Monthly Archives: September 2006
Some months ago I read an article somewhere that supposedly posted the definite list of items that you need to start a kitchen, and another one for cooks who are experts to upgrade their equipment. The list missed a lot of the basic essentials that I think most people should have at home, even those who do not do much cooking. A lot of the items on the basic list I had read were also superfluous, at least for most people who are starting up. Of course it all depends on personal choice, what type of cooking you prefer doing, and how much you are into cooking.
I personally tend to move from one extreme to another in what I use in the kitchen, from using a few basic tools for everything, to using specific tools for specific tasks. It all depends on my mood of the moment, and probably the phase of the moon too. These days I have been paying more attention to what I use daily in the kitchen, and I noticed that the basic tools that I employ the most are not very numerous. Everybody has their preferences, so what I say here should be taken with a grain of salt, as I am sure a lot of people out there could not life without their preferred gadgets or kitchen tools. The following list highlights the basic essentials that everybody interested in cooking should have in their kitchen, and it is based on my own experience. In subsequent posts I will list other items that I think should form the basis of a good kitchen. At a later date I will expand on each item on the various lists to explain my personal preferences.
Basic Essentials (Gadgets)
1. A solid smooth-bladed 8" chef’s knife
2. A 3" smooth-bladed paring knife
3. A sharpening stone (or sharpening gadget that actually works)
4. A sharpening steel
5. A serrated blade bread knife
6. A vegetable peeler
7. A box grater
8. A manual can and bottle opener
9. 3 large kitchen spoons
10. A soup ladle
11. A slotted spoon
12. A potato masher
13. A metal spatula
14. A bamboo spatula
15. A plastic spatula
16. 3 X silicone rubber spatulas of various sizes
17. 2 X 2 cup measuring cups
18. A 4 cup or larger measuring cup
19. A set of small measuring cups
20. A set of measuring spoons
21. A corkscrew
22. A wire whisk
The Padrino asked me a few days ago for a recipe to make some onion dip. I guess that at their very elegant retreat on top of a mountain overlooking Vienna, they spend their indolent evenings on the terrace overlooking the city nibbling on cruditÃ©s and sipping Champagne, and they got bored of their plain botanitas and needed something to stimulate their bored palates. Here is a simple recipe for a tasty onion dip, and if you want a little bit of variety we recently proposed a pair of other dips here and here.
1 1/2 cups sour cream
3/4 cup thick plain yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups finely diced sweet onions
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbs brandy
juice of 1 lime
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1. Add olive oil to a sautÃ© pan over medium-heat.
2. When hot add the onions, garlic, sugar, and 1/4 tsp of salt.
3. SautÃ© the onions until caramelized, about 15-20 minutes.
4. Add 1 tbs of the brandy, and when it boils light it up to flambÃ©.
5. When the flames die down, cool down the onion mixture and refrigerate for about an hour.
6. In a bowl mix the sour cream, the yogurt, the rest of the brandy, the lime juice, the rest of the salt, the pepper, and the onion mixture until well incorporated.
7. Refrigerate at least another hour until serving.
Last weekend was a very lazy one. On Saturday morning Normita went out with some friends to celebrate the birthday of Viky over breakfast, and I stayed home to work. In the afternoon I was getting very lazy and I was not in the mood to prepare anything elaborate in the kitchen. Normita mentioned that she was in the mood of some pasta with maybe pesto, so I jumped in the car to go to the super and pick up some fresh basil, some pasta, and a bottle of white wine. I prepared a quick and dirty pesto, which takes about as much time as boiling the water for the pasta. I had bought some tagliatelle pasta, but you can substitute the pasta of your choice. It is a true lazy Saturday dish…
5 quarts water
1 1/2 tbs salt
1/2 pound dry tagliatelle pasta
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 large clove elephant garlic or 4-5 cloves regular garlic
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan to taste for garnish
1. In a large pot bring the water with salt to boil and cook the pasta until tender.
2. While waiting for the water to boil, in a sautÃ© pan over medium high heat toast the 1/4 cup of pine nuts until golden brown. Make sure not to burn them. Set aside for garnishing.
3. Using a food processor or blender place the roughly chopped garlic and basil, the 1/2 cup of pine nuts, and the olive oil. Pulse until smooth.
4. Drain the pasta when cooked and return it to the pot. Pour the pesto sauce over it and toss over medium heat until the sauce and the remaining water is well absorbed into the pasta.
5. Server and season with salt and pepper to taste and top with freshly grated parmesan.