RecipeTin Essential Kitchenware (sales / gift guide!)

If there’s one thing that building a studio kitchen has taught me, it’s that I am very particular about my kitchen gear. For me, it’s not about wanting the most expensive, trendy or what matches my kitchen decor. It’s foremost about what will last, what’s practical, what has multiple uses and of course what lets... Get the Recipe The post RecipeTin Essential Kitchenware (sales / gift guide!) appeared first on RecipeTin Eats.

RecipeTin Essential Kitchenware (sales / gift guide!)
RecipeTin Eats Essential kitchenware
RecipeTin Eats Essential kitchenware

If there’s one thing that building a studio kitchen has taught me, it’s that I am very particular about my kitchen gear.

For me, it’s not about wanting the most expensive, trendy or what matches my kitchen decor. It’s foremost about what will last, what’s practical, what has multiple uses and of course what lets me cook/chop/stir faster (mostly because I’m always in a rush – every spare second counts!!)

So you will find almost nothing “cool” on this list, not even anything cute and pretty! That might disappoint some of you looking for gift ideas. However I’d offer you to look at this another way: The items on this list are practical things that lovers of cooking in your lives to whom you gift them will use for 10, 20, or 30 years – and think of you every time they do.

And isn’t that what gift giving is all about? (I mean, being at the front of their mind, not making the recipient happy – hah! ????)

And so I present to you, the inaugural RecipeTin Eats’ Essential Kitchenware Guide!!!

About product links – no affiliate links!

  • There are no affiliate links, nor was I given free product or paid to promote any of the items you see here. I have purchased all these items myself.
  • I’m in Australia, so most links are to Australian websites, but I’ve tried to note how widely available the items are. Most items link to the product sites so you can read first hand information about it. But search to find the best prices from reputable online stores.
  • Where I buy things online (Australia): Amazon, Victoria’s Basement* and Peters of Kensington*, Kitchen Warehouse, Ebay, Catch.com.au

* I like going to these stores in person rather than ordering online. Big discount kitchenware stores – just drop me off and leave me there for the day!


#1 A really good chef’s knife

Top recommendations

1. Chef’s Knife – the all rounder to use for “everything”

  • Japanese handcrafted Chef’s knife (this is what I use): SETO VG10 Gyuto 21cm/8.5″ blade with Mahogany Handle (only available in Tokyo, Japan. No online or telephone orders)
  • Global (second pick, widely available): Global 20cm/8″ G-2 Cooks Knife plus a sharpener (everyday sharpener, pro version rod + whetsone)
  • Wüsthof Chef’s Knife (third pick): Wüsthof 8” Classic Chef’s Knife.

2. Bread knife: Global 22cm/9″ bread knife

3. Small / utility knife (optional): Global Classic 15cm/6″ utility knife

4. Full Global knife set (value option): Global Ikasu 7 Piece Knife Block Set (plus sharpener, see above)

I’ve included other recommendations and the full list of my knife collection in the My Favourite Kitchen Knives post.

Top tip: Never buy a knife without an appropriate sharpener!

The single most valuable item in the kitchen! The difference between a sharp, good knife and a cheap knife is speed, accuracy and keeping all your fingers (Yep, a blunt knife is the biggest offender of kitchen cuts. Think how a tomato slips away when you try to cut through the skin with a blunt knife – it can only end in tears and blood!)

A really good chef’s knife should be seen as an investment worth making. That said, I’ve included recommendations catering to differing budgets as well as personal preferences in terms of knife styles, and what your primary use of the knife will be. I’ve written a separate post on choosing a great knife (yes it includes recommendations across differing budgets) – see My Favourite Kitchen Knives.

My primary knife

My main knife is a handcrafted Japanese all-purpose chef’s knife. The sad news for those interested is the exact knife I use is only sold in a knife shop in Tokyo (and nobody is travelling overseas anywhere anytime soon……) . Also, there is no online store, nor do they take telephone orders.

They are not widely available because they’re not mass produced, each one is handcrafted.

