Thursday, November 26, 2009

Kitchen Christmas Wishes

One of the perks of going to Le Cordon Bleu is the $1000 knife kit, supplied as part of the tuition (so really you're paying $9000 for it!). Now I'm the kind of girl who prefers kitchen gadgets over jewellery, so having the knife kit in my possession is pretty cool. In fact, I'm considering bringing it along with me at Christmas since my mom's knives are circa 1960 and dull as my Grandma's knees!

These two blogs list the contents of the knife kit thoroughly, so I won't re-list them here. But I thought I'd list some kitchen tools from the kit along with other items I found useful during my practical classes at Le Cordon Bleu.

• A good chef's knife, used during every practical I had in the kitchens of Le Cordon Bleu

• A good paring knife

• A good boning knife...only if you want to break down rabbits, chickens, lamb, pork and beef! I would rather rely on my butcher, but Le Cordon Bleu doesn't agree with me. As recommended by one of the chefs at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa, Capital Cutlery Services Ltd West on Caesar Street in the Merivale industrial park in Ottawa takes an old, dull chef's knife and turns it into a sharp, strong boning knife that's available for purchase at $6 a piece. Fill your stockings with sharp knives!

• A scale that weighs both dry and liquid ingredients in metric and imperial

This is a great scale that works perfectly as long as it hasn't been accidentally dropped into a sink full of water or squeezed into a very full knife kit.

• A good sauté pan...although I don't own All-Clad, someday I'd like to. I currently have one sauté pan that I picked up in a grocery store aisle that has been the workhorse in my kitchen.

• A good pot...I have many Paderno pots in a variety of sizes that I'm very happy with. All-Clad would be my second choice.

• A good pair of scissors

From cutting parchment paper for a lid for your vegetables or rice to cutting the backbone of a chicken or trimming fins from fish, you need a pair of scissors in the kitchen. If the blades can be separated for cleaning, even better.

• Stainless steel bowls

This is on my wish list. I want to get rid of the mish-mash of plastic bowls in my cupboard and replace them with several stacking stainless steel bowls. Supposedly, some stainless steel bowls work fine in the microwave too.

• Strainer (chinois, china cap, fine mesh strainer)

Everything in French cooking is strained. No chunks or bits are allowed in a fine French sauce.

• A whisk, of course! But don't whisk that potato leek soup. You don't want to develop the starch in the potatoes and make your soup glue-y!

• Tongs, used to rescue green beans from boiling water, turn meat on the grill, and even grab hot pots from the stove.

• Skimmer, used for skimming scum and foam while making stocks and sauces.

• Ladle, used for ladling the fat over the meat during sautéing to keep the fat from getting too hot.

• Offset Palette Knife, used to decorate cakes or to flip pancakes or fish on the grill!

• Vegetable Peeler. I like the y-shaped version, but it's a personal preference.

• Pastry Scraper for making pie dough, pasta dough, pizza dough and as a rubber spatula in a pinch.

• Spatula

• Wooden Spoon

• Cutting boards

This is on my wish list again since all of mine are warped from being washed many times in the dishwasher. At school, we used wooden ones for vegetables, red ones for raw and cooked meat and blue ones for raw and cooked fish. And always, we had to have a wet paper towel under it to ensure it didn't slip around on the counter.

• Last, but not least is the KitchenAid Stand Mixer (not part of the kit since we're asked to do everything by hand in Basic Cuisine and Basic Pastry!)

Every kitchen needs this tool if you enjoy baking. It makes quick work of a cake and with all the attachments you can buy for it, you can enjoy making pasta, ice cream, or even shred cheese!

• And the coolest new Kitchen gadget for your KitchenAid Stand Mixer: the beater blade.

I couldn't wait until Christmas for this one so I picked one up, and it's been worth it. My cake batter doesn't have any dry clumps of flour at the bottom of the bowl anymore. There are two models of this blade so make sure you get the right one for your mixer.

• Note that I left out the oft-used turning knife from our kit!

Unless you're going to Le Cordon Bleu or working for some fancy schmancy hotel restaurant, this knife is going to remain hidden in the knife kit (I hope!).

[Most of these items are listed in a widget on my sidebar.]

Happy shopping!


Anonymous said...

I have some of my mothers knives circa 1970, and not good in those days. I am jealous of your knife set.

John Verizon said...

You really do have a good set of knives.

Black Friday Kitcheaid Mixer Sale Here!!

Sunei said...

I love this post. Full of great information. I always look and wonder and ponder -- and here is some guidance! Thank you!!

Lynda said...

Now I know what to put on my Christmas wish list. Thanks for all the great ideas.

angela@spinachtiger said...

Shari this is so timely. I need to revamp my knives (and sharpen what I have. I STILL don't have a kitchen aid, but I borrow my neighbors all the time, so may get that beater blade. I have cast iron pans that I love. Do you use those? I couldn't live without. What is the best knife for carving a chicken or cutting it in pieces after roasting?

Shelley said...

I honestly did not know the vital importance of good knives until I started with the Whisk Wednesdays group. Now, I don't have these pro knives like you have because I am just a piker, but I have picked up some knives over the past year and a half that are at least SHARP.

Sharp makes a heeeyoooge difference. :)

Inspired by eRecipeCards said...

hey, thanks for this... I have a small number of these items, but now have a good guide,,, I so need those knifes.

and love the comment on the turning knife

Courtney said...

Totally relate. I cook for my family every Sunday in a different kitchen and have to take my good knives with me. Can't stand cooking with mom's knives from Target! Takes twice as long!

Unknown said...

okay... i'm also one who appreciates an awesome set of knives, but seriously... $81 for paring knife???
you've gotta be kidding me.

it's a given that one can find a 'cream of the crop' kitchen utensil (along with the hefty price tag), but these days, you've gotta be posting more practical suggestions.

how about an amazing paring knife somewhere in the $30 - $50 range? something that's great in quality and a realistic purchase in these hard times?

that said... i'm with ya on the kitchen aid mixer. done deal.

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Good point, Sabrina! I agree and didn't even notice the price of the paring knife. I just selected it since it was Wusthof and that's the brand provided in the knife kit from school. I have other paring knives at home that were cheaper. As long as the paring knife is sharp, it doesn't matter the brand, in my opinion. Thanks for pointing that out!


thefashionablefoodie said...

We love our kitchen-aid classic, but after having it for a couple of years, I'd seriously recommend getting the next model up. The classic really struggles to kneed a good sized bread dough.

Dishin And Dishes said...

You must be in heaven! So glad for you to live this dream! Maybe some day...after my kids are gone, this kind of dream will become a reality! Until then, I can enjoy your posts!

Karen and Blair blog said...

Shari catered a large dinner for me last night - it was our Christmas dinner and included 26 family and friends.

It was spectacular!!! My guests could not say enough about the food. It tasted amazing, the presentation was gorgeous, and each dish was special and unique. If you are lucky enough to have Shari agree to cater something for you, I am sure you will be delighted.

By the way, she is calm and unflappable so the guests saw only the delightful result of her labours in the kitchen!