Thank God its Friday. I mean, really thank God because it’s 2 days to Chef Fregz Special and it’s one really exhausted chef who’s sitting here punching away at his keyboard. In the course of putting together everything we need for Sunday’s event, I realized something. There are some tools in my kitchen that I absolutely CANNOT live without. They’re the underrated kitchen champions. So today, I’d like to do something slightly different. No recipes, just specially appreciating my kitchen essentials. They’re tools I find every useful and they make my cooking experience an even better one. When you’re done reading, please feel free to share some of your own kitchen essentials with us.
Here we go, in no order of preference:
When people call this tool a ‘picker’ it actually physically grates my ears. They’re actually called TONGS! Tongs in my kitchen is a ‘must have’. It is used to turn over everything. Whether it’s flipping over meat on the grill or turning chicken pieces in the oven or placing a burger over the mayo-spread bun or just frying chicken, the tongs are what you need. Tongs give you more control and grip over what your handling as opposed to a spoon of “frying spoon”
I have a red one I got for a sky rocketing 10 euros but it has been my best friend for 2 years now. It’s one of the new age ones that have small teeth and can peel the thinnest layer of anything. So, I suggest that the next time you want to buy a “potato peeler” look for the ones that have little “teeth”. It’s also important that the one you buy has a good grip. However, the simple stainless steel ones are great too. You can use the peeler to get long strips of vegetable that can be used as a beautiful garnish or for a fine “julienne” cut. Try and peel in long strip rather than short ones it makes the vegetable look nicer.
I live for anything that’s either teal covered or silicone made. I CANNOT do anything without my silicone/tefal spatula. from mixing a batter for stirring a sauce or stew. I use it for everything. Spatulas are most useful for scrapping the sides of whatever container you’re making or cooking something in.I cherish my spatula when I mix a pancake batter or a muffin batter; I can scrape everything round the sides of the bowl and nothing here goes to waste. Like I said, I use it to cook as well. Look out for the ones that are sturdy silicone all round or something that has a wooden handle. The plastic and metal tend to melt over heat or break. Get them in the colorful range so you can mark them for different uses or just of sake of your kitchen drawers looking good.
Another silicone kitchen gadget I recommend is the silicone bakeware. They are easier to store as they can be folded. I must not forget the silicone oven mittens. They withstand heat better; so get a pair for the house and throw those burnt ones away!
It’s 2012 people and a non-stick pan is a MUST HAVE. No excuses with this one. I’ve heard people complain about their non-stick pans not being effective and I always say that it’s basically due to improper care of the non-stick surface.Non stick pans need water and non abrasive contact. So that means use silicone, wood or plastic against the surface. Do not try and wing it with using the metal stuff just “once”. Don’t!
These pans and surfaces are useful for making the perfect pancake or crepe. perfect for cooking fish without the need to add too much oil. I use my non sticks for my pancakes so i get a nice colour at the bottom and i use less butter to cook it.
This is amuse have and good care for them must be sunk into everyone’s minds.
Don’t allow the term put you off that it’s just for bakers so please stay with me. From basting chicken or meat with roasting juices to BBQ sauce these brushes normally come in handy. Even after cooking the brush can be used to give a shine on the food for picture taking or for sheer presentation at the table.
There’se always butter in my fridge. whether its for pancakes, making muffins or flouring basmati rice, butter has a permanent home in my fridge.
What’s the difference between salted and unsalted. Basically salted is what is recommended for savory dishes like making a béarnaise sauce or making pancakes while unsalted is basically used to make cakes or more west recipes that do not want the risk of tasting savory. In my opinion use whatever you find or have but NEVER trust a magazine where a recipe calls for butter. Tip melt a block of butter and allow to cool and scrape the melted part away and voila you have clarified butter that can keep for up to a month in the fridge or forever if frozen.
A Hand Blender
I recommend you invest in this because frankly its’ almost more enjoyable to use it and also it’s less washing up to do. Think of all the puree-ing and blending that can be done in the pot and there’s less risk of the content splashing all over the place. Hand blenders area great for making soups, emulsifying sauces and you can even use it to make your okro and blended your tomatoes and pepper. Plus, it doesn’t take up to much space. Invest in a good one. The dry mill is also an essential for me. It’s the small attachment that comes with your blender. I use it for grinding seeds and whole spices or make flavoured salts to us on meats and other protein I use it a lot these days.
Cast Iron pan
I particularly like stainless steel pans because they sear meat well but cast iron skillets are great for cooking meats as well because it retains the heat for a longer time and handles the oven every well. So for braising dishes it’s your sure winner. For now I have a medium sized one I use for braising tough cuts of meat.
Of course last but in no way the least
A Good Chef’s Knife
Whenever you’re at a good supermarket, please I implore you to whip out that 1500-2000 naira or whatever currency you spend wherever you’re reading this from and buy one. If you live in France for example you may not need a 90euro Wusthof Knife but somewhere in Carrefour or Monoprix they would have a 20 euro one that’s just as good. but most importantly care properly for it so you can use it for longer. Don’t use your knife to open tins it would destroy the tip. If you use a steel knife, use the knife against the fine grain before you cut so it maintains its sharpness for longer and try to sharpen it 2times in a month. Ensure that your knife is dry before you put it in the cabinet so it doesn’t rust.
If you have a small kitchen, find out what you really need and don’t try to overstock the place to make it more of a “kitchen”
If you’re in Lagos, please come to the Get Arena for Chef Fregz Special. It’s on Sunday the 30th of September and it starts at 12Noon. Remember it’s the last one for the year and I’ll be there to meet you. For more details on the menu, please check out www.theskinnychefthatcould.com.
Don’t overdo it this weekend.
Photo credit: google images
Fregz loves to cook! He is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris Culinary Arts School in France and hosts monthly “Chef Fregz Specials” where he whips up a yummy menu with a different theme each time then everyone enjoys a taste.He also caters special events and private dinners. To find out more, visit theskinnychefthatcould.com