Author Topic: Outfitting the Kitchen  (Read 4585 times)

Offline David in MN

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Outfitting the Kitchen
« on: January 10, 2018, 07:40:04 PM »
This is a thread I have meant to start for a while. It will be my method to outfitting your kitchen to be able to cook like a professional at home. I'll break it into a few segments:

1) Cookware

2) Hand Tools

3) Bake ware

4) MACHINES (my favorite)

5) Extras

The goal is to fit a kitchen with the ultimate tools and no waste. I won't forgive a tool that does only one thing. We want the ultimate in utility with little waste. Without further ado...

Offline David in MN

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2018, 07:56:26 PM »
1) Cookware

You need:

2 Cast iron pans. A 10" and a 12" (more on this later)

1 large stainless steel pan

1 Dutch oven

1 Stock pot

2 Sauce pans, One small one medium.

That's it. That's all you need. No non-stick, the cast iron works better. Nothing fancy like a panini press because we can smush 2 hot cast iron pans together and achieve the same result. You do need one stainless steel pan to cook acidic sauces that will break down the cast iron.

Recommendations:

All cast iron works. Buy cheap. My Lodge is heavier and slower to heat than my Griswold but both do about the same thing. Some corn bread recipes fit better in one than the other and sometimes it's nice to have the option to crowd a pan or have room to breathe. I do heat both and use them as a panini press. I do flip the Lodge (larger) and use it as a pizza stone. These 2 pans will do 75% of your cooking and rightly so.

For a large stainless steel pan I've never fallen in love. I have a Le Creuset but it's mighty soft (needs polymer tools) and is a pain to get all the stains out. I beat it up but I'm not particularly in love with it. All the cooks I know struggle here.

For the Dutch oven, it's Le Creuset all the way. This machine gun covered in enamel will power through any task. Make soup, stew, sauces, deep fry, roast, bake bread, etc. It's another necessary powerhouse. You won't regret it. Buy once cry once.

As to stock pots and sauce pots... I buy stainless steel on sale. I believe mine are Calphalon. These are tools that don't really get abused so going cheap here actually makes sense. These are mostly for making sauces or for boiling stock or pasta. Not heavy use. Anything that would be abusive here belongs in the Dutch oven.

That's it. 7 pieces of cookware to make a semi-pro kitchen. I have left out specialty things you might love like a crepe pan or Moroccan tagine. Well, the specialty stuff is on you. But if you've got a cupboard full of pots and non-stick pans you haven't used this decade, dump them. I did and it felt great. Besides, we need the space for the toys to come.

Next up, hand tools. I welcome feedback!

Online Morning Sunshine

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2018, 08:20:26 PM »
I have to say that I mostly agree with you, David, but I need twice as many cast iron pans cuz I have 7 people in my house.  And we LOVE LOVE LOVE our 6" griswold (we have 3 and they are dirty most days!)

I have been wondering about getting a Le Creuset, but am unsure if I actually need it...

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2018, 08:38:20 PM »
Le Creuset are really nice, but wow they are expensive.

Offline David in MN

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2018, 08:40:11 PM »
I have to say that I mostly agree with you, David, but I need twice as many cast iron pans cuz I have 7 people in my house.  And we LOVE LOVE LOVE our 6" griswold (we have 3 and they are dirty most days!)

I have been wondering about getting a Le Creuset, but am unsure if I actually need it...

Yup, larger households will have to multiply. I could see some fun uses for smaller cast iron with a big family. What jumps to my mind is a potato bar dinner (I love but my wife hates) where each kid gets a cast iron pan and potato. Fill it up and put it under the broiler. Awesome melty cheese with bacon and burnt broccoli on a potato... sooo good.

I can't tell you if a Le Creuset is right for you (though they do make some large sizes). But it is the weapon of choice for keeping something at a simmer without watching due to its high mass and it will handle the toughest traditional Italian ragu. It's a workhorse for a reason. I'm a big fan of old school stuff like pot roast and corned beef. The Le Creuset was made for it. Monday I made red beans and rice. Again, a sticky dish with lots of scraping after a long simmer. Ideal. I *think* my wife bought me mine for a birthday maybe 9 years ago and it's still pristine. There's not many pots you heat up, fry a sausage on, and then dump tomatoes in without ruining. This does it. I'd give it a long look.

