The heading for this post sounds terribly conceited, but I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a cookware expert. When Giulio and I got married, I remember sitting there trying to do the gift registry and coming up with nothing. We weren’t inviting that many people, so I couldn’t just go to my local department store and choose everything including the $80 potato peeler like my brother did a few years later. I had to be more selective. Whether you’re in the same boat or forking out for your own first home sans wedding, a really good idea of the basics can save you a lot of pain, space and money. I’ve narrowed it down to the top 12 kitchen accessories you really can’t live without for the ultimate shopping guide.
1. set of pots and pans
You could fill your kitchen with a million pots and still have a million more options to buy. But when you’re cooking for two, you really only need a small pot, a medium sized pot, a three pans with lids. These don’t have to set you back €800, but you shouldn’t spend €8 either. Ikea has a great set of stainless steel pots.
2. set of everyday dinnerware
Save the Wedgewood for your when your in your 50s. If you choose your everyday dinnerware with care, it can double as your party dinnerware and you don’t have to worry about finding space for two sets. A Zara Home set of 12 white bone china plates, pasta bowls, salad plates and little bowls are all you need. Just buy a few spares in case of breakages.
3. cutlery set
Same as the above. Skip the trends. The dip dyed forks and bronze knives and just pick a plain Alessi stainless steel set of twelve forks, knives, spoons and dessert spoons. No frills and buy extras. Someone stole one of my forks after a dinner party (I’m not even joking) and I’ve been struggling to replace it ever since. I also have set of chopsticks for sushi recipes.
4. glassware set
Again, no frills, no fancy patterns. Just 12 red, white and Champagne glasses and 12 water glasses like these from RDM with spares. Don’t mess around with whisky tumblers, shots and martini glasses unless you really need them.
5. knife block
I am partial to the ceramic kitchen knife. Ikea has a great set and as long as you’re careful not to snap off the tips, they last for ages. You don’t need more than three.
6. casserole dish
I cannot recommend a Le Creuset casserole dish enough. Soups, tagines, pies, stews, stocks, pot roast, anything under the sun can be cooked in one of these. You will thank me in autumn and winter.
7. kitchen utensils
Okay, so I’m cheating by lumping all of these into one category, but I read in one of Jamie Oliver’s books that all you need for cooking utensils is two wooden spoons, a spatula, a soup ladle and a slotted spatula.Take it as gospel and make sure they’re all silicon coated, so they don’t scratch your pans. Ikea has a great set again.
8. a sieve
You could buy a rice strainer, a pasta strainer and 15 different sieves or you could just buy three like these from Dland and use them for everything.
9. mixing bowls
Three mixing bowls are all you really need. Two should be ceramic and one should be plastic or glass and they all should be heatproof and microwave proof. You need a plastic/glass one for when you’re using a hand mixer or blender. I learnt the hard way that those babies scratch ceramic something fierce. Or you could just buy these melamine ones from Oggi.
10. baking trays
This depends on how much baking you do. Again I follow Jamie’s rule of thumb and buy a set like this one from Chicago Metallic with 1 standard size cake tin, 1 baking tray, 1 oven dish big enough to roast potatoes or meat, 1 loaf tin, 1 smaller oven dish for baking sides and 1 muffin tin.
11. chopping boards
Two bamboo chopping boards. One for meat and fish and one for everything else.
12. electric scale
If you buy a scale like this one from Kitchen gurus that measures grams, mls and ounces, you can do anyway with the measuring jugs. In fact, you can do away with the measuring cups and spoons too.
This is absolutely the bare bones of cookware, but you can include a few nice-to-have if you have the space and/or budget. For me, it was a really beautiful tea and coffee set with all the trimmings. But it could just as easily be:
– a griddle pan
– a set of Japanese knives
– the complete set of cocktail glassware
– pestle and mortar
– a wok and bamboo steamer
I’ve narrowed down what is literally a department store’s worth of kitchen accessories into a very concise cookware list. Trust me, you won’t go wanting for anything if you follow it to the letter as everything else is just filler.
Are there any kitchen accessories I haven’t mentioned that you simply have to have?
photo credits: 1