In case you have a contact in Tokyo, here are the details:

  • Knife Name: SETO VG10 Gyuto Mahogany Handle (webpage here – there are English translations on page)
  • Blade length: 21cm / 8.5″
  • Store: Tsubaya (in Kappabashi, Tokyo)
  • Website: https://tsubaya.co.jp
  • Address: 3 Chome-7-2 Nishiasakusa, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0035, Japan
  • Current Price: ¥23,100 ~A$300
  • Whetstone sharpener: This one (current price ¥3,960/~ A$50)

More information about this knife in My Favourite Kitchen Knives post.

Japanese Knives online

As for similar Japanese knives, for something that costly, I would never dare to recommend alternatives without actually using it myself. But for Sydney-siders, I can recommend Chef’s Armoury, the best Japanese knife store in Sydney. They can provide you with excellent advice for choosing a knife. They also have an online store.

ChefsArmoury - website for Japanese knives in Australia

#2 A good cast iron Dutch Oven

What I use: 24cm Chasseur French Oven (Dutch Oven) (RRP A$549 but find it for as low as ~A$229 online such as here and here). Mine are Duck Egg Blue and White. Other recommended brands: Le Cresuet, Staub.

Chasseur Dutch Oven

As anybody who has ever used a Dutch Oven knows, they are heavy and you get a free bicep workout every time you use it. Aside from that, the true beauty of the Dutch Oven is how it retains heat so well and evenly. It’s also equally at home on both stove and oven (often moving between the two in fact), comes in all sorts of pretty colours these days, and it will last a lifetime if you care for it properly.

Why are they so superior to cheap and thin-style steel or aluminium pots for most purposes? Here’s the problem with the latter types:

  • For slow cooked stews, the base will burn and meat in the middle of the sauce won’t cook evenly because heat doesn’t distribute evenly inside the pot;
  • Minced / ground meat just stews (gets all watery) instead of sizzling and browning for things like Spaghetti Bolognese because the metal doesn’t retain enough heat to keep up the temperature; and
  • Vegetables will just burn instead of going golden when sautéing because there’s too little moderating metal between them and the stove, and you’ll have uneven heat patches across the base of the pot.

What I have: Two 24cm Chasseur cast iron pots, one in in Duck Egg Blue and one in White. They are perfect for feeding 4 – 6.

Not Le Creuset? In my opinion, while Chasseur is the cheaper brand when compared to Le Creuset, it’s every bit as good. I know there are small differences in build but they are both made in the same place in France, they weigh virtually the same, and I honestly think you pay a premium mostly for the brand name with Le Creuset.

Notable mention: Staub (a popular US brand, “all” my food blogger friends use it).

Notes:

  • Yes enamelled cast iron can chip if bashed against sharp edges, but without enamel, cast iron is black. This makes it hard to see burnt bits on the base and the true colour of sauces.
  • Cheaper Dutch Ovens than the three mentioned brands exist but are not as heavy duty. So they will not retain nor distribute heat as evenly. That said, they are still far better than light aluminium pots!

#3 Lodge cast iron skillet

What I use: 26cm/10.5″ Lodge Cast Iron Skillet (A$55)

Overhead photo of Cornbread in a black skillet, fresh out of the oven

My favourite skillet by far. Like the Dutch Oven, a good skillet retains lots of heat, distributes it evenly and is suitable for both stove and oven. I also love the Lodge’s shape: Straighter sides means less liquid sloshing out and a more flat surface area for searing.

I use it for searing things and baking things (like above pictured cornbread), for pasta bakes like Baked Mac and Cheese and for making Thai Red Curry.

The cast iron comes with a non-stick seasoning, and with no enamel there’s no risk of chipping. Unlike non-stick frypans (below) and enamel coated cast-iron (above), this is indestructible and at $A55 it is EXCELLENT value for money.

Chicken Satay Curry (Malaysian) in a skillet, fresh off the stove
Malaysian Chicken Satay curry cooked and served in the Lodge cast iron skillet.

You don’t see it as much as you used to in my recipe videos because you can’t see dark sauces as well, hence why in recent years I’ve reverted to a silver pan. But for real life and work cooking, it’s amongst my most used vessels.

It also looks much better in photos than my non-stick skillets!

Downside – It’s heavy, and the handle gets hot (because it’s also very short … all skillets seem to have disproportionately short handles. Why?)