Offline AvenueQ

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2018, 08:41:55 PM »
I also have a small 6" cast iron pan that I use frequently, as I'm quite fond of a fried egg for breakfast (I even scored a reasonably priced Griswold at an antique store). But, that's personal preference, I'd say most people don't really need one that small.

While I do love cast iron, I find myself reaching for our T-fal nonstick high-sided 12" skillet all the time. It's GREAT for bacon, as you don't really need a splatter guard since the sides are high enough to catch most of it (and bacon tends to ruin the seasoning on our cast iron, for some reason). And the lid means I can steam and poach with it too.

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2018, 08:49:47 PM »
I like having more sizes of stainless steel pots, I have often needed more than 2 at once. I also like a thicker bottomed stockpot size for when cooking a chili or such for a crowd instead of having a thin stockpot. I have a set of copper clad reverware stainless steel that I bought 39 years ago, and have been cooking with continuously since. I did get rid of the stainless steel pans, I never, ever used them after getting cast iron pans. Right now I have a 10" "chicken fryer" (so deeper) cast Iron and an 8" regular one. I miss having a flat one, but not enough to replace it it seems, the 12" flat one was better for tortillas and pancakes. So, I do not know what a stainless steel frying pan will do that cant be done in the cast Iron ? A Le Creuset is nice but I have 2 cheaper cast iron dutch ovens that I use instead. The reason I have 2 is when all the kids were home, it came up that I needed more capacity, I use these most often for baking bread.

Offline Redman

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2018, 03:12:30 AM »
We have 2 10" CI no name pans and a 12" Lodge. That thing is indeed heavy. 3 Dutch ovens, a 5qt and a 10 qt. used for paste, soups, gumbo, jelly making and a CI dutch oven I can no longer lift on the stove because of it's weight and my shoulders. Use it outside on a propane burner. Small, medium and large SS sauce pots, 13" aluminum coated skillet used for panfrying, cooking numerous pieces of meat in sauce and adding pasta or other stuff (one dish meal almost). 

Offline redrider

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2018, 08:08:20 AM »
I do flip the Lodge (larger) and use it as a pizza stone.
Could you expand on this, David? I am having trouble envisioning this method.

Thanks,

rr

Offline David in MN

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2018, 11:00:09 AM »
Could you expand on this, David? I am having trouble envisioning this method.

Thanks,

rr

Sure. If you put a large cast iron pan in your oven upside down it will work as a pizza stone. You use the flat bottom. Of course the large mass of cast iron and its improved thermal conductivity over ceramic means it actually cooks faster and more like a traditional wood fired oven. This link has a good picture that explains it all.

https://lifehacker.com/use-your-cast-iron-pan-as-a-pizza-stone-1756747343

A true "baking steel" is the best option but they are a heavy pain in the butt and the cast iron lets you make 12" pizzas pretty quick. Easy enough to let the kids make something unique for them (and we have triplet nephews and niece). One gets sausage and cheese, one gets pepperoni and olives, and they all give me dirty looks when I use anchovies.

It takes a couple tries to get itright and I put a pan underneath to catch messes but it's a fun way to get pizza done right at home.

Offline AvenueQ

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2018, 11:17:36 AM »
Sure. If you put a large cast iron pan in your oven upside down it will work as a pizza stone. You use the flat bottom. Of course the large mass of cast iron and its improved thermal conductivity over ceramic means it actually cooks faster and more like a traditional wood fired oven. This link has a good picture that explains it all.

https://lifehacker.com/use-your-cast-iron-pan-as-a-pizza-stone-1756747343

A true "baking steel" is the best option but they are a heavy pain in the butt and the cast iron lets you make 12" pizzas pretty quick. Easy enough to let the kids make something unique for them (and we have triplet nephews and niece). One gets sausage and cheese, one gets pepperoni and olives, and they all give me dirty looks when I use anchovies.

It takes a couple tries to get itright and I put a pan underneath to catch messes but it's a fun way to get pizza done right at home.

