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Learning to Cook: What do I need?

eml4sker

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I moved to Miami from NYC and now have an apartment with a great kitchen that I want to make use of. The only issue is that I don't know how to cook. I just bought "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child. Now that I have some recipes I need things to cook food with (right now all I have are utensils, cereal bowls, glasses and plates).

I'm trying to create a list of the things I'll need. Maybe not everything to cook every esoteric type of dish, but the basic items that will allow me to cook the majority of meals in a cookbook. Call it the 80/20 rule.

Can anyone help to provide me with help/recommendations for what I need to get? Please be specific (should I get a 4-inch pan? made of steel or copper? specific brands?)

In terms of price/quality, I want things that lie around what I'm going to call the "Allen Edmonds inflection point". What I mean by that, is that I'm willing to pay for good quality items that will last a long time, but not things that are exorbitantly expensive.
 

Miles Gloriosus

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A cast iron skillet for meat cookin', this is optional but costs about $10
Two skillets, one small and one large, for things that can't cook in cast iron
Two saucepans, one small one large
One big metal pot
One kettle if you like tea or make your coffee in a french press
One or two baking sheets
One or two breadpans if you plan on making your own
Get a few big sharp knives. Most other knives aren't absolutely vital.
Get enough silverware and plates to cover all your guests.

Salt, pepper, flour, and sugar, and then whatever other spices you like or that appear in a lot of the recipes you want to try.

It's a good idea to get nice knives, but your cookware doesn't have to be very expensive to be good. Just get thick stuff that won't warp.
 

foodguy

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there have been several similar threads on social life ... check out those. have fun.
 

eml4sker

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Originally Posted by foodguy
there have been several similar threads on social life ... check out those. have fun.

I did, they weren't that helpful.
 

esquire.

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Originally Posted by eml4sker
Can anyone help to provide me with help/recommendations for what I need to get? Please be specific (should I get a 4-inch pan? made of steel or copper? specific brands?)

In terms of price/quality, I want things that lie around what I'm going to call the "Allen Edmonds inflection point". What I mean by that, is that I'm willing to pay for good quality items that will last a long time, but not things that are exorbitantly expensive.


Sign up for Cook's Illustrated website to get access to their equipment reviews, the most comprehensive source out there for kitchen equipment. You can also get that info piecemeal in their books and magazines, but the website is the best way to get all that info in one place. They do a pretty thorough review for a kitchen item, and they'll give you their choice for the best item in that category as well as the best buy item in that category.

Of course, they're not infallible and have recommended some clunkers. But, for the most part, that should steer you in the right direction.
 

gomestar

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Originally Posted by imageWIS
I call BS. Most people in NYC don't have room to store everything pictured in the article in their kitchens.

they had no trouble organizing everything into a single picture, any native shouldn't have a problem either. It's not like the author has a kitchen among kings.
 

Joffrey

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Learn your way around the kitchen and your equipment before spending hundreds of dollars on pots and pans. I'd sai go to target and buy a sooking set for $60 and use it for the next year. Slowly but surely, you'll begin collecting higher quality items as you need them.
 

dragon8

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I would buy the DVD sets of "America's Test Kitchen".
 

CDFS

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Just get one knife, a cutting board and some (3-4) pans from your local HEMA*

Then start cooking. You'll find out soon enough if you need anything else an/or of better quality.







*I don't know your local choices of shops. I wanna say Costco(?)
 

BP348

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You don't need a whole knife set. All you really need is a decent 8" chef knife and a pairing knife. Those are my 2 go to knives. Mine are Wustof but you can read the different threads on chefs knives.

Dont forget cutting boards. I use the white plastic ones. Cheap, come in different sizes and you can wash them in a dish washer. I've noticed that many chefs from food network have theirs marked for different food items so there is no contamination. One board for chicken, one for vegetables, ect...

Other then that you can start with a 8" & either a 10 or 12" non stick skillet. A 10" stainless skillet a small and large sauce pan, mine are non stick. I also have a cast iron skillet, I think it's 10". My skillets and pots are the Emeril ware by All Clad and I like them. My stainless steel skillet is all clad as well. All have covers too.

You might Also consider a Dutch oven and a larger stock pot, mostly for cooking pasta. Baking sheets are nice to have. I auctally put my cutting board inside a baking sheets to help keep the mess down and makes clean up easier.

