These are a few of my favorite thingsSep 06, 2023
Kitchen Must Haves
Top Tools For Efficient Cooking
Would you love a well-equipped but uncluttered kitchen that will help you feed yourself and your family without a sink full of dirty equipment and gadgets?
What are the tools that will be truly helpful and at what expense? It can be overwhelming to figure out what to buy. Check out my list below! My favorite things listed will so helpful in your kitchen or as a Christmas or Hannukah gift for a budding or serious cook.
The goal is to prep and prepare foods efficiently, quickly, and without a big mess, and there are simple tools that can be very helpful.
My motto is “buy tools, not gadgets!”
I have a small kitchen so each tool needs to be useful. There are MANY gadgets out there that are tempting but in the end just take up space. A garlic press, for example, is a gadget because it has one use - it only presses garlic through tiny holes, which then must be cleaned, which is not an easy task!!
Knives and cutting boards have multiple uses. Learning knife skills and mincing garlic with a good knife is simple and time-saving, and knives are much easier to wash! I’ll post a video on social media showing you how I mince garlic.
Below I have some of my favorite everyday tools listed. These would make great stocking stuffers, gifts, or tools to help you with holiday cooking in your kitchen.
I’ve used just a few websites here, but there are many options for purchasing these items. I don’t recommend buying store brands like a Target brand can-opener for example but rather well-known brands like OXO, which hold up well and are also available at Target.
Restaurant supply stores are great places to shop for kitchen equipment. Basics like stainless nesting bowls, cutting boards, and baking pans can be found at inexpensive prices. If you’re in San Jose, visit Dong Vinh Restaurant Equipment: 1979 Monterey Rd Suite #120, San Jose, CA 95112. Most if not all items can also be found on Amazon.
Shop for more specialized and expensive items like knives at places such as William Sonoma, Sur La Table with knowledgeable staff. If you find a similar item for a reduced price at Costco or elsewhere, it might not necessarily be the same quality. I purchased a Kitchen aid stand mixer at Costco, and the motor sounded like a motorcycle!
KNIVES ARE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT TOOL and deserve a store of their own!
The best place to buy a knife is at a knife store. Visit a local knife shop so that you talk to someone knowledgeable and hold the knife in your hand and see how it feels. The handle should feel like a comfortable fit. My hands are small, so this is important.
If you are in Silicon Valley, I highly recommend William’s Cutlery which has been independently owned and operated in San Jose for over 60 years. The new owner worked for the previous owner and is extremely knowledgeable. Prices should be higher due to the customer service, but due to Amazon, etc., the owner has made his pricing competitive. Mention Community Cuisine for a 10% discount on knives not already marked down. I don’t get a kickback; the owner is just nice.
William’s Cutlery: 2065 Camden Avenue, San Jose, Ca 95124 408-558-9411
Quality, name-brand knives often have great warranties. www.wusthof.com, for example, has a lifetime guarantee and will replace a broken knife.
Buy a knife block or knife holder or individual covers to protect your knives. The blades should be protected, and so should your fingers!
Get your knives sharpened every six months to a year by a professional.
Purchase a honing steel. This tool keeps a sharp knife sharp. Watch Youtube and use your honing steel to sharpen your knife before each use with two or three swipes to clean the blade.
What knives to buy:
Start with an 10” to 12” chef’s knife, a pairing knife, and a thin 5” or 6” slicing knife
Tips on knife sharpening by a true craftsmen: Bob Kramer's tips on sharpening
Good Knife Brands:
Knife Holder: a must for protecting your knives:
In a drawer: Drawer organizer
Wall mounted In metal: I used a drawer version until my kids were older and I wasn’t concerned that they would try and grab a knife
Wall mounted In wood
Kid-Friendly knives: Plastic & Safe
There are many choices for cookware with varying price ranges. Knives and pans are the two items I recommend spending the most can. They'll last your entire life. Slowly add to your collection as your cooking and your budget increase. There are many more options but these listed are some of the best.
