Equipment & Tools
You really do not need a lot of fancy gadgets and appliances to be a great cook. Successful cooking is more about understanding what flavors and textures go well together and how to achieve those outcomes than it is about expensive equipment. (I think the exception to this might be ice cream. To make the truly top shelf ice creams, you need a professional ice cream maker, but I digress.) The art of French cooking evolved long before the food processor. Nonetheless, there are some tools that can make your time in the kitchen far easier and less time consuming, and, let’s face it, some gadgets are fun to use, and cooking should be a fun and fulfilling experience.
Below you will find some of my favorite kitchen tools (listed alphabetically) with links so that you can get them for yourself if you wish. I will update this list as time allows.
Blenders: In 2018, I received my first Vitamix, and I have to say that nothing compares to a Vitamix. It is the gold standard of blenders — powerful, sturdy, quiet, and easy to clean. It is, however, very expensive, currently about $600 on Amazon, but you can click on the image below to get the most current price.
If you can’t justify the cost of the Vitamix, there are several acceptable options from which to choose, depending on your blending needs. If you are really doing simple, low power blending like smoothies and milkshakes, a standard kitchen blender will probably work. I can not recommend the Ninja, which is made of cheap plastic parts and is very prone to breaking and break downs.
I also use a Cuisinart flash blender. I have found this to be an extremely handy tool, and an inexpensive one (about $28). You will be happy to have this little magician, particularly if your gravies or sauces develop unexpected lumps. It also does a great job finishing soups into a perfectly creamy texture even while they are hot.
Citrus Zesters: For me, citrus zesters are not only an important tool, they save a ton of time. They will help you to quickly zest a citrus fruit without getting too much of the bitter white part beneath the rind.
Food Processors: I admit that in the beginning, I had to prove to myself I could cook proficiently without a food processor, and I did everything by hand. Now that I have proven it, I hope that I never have to go back to all that hand chopping, grating, and blending. I use three food processors, in different sizes, and for me, Cuisinart is the only way to go. If you decide to get one, I would choose the 12-cup or the 14-cup size. If you use it for nothing other than pie, pastry and cheesecake crusts, the food processor will add years to your life. You can click on the images below or their captions to check the most current pricing on Amazon.
Pudding Steamers. I made my first English Christmas Pudding (aka Plum Pudding) for Christmas in 2018 and fell in love with the idea of steamed cakes. (English plum pudding is not a pudding and it has no plums in it.) Because they are steamed and not baked in a dry oven, these sweet treats are delightfully moist and packed with flavor. I am working on developing several recipes of my own for steamed puddings and I am looking forward to sharing them with you. They are not difficult to make, but they do require a pudding steamer for best results. (I have read that they can be steamed in a tightly covered bowl, but I have not tried that.) Below are the two lidded pudding steamers that I have. They are both inexpensive – in the neighborhood of $30. The one on the right is non-stick and does not have a central tunnel. The one on the left is not non-stick, but I have not had any problem with the pudding sticking within it.
Recipe Manager / Recipe App. I use and highly recommend the recipe app called Paprika Recipe Manager. I have this on my phone, on my tablet, and my Windows laptop and on my Macbook. They all synchronize perfectly. It manages my grocery list; it organizes my recipes. It makes it easy to share recipes directly through email. It automatically downloads recipes from the interntet. It helps with meal planning. It is awesome and it is affordable. I have used this app for several years now and I have not been disappointed. It is a fantastic app.