10/21/2013

WINTER KITCHEN STAPLES...


Hi there! I hope you had a great weekend! I spent a lot of my weekend in the kitchen, which got me to thinking about kitchen staples for the fall and winter. I don't know about you, but I feel like I spend more time in the kitchen in the winter than in the summer. Cooler weather makes cooking a lot more enjoyable (for me anyway) and it's baking season - and I LOVE baking.

So I thought I would start the week off with a list of winter kitchen staples - things that are good for cooking and baking. Some of these things may look pretty basic, but I have a few opinions about those basic things based on my experience in the kitchen. So here goes...

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ONE: KitchenAid Mixer: I don't know about you, but I feel like most dessert recipes start off by saying,  "In a electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment..." It's because it's assumed that a mixer is a part of most people's kitchen. I have had my pink KitchenAid mixer for almost ten years and I wouldn't trade it for anything. It speeds up the baking process, is a master at creaming butter and sugar, making cookie dough, fresh whipped cream, and meringue - all things that are a pain to do by hand. If you don't have one yet, make some room in the budget. You won't regret it. Promise.

TWO: Meat Thermometer: I'm not at the point where I can tell when larger pieces of meat are done by the way it feels, smells or looks. I'm just not there yet and most people I know aren't there either. So a meat thermometer is a good tool to have to avoid that overcooked turkey at Thanksgiving or roast at Christmas...

THREE: Ice Cream Scoop: I have three different sizes of ice cream scoops that I use about 10% of the time for scooping ice cream. I mostly use them when I cook or bake something needs to be uniform in size. So think cookies, muffins, meatballs, biscuits - all kinds of things.

FOUR: Muffin Pan: You probably already have one of these, but do you have a good one? A good muffin pan is nonstick, slightly heavy (so it doesn't warp) and has longer ends that make it easy to grab. It's no fun when the thumb part of your oven mitten go right into a muffin when you are handling a pan!

FIVE: Holiday Cookie Cutters: Obviously these are useful for Christmas cookies, but they are also great for cutting sandwiches that are served at holiday parties or sandwiches for the kids lunchboxes during the holidays...

SIX: Dutch Oven: In addition to the KitchenAid Mixer, a dutch oven is also a really good investment. Dutch ovens, ones that are made out of cast iron in particular, are perfect for making soups and roasting meats. The cast iron keeps the heat in and allows the heat to circulate better, which results in perfectly cooked food.

SEVEN: Silpat: I just purchased my first Silpat and I now understand why they are special. Silpats are nonstick baking sheets that are made of food-safe silicon and fiberglass mesh. Unlike parchment paper, they can withstand high heat without burning. They also insulate the baking sheet, which allows for more even baking. You can also use them to roll out sticky cookie or bread dough.

EIGHT: Rolling Pin: Another necessity for those Christmas sugar cookies and pie crusts...

NINE: Baker's Twine: Baker's twine is good for two totally different things: baking and holiday gift wrapping. It's good to tie up meats for baking. I also use it wrap around baked cookies (like I did here) and around wrapped gifts.

TEN: Roaster: A good roaster is a must for winter cooking. A good roaster is made out of quality material (preferably heavy stainless steel) and comes with a roasting rack. It is obviously good for cooking meats, but can also be used for baking. I use my roaster for recipes that require something to be baked in a water bath. I'm loving that monogrammed roaster...

ELEVEN: Fine Mesh Strainer: Lots of dessert recipes require certain ingredients to be sifted, so I use my fine mesh strainer to get that job done. I also use it to make juices, something I will continue to do throughout winter. I don't have a juicer, so I blend up the ingredients in a blender and pour it through the strainer to strain out the pulp. It's perfect.

TWELVE: Pastry blender: When you are cutting butter into flour to make cookies, fillings or crusts, a flour cutter is a great tool to have. You could use your hands cut the butter into the flour, but the heat of your hands can melt the butter, which could ruin the recipe. Butter typically needs to stay cool to create a flaky and tastier finish.

THIRTEEN: Silicon Spoonula: Spatulas are great, but spoonulas are even better in my opinion. A spoonula is a spatula with a little curve it in that allows you to stir and scoop all in one.

FOURTEEN: Cookie Sheets: Do you have a set of good cookie sheets in your kitchen? Good cookie sheets are just like good muffin pans - they are nonstick and heavy duty. Cookie sheets are known to warp in the oven, which disrupts the baking process, so it's good to have a good set of sheets. When I use them, I always line my sheets with foil, parchment paper or the Silpat. That makes them easier to clean!

I hope this was helpful! Let me know if you have anything to add!

P.S. My summer kitchen staples...
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7 comments:

  1. I seriously need a dutch oven. It's on my list!

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  2. I need all of these staples in my life.

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  3. I am so proud to say that I have most of these items .... perhaps not so pretty looking anymore but a list coming from you, I think I've done pretty well. Love the silpat mat.... that was a Martha Stewart influence. Have a great week Tiffany!

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  4. WOW, I have every last item you listed in my kitchen and multiple Le C dutch ovens.

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  5. This is awesome! There are a lot of items on this list that I've been thinking I should get, but haven't yet-like the Kitchenaid mixer (since I love baking), the pastry blender, and the silpat. You've convinced me! Great idea to use a strainer for juice too.

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  6. Bring on the baking, it is that time of year!

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