My 10 Kitchen “MUST-HAVES”
Everyone has that one thing they just can’t live (or in my case, cook) without. I happen to have many, but who can blame me? I’m aspiring to pursue a career in the food industry. As the first day of my last year in the culinary program approaches, I figured it only best take a day away from the recipes and share a few of my secrets. I compiled a list of MUST-HAVES, for all of you lovelies, that I use almost daily. Okay, maybe it’s not so secret.
- GARLIC- As mentioned in my post for Soup Beans- The best you’ll ever have, garlic is one ingredient I add in just about everything savory. And I mean everything. FRESH garlic, by the way. Not the cheap cans of garlic power; that stuff just doesn’t do the fresh garlic justice. However, I can’t really talk bad about the powder. It does do pretty well in-a-pinch when you are out of the real deal; and it’s also great when you’re making your own seasoning blends to have on hand.
- APRON/CHEF COAT- These items are great for keeping your everyday clothes mess free. No, I do not expect everyone to have a chef coat lying around, but it certainly is a plus. I actually would have never gotten one if it weren’t for being a requirement in my Culinary Program. After wearing them, I love them! Pair them with some funky printed chef pants and you’re set. They are so comfy to wear. My sweet Culinary instructor hardly goes anywhere without them. So much that when I seen her today, she was in street clothes and expressed how uncomfortable she felt without them. In my own experience, after wearing them almost a week straight, you do feel quite weird without them…. Okay, enough rambling about the chef coat. I highly recommend, if you don’t already have one, invest in an apron. It will save you the heartache of buying a new wardrobe after trying desperately to scrub the stains from your favorite shirt. (Wait, maybe that’s a good thing. No, no, definitely not)
- ADOBO- Ahh… this is a miracle seasoning. It’s heavy with the garlic powder (I know I just said garlic powder doesn’t compare to fresh), but it’s perfect blend of garlic, oregano and other Latino spices is the perfect seasoning for all your meat, poultry and fish dishes. I was first introduced to it many years ago when cooking alongside my daddy. He and my aunt raved over it. Unfortunately, I have yet to find it on the shelves in my local grocery stores. Every time he comes to visit me here, he always brings me the biggest jar they have. That way I can ensure I never go without.
- VANILLA EXTRACT- I told you about my favorite savory ingredient, now it’s time to spill for the sweet side of things. I use this in almost everything. Even recipes that don’t call for it. I find it adds a nice, warming touch to what ever it’s in. Kinda like when I add sugar to tomato based sauces; where the sugar knocks out the acidity from the tomatoes, the vanilla adds a balance to anything tart. It gives you the perfect feeling of something truly homemade.
- CAST IRON SKILLET and DUTCH OVEN- I love how versatile these are. You can use them on the stove or oven. I use the skillet to make a mean turkey pot pie (I’ll post the recipe someday 😉 ).
- KITCHENAID MIXER- You will never know love until you own one of these. Sure, they cost a pretty penny, but they are well worth it. These things, no joke, last a lifetime. My dad has one of the first models that was passed down from my great Grandma Cibrowski. It still works perfectly. And do I even need to mention all the awesome attachments you can get for it? I mean, you don’t even need to buy an ice-cream maker; Just get the attachment. We use these (and the industrial models) in our kitchens at school. They never disappoint.
- OLIVE OIL- The healthy oil! There are many beneficial reasons for using olive oil. It’s not just for cooking! Why not keep it on hand?
- GREEN PEPPERS- These stay stocked in my fridge. I try to incorporate them in anything that involves veggies. And stuffed peppers? Mmm…mmm…!
- A GOOD CHEF KNIFE- Don’t have a chef knife? I suggest you go to the store and get one now! Not the thin, flimsy knives that can’t hold a sharp edge. Those are crap! I highly recommend investing in one that will last you (hopefully) a lifetime, at best. If you take care of them, they will. I have a santoku (japanese styled chef knife with a flatter blade) and a chef knife (curved blade, great for rocking motions when cutting). When picking the perfect knife: I keep in mind the weight, proper grip, and the length of the tang. I found an awesome article about choosing the perfect chef knife on Fine Cooking. Give it a read if you want a more in depth way of choosing your perfect cutlery.
- MY PINK RUBBER SPATULA- This was actually a gift from one of my classmates during our Christmas gift exchange last year. I wasn’t even the name he’d drawn from the hat, but he made sure everyone got a gift. As little as it was, it meant so much to me. I use it every day as a reminder of the awesome friends I have made. It’s also super handy.
Ok, I am finally done gabbing! Thanks for bearing with me. Now you have a list of my absolute favorite Must-Haves (I’m sure I will find a need to update in the future) to use in my kitchen. While everyone has different preferences and advice, these are what I find to suit me and my needs as a chef. I DO feel that every cook should invest in at least a few of these items as they will save a lot of time and hassle in your production!
Got some “Must Haves” of your own that work for you? Share with me in the comments. I find it interesting to learn how every cook does things differently. I might even learn something new 😉
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