 :jaw-drop:

This also alleviates the problem of having to leave the stone in the oven to heat up and cool down. I've fanagled enough floppy raw dough to know what a pain that is. We tossed our baking stone for our move (it was cheap and badly stained and we wanted a better one anyway), but now I'm thinking maybe we won't replace it.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2018, 11:24:43 AM »
I use a thick pizza stone in my ceramic grill for pizza.  Comes out fantastic.

We have them for in the oven also and they have gotten a lot of use.

The item that's used most in my kitchen is a 13.25" Lodge skillet.  Have a lid for it also.  Lesser use from the 10" Lodge.  I'm working on getting my daughter to use the proper sized pan for things, she often uses the 6" pan for a couple of scrambled eggs.  That's fine, but the 10" is much better for that.

We are lacking in pots, we are still using the cheap stainless steel pans we got when we got married 22+ years ago.  Although I guess since they are holding up, they weren't so bad.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2018, 11:36:32 AM »
So far I'm covered with the exception of the SS pan.
I have a knock-off Le Creuset enamel cast iron dutch oven that I use a lot.

My cast iron includes a mix of yard sale finds and family heirlooms.  I have a 10" griswold that belonged to my great grandmother in the 1920s.  Actually saved it from the trash when a great-aunt was cleaning out the attic after my grandfather passed away years ago.  It's by far the best performing in my collection. I might actually grab it if I had to "bug out" :)

Offline redrider

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2018, 12:06:48 PM »
Thanks for the info David, AvenueQ and Fritz. That looks very interesting. I love a crispy crust.

Do you grease the pan bottom?

rr

Offline bigbear

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2018, 12:09:43 PM »
For starters:  I'm a cooking invalid.  I can cook basic stuff and Saturday morning breakfast is my domain (at least as far as the kids are concerned, Daddy's Bisquick pancakes/waffles are better than Mommy's Bisquick pancakes/waffles...).  I've become much better at various types of eggs.  But my wife spoils me!

We're like AQ and use a large skillet quite a bit (from light frying to sauce to browning meat...).  We have some cast iron pans, but don't use them nearly as much (mostly for camping or the fire pit).  Though I like the personalized baked potato idea! 

For the Dutch oven, how much of a value drop off from the Le Creuset to a Lodge version?  At 4-5 times the cost, it has to be something remarkable.  I can justify dropping $80-90, but $300-400 is a tougher sell in front of the Family Budget Committee.

What about a broiler pan?  Or is that considered a specialty item?  We use ours a few times a month, so maybe that's my answer...

Offline David in MN

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2018, 12:22:12 PM »
If you use it, the fancy Dutch oven is well worth it. It caramelizes food yet releases easy. The flavor is better, the cleanup easier. But if you pull it out twice per year maybe not worth the price tag. Plain old cast iron actually does some things better as well. If you don't feel a pot is worth the same as a new rifle and it'll spend most days on the shelf I wouldn't fault going to cast iron.

I'm not a big user of the broiler. If I'm blunt anything broiled could be grilled. And I love the grill. When I do rarely use the broiler I use a plain old broiler pan with the raised surface and drip pan.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2018, 12:26:23 PM »
Yup, larger households will have to multiply. I could see some fun uses for smaller cast iron with a big family. What jumps to my mind is a potato bar dinner (I love but my wife hates) where each kid gets a cast iron pan and potato. Fill it up and put it under the broiler. Awesome melty cheese with bacon and burnt broccoli on a potato... sooo good.
So for this potato bar thing, are you talking that you bake up a bunch of potatoes.  Everyone grabs a pan and a potato then adds their stuff.  Then into the broiler.

For the Dutch oven, how much of a value drop off from the Le Creuset to a Lodge version?  At 4-5 times the cost, it has to be something remarkable.  I can justify dropping $80-90, but $300-400 is a tougher sell in front of the Family Budget Committee.
There's a LeCreuset store in an outlet center near me.  Those Dutch ovens are really nice.  I don't have a porcelain coated Dutch oven, I would bet that the quality/price difference between the Lodge and this is the coating.  What I'd do is get one of the porcelain coated Lodge ones and see if you make use of it.  If you find it is used often, then there's your way to justify the cost of the LeCreuset.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2018, 12:47:38 PM »
years ago someone bought this as a gift for us:

https://www.ebay.com/i/173085529817?chn=ps

It's not as nicely made as the L.C. model, and doesn't clean up as well (it's a decade old at least).
It absolutely has capability that a traditional uncoated cast iron dutch oven does not have.
When I have a one-pot dinner that starts with sautee and ends with a simmer, this is my pot.

