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Buying Guide: Kitchen Essentials for Cooking and Serving

Updated: Nov 1, 2021

This post is listing my favourite and absolutely recommended kitchen essentials, split in 3 large categories:

  • Cookware and Bakeware: pans, skillets, knives, pots and other related equipment for preparing and cooking a fine meal or baking great cakes at home.

  • Appliances: mixers, blenders and other smart devices that will shorten your preparation times and save you a lot of effort.

  • Tableware and serveware: utensils to plates and chopsticks to table cloths, everything I use for my photography and you will need to style and serve your food like a pro. Also baby baby tableware to brighten up our little dudes' meals ;-)

I buy most of the cooking ingredients and cookware from Amazon (cos I'm either too lazy or stuck in lockdown) and in this post, I am going to share all the links to these amazing products!


I have been repeatedly asked by friends and followers where did I buy this or that. So I thought it would be a good idea to add my favourite items I have been using for my recipes (and have been extensively tested to work fine) at the end of each post along with a little review. But then, what if someone comes back for that utensil or that tool I've used in a post but not sure which one. So here we are, an all-in-one post with all cookware and tableware I have in my kitchen arsenal and you've seen featured in my recipes and photos. This post will be regularly updated with all new things I discover and recommend for you, so update your bookmarks and keep checking back!


Happy shopping!


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Cookware & Bakeware

 

Frying Non-stick Pans

First things first, the absolute necessity for every kitchen, frying non-stick pans. I've used quite a few brands in the past (like the Green pan which is popular in the UK and advertises as the greenest out there) but I've always come back to my favourite Tefal as the best option. I'm not paid by Tefal but undoubtedly are of the best quality, last long and they are PFOA and PTFE free. I have a big 28cm for family quantity food, big omelettes and crepes and also a 20cm for convenience, like frying an egg or two or roasting spices or nuts. If you are just starting and want to equip your kitchen with different size and style pans, the 5-piece essential set is what you need. If you have kids, I would also recommend getting also a small 20cm for convenience, like frying an egg or two or roasting spices or nuts. It goes without saying that if you're into Asian cooking, you might also need a large Ken Hom wok for your arsenal.












Milk Pan with pouring spout

This is a must-have in your kitchen. If you have kids, you'll appreciate how easy the milk is warmed up and poured through this magic spout. If not, you'll definitely appreciate it when you make soups (little portions), sauces or gravies as this little magic spout will steer your liquids to the direction you want (and not where the physics want).


Cast Iron Skillet

Not very essential tool but adds to styling and presentation. They need some extra care and maintenance to keep them going (check some tips here) yet I still think these beauties are perfect for serving fried eggs, scrambled as well as baked (no plastic handles). Not to mention how good they look on the table and in my photos (Check this recipe for scrambled eggs)












Tart Tins

I totally suggest buying a non-stick tart tin with holes (for baking) and a removable loose bottom which makes the crust so crispy and easier to detach and serve. I recommend this Kitchen Kraft product from Amazon which ticks all the boxes and I have been using it for ages which exactly proves its durability and quality. Alternatively, the quantities also yield for 6 small tartlet bases. I also recommend going for removable bases. If you are into non-baked goods like dessert tarts and cheesecakes you will also need a non-perforated tin, choose one around 22 or 23 cm of diameter










Bread Loaf Tins

If you are into baking this is a must-have tin to quickly bake savoury or sweetbreads for family or for parties. I'd recommend going for 2 if you are a big family or host lots of dinner parties. Get some ideas for bread here and here.


Muffin and Cupcake Bake Tray // Cooling Wire Rack

I use them for muffins and cupcakes. Le Creuset is always the best choice but as it is quite pricey, so I'm posting below another brand that I've used and worked out pretty well for me! I wouldn't recommend the silicone tray, turned up pretty annoying and messy getting your bakes off the moulds.












Large Sieve

You need that especially if you are into messing with flour but you will also find it handy for washing and draining tinned foods (beans, chickpeas or lentils). I like this KitchenCraft, these build-in hooks keep it in place over bowls or pans.


Measuring Jug/Cup

Totally essential products to measure quantities, you need the small one for spices and small quantities of liquids (oils, vinegar etc) and the large 1-litre one for preparing stocks for soups. I always prefer glass over plastic for handling hot content like stocks.












Pestle and Mortar

An important accessory in a great range of tasks like crushing nuts, spices, herbs, making pastes like pesto or ginger/garlic for Asian dishes without messing up your food processor. I like this Granite HiCoup one because it's size is ideal (although it advertises as Large, it's not as big as these Asian Thai mortars and not as small as a spice mortar), feels solid and robust (hence stable in use) and is made of good heavy granite material (weighs around 2.5kg). It's a great piece and quality equipment that sits comfortably in your kitchen worktop, it's wonderful to use and looks good in your photos too ;-).