#4 Scanpan Non Stick Fry Pans

Close up of Crispy Pan Fried Fish in a cast iron skillet, fresh off the stove

For things that are notorious for sticking (I’m looking at YOU, fish and eggs!) and generally cooking with less oil, Scanpan is in my opinion by far the best general non-stick cookware in Australia. Not only for its durability – it should last near a lifetime if you look after it correctly, ie. NO dishwasher – but also for superior heat distribution performance.

Danish-made, it’s not cheap but it’s much heavier duty and far superior in quality to cheaper but thinner-based alternatives. Most Scanpans also have a metal handle so it can go from stove to oven – a must in my book!

What I have:

  • Scanpan 26cm Pro IQ Non Stick Fry Pan (RRP A$215, online for $139 here) – For pan frying steaks, fish and fritters. The low sides makes it easier to turn and flip things, while the steepness of the sides means there is more flat cooking surface area; and
  • 30cm large sauté fry pan – so big and deep it can basically act like a pot to make things like bolognese sauce (instead of heaving out my Dutch Oven). It’s good for tossing stir fries, noodles and pasta in it too, and anything saucy like Beef Stroganoff or curries.

The one I currently have is no longer available, however, the Scanpan Pro IQ 32cm saute pan is the one I’m about to order for my studio kitchen from here for $233 (RRP A$395). I’ve seen the next size down in kitchen stores, not available in 30cm so I’m going for 32 cm.


#5 Large silver skillet (without non-stick)

What I use: 30cm/12″ Scanpan Accent Fry Pan, without non-stick coating. No longer available though, but a similar item is this Impact 32cm/13″ Scanpan Chef Pan (I would have gotten this for my studio but it’s a touch too large for the the burner of the portable gas stove I use for recipe videos).

You often see this silver Scanpan in my videos which I use specifically so you can see the colour of sauces in recipes (which you can’t see in black non-stick fry pans). This is what it looks like (Chicken with Creamy Mushroom Sauce):

While an excellent product for heat retention and distribution, it has neither a non-stick coating nor can it be seasoned like my Lodge Cast Iron Skillet. So you do need to either be a more experienced cook to know how to use it without things getting stuck on it, or use a little more oil whilst cooking with it.

I got it specifically for shoot purposes, and I love it for the same reason most professional kitchens rarely use non stick pans: because you get great fond, being the brown stuff that sticks to the base of the skillet that then dissolves into sauces to add flavour. It’s a bit techy, so let’s just say the cast iron skillet is a better and easier alternative to this skillet that’s not non stick…. unless you are a capable cook.

So I’m just adding it to the list for honest completeness. ????

Why I love it: For the large flat base, deep enough to make saucy things but not so deep that it’s awkward to flip things, and the brilliant fond you get when you sear things. Recommended for experienced cooks only. RRP A$115 (another benefit – cheaper than non stick!)


#6 Saucepans and pots

I also have stainless steel Scanpan saucepans and pots. As with the skillets, they are heavier duty than flimsy, cheap ones so heat retention and distribution is better. They are so good you can even make stews in them, which I did for many years before I got a Dutch Oven (which gives you better results, but until I knew otherwise, I was happy with my Scanpan stews!).

I’ve had (and still have) some flimsy cheap pots which have burned more caramels ands sauces than I care to think about (for the same reason as lightweight cheap pots – read above in Dutch Oven section).

But the biggest gripe I have is that they either have cheap metal handles that get hot on the stove within minutes, or plastic handles that are prone to melting.

Hence, I feel it’s worth investing in better gear.

Homemade gravy made in my 18cm Scanpan Impact Saucepan.

I have the following Scanpan pots which I purchased 15 years ago (note: I got them in a bargain set which no longer seems to exist, but I’ve linked a similar set below):

  • Scanpan 16cm Impact Saucepan – For making smaller batch sauces;
  • Scanpan 18cm Impact Saucepan – My most-used saucepan, for making larger batch sauces like gravy, boiling eggs, single batch poached eggs, making smaller batch soups;
  • Scanpan 22cm Impact Smallish Pot – Another frequently used pot. It’s taller than it is wider. Perfect for cooking up to 250g/8oz of pasta, making soup for 4 – 5 people, and risotto;
  • Scanpan 24 cm Impact pot – My non-cast iron Dutch Oven! It’s a heavier based pot, excellent for stews and curries, or larger batches of anything listed above; and
  • Scanpan 26cm 11L stock pot – For, well, making a huge pot of stock! Mainly for Whole Chicken Noodle Soup from scratch or Beef Pho. Or very large batches of soup, stews etc.

