For most of us there are huge differences between a commercial kitchen and our humble home kitchen. The banner image above is my kitchen, I like to think it's humble, nothing flash unlike many of those home Youtube chefs. It is normal in the most basic context. I have a gas stove with 3 burners, an electric oven, and a few gadgets maybe over the average kitchen. So this page is for the average person, that has an average kitchen with limited space and modest means.
Hygiene and safety should always be top of the list. I am sure many of these set up tips will be well known and I add them to be sensible, these are also not definitive so if you have any additional tips I've missed or you believe should be added feel free to let me know.
I'll also add links to a few well made video or pages that can explain some of the details way better than I and by individuals way more qualified than I.
- Acquire the best knives you can afford. If you only buy one really good knife get a medium sized cooks knife and look after it. I've had a Wustof cooks knife for over 20 years now and it still serves me well. I have added a couple of additional cooks knives since, but I must admit it the Wustof is still my go to for general kitchen stuff.
- Keep your knives sharp. Blunt knives are far more dangerous than sharp knives as they need more pressure to cut and will not slice smoothly. My general test is how cleanly will the knife slice through the skin of a ripe tomato with the least amount of pressure. I've used a sharpening steel for many years and only recently acquired a set of whetstones. Get a selection of whetstones if you can.
- Learn to use your knives properly, here I will defer to a few experts on Youtube below:
Your Pots & Pans
Similar to your knives, get a couple of very good quality pans, heavy based, non-stick is fine, a couple of stainless steel saucepans and a medium to small sauté pan. Admittedly I have way more in the pantry than I need, I only use 3-4 of them regularly (a clean out is well overdue). No matter what, never ever buy the crappy fry pans advertised as 'nothing will stick'. Tried it and wasted money on a piece of shit. Go for commercial quality named brands, Le Creuset, Circulon etc.
If you can get all your pans with riveted metal handles or grips makes them a lot more versatile (avoid plastic handles where you can). Check the images across the recipes, you'll notice I have a few go to pots and pans in my attempts at cooking.
Here are the pots and pans I use regularly (images in the gallery below):
- Cast iron deep sided fry pan, also known as a braiser pan, works well as a roasting pan also.
- Cast iron casserole also known as a French Oven as it is similar to a Dutch Oven however the inside is enamelled.
- Cast iron large frying pan
- Standard non stick frying pan, heavy base
- Cast iron paella pan
- Stir fry/wok, heavy based, I also have a couple of standard stainless steel versions.
- Large stainless steel pot, mostly for stocks and pasta cooking.
- Stove top griddle, for steaks when I couldn't be bothered firing up the BBQ.
- Try these links for more information on pots and pans:
- Buy at least one solid wooden chopping block. I actually use a couple to avoid cross contamination for different jobs like meat, seafood and veg.
- Plastic or food quality acrylic is also fine and you can buy them in different colours to use for different foods/purposes. I have both wooden and acrylic.
- Don't buy glass.
- To keep wooden boards clean I salt them every now and again. Simply combine a little baking/bicarb soda with salt and a little vinegar or lemon juice and create a paste, rub across the board and let sit for 5-10 mins and then rinse and dry.
- Here is a good link for choosing a chopping board : BBC Good Food - What Chopping Board to Buy
What Every Kitchen Should Probably Have
- A good quality blender or food processor.
- Stainless steel and or glass mixing bowls in a variety of sizes.
- Good quality scales. These should also allow you to zero out the weight of the container/plate/bowl that you may decide to place your ingredients in.
- Measuring cups and measuring spoons. Avoid plastic and go for stainless steel and or glass. You can get reasonably prices items like this at Amazon, via Ikea or any quality department store.
- A selection of utensils such as wooden stirring spoons, a slotted serving spoons and a couple of tongs.
- A couple of different sized sieves/strainers.
- A quality vegetable scraper/grater & vegetable peeler.
- A quality can opener.
- A spice rack or organised area for your herbs and spices.
- Mortar & pestle.
- An instant read thermometer.
- A timer, if you can find one that’s has two or three built in timers that works well.
- A good supply of zip lock bags & a range of snap lock containers.
Tips That Make Kitchen Life Easier
- This may sound obvious but read through your recipe a couple of times before starting and plan your cooking approach.
- Prepare all your ingredients before you start cooking.
- Acquire a selection of small bowls to measure ingredients out into, like herbs and spices, before you start cooking.
- Have more than one tea towel. I will have a couple of tea towels out. One for cleaning off the work bench, one usually to dry my knife and hands after a wash/clean and maybe another to wipe up spills and oil splatter around the stove top. It's also a little more hygienic than using one towel for all those jobs.
- A small thing, but having lots of spoons, teaspoons, and a couple of cocktail spoons (with the long handles) is very handy. Again for hygiene more than anything, if cooking for others, don't keep using the same spoon to continually taste as you go. If you do use a single spoon at least give it wash between tastings.
- And always try to clean up what you can as you go. The 5-10 minutes between adding ingredients gives you time to tidy a little giving you space and making clean up afterwards less of a chore.