A couple of posts back, we shared some insider secrets about Chef’s knives and other handy kitchen gear every serious cook should have. This time, we’ll look at more tools you’ll find useful if you really get into cooking, especially cooking dishes from other cultures with other traditions…
Let’s talk pots and pans…
You can make Paella in a regular flot-bottomed frying pan of you want to, but it somehow cooks more evenly and tastes better out of a traditional flat Paella Pan, made of high-carbon steel like they use in classic French pots and pans, and featuring a roasting pan-type handle on each side.
If you want to make truly authentic Asian dishes, you’ll need a proper Wok – that’s a fairly large, deep flat-bottomed high-carbon steel pan with a regular pot handle on one side. The traditional tool for tossing food within the Wok is a special purpose shovel that comes with a curved handle to complement the curvature of the pan.
If you want to explore Moroccan or North African food, you’ll definitely want to get a Tagine (pictured at left). That’s the shallow pottery dish with a high, conical lid. You can use a slow cooker to make Tagine, the traditional stew of the same name, but it’s just not the same. And, if possible, set the Tagine over a bed of glowing coals for best effect. Tagines are available in almost every kitchen or department store, but be forewarned – they’re not cheap. On the other hand, you can cook almost anything in a Tagine and it’ll do a really classy job on Dumplings, Cobblers, Bettys – anthinbg that you want to gently steam.
Why spend $20 or $30 for a boutique Pizza from that little shop just off the main drag, run by that authentic Neapolitan family? Make your own instead and get exactly the toppings you want for a fraction of the price! Play with the sauce flavours and don’t forget to add a healthy dose of Beef Stock and a tablespoon / 15 ml or two of Balsamic Vinegar before setting the pot to simmer all afternoon… And be sure to stretch, now roll, out your home made crust on a real Pizza Pan. Real Pizza pans are usually aluminum and have no actual edge; instead, they curve very shallowly to a small flat area in the centre. Absence of an edge lets you get the pis onto and off of the pan easily. And don’t worry about the Neapolitan family; you’ll be tired and or lazy some nights and you’ll phone out to them, just the same.
You’ll want a Double Boiler if you make a lot of Cooked Sauces or melt a lot of Chocolate for baking purposes. Of course, you can always use a steel mixing bowl over a slightly smaller pot of boiling water, if you wish.
Do you have a Pasta Insert for your deepest sauce pan or stock pot? Use this deep-profile collander and you’ll never have to pick up the pot to drain your pasta again! It’s also perfect for blanching (par-cooking) veggies!
That’s enough for today. More Anon…
~ Maggie J.