The set I purchased for my studio kitchen is this 6 Piece Impact set which contains the 16cm, 18cm and 24cm pots/saucepans listed above. RRP $415, online for $269 here which is around what I paid for it at a local discount kitchen store.

The set doesn’t have the 22cm smallish pot which I use a LOT but I think I’m going to survive……???? The set also does not contain the stockpot which I bought separately.

Chicken Pho broth

#7 Thermapen thermometer

Until 6 months ago I was perfectly happy with my $5 meat thermometer that I purchased from Ebay many years ago. My standing rib roast was always perfectly pink so it was accurate, as far as I could tell.

But then someone upgraded me to a Thermapen thermometer. I’m not going to lie: It’s awesome. It’s well-designed, folds up neatly, and declares itself the worlds’ best for speed and accuracy – and I believe it based on my usage.

This is more than a meat thermometer however. It can measure temperatures ranging from- 58.0 to 572.0°F (-49.9 to 299.9°C). So you can use it to measure melted sugar, oil temperatures for frying, water for poaching – everything you could possibly need a kitchen probe thermometer for. You’ve seen me use it to test the oil temperature in Fried Chicken, to achieving the perfect temperature for Mirror Glaze, and of course, making the perfect medium rare steaks…..

So if you’re big into roasts or expensive steaks, frying, baking or all of these, I highly recommend it. This is the one and only probe thermometer you’ll ever need.

But even if you can’t make that investment – it’s the 21st century, and even cheap tech isn’t so bad. Invest in a $5 meat thermometer. That’s a lot cheaper than a wasted, overcooked standing rib roast!


#8 Nutribullet: My favourite appliance

I’m not gonna lie, I bought this thing for cocktails. Now I use it every single day – for smoothies, curry pastes, pureeing oranges for Orange Cake, making pesto …

Why do I like it so much? Well, it’s more powerful than food processors, has a smaller footprint, is way easier to clean than blenders and is far cheaper too.

What I have: NutriBullet Pro 1000 (RRP ~A$159). The important thing to know here with all blenders etc is the power rating. This machine has 1000 watts of power, which is what you’re looking for. Personally I don’t need all the extra jugs etc. I don’t use any of them, just the standard one, but you might.


#9 Food processor: Double bladed game-changer (and cheap!)

Breville kitchen whizz 8

I hated food processors for many years before a friend introduced me to the Breville Kitchen Wizz 8. And it changed my life. The unique thing about this machine is that it has 4 blades instead of the usual 2, which means it is so much more effective at blitzing things.

A food processor that works as promised! Yay!!

With an RRP of A$229, it’s in the lower-mid price range. I promise you could easily spend double, triple or more on a seemingly fancier, better machine but nothing comes close to this processor in performance.

Tip: A more expensive version is also an available option. However it mostly just includes more attachments that do all kinds of stuff you’ll maybe never need and so sit around in your cupboard taking up space. It really how fancy you want to get with your blitzing and if you use those functions (I have never needed anything more than what I have).


#10 Small tools and gadgets I value highly

Smaller in size and cost they may be to the above list, but equally valuable. Here are some of my favourite tools and appliances that made me pause when I saw the price but I have never looked back since I got them for their sheer utility.

A good garlic press

What I have: Zyliss garlic press “Susi 3” (RRP ~$49.95, find it as low as $22 such as here).

A good garlic press will do as it promises: Crush garlic out with as little effort as possible, clove with skin on and all. Cheap ones will require the force of both hands at best, and you often lose half the garlic.

Good presses will last many years. My first one lasted 15 years before it finally died and only because I started (stupidly) putting it in the dishwasher. So the powder coating came off and metal was bleeding into the pressed garlic … lesson learnt.

Microplane

What I have: Premium classic zester/grater microplane (RRP ~A$57, find it as low as A$27 online such as here)

The sharpest and the best, I use this for citrus zesting, grating parmesan over pasta, grating ginger and garlic straight into soups, to make chocolate dust, and grate nutmeg into béchamel sauce.

