PRODUCTS I LOVE (and must share with you!)
I get asked all the time what kind of cookwear I use and recommend for my home cooking. Before I got these pans, I didn’t really have a strong answer for this question because I’d not been that passionate about my pans… UNTIL NOW. While I should really love to cook with stainless steel or copper core pans (this what you learn in culinary school), I’ve always been partial to non-stick pans. They are easy to clean and while I love to cook, I’m not as keen on the soaking and cleaning every pan for ten minutes. I tend to cook with high heat as well and stainless can be sensitive to the heat when certain oils are used. Upon learning that teflon pans are now outlawed by the EPA and should be phased out by 2015, I threw my old non-stick pans into the trash in favor of these new ones- SCANPAN. They hold heat incredibly well are PFOA-free nonstick cookware and oven safe to 500 degrees. LOVE THEM. Sold at most kitchen stores and online.
So your best friend in the kitchen is a good knife. That said, the world of knives can be confusing! Here are the basics on KNIFE 101:
Chef’s Knife: If you have only one good knife in your kitchen, this is the one to have. For at home cooking, an 8″ or 10″ is perfect or maybe a 12″ if you do volume cooking as the extra length can be helpful if you have the cutting board space. I usually suggest a Japanese style knife for this tool because they are usually lighter, well balanced and easier for women or smaller hands. I love the sanduko style and suggest you go to a kitchen store and try out a few knives before purchasing one. A typically good Chef knife will usually run you around $100, give or take. This is your go-to knife that is good for all cutting and chopping needs. If you like heavier knife, then a German Chef knife might be more your preference. Best to test them in the store and most kitchen stores have a money back guarantee if you and the knife just do not get along.
Paring Knife: This is probably my most favorite knife to use because they are small, usually 4″ or 6″, and should be kept super sharp so you can easily cut through a bell pepper skin or a tomato. These knives are not large though so are not set up for cutting all foods or for chopping. Like I said, I keep mine super sharp and this is what makes this knife useful for small jobs and finesse cuts (say you want a small garnish).
Carving Knife: A good knife to cut meat is essential if you make roasts and larger pieces of meat. Also, if you like buying a full beef tenderloin and cutting it into filets, not only will you want this knife but you will save money per filet cutting them yourself. Here is where I love a good heavy German knife. They have substance and weight and feel like they can cut through anything with a little bit of power from you.
Bread Knife: A nice to have and somewhat essential if you cut a lot of bread. A mediocre bread knife is fine unless you are cutting a lot of bread!
Knife Care: Steel the knife EVERY TIME you take it out of the block. I am serious. If you can’t do that then at least shoot for once a day. When I steel a knife, I always pass it across the steel 16 times, 8 each side- weird habit! I use a diamond steel (found at any kitchen store) that sharpens a little while it straightens and hones the knife. This way I don’t have to sharpen my knife as often and I prolong the life of the knife since each time you sharpen you are grinding the knife back. For sharpening, you can take your knife to any kitchen store or you can buy a stone and do it yourself. If you keep your knife properly steeled though then the time between sharpening lengthens. Okay- a dull knife is like completely useless. If you can press your finger into your knife with a good amount of pressure and don’t bleed a little then something is wrong! Can you cut through a bell pepper skin with ease? This is a good test to see if your knife is up to snuff. Now if you do get a nice sharp knife, please make sure to take a class or study some knife skills if you have never done it. A good sharp knife can do some damage if used improperly!