If you have a cook or foodie on your holiday shopping list – or if you just want to treat yourself – here is a list of things I use in my own kitchen.
The links here lead to the item’s listing on Amazon. You should know that as an Amazon affiliate, I may receive a commission if something is purchased through one of the links (but the prices are the same). I never endorse items I do not use or would not recommend.
I’m a fan of Wüsthof knives (though I was recently gifted this Santoku knife that I’m enjoying using, too). The 8-inch chef’s knife is the one I use the most for meal preparation. The paring knife also gets a good workout. I use the serrated paring knife for cutting fruit and cheese, and the serrated slicer for breads.
You’ll want the Classic models (the ones designated Gourmet are not as sturdy). I don’t recommend buying sets of knives because you’ll probably end up with some that you don’t need. The only exception is a set that combines the chef’s knife with a paring knife.
I keep my knives sharpened using the Trizor XV Edge Select sharpener from Chef’s Choice. The $160 price tag is the cheapest I’ve seen it, and that’s still a hefty chunk of money. But it sharpens fast and accurately. Check the video below to see how.
I scoffed the first time I heard that there was such a thing as an egg cooker. What could be easier than boiling water and lowering the eggs in, setting a timer and fishing them out when they’re done? An egg cooker, that’s what. As a kitchen purist, I resisted using a device for something so simple. But my boiled eggs were seldom cooked the way I wanted them, and they were usually hard to peel. The egg cooker essentially steams the eggs. You put in a precise amount of water – mere ounces – based on the doneness you desire. Push the button and wait for the cooker to turn off (it clicks off when all the water is evaporated). The eggs are Perfect. Every. Time. And they peel easily. I use mine several times a week whether I want a full batch hard-boiled eggs or just one or two soft-boiled for breakfast.
Sadly, the Oster brand that I use is no longer available, but this Elite Gourmet model has excellent reviews and is currently half off.
Lodge 12-inch cast iron skillet
I have All Clad pans and Cuisinart pots that I like very much, but I think I use my cast iron skillet more than any other. I like the way it heats evenly. The food seldom sticks. And cleanup is easy. I have both a 10-inch and a 12-inch and I use the larger one more than the other.
I can’t believe I grew up in a family of six people and we only had one 2-slice toaster. Now my two-person household has a 4-slice toaster and the world seems right. The Cuisinart I use is similar to this one on Amazon that is currently on sale.
I can’t remember when I last used my old-fashioned hand mixer with the egg-beater-like tools. And I would never use it in a sauce pot on top of the stove. But I use the immersion blender quite a bit (most recently when I made pumpkin soup with chef Greg Richie from Soco). And just as often I use the food chopper accessory for quickly grating cheese. Everything except the controller wand goes right into the dishwasher – the wand just needs a quick wipe down.
I originally considered a rice cooker the same way I thought of an egg cooker. But I love rice and have it often, so this cooker is one of the most-used appliance I own. Put the rice in the container, add the appropriate amount of water (there are hashmarks on the side of the container designating how much water to add), push the button and come back later for perfectly fluffy rice. It will even keep the rice moist and hot for hours after it’s done. It’s good for steaming vegetables, too. I’ve never used mine as a slow cooker but this model also has that function.
There are things that annoy me about my food processor, including that the lid is difficult at times to twist off. But there really isn’t anything better out there. The Cuisinart 11-cup Food Processor is consistently rated the top machine my professional raters. Truthfully, I like chopping things by hand. But for large amounts, I haul out the Cuisinart. This one is currently on sale at a substantial discount.
I use my stand mixer for making doughs, mostly. If you’re a baker, you really should have one.
There’s an attachment for the KitchenAid for rolling pasta, but I prefer my old Imperia pasta roller. I like having the manual control.
It wasn’t too long ago that sous vide cooking was something found exclusively in fine restaurants. Thanks to Anova, which pioneered the home version, anyone can own one. To be honest, I use mine rarely but I’ve found it’s great for cooking a perfect swordfish steak. My version came out before the devices started communicating via bluetooth to smartphones, but I’m not sure that feature is really needed. Seal your food in the bag, immerse it, set a time then come back and pull it out when it’s ready.
Sous vide means under vacuum, so the foods cooked using a sous vide device have to be sealed in plastic bags with the air removed. This device does that perfectly, but frankly there’s a way to do it without buying a vacuum sealer (you’ll find the instructions with your sous vide device). So if that were the only reason to get this device I wouldn’t recommend it. But as the name implies, this is a great way to save food. Anything from fresh meats to leftovers, put them in the food-grade bags that come with the device, automatically suck out all the air and let the machine heat-seal the top. Label what’s in the bag and toss it into your freezer to enjoy another day. Foods sealed this way will last much longer than those just placed in a zip-lock bag.