Then your going to want: salt, peper, thyme, Rosemary, bay leaves, cumin, and it depends on you but I also have garlic powder and onion powder. I like fresh onion and garlic but sometimes the powders are nice to have. I don't buy the garlic or onion salt because I think it makes everything come out to salty. Of course these are just basic spices and you can get most fresh as well. Your spices may vary depending on your tastes and what you like.

And of course plates, silverware, and glasses.

I also agree with the Cooks Illustrated mag. They have some great stuff/review. Wish I would have found it sooner.
 

esquire.

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Originally Posted by Jodum5
I'd sai go to target and buy a sooking set for $60 and use it for the next year. Slowly but surely, you'll begin collecting higher quality items as you need them.
But, if you buy a cooking set, you end up with a lot of pieces that you're not going to use that will end up cluttering up and taking up space in the kitchen. And, assuming there are a few pieces that you will want to keep with that cheap cooking set, they're going to be cheap and lackluster and you'll end up chucking them in favor of better stuff anyways. If you're going to end up spending the money on better stuff, why not spend it now rather than wait and waste money on cheap stuff that you're going to chuck? For me, I'd rather spend that $60 on a good knife or a good 12 inch skillet, things that I know will be work horses in the kitchen.
 

JhwkMac

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Originally Posted by Miles Gloriosus
A cast iron skillet for meat cookin', this is optional but costs about $10
Two skillets, one small and one large, for things that can't cook in cast iron
Two saucepans, one small one large
One big metal pot
One kettle if you like tea or make your coffee in a french press
One or two baking sheets
One or two breadpans if you plan on making your own
Get a few big sharp knives. Most other knives aren't absolutely vital.
Get enough silverware and plates to cover all your guests.


I'm a professional Chef, so I've got quite a bit of experience with different kitchen equipment.
This list posted earlier is a good point to start, i'll elaborate a bit.

Buying kitchen equipment is like setting up a wardrobe on a conservative budget. You're not going to buy all Tom Ford from your socks to your underwear to your suits. Buy some gap tees, jcrew pants, then a rlbl blazer or something. It's all about buying more expensive things for your main items, and less expensive for things you either dont use that much or things that dont matter that much. Instead of Cost per Wear think Cost per Use.

1) there are a lot more things than just cookin meat you can do on a cast iron skillet. I bake cakes in it, fry eggs, bacon, just about anything. if you keep it -well- seasoned it will be the workhorse of your kitchen and lasts a lifetime and is dirt cheap like mentioned earlier. Like that fitted white dress shirt with mop buttons, goes with everything (to keep the clothing references going)

2) Saucepans dont need to be expensive, you will be using them to heat rice or finish a sauce. Most homecooks aren't reducing viscous liquid or tempering egg yolks or emulsifying butter, things that need very calculated and even temperature throughout the pan. Just get cheap ones, they should fit your purposes.

3) Time to splurge: 1) Knife, 2) Frypan. Buy one good knife, one good all around frypan. The knife should be a chef's knife, use it for everything. I like my knife like i like my women, light and japanese. So try something like a Shun, can be found in most stores or Global. The frypan buy All-clad 10" or 12". (save ~60 dollars by buying on ebay instead of Williams Sonoma) it's well layered, doesn't bend, goes into a hot hot oven no problem, plus you can dishwash it (lazy bastard!) When I buy a pan I always ask myself: Would it hurt someone if i hit him over the head with it? If there is any doubt, don't buy it, there should be some serious shaken baby syndrome to that brain.

4) Some optional extras: I use an immersion blender all the time, make suits, puree, smoothies. You can get an inexpensive one at walmart or online even better. Microplane grater, use this all the time too, grate zest off of citrus for savory and sweet dishes, grate cheese, chocolate. Once you have one you will always keep chocolate bars on hand to grate over ice cream and big chunks of Parmegiano Reggiano to grate over... well anything!

5) Read an earlier post suggesting a dutch oven, this is great as well, but this would be more like buying a crockett and jones instead of a allen edmonds. Expect to pay 120-150 for a decent sized one. The great thing about it is it's multi uses, you can sautee, it roasts meats like a champ in the oven, it can boil pasta and they last forever so your kids kids are going to be using it in their spaceships.

Hope that helps, let me know if you have any other quesitons.
 

Miles Gloriosus

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You can approximate a dutch oven with your cast iron skillet in a normal oven.
 

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