Getting the basics for your first kitchen or paring down your kitchen to only have tools you need requires a good list of great, can’t live without appliances. These apparatus (apparati?) are here because they either do one job well and better than anything else or they are efficient multi-taskers. Here then, The List and it’s a short one:
1. Mixer. God bless KitchenAid for coming up with their heavy-duty (and heavy to lift, I might add) stand mixer. In order to mix well, you need some horsepower behind the metal, or watts (as in 325 watts, more or less, depending on your model). Power is what separates a great mixer from a not so great mixer. This contraption can whip cream and egg whites in a flash, knead a few loaves of bread, mix together anything worth mixing together and look incredibly cool at the same time. I have a standard issue white Kitchen Aid but you can get them in pretty much any color, including different metallics, like nickel and chrome. A must for any kitchen. Comes with a whip for whipping, a paddle for mixing and dough hook for kneading. You can get other attachments, including a pasta roller and meat grinder if you actually have time for those two pursuits.
2. Griddle. I don’t use this everyday, but when I do, I am very happy I have it—especially when I’m cooking for a crowd. The griddle I am fond of is a large one that can cook a pound of bacon at a time, all plugged in and sitting on my countertop. There is a little hole in the griddle and a cup too, to catch the hot drippings. After the bacon has been cooked, the nonstick surface is cleaned up (easily) and a boatload of pancake making can ensue. Big griddles help you make big lumberjack sized breakfasts and will allow you to brown, cook off and fix food for a dozen in no time flat. I use the griddle to make several quesadillas or grilled cheese sandwiches at one time. If you ever intend to have a bunch of people over at any given time for a meal, chances are you will haul this appliance out and use it over and over again.
3. Blender and Food processors. I know some people use their food processors for blenders, but I have found food processors to leak when making something liquid-y, like smoothies. I use my blender for smoothies and making creamed soups. Only two things, but smoothies are an everyday affair at my house. Food processors, slice, dice, chop, puree and make the best pie dough in the world. I make pie dough maybe once a year, but it only takes a minute and it’s the tenderest, flakiest crust ever.
4. Mini-food processor. Need a quick chop or a blend for something small? The little mini-food processor is excellent for this job, weighs less than a cheesecake and can do all kinds of breathtaking things like, chop nuts, hard veggies and make a quickie pesto. I love my little guy and I suggest you get one and love yours, too.
5. Coffeemaker and grinder. I don’t have a combo appliance, but I put them together because in my mind, you cannot make a decent cup of joe unless you grind your own beans. I have been grinding my own for well over 20 years now and every morning (that I am home at least), I perform the same ritual of grinding the fatted bean, brewing it till just finished (then keeping it warm in a carafe—don’t leave it on the burner to burn!) and drinking a divine cup of morning brew. I make it stronger than most people (opting for 2 tablespoons vs. 1 tablespoon of coffee per 6 ounces of water) and I have my first cup by itself, my second with my morning cereal. My coffee is exquisitely important to me (ask anyone who knows me!) and making it well requires two good appliances—a grinder and a good coffeemaker. I have a Cuisinart coffeemaker that beeps when it’s ready (you gotta love that!) and does a fine job all the way around the block.
“What,” you say. “Is that it?” What about IT, the mother of all appliances, the Crock Pot!!!?
Ah yes, the crock pot. My very favorite and esteemed above all appliances. If you want to know more about that love apparatus, stay tuned. I promise to gush over the wonder of it all and why anyone who doesn’t own one must repent and purchase one today.
Only half kidding on the repent part. Really, crock pots are incredibly important and a most amazing appliance. Next week, we go to Crock Pot Land.