it does the work of an oven-fast dish.
- Baking sheet: Make that two.
- Oven gloves: Keep those hands safe.
- Scales: Great for accuracy, and for getting a feel for how much things weigh.
- Measuring jug: 1 pint measuring jug takes care of most of the measuring tasks. Cup measures help too.
- Set of measures: Cup measures are very useful, as are spoon measures. Actual cups and spoons work too, but they’re not always exact in measurements. A lot of the time, that doesn’t matter but some recipes need accuracy. If you want to bake, you need measures and scales.
- Chopping board.
- Knives: 1 large, 1 small is perfect. A separate, serrated one for bread makes life easier.
- Kitchen scissors.
- Spatula: Silicone ones are great since they don’t scratch non-stick surfaces, nor do they melt when the heat goes up.
- Wooden spoon: Or silicone ones, they work in the dishwasher and come in cheerful colours.
- Potato masher: Can be replaced with a fork, but they are useful for all kinds of mashing.
- Hand whisk: Useful for small batches of cream and making batter. A balloon whisk is great, a wire whisk is equally effective and often easier to get into the corner of pots. Both styles are available in non-stick, non-abrasive materials these days. The joys of technology!
- Garlic crusher.
- Grater: Equally useful for carrots and cheese.
- Tin opener.
- Bottle opener/cork screw. Useful for when your cooking wine doesn’t have a screw cork.
- Sieve: Great for items that smaller than the holes in the colander. And when you need to sieve flour. (Not necessary for any of these recipes.)
- Mixing bowls. Get a couple if different sizes, and materials. They come in all kinds of handy and doubles as snack bowls and salad bowls.
- Kitchen foil: Excellent for covering things in the oven and fridge, but also for creating temporary containers when making toffee or baking.
- Cling film: for safely wrapping up leftovers and pieces of veg, covering bowls of dip and so on.
- Greaseproof paper: Stops biscuits from sticking to baking sheets and minimises mess.
- Empty containers for storing soup, etc. Old, cleaned, take-away containers are great.
- Empty, cleaned jam or peanut butter jars: Great for storing nuts etc., also fab for shaking
- Stick blender (with a mixer attachment): Stick blenders blend soups to perfect smoothness and, if they have a mixer attachment and/or a whisk attachment, they make hummus, whip cream in a thrice, and do all kinds of magic. Mixing and blending.
- Electric whisk: Great for mashing potato, whisking cake batter and whipping cream. Some of that, a stick blender can do, but an electric whisk has a bit more omph.
- Wok: You can use a frying pan to stir fry, but woks are purpose made and a lot easier to use.
- Steamer: I don’t mean an electric one, though I’m sure they’re great. You an get stackable bamboo steamers quite cheaply in any Chinese shop, and if you get a metal one, the bottom pot doubles as a pasta pot.