I'm wondering if this is like a Toyota vs. Mercedes thing.  What I have can get the job done, but would I get 6x value from the premium product?

Offline David in MN

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2018, 12:48:12 PM »
So for this potato bar thing, are you talking that you bake up a bunch of potatoes.  Everyone grabs a pan and a potato then adds their stuff.  Then into the broiler.

In a nutshell.

Offline bigbear

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2018, 01:17:43 PM »
If you use it, the fancy Dutch oven is well worth it. It caramelizes food yet releases easy. The flavor is better, the cleanup easier. But if you pull it out twice per year maybe not worth the price tag. Plain old cast iron actually does some things better as well. If you don't feel a pot is worth the same as a new rifle and it'll spend most days on the shelf I wouldn't fault going to cast iron.

Fair point.  But I meant a cheaper version of the enameled Dutch oven. 

Le Creuset ($330 - 5.5 quart)
https://www.amazon.com/Creuset-Signature-Enameled-Cast-Iron-2-Quart/dp/B0076NOGPY/ref=sr_1_3?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1515701369&sr=1-3&keywords=le+creuset+dutch+oven

vs. Lodge ($50 - 6 quart)
https://www.amazon.com/Lodge-EC6D33-Enameled-Dutch-6-Quart/dp/B000N4WN08/ref=sr_1_8?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1515701369&sr=1-8&keywords=le+creuset+dutch+oven

Both are enameled.  The Amazon reviews show Le Creuset has 90% 5-star and Lodge has 80% 5-star.  So it seems the Le Creuset is better.  But 6x better?

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2018, 02:07:59 PM »
Fair point.  But I meant a cheaper version of the enameled Dutch oven. 

Le Creuset ($330 - 5.5 quart)
https://www.amazon.com/Creuset-Signature-Enameled-Cast-Iron-2-Quart/dp/B0076NOGPY/ref=sr_1_3?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1515701369&sr=1-3&keywords=le+creuset+dutch+oven

vs. Lodge ($50 - 6 quart)
https://www.amazon.com/Lodge-EC6D33-Enameled-Dutch-6-Quart/dp/B000N4WN08/ref=sr_1_8?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1515701369&sr=1-8&keywords=le+creuset+dutch+oven

Both are enameled.  The Amazon reviews show Le Creuset has 90% 5-star and Lodge has 80% 5-star.  So it seems the Le Creuset is better.  But 6x better?

Something about cast iron in general is while it draws and retains heat well, they often do not heat evenly.

Check out this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thR7hUnG50o

Now, I won't lose sleep over that, BUT perhaps the Le Creuset does heat perfectly?

Offline David in MN

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2018, 04:53:43 PM »
I love the banter and keep it coming but I've got a little time so onward...

2) Hand Tools:

This will be VERY opinionated. My solutions might not work for you. Tastes vary. If I post something it is because I believe it to be the best of breed. That doesn't mean I haven't missed something, so feel free to add. Also a lot of kitchen tools just don't matter that much to me (like my set of old crappy measuring cups). Also, I'll avoid specialized stuff like my spaetzlepresse. I will provide links as possible. Slight different format than last time.

Knives.

I need 3. 2 Chef knives and 1 paring knife. That's it. The massive block is a waste, you'd be better off buying one really nice knife. About knives... I like big, beefy German made chef knives. Both Henckel and Wusthof are great. I can't stand the trendy lightweight Japanese knives. This is 100% subjective but to me a chef knife needs to be heavy to break down all the veggies and hack through bone as need be. If you can't afford these brands, I would recommend a Victorinox chef knife as a budget option. It won't hold an edge ass well and being less beefy you can't pound on the back of the blade with the off hand to power through tough stuff. But it works.

https://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-Fibrox-Chefs-Knife-8-Inch/dp/B000638D32/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1515711736&sr=8-4&keywords=victorinox+chef+knife

I use (but do not recommend) a 9" chef knife as well. It gets a little "sword-y" and is too big for most cutting boards.

Boards.

Buy a good cutting board from a woodworker. I am biased but they are better and look good. Enough said.

