You’ve started experimenting in the kitchen more Â— having finally graduated from your diet of popcorn or instant noodles for dinner — and it’s time to stock your kitchen with the tools you need. Here are four essentials that’ll help take your meals to the next level.
Until now, you haven’t needed many kitchen tools and gadgets because your stove hasn’t seen much action other than boiling water for tea. But all of those hours watching the Food Network have inspired you to cook from scratch more often (or perhaps it’s a new boyfriend you want to impress with some good cooking). Here are a few tools that’ll help make cooking more of a breeze, and may help take your dishes up a notch.
Mortar and pestle
This heavy, primeval-looking kitchen accessory is often touted by professional chefs as a must-have. Use it to grind fresh herbs and spices to help release their flavours, which will, of course, then impart rich, satisfying flavours to the food you cook.
A godsend for people living in cozy urban condos (or cramped spaces, take your pick!), a hand blender often does the job just as well as a standing blender, but will save you tons of counter space — as it can easily be tucked away in the cupboard — and washes up in a jiffy. Use it to blend soups and make smoothies or juices.
If you’ve ever watched any of Jamie Oliver’s cooking shows, you’ll see how often this exuberant chef uses his rasp. It’s fantastic for finely grating most ingredients: from the zest of a lemon, lime or orange for your pesto, gremolata or cakes (it can also be used to grate chocolate) to savoury additions such as garlic or ginger. It’s also a must for that block of Parmesan, creating a delicate sprinkling of cheese atop your favourite pasta dish.
Until now, you’ve gotten away with winging your measurements, or using the same cup to measure all of your ingredients. But now that you’re developing your cooking skills, you will need to invest in measuring cups for your wet and dry ingredients. You’ll want cups that allow for both imperial and metric measurements. Wet measuring cups are typically clear and made of plastic or glass with a spout for easy pouring; a 2-cup/300mL capacity one is useful. Dry measuring cups may be made of metal or plastic, come in graduated sizes (quarter, third, half and 1 cup) and usually have a flat rim so that you can level any extra off the top with a knife, to ensure precision.