Cookie Cutters

Something we should all have in our cupboards as they are useful not only for cookies but also for small bases for pizzettas, tartlets, mini pies and other party and finger food you will be making from time to time. An absolute must in your kitchen arsenal. Go for the basic round shaped cutters (like these cheaper ones which go up to 9.5cm diameter or this set to up your game to 12.5cm diameter). Festive or animal-shaped cutters are also really fun to use with your little helpers (look at these gingerbreads or these low sugar cardamom cookies).

















Rolling Pin

I know this is a quite trivial tool for many, but what I recently discovered that changed my life was the rolling pin with a revolving centre axis!


OXO Vegetable Chopper

Can't even think my life without this little wonder. Cuts onions or carrots in cubes and potatoes into thick-cut chips with one easy move! Check this post to see it in action.

Buy it stand alone or with the fantastic OXO peeler. What I love about OXO are not only their durability and quality but also the amazing feeling in hand.












OXO Box Grater

No need for any descriptions, the box down there makes the whole difference!


Can Opener

I struggled a lot with cheap can openers in the past (especially during my years as a student) so I invested a few more bucks for this OXO opener that slides through tin as if it was a knife through butter. Totally worth it as I am using a lot of canned beans and canned coconut milk for my recipes.


Chef's Knife

Getting more serious in preparing food and cooking I realised how important it is to own at least one quality knife. And if you go for one, that should be an all-around chef's knife for slicing, dicing and chopping pretty much anything that can be eaten. And when it comes to high-quality blades, trust the Japanese. Their knives are designed from the best materials for pinpoint accuracy i.e. cutting tiny thin slices of vegetables and fish for sushi. Now, I'm not classified as a professional chef, but from the 3-4 different mainstream brands I've used so far in my kitchen, the Japanese Kai brand turned out the most reliable, accurate and durable for the home cook. I've been using it daily for nearly 2 years now and only sharpened it twice. And boy, cutting onions feel like cutting butter with this blade! Kai knives can go quite expensive depending on the blade material and hardness (up to £300-400) but for the home cook, an entry-level knife of around £50-£70 (like mine) is more than enough. Anything from 6-inch and higher (17-20cm) should be fine for chef's knife.


For those experimenting a lot or cooking more than 1-2 times a week, I also recommend getting a paring or a utility knife for smaller and finer jobs. A short-bladed knife, used for intricate cutting, peeling, mincing and dicing. The blades are simple, sharp and precise. Look for something small (around 10cm) for easy grip.


Quite a few quid to spend here, but think of it as a high value-added investment that will save you effort and last for years to come. Below I've got 2 entry-level recommendations, a cheaper model (Wasabi) which still performs exceptionally and the Redwood model whose blade is harder, a little longer and that wooden handle not only looks but feels good too ;-)










Whetstone

If you are convinced and now planning to invest in knives, I also recommend getting a whetstone for sharpening. Ideally, go for the same brand (Kai), but can also get along with any other whetstone. Go for a dual grit, like 1000 and 4000. Grit refers to the smoothness of the finish produced by a sharpening stone. 1000 will give you smoothening or rough edges and 4000 will give you a fine sharpening for easy cutting harder things like vegetables or meat. The larger the grit, the sharper the finish.


Sharpening with a whetstone:


 

Appliances

 

Food Processor

I know everyone has one, usually small that breaks easily or never giving you the desired result. I've bought a couple in the past but was never happy with performance and output. Moreover, when I started doing my own hummus, pesto and peanut butter, I found out I needed a bigger, more powerful machine with capabilities. Magimix is a French brand recommended by restaurant chefs and many food writers and bloggers. I found it not that much more expensive, especially given the build quality and durability. Personally, I went for the big boy that comes with multiple BPA free bowl sizes and blades to process almost anything. At 950W you can grate, chop, whisk, knead or turn into paste anything. Let alone I've been using it a lot the last 3 years without any single issue and little to no maintenance. See it in action here. For those with lack of space or seeking a smaller/cheaper alternative, I'd recommend the mini version which also comes with a juicer to squeeze fresh oranges or lemons.












Hand Blender

Absolutely necessary if yyou are into soups or other pureed produces (e.g. if you need baby purees) for 2 main reasons:

  • easy and fast to use and ultra-easy to clean, especially for smoothening soups

  • reduce kitchen mess up by not transferring the soup to a big blender and then back to the pan for serving.

