Friday, August 20, 2010

Essential Kitchen Cookware

Quality cookware can be enjoyed every day and should last for years – if not a lifetime. Vera Klein for Notebook rounds up the best kitchen essentials to help you invest wisely.

Some things are worth waiting for, which can be said for many things in life. Not that everything in the kitchen need be top-notch and terribly expensive, as some items are worth splurging on while others can easily be saved on.

Good cookware is definitely worth investing in as in many cases it will last a lifetime and work out to be more economical than spending money on cheap, inferior pieces that constantly need replacing.

Basic kit

Many cookware and kitchenware choices will be personal, but there are some basic items every good kitchen should have:
  • Three frying pans: small – roughly 20cm; medium – roughly 24cm; large – roughly 30cm.
  • Metal roasting pan.
  • Three saucepans: small – one-litre capacity; medium – two-litre capacity; large – four-litre capacity.
  • Stockpot.
  • Casserole dish with lid.
  • Metal colander.
  • Stainless-steel mesh sieve.
  • Two chopping boards: one for bread and vegetables, another for meat and pungent vegetables, such as onions and garlic.
  • Ceramic gratin dish.
  • Metric measuring cups and spoons.
  • Three mixing bowls.
  • Grater.
Before you buy

Cookware can be made of many different materials so you’ll need to consider how you cook, and buy accordingly. Consider products made from the following:

• Copper
• Non-Stick
• Stainless steel
• Anodised Aluminium
• Enamelled cast iron

Luxury appliances
Appliances may not be absolutely necessary but they can certainly make life easier. Unless an appliance you use regularly breaks down, always wait for the sales when it comes to buying quality appliances.

Look for appliances that offer a long warranty and can be serviced locally should they need future maintenance: two good signs that the pieces were made to last rather than be added to landfill in the very near future. For example, the top-end Magimix food processors come with a 12-year guarantee on the motor.

Ask yourself some questions when deciding what works for you. For instance, if you have a food processor, do you really require a blender, too? Would a coffee machine pay for itself if you gave up buying a morning take-away coffee? Keep an eye out for: 

• Stand mixer.
• Coffee grinder, used exclusively for spices.
• Food processor.
• Stick blender, good for soups.
• Toaster.
• Electronic scales.


“Nothing is a more personal choice than the brand of knives. Ask any chef and they will tell you they remain loyal to one brand,” says Meagan McNeil of Sheldon and Hammond, a distributor of cookware.

Give knife-block sets a miss when purchasing as professionals agree we don’t need that many knives. Instead, aim for one chef’s or cook’s knife that starts at around 18cm in length, a paring knife for vegetables and garlic and a serrated knife for bread. “Treat each purchase separately,” advises Michael. “You may find you go for three brands.”

Consider these your three basic knives and add others as necessary, as only you know how you like to cook.

Baking extras 

Once the basics are covered, start collecting kitchenware suited to your needs, which in many cases will involve baking:

• Three cake pans, ranging from small to medium.
• Loaf pan.
• Muffin pans.
• Cake cooling rack.
• Wooden rolling pin.
• Tart tin with removable base.
• Ceramic gratin dish.
• Baking trays.
• Pastry weights.
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