Spatulas.

There are two. Dexter (who makes restaurant supply and really good stuff) and Matfer (a French company that caters to specialized supply). Both are companies that do not f___ around. The Dexter spatulas are amazing for all things cast iron and grill while Matfer is great on softer cookware and actually is made for fish.

Dexter:
Big
https://www.amazon.com/Dexter-Russell-Burger-Turner-Stainless-Walnut/dp/B002CJNBQ2/ref=sr_1_3?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1515712023&sr=1-3&keywords=dexter+russell+spatula

Little
https://www.amazon.com/Dexter-Russell-Pancake-Turner-Stainless-Walnut/dp/B002CJNBTO/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1515712023&sr=1-1&keywords=dexter+russell+spatula

Matfer:
https://www.amazon.com/Matfer-Bourgeat-Exoglass-Pelton-Spatula/dp/B00004SZ6Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1515712120&sr=1-1&keywords=matfer+spatula

The Matfer will wear down over time but at $13 who cares?

Tongs

The extension of the hand. There is but one Vollrath (actually there are several models but this is the best). I have 2 sets and they are at home frying or grilling sausage. I can lift an 8 lb pork shoulder with one set. And they don't break. I own 2 sets because I frequently forget the one I am using and leave it haning on the grill. This is a must have for $10.

https://www.amazon.com/Vollrath-4781220-1-Piece-Scalloped-Black/dp/B002XYCVMQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1515712348&sr=1-1&keywords=vollrath+tongs

Pizza Slicer

This is one of those things that you just have to have. We all make pizza and we all buckle under and hit Papa Murphy's from time to time. A good pizza slicer is a must. I don't get into the giant scimitars but I insist on a 4" wheel. Again, Dexter.

https://www.amazon.com/Dexter-Russell-P177A-PCP-Sani-Safe-Handle/dp/B00BNQKZSC/ref=sr_1_3?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1515713040&sr=1-3&keywords=dexter+russell+pizza+cutter

Rubber (Silicone) Spatulas

Guaranteed flak here. I'm recommending Williams Sonoma (because I hate money) because my actual favorite, a local shop called Kitchen Window isn't selling right now. Same rubber heads and Kitchen window has better wood handles. Bot I have a set of the Sonomas and they work great, both spatula and spoonula.

https://www.williams-sonoma.com/shop/cooks-tools/turner-spatulas/?cm_type=gnav

I know they're pricey but they work great folding dough and cooking in the enameled cast iron.

Pepper Mill

Another case of only one. You can buy any size with any option to grind but you better buy a Puegot. Prices have come down since I paid over $100. It's well worth it  to have a good seasoning option at hand that cranks through the pepper easily.

Olive Oil

You don't really cook with olive oil, do you? I hope you drizzle it on as a finish... like the Italians. Cook with a neutral fat (olive oil gets bitter when heated) and finish with olive oil. I can't recommend a product. I use a cheapo ceramic jar fitted with a nozzle to drizzle on the flavor as cooking finishes. It's a must next to any range.

Beyond all that, most of the stuff in my kitchen is Oxo They make really good stuff. I can't imagine going back to the old arthritis inducing vegetable peeler. I like big beefy grips because I have big beefy hands. I also really dig a lot of Kitchenaid products that seem to also have an ergonomic bent.

Beyond that, just don't buy a stupid new-fangled whisk. Don't get a garlic press (pound the garlic with the flat side of the chef knife). And don't buy any gimmicks (think Slapchop). Learn to use the tools that work.

That's my day to day stuff. If you haven't tried this selection before I think you'll find it works. You might have found a few gifts for the family cook. Outside of Williams Sonoma I kept it pretty frugal. You don't need or want fancy tools. You want rugged utilitarian cookware. When the Dexter spatula flips your morning eggs and your grilled burger for dinner you have a powerful tool. Ugly and cheap as it may be it works.

I'm loving the follow up. Keep it coming!

Offline AvenueQ

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2018, 05:13:36 PM »
America's Test Kitchen has recommended the Victorinox chef knife for a while, I think they're better than most people think. Don't have one myself yet, probably will get one later this year. We also have a cleaver, which is nice for me as it has some weight behind it since at 5'4" there's only so much leverage I can, well, leverage sometimes.

