Got Enough Gadgets?
A well-stocked kitchen doesn’t require a massive amount of gear. You don’t need an egg scrambler, a fondue pot or even an omelet pan. Here are the 10 simple essentials that will empower you to get most any meal on the table with a minimum of fuss.
• Knives. You can get by with just three good, steel-bladed knives: a solid chef’s knife, a smallish paring knife and a serrated bread knife (which will do double duty as a tomato slicer). A sharpening steel is also good to have for regular maintenance, but professional sharpenings (annually, at minimum) will restore your knives to greatness.
• Cutting boards. Wood boards are pretty and can double as serving trays (try bamboo or teak from a reliable resource); plastic ones can go in the dishwasher.
• Spatulas. A flexible spatula with a thin metal blade (or a thin nonstick blade, if you use nonstick pans) is invaluable for turning fish, eggs and so forth.
• Cast-iron pans. A well-seasoned (that is, well-used and oiled) 15-inch cast-iron skillet is the workhorse of the kitchen. You can use it for everything from frying a single egg or searing a steak to baking cornbread or braising a whole chicken. Get a lid for it to quadruple its uses.
• Pots. A small saucepan is great for cooking things like sauces, but a 3- or 4-quart saucepan will be the pot you use for simmering, steaming, reheating and more. Heavy-bottom, straight-sided pans are the most versatile.
• French oven. Sometimes called a Dutch oven or soup pot, a good 6-, 9- or 12-quart cast-iron pot is a kitchen necessity that can move from stovetop to oven. Use it to make chili, stew, soup and even bread. The best are the enamel-coated ones from Le Creuset — if you can afford one, their heat control is unparalleled, and they’ll last a lifetime.
• Spoons. Chefs use big spoons for sauces, for plating, for everything. If you want only one, get one with a flat-edge that will allow you to clear the bottom of a pot effectively.
• Rasps. Rasps have moved out of the woodshop and into the kitchen. Choose a tiny-holed rasp for grating fresh nutmeg, get a medium-holed version for zesting citrus, and an even larger-holed one for grating hard cheeses.
• Strainers. Some people like colanders, and some prefer strainers — which are you? A colander can also double as a decorative serving basket for fruit. You can use your strainer when cleaning veggies, but if you buy your greens unpackaged, then a salad spinner will come in handy, too.
• Vegetable Peelers. The classic U-shaped ones are preferred by chefs, though the most important thing in a vegetable peeler (as with most kitchen gear) is that you’re comfortable using it. Because, after all, the whole point of a well-appointed kitchen is to help you cook contentedly.
Celebrate the Delicate Side of Cabbage this St. Patrick’s Day.
- One cup of raw, shredded savoy cabbage provides 60 percent of your daily recommended allowance of vitamin K, which is important for healthy blood coagulation and maintaining bone mass. It’s also loaded with vitamin C, phytonutrients and fiber.
- When cooked, savoy’s vitamin K disappears. But steaming or lightly boiling savoy makes other vitamins — especially vitamins C and A — more accessible during the digestion process.
- Raw, shredded napa cabbage offers plenty of vitamin C, plus some vitamin A and calcium. The vegetable’s folate, manganese, copper and iron are not readily accessible to the body when it’s raw.
- When steamed or lightly boiled, though, a cup of napa cabbage delivers 12 percent of your RDA of folate, as well as a healthy mix of manganese, vitamins A and C, copper, and iron.
- The strong flavor of cabbage comes from its glucosinolates, which contain sulfur and nitrogen. Glucosinolates and isothiocyanates are phytochemicals in cabbage that help ward off cancer. By signaling the genes to increase production of certain enzymes, cabbage’s phytonutrients also help optimize the body’s detoxifying abilities.
- Raw cabbage juice has been shown to be effective in treating peptic ulcers.
- Purée chickpeas with olive oil, fresh garlic, tahini (sesame seed paste) and lemon juice to make hummus, which you can serve with pita, vegetables or as a sandwich spread to accompany meats, vegetables or fish.
- For a crunchy, flavorful snack, season chickpeas with olive oil, salt and pepper, toss with rosemary and balsamic vinegar, then roast at 200 degrees F for 45 minutes. Stir, then roast for another 15 minutes.
- Add chickpeas to vegetable soups to enhance flavor and protein content.
- Sauté chickpeas in olive oil with garlic, then combine with spinach, tomatoes, feta and quinoa pasta for a fast, delicious and nutritionally balanced meal.
- Chickpea (garbanzo) flour makes a flavorful, light and nutritious whole-grain alternative to wheat flour in pancakes, fritters, crackers and polenta.