Upgrading your gourmet kitchen equipment

Foodtourist.com Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Review
 
Upgrading your gourmet kitchen equipment
Food article / commentary

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane

The genesis of the idea for this article was spending time choosing which equipment we would put into a rental property we share in Provence in France.
 
     
 

The house is called La Louche and is in the small country village of Caromb. The aim was to ensure that food lovers who rented the house and came to buy food in the fabulous local markets would have the right equipment to turn the produce into fantastic food. We wanted to make sure that the equipment 'felt' right. That it would put a smile of the face of those using it whether it be slicing perfectly ripe local tomatoes, simmering a daube of Provencal lamb or roasting one of the amazing corn-fed chickens that are available at the Velleron market. So, the list below is similar to the equipment we either have put into our Provencal house or is on our wish list, but it will work just as well in Birmingham or New York or Shanghai or Sydney.

One of the absolutely indispensable items in your kitchen is a range of Le Creuset equipment. This French range is solid and very long lasting. The solid base on each of the items means that you have more control over the distribution of heat and you will not find 'hot spots' developing. This large, round French Oven is ideal for long-cooked, braised dishes such as a daube of beef or a chicken casserole.

 

The French Oven below is a smaller version of the previous one and is useful when you want to make smaller quantities of a dish.

Staub are a good manufacturer of quality cookware and the mini-cocottes below are now very fashionable in Paris for single-pot meals - there is even a Christian Constant restaurant called Les Cocottes de Christian Constant!

Italian sandwiches called panini are easy to make and are perfect for a light lunch. The Le Creuset panini maker is one of the best around. It can also be used for simple grilling of fish, quail, liver and other similar foods.

The roasting and baking pan below is perfect for all types of oven cooking from roasting potatoes to a Sunday roast chicken.

No kitchen should be without a large stock pot so that you can make your own stocks. This stainless steel stock pot has a heavy base so that you can control the temperature carefully. The trick to making perfect stocks is have the temperature turned down so that the stock is not boiling but rather just 'trembling' on the surface.

The better the quality of the knives you use the better the quality of your cooking. Clean cuts make the difference between you appearing as an amateur cook or a professional. Anyone who has eaten perfect sashimi will know that perfect cutting is the key. These knives are high quality.

These thin rolling pins are widely used in France where pastry making reaches its highest expression.

Once you have used a Peugot pepper grinder you won't be able to go back to a brand you have bought from your local store. It just 'feels' right. You get the sense that you are using equipment that has been designed with care and flair.

There is nothing more festive than cooking a whole salmon or other fish and presenting it whole at the table. To do this well you need a great fish kettle with a heavy base. On festive summer occasions we like to 'white cook' a whole salmon or ocean trout. To do this half fill a fish kettle with water then add two chopped stalks of celery, some chopped scallions, some chopped fresh ginger and 10 peppercorns. Bring to a slow simmer then slide the whole salmon into the kettle so that the water covers the whole fish. Simmer for ten minutes then turn off the heat. Leave the fish in the water with the lid on for one hour. By this time it will be cooked. Remove carefully from the kettle and allow to cool. Skin the fish and serve with a suitable sauce.

Microplane graters and zesters are some of the best on the market. They are perfect for zesting lemon rind or grating cheese. They are also incredibly sturdy and last for years.

A KitchenAid Food Processor is one of the indispensable items for your kitchen. It is perfect for chopping and slicing vegetables and for making a range of sauces that otherwise need a lot of tedious chopping.

A KitchenAid Mixer as shown below is perfect for cake making and other tasks that require heavy duty mixing. We use the KitchenAid Mixer to make wonderfully light cheese gougeres. After we make the choux pastry mix we put it into the KitchenAid on high speed and beat in the eggs and cheese until the mixture is quite glossy. There is a recipe for gougeres in the Recipe section of Foodtourist.com.

Leading chefs understand the brilliance of the design of the high quality carbon stainless steel Santoku Knife. The alternate hollows on the blade reduces clinging.

 

The Bamix hand held blender is an essential kitchen aide for making soups and blending hot items right in the saucepan. We use one of our Le Creuset saucepans to simmer vegetables such as potatoes or artichokes or peas or broccoli (or any combination of these) in a flavourful chicken stock until the vegetables are cooked and then use the Bamix to convert the mixture into a soup.

This stainless steel strainer looks good and feels good to use in the Kitchen.

When you are making salads it is essential that the leaves are perfectly dry before you apply the salad dressing otherwise the dressing does not adhere to the leaves correctly. This wonderful spinner helps you dry the leaves, especially if you are using some of the crinkly European leaves that are now widely available.

There is nothing tastier than freshly opened oysters that have not had the essence of the sea washed from them. The only way to guarantee that your oysters are perfectly fresh is to open them yourself. We like to 'back split' them - that is open them from the hinged end as you are less likely to get broken shell in the oyster that way.

Splitting oysters can be a little nerve wracking so having a sturdy oyster glove on while you are splitting them can reduce the likelihood of cut hands.

The town of Laguiole in South West France is famous for the cutlery produced there. Stellar chef Michel Bras who runs a three Michelin star restaurant nearby uses Laguiole cutlery in his restaurant. The weight and balance of the cutlery is exceptional.

This is the corkscrew that we use because it feels so beautifully balanced.

 

A good blender is also an essential requirement for the gourmet kitchen.

While it is true that a blender is an essential tool in the kitchen, there are some sauces that are just so much better when made by hand in a mortar. The tactile process of pounding herbs with a pestle is both relaxing and rewarding. We also believe that the heat generated by the blender blades changes the nature of sauces such as salsa verde so that they just don't taste the same as when they are made in a mortar. The heavy granite version pictured below is by far the best.

 

Peeling vegetables is very satisfying if you have a peeler with good weight and balance such as the one below.

 
     


Foodtourist.com - Independent commentary on the Web since 1996

Copyright | Disclaimer