I also really like having two pairs of tongs for raw/cooked meat applications. No cross-contamination in my kitchen.

We got some cheap all-silicone spatulas at...I want to say Kohl's? All our other ones that were plastic combos eventually wore out where they transitioned from silicone. They work great, we've had them a few years now.
EDIT: like these, only ours say "Food Network" on them: https://www.amazon.com/CookEasy-Premium-Non-stick-Silicone-Spatulas/dp/B013VFKDAW/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1515716063&sr=8-12&keywords=food+network+silicone+spatula

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2018, 05:16:43 PM »
I'm not a blade expert, but even dating back to sword making the Japanese design philosophy is to slice, while the European philosophy was either chopping or stabbing.

Think of a medieval european broad sword vs. a japanese katana. The design of each assumes different uses.

If I'm slicing a tomato, a very sharp Santuko style blade wins.  However if I'm chopping onions, and carrots I could agree with adding some mass.

Offline AvenueQ

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2018, 05:19:48 PM »
I also use our rasp/zester quite a bit. Garlic, ginger, nutmeg, citrus, finely grated parm, etc. Just be careful, adjust your hand often so you don't take off a knuckle (like my husband did once).

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #25 on: January 11, 2018, 06:49:38 PM »
I'm also not a fan of the Japanese knives.  It isn't the blade for me, it's the shape of the handles.  They are not comfortable to me.

I have a block set of Henkles.  I love those things.  I mainly use the 8" chef knife, but the 6" chef knife gets used a lot also.  Next would be the 8" slicer.  We also use the 8" serrated blade for cutting all things bread.  The block also keeps the steak knives in one place.

My wife used to sell Pampered Chef, so we have a bunch of that stuff.  Their pizza wheel is really nice.  Same goes for the large spatula that I use on the grill, they called it something like a Barbecue Boss. 

I'm also not a fan of wooden cutting boards.  The are gorgeous.  But the white plastic ones are so easy to clean.  I don't recall exactly what they are made of.

Offline bigbear

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #26 on: January 12, 2018, 07:28:43 AM »
I like our Kenckels and heavier knives in general.  We use our kitchen shears quite a bit (from chicken, veggies, pie crust, paper...). 

https://www.amazon.com/Zwilling-J-Henckels-Kitchen-Shears/dp/B0000CF3IA/ref=zg_bs_289860_13?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=9KD5SYRH2ZSE6RR139DY



Offline David in MN

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #27 on: January 13, 2018, 01:35:46 PM »
Still pressing on.

3) Baking.

Baking has played a major role in my life. I spent almost 6 years working R&D in baking products in "big food". I'm the guy who did testing on new products, went to plant startups, and troubleshot consumer complaints. In this profession I have started too many fires to count, exploded a microwave, and had many other "fun" experiences. I know baking inside and out. I've toured multiple chocolate factories. I've spent an entire day on my back chiseling hardened sodium sterolactilate out of a pipe it hardened in. Fun!

Unfortunately for the Martha Stewarts of the world, bakeware follows one simple rule: cheaper is better. All the air baked, even temp tech, space age materials, and designer brands are a waste of money. You want basic cheap aluminum.

Cake Pan..

Cheap aluminum is best. If you insist on the fancy pyrex glass pans your cake will dome in the center and not have an even flat appearance. This is why all restaurant supply cake pans are thin aluminum regardless of shape.

https://www.amazon.com/Nordic-Ware-Classic-Metal-Covered/dp/B0006SGQFY/ref=sr_1_5?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1515872682&sr=1-5&keywords=cake+pan+9x13

Half sheet..

I keep at least two of these. They are great not only for baking but for grill prep and roasting. I also use them as a cover to my cast iron pans while reheating pizza on the iron. When I do dishes like pot roast or corned beef I dump the pot into one of these pans to finish in the oven. Makes a great pan pizza. So many uses beyond a jelly roll.

https://www.amazon.com/Nordic-Ware-Natural-Aluminum-Commercial/dp/B000G0KJG4/ref=sr_1_4?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1515872805&sr=1-4&keywords=half+sheet+pan

The rolling pin..

