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10 Kitchen essentials every serious cook/baker must own

1: A good Knife

I showed up to my culinary class with a set of knives I had at home. They were decent, and cheap (How I usually describe my purchases when I do not want to spend too much on something). My chef asked to borrow my knife so he could instruct me on how to thinly size a tiny little grape. Needless to say that he was frustrated with my decent and cheap knife. Me being a first generation desi (south asian) thought to myself- "I am not sure what he is talking about because it can cut things. Plus it was cheap." It would've worked well if I had just left that as a thought to myself. Chef D, knowing my passion for photography, quips, "Is there a difference between a disposable camera and a DSLR?"

"yes"

"Well, your knife is a disposable camera"

Chef D dropped some harsh wisdom that day.

He made me use his knife- which is an absolute honour in the culinary world and I was able to slice a grape into many thin slices. Proof:

 

IMG_0757.jpg

His knife is a Shun Knife. It is the most coveted knife in the culinary world. It is japanese and made with a varying grade of metal. It lasts a lifetime.

 Photo courtesy of www.foodandwine.com

Photo courtesy of www.foodandwine.com

2: A stand mixer

My life as a home baker, before I joined culinary school, changed when I got my first stand mixer as a gift (Thank YOU sister!). It made following recipes, baking quick breads, and ice-cream, that much simpler. The most popular one is the Kitchen Aid Stand mixer. It comes with all sort of attachments and bells and whistles to successfully create a dish.

 Photo courtesy of www.thekitchn.com

Photo courtesy of www.thekitchn.com

 

Although, if you need a stand mixer as a piece of conversation and are not into baking, I will point you towards this beauty from SMEG X DOLCE and GABBANA. WANT.

 photo courtesy of www.refinery29.com

photo courtesy of www.refinery29.com

 

3: Cast Iron Pan

You can make all sorts of dishes using a cast iron pan. Think, pan pizza, breads, naan, omelettes, stir fry, etc. The list is endless. Make sure you read up on how to look after a cast iron pan though!

 photo courtesy of www.pinchofyum.com

photo courtesy of www.pinchofyum.com

 

4: Mandoline

All my regular followers know that I recently hosted a weekend party for my family. One of the tools that helped me, was a mandoline cutter. Think julienne or thin slices in a short amount of time. I flew threw a bag of onions- the golden vegetable when it comes to south asian cooking. I needed lots of it to last me through the weekend. I could not have done it without my mandoline cutter. I recommend getting a good quality one as blades need to be sharp for this one. If you are a clumsy cook, I would not recommend this- you can seriously damage your hands with this if you are not careful. Most of them come with a vegetable holder as a precautionary measure.

 photo courtesy of pinterest

photo courtesy of pinterest

 

5: Scale

A good scale is VITAL. I do not care if you can convert everything to a cup measure and use that. GET A SCALE. I cannot stress this enough. Especially when it comes to baking. No measurement is more accurate than actually scaling out all the ingredients.

 Photo courtesy of www.target.com

Photo courtesy of www.target.com

 

6: citrus press

It is a simple tool that really makes your task easy. In cooking and in baking, a lot of recipes call for citrus juices. A handy press will make this job fairly simple. Have a whole bunch to juice out or simply love a freshly squeezed glass of OJ? go for this one from Breville.

 Photo courtesy of Pinteres

Photo courtesy of Pinteres

 Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

7: A grinder

It is important to compare your equipment size to the amount of cooking you usually do. For grinding spices, coffee beans, or quickly grinding a vegetable puree, I recommend the magic bullet. It grinds everything from tiny spices to ice cubes for a frozen smoothie.

If you have a lot more to grind on a daily basis and need a more powerful grinder, I recommend the robot coup. We use this in our culinary class, and it comes with a citrus juicing attachment!

 Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

 Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

8: A heat resistant spatula

Looks fairly simple right? However, I use this for everything! Whipping things with my hand, cleaning out bowls, flipping pancakes, and skillfully flipping omelettes. You get these in heat resistant handles so you can actually leave it to rest in your pan and it wont melt.

 photo courtesy of pinterest

photo courtesy of pinterest

 

9: Bench Scraper

Want to clean out scraps from your work space? Want to quickly lift diced vegetables or herbs and drop it in your pot/bowl? Want something to cut your dough? The bench scraper is excellent for this. This multipurpose tool is absolutely essential in my kitchen. Some of them also come with a handy ruler on the cutter side.

 Photo courtesy of www.howtocakeit.com

Photo courtesy of www.howtocakeit.com

 

10: A shallow and large cooking pot

Whats the difference between a regular pot and the one I just described? Most big North American pots tend to be deeper, and not just bigger. Having a shallow and a wide (big/large) pot, making cooking a lot more easy. Shallow pots help cook rice to the perfect texture and temperature. It is also essential for making an excellent biryani.  

 photo courtesy of www.webstaurantstore.com

photo courtesy of www.webstaurantstore.com

Those were the essentials I think are important in my kitchen. I use these on a daily basis and especially when I host a party. What are some of your essentials?

DIY - Coming Soon!!!

About Me

This is a tough one. I always fail at talking about my self in general terms. There are layers to ME, much like the layers of a puff pastry. I shall start with the layer on top. I am a pastry chef who has been trained in classical french pastry and world breads. I have been trained under Master Pastry Chef Joseph Decker (my guru if you will), and Master Chef Jeffrey Gabriel (a genius who marries sweet and savoury quite well). 

Food for me started off as a form of visual arts. I loved photographing it, reading about it, and watching endless videos of it being prepared. I first started cooking under the tutelage of my father, Mr. Khan, who in his own sense is one of the best cooks I know. He is meticulous with his prep work and thorough with his cooking. The first dish I prepared on my own was a Gosht Khorma, a Hyderabadi style curry made with a spices and yoghurt base. I followed a recipe off the internet and it was a disaster. Pappa taught me how to cook it the right way. After that, there was no looking back.

Although I started with hot food, I realized very quickly that my expertise lies with pastries. I started my first successful blog, Quirk Kitchen, when I was a federal government employee. It helped me escape the everyday. 

When I moved to Michigan, USA, post my marriage to a wonderful and supportive man, he encouraged me to pursue food full time. During my training as a chef, I was also working as a chocolatier. That is when phase two of my food journey started- Maison De L'Amour.

Maison De L'Amour means House of Love. The future plans for MDLA includes (god willingly) a brick and mortar storefront. For now, this blog is step one. It encompasses all my secondary and primary passions. I included DIY and Travel. Travel and food are incomplete without each other. In our global world, ingredients and techniques have traveled across borders to create a unified culture. A culture of food, travel, appreciation of one another, and a lust for flavours and smells.

It is also reflective of who ME is. I am as global as it gets. I was born in Hyderabad, India. Brought up in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Moved to Toronto, Canada as a teenager. Moved to Michigan, USA post wedding. My most recent move has brought me to Indiana, USA. 

I speak Urdu, Hindi (Not the same as Urdu *eye rolls*), English, Broken Arabic, and my command of Pashto will surprise and amuse you.

I love meat and cannot fathom being a vegetarian.

I will always pick sweet snacks on road trips. My husband will only pick salty snacks. We have learned not to let one go without the other for a snacks shopping trip.

I am a hardcore traveler- I will get up at the crack of dawn and get ready to explore EVERYTHING- completely opposite of how my husband would like to travel (passively). 

I love big breakfasts and I can't lie.

This should sum up my layers. I cannot wait to hear back from you guys. Thank you for your never ending support and love.

 

 Here is a photo of me looking all mysterious. Photo by Qurrat A'yun Studios 

Here is a photo of me looking all mysterious. Photo by Qurrat A'yun Studios