Hand blenders have a detachable mixer foot so all you have to do after use is rinse the foot with tap water. You won't even need detergent! Now the most important bit: opt for the stainless steel and never ever buy hand blender with a white plastic mixer foot. White plastic will get heavily coloured by the time and the more you use it with harsh veggies (like beetroot) or turmeric-based purees/soups. This Bosch is the ultimate tool in the best quality and Tefal too. Go with your gut instinct. If you are up for a more integrated tool with more functions (like a food chopper and a balloon whisker) it's worth checking out Tefal Optichef set too.











Electric Hand mixer

If you bake a lot and want something convenient with less effort to clean, it makes sense to invest in an electric hand mixer. Especially if you have kids, think about homemade cookies, cakes, muffins or bread. A hand mixer is inexpensive and will last for years. When it comes to quality I always aim high, so my nr.1 recommendation is Bosch. However lately I've been using this VonShef brand which turned surprisingly good for my recipes and for its lower price. I recommend these 2 models which not only are small and lightweight and store easily but, unlike all others, they also come with dough hooks and whisk balloon that makes them a great weapon for many different uses in your kitchen.










Ninja Blender

This is a fantastic tool for the price it is offered. I have been using this Ninja for more than 5 years now with no single issue and no maintenance. After all these years and usage, the blades are still razor-sharp and I'm using it to make sauces and smoothies mainly. It is so powerful and sharp that even make flours with Ninja! I grind oats and nuts down to flour consistency and use them for my bakes. Easy clean, and machine washable.

If you already own a Ninja blender and looking for extra cups (smaller or bigger) check the original replacement parts in the link below:












 

Tableware & Serveware

 

Plates

If you liked the plates I've been using in my photography, below I've got some links to the items I've been using and that you can buy online. Check my black dishes styling options here or here and the Emma Bridgewater breakfast/brunch plates here.










Serving Boards and Trays

Here you will find some wooden surfaces and serving dishes I have purchased from Amazon and featured in my recipes. See some suggestion for wooden boards here or here and stone tray here. Also handy for pizza fans, be it your homemade pizza or store-bought ready to bake, a pizza paddle and cutter is the number 1 accessory you should own (see recipe here)











Wooden Crate

Not the number #1 necessity for my kitchen, but I've found it useful not only for styling my photos but also tidying up veggies, fruits or simply cook's everyday essentials. The one in the photos below is of size Large:


Ramekins

Use them for creme brulees, mini cheesecakes, rice puddings and moulds for panna cottas! Suitable for oven and microwave too.


Placemats

Check some styling suggestions with the items below here or here.

For Asian dinner sets, I've also bought some stuff from here (check it out in this recipe)

For parents: kids silicone cloud-shaped placemats see here.










Tablecloth

Although appearing very discreetly in my images, I own quite a few bought from Amazon. They are so good value for money, you won't believe they are only a fraction of the price you'd pay at Zara or H&M. Not only we use them on our regular dinner nights with friends but also serve as textured backgrounds for my photos. I like linen and tassels, below are some of my favourites featuring in my photography.












Wooden Cutlery

Asian serving or not, I like wooden cutlery, especially spoons and chopsticks, for their warmth and feel. Check some serving suggestions for the products below, here or here.












Utensils

Mainly using for serving Asian style dishes and rice to match it with bamboo and other wooden tableware, but I generally like the feel of wood when cooking and stirring with the Aoosy Japanese style utensils










Kids Plates

We've come to realise that plastic plates are the best for naughty toddlers, as they don't break. However, if you are eco-friendly plastic-free and want something more durable than porcelain, aim for bamboo sets. They don't really break as easy as porcelain but could potentially break should your fussy toddler slams them angrily or they drop from the cupboard. They are totally perfect for older kids though, even for adults (we really enjoy picnics with these). See them styled and featured in this recipe.












Kids Cutlery

For babies that just started using cutlery, I recommend the munchkin raise set: ergonomically designed cutlery to fit these little hands and mouths. They also come with an added bonus, a base that keeps utensil tips off the table (or floor). For older, more independent toddlers and kids that wish to use silverware as adults do, we loved the Exzact set.

See them featured here and here.















About Amazon Online Shopping

The product links used below are affiliate links mainly from Amazon. By buying through the links I may receive a commission for the sale. This has no effect on the price for you. Whenever I get a commission, I re-invest it in new things and create more wonderful content. I hope you’ll enjoy these products as much as my recipes.


For Amazon shopping, and if you are not an Amazon Prime member already, I recommend signing up for the Prime membership to get special discounts on almost every product, free shipping and other goodies like prime TV channels. Get a 30-day Free Trial of Amazon Prime and give it a try.


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