Saturday, 2 June 2012

My Top 5 Kitchen Must Haves

I love to cook (except when I'm tired, when I love to order take away!), and find it very therapeutic. There is nothing better than rustling up a delicious meal for friends or family. I spent a few months at Leiths cookery school a few years ago, and was taught the basics (I can chop an onion like a pro, let me tell you), but I have found that the best way to learn is to practice. I have a small addiction to cookery shows and books, and try and pick things outside of my comfort zone once a week, and give them a go. Yes, before you ask, I have had some serious disasters, and have to give Mr. G credit for eating his way through some terrible dishes, but it all adds to the tapestry of my cookery life! So, rather than sharing my favourite recipes, which change almost as often as my favourite lipglosses, I thought I'd tell you about my kitchen must haves; the kit which actually works (never buy a yoghurt maker, trust me) and I enjoy using. 

Quooker: This is a boiling water tap. It is expensive, and needs to be fitted (if you have granite worktops with no hole, say hello to a lot of dust, noise and expense), but it is the best thing in my kitchen. No, make that house (Mr. G included). Whenever you fancy a cup of tea, or need a saucepan full of pasta, the water is there, ready to go. Plentiful, hot and oh so satisfying as it shoots out of a tap. I was dead against this originally, as I didn't drink much tea or coffee (before children I saw no real need for caffeine, not the case any more), and thought that boiling a kettle was no effort. But Mr. G insisted, and we had a renegade hole in the worktop (for a broken soap dispenser), and my dad was confident he could fit it, so I couldn't really argue. Two years, and a new kitchen later, it is amazing. I honestly begrudge boiling the kettle when we are on holiday or visiting family, and miss the instant nature of a cup of tea. It sounds spoilt (I am, lets face it) but if you are thinking about a new kitchen, have a go with one, and think of all those valuable seconds you could save!

Silicon Kitchen Utensils: A new discovery for me; I've always been a wooden spoon sort of girl (a by product of Leiths I think). But silicon spatulas, spoons and hot mats are the new staple of my kitchen utensils drawer. I was initially drawn to them for their zany colours (I have a house that is white, off white and every other shade of white, and find permanent colour a bit scary, a hot pink spatula is less scary!), and now would not use anything else. They are heatproof and amazing for things like scrambled eggs, frying onions and getting every last gram of cake mixture out of a bowl. I use Kitchen Craft's range, for no other reason than these were the ones I first saw in a cookwear shop, but there are tonnes of brands about. And oh so many colour....I am so going to arrange my spatulas in rainbow order!

Magimix Food Processor: In short, the best on the market, bar none. It has a special type of motor (induction I think) which means it uses the right amount of force for the job, unlike cheaper brands which use one level of speed, unless you manually adjust them. Coupled with a 12 year guarantee on the motor (find me a car with a guarantee like that..), and a bowl made from the same material as riot shields, this food processor is built to last. I use mine for everything, chopping, blending, grating, slicing and chuck the bowl and blades in the dishwasher, and have had no problems in five years. It is definitely not the cheapest model on the market, but it is undoubtable the best. A brilliant wedding present, a less good birthday present (trust me, I was not impressed at a kitchen gadget gift, I believe my exact words were 'you chauvinist pig', while secretly being thrilled), and a fabulous treat if you cook a lot. 

Knives: Every TV cook worth their salt will bang on about the importance of good knives when you are cooking, and although it is a bit boring, I do agree with them. I have been building up a collection of good knives over the last few years, buying one every few months, and they do make the more mundane kitchen chores (chopping, peeling etc) a doddle. A blunt knife requires so much more effort and you are much more likely to hurt yourself, as the blades slide around. I've mainly stuck to two brands, Sabatier and Global, as I like the look and weight of both of them. If you can only afford one at a time, I'd start with a 'cook's knife', a multipurpose, chopping knife, that you will use forever. And, keep your knives sharpened, even cheap ones. I have two top tips for this; ask a butcher to do it, they will come home razor sharp, or buy a Draper 76765 Tungsten sharpener, better than any fancy steel or weird machine, the best I have ever found.

Kitchen Aid: A hugely indulgent kitchen gadget, but one that is brilliant if you bake a lot. The most expensive thing in my kitchen, and the prettiest (it's pink), it makes light (literally) work of every cake, cupcake, mousse and sweet treat you can come up with. The thing that makes this so special is that it looks amazing on your worktop, is pretty indestructible and can beat, whisk, knead, roll pasta, grind meat and a million other clever things. 

Quooker, from £800. Available to buy online and in all good kitchen suppliers.

Kitchen Craft Silicon Cooking Utensils, from £3.56. Available online and in all good cookwear shops.

Magimix Food Processor, from £156.99 for  compact model. Available online and in department stores.

Global and Sabatier Knives, from £12.45, available online and in all good cookwear and department stores

Draper 76765 Tungsten Carbide multisharpener, £5.89, available online

Kitchen Aid Mixer, from £284 in white. Available online and in department stores.

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