Dietician Dec / Jan 2020: The 15 Utensils you have to have

Through this series we are going look at the different items, gadgets, ingredients and techniques that will make your performance in the kitchen better and through that your performance on the road or trails better too. By creating the best food and nutrition environment and upskilling you along the way we will hopefully take out some of the drudgery of food prep, add some flavours and tasty goodness to your meals and kickstart some healthful habits. We are going to move you from the couch, to the kitchen, to the pedals and keep you coming back for more. If we can get you better in the kitchen we will get you better on the bike.

The first few steps in the journey are all about creating the right kitchen set-up. In this article we start with the utensils that will make your life easy. Some of these you should already have but an upgrade for one or two of them really will change your relationship with cooking.

 

Knives – You do not need a Japanese arsenal

1. A good quality chef’s knife with a nice weight is a worthy investment. You can use this for almost every job in the kitchen.

2. While you are at it make sure you get a sharpening steel too. Your knife is only as good as its blade and slicing easily through an onion or a well prepared steak will not only save your fingers but save you time and profanities too. I truly believe this will change your life. Keep it sharp, a quick run through before each use is all you need.

3 and 4. Add to your set a small paring knife and a serrated Victorinox and this will cover all your needs for smaller jobs, fruit and veg and boning if need be.

5. Finally a good chopping board will also improve your knives’ lives. Wood looks great but is not the best for hygiene, you can get fancy with multi-coloured boards for different ingredients but simply one or two thick high density plastic boards that you can clean easily and replace yearly will have you sorted.

 

Gadgets can make your life easier but there is no need to fill a drawer with them

6. Start out with a few basics like a cheap and cheerful Y-shape potato peeler. This will peel your veg, slice your cheese and even make fancy looking carrot or courgette strips in no time at all.

7. Some good quality scissors are next on the list as a quick and easy hack for chopping herbs, cutting up a chicken and getting into any bags and packaging without hassle.

8. Tongs. They are way easier and a mess-free alternative when turning any meat or vegetable on the stove, in the oven and obviously around the braai.

9. Your spatula should match your pots and pans. Stainless steel for steel cookware and plastic for non-stick. Don’t ruin your non-stick with steel utensils.

10. A sieve or colander to rinse your fruit and veg and to double up as a strainer.

 

Cookware of various shapes and sizes 

11 and 12. One small pan and one big pan, both with the thickest bases you can afford. The thicker the base the better the heat distribution and holding. Make sure it matches your cooking hob whether it is ceramic, gas or induction. In The Performance Kitchen we prefer stainless steel to non-stick, if you do go non-stick rather spend a little more for the best quality you can afford. Get something that has a handle that can go in the oven for finishing off dishes or keeping warm. I have a miniature frying pan (single egg size) that is in daily use too (although it always has two eggs jammed in there!).

 

13, 14 and 15. A small saucepan, a medium pot and a stock or pasta pot with strainer will be all you need. The little saucepan is great for sauces as the name suggests or a single serving of soup or stew. The medium size should handle most your boiling and stewing needs, you can use a sieve or colander to steam over this too and it is the perfect vessel for your popcorn! The stock pot or pasta pot with a strainer really is useful for cooking pasta or potatoes and getting them out of the water mess-free. If you are an avid cook and looking for a healthy addition to your weekly routine this pot can bang out your stocks or bone broths in great volume too.

The super-sub gadget to throw into the mix is a micro-planer or grater. For adding zest, grated dark chocolate, parmesan or freshly grated nutmeg you can use this almost daily for those finishing touches and flavours. Rummage through the cupboards and drawers at home and make sure you can tick off each item on this list. Invest in something new to invigorate your time in the kitchen, and while you are at it, make sure the corkscrew is on hand too.

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