I’m very passionate and protective about my microplane – nothing else I’ve tried comes close to this one!

At a mere US$15 it might seem like no big deal to those of you in the States. But the RRP is A$57 here in Australia, which is why it’s on my “find it in the sales!” list.

Kitchen Scales

What I have: Soehnle Roma Digital Kitchen Scales (RRP ~A$60, find it as low as A$34 online such as Amazon AU)

This is a well-regarded German brand that produces all types of scales – including those I stand on each morning and gasp at with dismay. I want to believe it’s inflated by 5 kg or so…. but these scales do not lie. They can’t: They’re German ????

The kitchen scales go up to 5kg / 10lb which is more than sufficient, and down to a single 1 gram. If you need to weight something even heavier (like a giant turkey) put it in a container and use human scales.

Glass food containers (Glasslock)

Based on the sheer number containers I’m using at any one time, this really should have made #2, just after the knife!

I am VERY fond of my Glasslock containers, firstly for their strength. They’re virtually impossible to break, I am yet to even chip one. Secondly they’re made of shatterproof glass, so there are no shards even if they do crack (ie it breaks into “safe” pieces that are not pointy).

They’re also 100% airtight (seriously, put your iPhone in it and drop it in the pool if you don’t believe me!). Any food you store in them will last twice as long – it’s like vacuum sealing.

And the oven safe ones (conveniently indicated with a red lid) can go from freezer to fridge to oven to table in the same container. Handy!

They don’t absorb flavours or smell, they don’t stain or degrade, so they’re as sparkly clean and new as they looked 5 years ago. Plastic just doesn’t compare. It stains, gets smelly and always goes cloudy / degrades.

Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken marinade
Huli Huli Chicken marinated overnight in Glasslock containers. Can’t do that with plastic – makes it smelly!

What I have: This Glasslock oven safe set and this non oven safe set. I use them every single day. I like that they nest!

For full disclosure, I was first introduced to them when Glasslock asked me to do a segment on TVSN for them (yes, I did a TV shopping show!!????). So I did get some free sets initially, but since then I’ve continued to add to my collection and gifted them too!


#11 KitchenAide Stand Mixer

This machine needs no introduction. It’s famous for a good reason: It’s the best friend of cakes, cookies and breads, and basically universally agreed to be the best money can buy.

Money happens to also be the other reason it’s famous: It’s signficantly expensive – at least, in Australia. I hear in the US it can be found for as little as $199 in the sales….

Having said that, this is not some plastic junk built to last 3 years and burn out. It is sturdy and reliable, and will last for decades if you look after it. In fact, my friends’ mother is hitting 40 years with hers …!

I have put it at the bottom of my list because I do consider it “love to have” rather than a necessity that will make your life easier. And we can all agree one does look so good on the counter! Mine was a birthday present that the entire family pitched in for over a decade ago. I recently bought one for my studio kitchen too…. because I got so tired of lugging my personal one up and down the stairs!

So if you want one but don’t have one, and the cost is a stretch, be extra-nice to your friends and family and maybe, just maybe, they’ll buy you one too one day … ????

What I have: KitchenAide Artisan Stand Mixer KSM150 in Empire Red (personal) and white (for work). This is the “classic” that many people have. RRP A$899, currently selling for $699 on the Kitchenaide website and currently as low as $584 on Catch.com.au (I feel ill, I paid full price…..????)

Comes with whisk, flat beater, dough hook (for breads!) and pouring shield (eg so icing sugar doesn’t fly everywhere when you make fluffy frostings!).

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
KitchenAide stand mixer makes Vanilla Cupcakes with Fluffy Less-Sweet Vanilla Frosting a total breeze….

Questions! Forgotten items!

And there you have it. Finally, the very first RecipeTin Eats kitchenware guide, the 10(ish) most important items in my kitchen, the items that were at the top of my list when I finished building my work kitchen.

I must confess, I found writing this post a little daunting, and I bet I’ve missed something super obvious. If I have, please let me know so I can fix it quick smart!

I hope you find it helpful. If you have questions, please drop them below and I can update the post if need be! – Nagi x


Life of Dozer

When I pulled out all my pots and pans to measure, really, the only thing Dozer cared about was the container I sacrificed to store his treats…

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