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getting into cooking-- what should I get?

As a graduation present, my parents offered to treat me to a few essential items for my first kitchen. I'm thinking of a good knife, cast iron pan and dutch oven. I really want a grill pan, but I'm thinking it would be a more logical idea to get a set of good frying pans instead... I already have a great wood butcher block and kitchenaid mixer, care of a thoughtful ex-boyfriend. Between these I feel like I should be pretty much set. Any ideas for good brands? Things should stay in the more or less lower-priced area-- I'm still a recent grad and have plenty of time to work my way up to the expensive brands.

Has anyone heard good things about the Kitchenaid grill pan? It's nonstick, not cast-iron, which may be a problem, but I have one of those flat electric stovetops so i think it might be better.

I was also thinking of an RH Forschner knife, I read good reviews on that.

Ok thanks for any advice!

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    1. Here are my suggestions:

      - 8"or 10" MAC carbon steel chefs knife
      - 1000 grit japanese wet stone for sharpening
      - "diamond steel" steel
      - MAC paring knife
      - 10" cast iron fry pan
      - 12qt (or larger) stock pot
      - 4qt Sitram stainless sauce pan
      - 8" carbon steel saute pan
      - stainless commercial grade (a must) spring tongs
      - japanese style turner
      - set of stainless mixing bowls (in various sizes)
      - high temperature spatulas (a must)
      - commercial grade roasting pan (these are pricey and why not have someone buy it for you)
      - two half sheet pans
      - two half sheet pan sized silpats

      I think with these items you should be able to create just about any meal for yourselves. But I'm sure others will have some great suggestions.

      1 Reply
      1. re: onocoffee

        I love being able to take care of my own knives, but if you aren't into it and don't want to get a whetstone, most towns have a place or some service that will sharpen them for a few bucks a blade - you can avail yourself of them 1-2 times a year. The steel is essential - use that every time you use the knife.

        Why would a japanese mandoline be core? They are pretty cool,but I haven't had anyone give me a good reason to buy one (and I love kitchen tools.. they just need to pass the "am I buying this just to buy it or is it truly helpful??" test

      2. If you want grill marks with your grill pan, I'd suggest avoiding non-stick, which shouldn't be heated real high. Here's a good article on some basics. How much you spend is optional:

        http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/09/din...

        1. I'd suggest a food processor. I use mine to puree veggie soups, make tart shells, shred veggies, I've even made homemade mayonnaise in it.

          1. forshners are not a bad choice for knives. Invest in an 8- or 10 inch chefs knife, see if you can try one out at the store. a slicing knife is good too.Get a ceramic rod to keep them sharp. invest in a good saute pan, 3 or 4 quarts, and a good frying pan. i like sitram and all clad. you want one you can use on the stove top for searing and also place in the oven. cast iron pans are good too, and if you season them well, won't stick a lot (stainless will stick). get a reasonable size pot for making soup. also a couple of smaller sauce pans, which don't need to be expensive. grill pans aren't all that versatile, in my opinion. A lot of stuff you'll acquire as you need it.