Scanpan non-stick cookware: Boasting an all-new, commercial-grade nonstick surface that’s safe for use with metal utensils and cleans up easily in the dishwasher, Scanpan’s latest collection doesn’t compromise on performance—and it’s safe and sustainable, with a PFOA-free surface and 100% recycled aluminum construction. I still use wooden spoons when possible.
Le Creuset: Start with a roomy dutch oven that fits a large chicken. I have three that were inherited from my aunt, mom, and grandma. I love them!
Lodge Cast Iron: one or two are fun. These are not expensive and will last for generations as long as you season them per instructions. Great for a million uses!
SPLURGES FOR SANTAS LIST:
A food processor - I like Cuisinart
Vitamix Blender or another good quality blender
A Kitchen-aid 4.5 qt, 5 qt, or 6 qt stand mixer or another brand. I’ve had a Kitchen-aid forever and love it.
TOOLS AND TRICKS FOR STOCKING STUFFERS:
Below are inexpensive but hugely helpful items that make great gifts. Many can also be found at a restaurant supply store.
I use parchment paper every day! Your holiday cookies and roasted veggies won’t stick to the pan, and your pans won’t be dirty! I love the Precut Non-Stick & Unbleached parchment paper that will not curl or burn and is non-toxic. I stand the package up with my cookie sheets. Super convenient!
Salad Spinner, a must-have! I use my salad spinner for washing all sorts of vegetables. I love this stainless steel salad spinner. Before finding this one, I went through three plastic ones that warped, cracked, or were left too close to a hot burner. I’ve had it for years. My favorite is by OXO.
Digital Food Scale by Taylor I love this thin easy to store and use scale. It’s a game changer if you love to bake. Measuring ingredients by weight means you can use the scale and one bowl instead of measuring cups, etc. Wiles clean. It’s great.
Immersion Blender: I love this tool for whipping cream, making a small batch of pesto or homemade mayo, blending a smoothie or sauces, etc. It’s SOOO easy to clean! Every kitchen needs one of these!
Citrus squeezer: My favorite is this stainless steal one Much easier than the regular glass juicer.
Microplane Zester/Grater: Get several - a fine one for lemon zest and a course one for cheese. Here’s one.
Measuring cups and spoons: Take off the ring that holds the spoons or cups together and store the spoons “spoon side up” in a cup. It’s much easier to handle and wash one than four dangling spoons or cups. Keep spoons in a jar, handle down for easy grabbing. Buy rectangular spoons, not round, so they fit into all spice jars. Try my favorite good quality set.
Coffee / Spice Grinder: I have one for coffee and one for spices. Toasting whole spices slightly in a dry pan releases oils and enhances the fragrance. Cool the spices and grind them in your coffee grinder. Try making your own blends! My favorite one
Olive Oil Dispenser: Olive oil should be kept in the dark and away from sun and heat, which is why stainless versions are perfect. Stainless steel is the best
Whisks for sauces should be straight. A balloon whisk is round in shape and is for whipping egg whites. For egg whites, I use my mixer instead! This is a good option
Plastic Nesting Strainer & Bowl Set: Super handy for washing miscellaneous fruits and veg, soaking or draining beans, etc. Check these out
Nesting Stainless bowls: Make sure you review sizes and get some large ones. These are just right
Aluminum ¼ and ½ sheet pans: Best for baking, roasting veggies, one-pan dinners.
Waterproof Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer - a must-have for not over or undercooking meat. These are also great for BBQing. “Cutting” into a steak while on the grill draws out the juices and leaves them dripping onto the BBQ. To keep juices in your meats, use this tool: I love this one!
Stainless Tongs: I use these every day!
Reach out to me if you’ve got questions!
Disclaimer: All products listed above have been selected by Community Cuisine based on personal experience. Some of the items listed in the blog and on social media may contain affiliate links. If you happen to buy something through one of these links we may be eligible to earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.