Years ago when I first started teaching cooking classes, I was asked to teach a class as part of a kitchen shower for a bride. What fun. The hostess asked me to make the class fairly simple, but informative for a group of mostly just out-of-college young women. I came up with a list of essential tools and ingredients that I could demonstrate as part of the menu that I would be serving. It was a great success and since then, I’ve done a few more bridal showers – even a bachelorette party, using the same theme. So here’s my list; I hope it’s helpful. What’s yours?
FAVORITE TIPS and TOOLS
1. MISE EN PLACE ~ a French term referring to having all the ingredients necessary for a dish prepared and ready to combine up to the point of cooking; means gathering, measuring, chopping, toasting, etc., all ingredients prior to begin cooking.
2. SALT ~ kosher, sea, no table
3. BUTTER ~ use ONLY unsalted butter for cooking and baking; you don’t want the salt in the butter influencing the taste of a dish you are preparing.
4. OILS ~ extra virgin, vegetable, canola, peanut
5. PLASTIC SQUEEZE BOTTLES ~ for evoo, vegetable oil, simple syrup; chocolate, condiments ($1.25-$1.75)
6. MICROPLANE ~ for zesting citrus and grating cheese, nutmeg ($12.95)
7. JUICER ~ lemons, limes ($14.95-16.95)
8. CHEF’S KNIFE ~ buy the best you can afford and what feels good in your hand; it’s your essential, must-have knife for dicing and chopping ($42.00 up)
9. PLASTIC PASTRY SCRAPER ~ scraping/scooping ingredients from cutting board to bowl, cleaning off your counter ($1.95)
10. STAINLESS BOWLS ~ mixing bowl; double boiler; trash bowl, salad bowl, ice bowl (depending on size – $9.95 – $20.95)
11. TONGS ~ use as a spoon and a grasping tool; stirring pasta; tossing salad; on the grill ($8.95 – $12.95)
12. STOVE TOP GRILL ~ for roasting peppers on the stove top
13. SERRATED PEELER ~ for peeling tomatoes, peaches, kiwi
14. SALAD SPINNER ~ lettuce/herbs; also use as an ice bath; serving bowl ($20.95 – $24.95)
15. OXO MEASURING CUPS ~ 1, 2, 4 cup
16. IMMERSION BLENDER ~ makes life easier for pureeing soups in the cooking pot or whipping cream
17. SCALE ~ essential for measuring by weight flour, chocolate ($34.95 – $59.95)
18. PARCHMENT PAPER ~ for lining cake pans, brownie pans, keeping sheet pans clean, wrapping cheese; I like to buy mine at the restaurant supply store for the flat, half sheet size.
19. LE CREUSET SPATULAS ~ the best and they’re pretty, too. ($12.00)
20. FOOD LOVER’S COMPANION ~ essential reference; I love “FINE COOKING” and “CUISINE AT HOME” magazines for great instruction and recipes and wonderful photography without the ads and restaurant articles. It’s just about cooking.
When you are wondering what to get the bride or college graduate or as a housewarming gift, you can’t go wrong with any of these items. You will get a big hug and maybe an invitation to dinner.