This may be the most fought over tool in the baking world. Some insist you need a solid granite pin to keep things cold. Others love the old school wood pin with handles. I like a traditional French style with tapered edges and a relatively thin center. It works better for me. I'm including a link for one I like but I'm such an uptight ass I had to make my own (easy with a lathe) to my specs. I prefer slightly more flat center and sharper taper. YMMV.

https://www.amazon.com/Ateco-20175-French-Rolling-20-Inch/dp/B000KESQ1G/ref=sr_1_4?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1515873191&sr=1-4&keywords=french+rolling+pin

Silpat..

Here's a tool you need to be a pro baker that the home cook could do without. That said, it's a giant oven-safe non-stick silicone mat you can use from forming a yule log to shaping a baguette. If you do a lot with dough or work with pasta frequently it's a good pick up. That's the sales pitch.

https://www.amazon.com/Matfer-Bourgeat-321005-Exopat-Nonstick/dp/B00005AXJ9/ref=sr_1_4?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1515873508&sr=1-4&keywords=matfer+silicone+baking+mat

Pie Plate..

The exception that proves the rule. Here I like Pyrex. I make quiche at least a couple times per month. What idiot decided men don't like quiche? it's eggs, cream, cheese, bacon, and herbs. Awesome. I also do a few pies every year with key lime being my favorite. These just work.

https://www.amazon.com/Pyrex-2-Pack-Glass-Plate-9-5-Inch/dp/B00LGLHZNM/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1515873859&sr=1-1&keywords=pyrex+pie+plate

Pie Server

You made the pie, now you need to slice and serve. Instead of some clunky silver coated 18th century garbage we're going back to Dexter Russel. Small but strong with a nice walnut handle.

https://www.amazon.com/Dexter-Russell-S244-Traditional-Knife/dp/B006WQJJFS/ref=sr_1_7?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1515874316&sr=1-7&keywords=dexter+pie+server

Bread knife

I'm not the man to ask here. I keep a Henckel's offset handle bread knife. That means once per year I set upon it with stones and files to keep it sharp. It's a waste. Buy cheap and replace often (I got this advice from Tom Colicchio who ran a sandwich restaurant). Again cheap kitchen knives are Victorinox. Friends who use this report you will love it. When I get burned out with my Henckel it tops my list. Not the cheapest but highly regarded.

https://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-Serrated-Fibrox-Handle-47549/dp/B000RLJTLS/ref=sr_1_4?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1515874657&sr=1-4&keywords=victorinox+bread+knife

There is one big hole in my game. I have never found a loaf pan worthy of recommendation. I have an ancient ceramic variant that bake bread well but fails at pound cake. I have a steel variant that does pound cake well enough but needs grease and parchment to release and rusts around the edges. I'd welcome recommendations.

I'm also not in love with my springforms. I have a set of nonstick Calphalon I've had forever and the work for cheesecake but I just don't love them. Happy to hear thoughts on these as well.

And that's bakeware. For a couple hundred bucks you can be set up as good as a professional. The dirty secret of baking is that it's more technique than tools. Give me a bowl, a sheetpan, and some flour, yeast, salt, and water, and I can make you a beautiful braided loaf with bare hands. Even advanced baking is pretty low cost as piping bags are cheap and decorating tools plentiful. When you watch a baking show on TV note how beyond the Kitchenaid and Cuisinart the tools are pretty basic. The pans are almost disposable. If you have what I've listed here you can do basic cake and bread baking.

Next stop, the MACHINES.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #28 on: January 13, 2018, 01:43:18 PM »
Have you ever made use of a pullman pan?  I'm just curious if they work well for making sandwich loaves.

Offline David in MN

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Re: Outfitting the Kitchen
« Reply #29 on: January 13, 2018, 02:08:18 PM »
Have you ever made use of a pullman pan?  I'm just curious if they work well for making sandwich loaves.

I've never tried one. I'll have to look into it. There's a bias with pro bakers to try not to look like Wonderbread. You do your best to visually differentiate from the factory stuff. It sounds odd but people ooh and ah over my braided breads more than the simple boules even if they are the same. But I see a massive benefit to having a uniform bread loaf. We were just having for lunch grilled cheese on spiral herb bread I made to go with soup last night.

I'll put one in my Amazon account and pick it up in the near future. Good find, thanks.