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Dec 13, 2009 07:58 PM

What do I need for Christmas? What amazing doodad don't I have that I must?

My friends and family are bugging me for a Christmas wish list. I love to cook, but, over time, I've managed to outfit my kitchen pretty well - I think. But, then, I thought the same a few years ago and have replaced a bunch of items. Below are the highlights of my kitchen. What do you find essential that I'm missing? I'm probably looking at $200-250 between everyone. It does not have to be spend on one item.

* Lots of cast iron - two 12" Dutch ovens, two 10" Dutch ovens, two combo cookers, a 12" skillet, a 8" skillet, a fajita pan, probably more. (I do Dutch oven cooking while camping, hence all the Dutch ovens! I also have a Dutch oven table, welder's gloves and two lid rests for all that camp cooking.)
* Two All-Clad sauciers - 4.5 qt (James Beard special) and 3 qt.
* One 3 qt Emerilware by All-Clad saucepan - lots of surface area
* One small Sur La Table stainless steel skillet
* Three Kitchenaid non-stick sauce pans in various sizes. Not the best, but generally are just used for reheating, so not worth upgrading.
Stainless steel stock pot with various inserts for boiling and steaming. Not high quality, either, but heating water works okay.
* 6-quart non-stick Kitchenaid stock pot.
* 12-quart El Cheapo stock pot I use mostly for boiling corn.
* Calphalon non-stick omelette/crepe pan - that I use for eggs and crepes
* Calphalon non-stick square griddle - for grilled ham and cheese!

* KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer.
* Sunbeam stand mixer w/removable handle (that KichenAid is just too big for some tasks, like a cake mix).
* Immersion blender. Cheap brand, but not something I very rarely use.
* KitchenAid blender.
* KitchenAid food processor - best recommended by Cooks Illustrated.

* Wusthof 8" chef's knife
* Wusthof bread knife
* Victorinox 10" chef's knife
* Various Victorinox and Mundel utility knives.

* Plenty of bamboo and plastic stirring stuff.

* Enough silverware, serving dishes and eating dishes to seat and serve a garrison.

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  1. - do you have a microplane? that's definitely one of the best - and least expensive - kitchen tools on my list of essentials.

    - if you're a coffee drinker, perhaps a good burr grinder...or an Aeropress, which happens to be my new favorite toy:

    - if you're a tea drinker, a nice stovetop kettle, or a selection of loose teas

    - if you're a baker, perhaps a silpat or some silicone baking pans

    other random suggestions:
    - rice cooker
    - crock pot/slow cooker

    or you can forget about the tools and gadgets and ask for certain specialty ingredients or gourmet foods you wouldn't normally purchase for yourself.

    3 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      I do have a microplane - and a digital scale I forgot to mention.

      I do bake, but mostly breads, not cookies or desserts. You did remind me that I've been eyeing French bread forms.

      1. re: SailingChef

        ok then a couple of other ideas:
        - cloche or bread crock
        - baking stone
        - instant-read thermometer

        or maybe a good bread baking book...?

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          I'd never heard of a cloche! Now, I realize that I just passed one up at a thrift store a few days ago! That would be nice. The only problem with that is storage. I actually don't have a very big kitchen, so I have to think before getting something so big. But, I'm definately going to consider this one!

          I have baking stones and love 'em!

          I don't have an instant read thermometer! Fantastic idea!

    2. I don't see any enameled cast iron in your list. How about a Le Creuset or Staub Dutch oven?

      2 Replies
      1. re: tanuki soup

        I keep coveting an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, but, then, I wonder what's wrong with my non-enameled ones. What do you see as the advantage of an enameled oven over my raw iron ones?

        1. re: SailingChef

          I think the main advantage is that enameled cast iron is nonreactive. You can make soups, stews, and sauces that contain vinegar, wine, tomatoes, lemon juice, etc. without worrying that they might damage the seasoning on your plain cast iron cookware or impart a metallic taste to the food.

          Also, a Le Creuset French oven is just so pretty. I think it's a good thing to put on your Christmas wish list because even people who aren't into cooking can appreciate its beauty and would enjoy getting it for you (unlike some useful, but puzzling and unattractive, kitchen gadget).

      2. Since you have a KitchenAid Artisan, I'd look at getting an extra bowl or bowls for it. You could get another 5 quart bowl or a 3 quart bowl for mixes and whipped cream. That way, you could get rid of the Sunbeam if you wanted. The KA bowl covers are also handy if you need to stash something in the fridge. Not amazing, but helps when making multiple things for one meal.

        5 Replies
        1. re: overresearched

          I do have the bowl covers and love them! I use them when I'm using the machine to make bread so I don't waste Saran wrap. Can't put them on tight, of course, or the rising bread would pop 'em!

          Extra bowls is a good thought. I noticed that they made a glass bowl for a special edition mixer and wondered if it was available separately.

          1. re: SailingChef

            What would be the advantage of a glass bowl ... maybe being able to see when things aren't perfectly mixed at the bottom??

            I used to have extra bowls for my old Kitchen Aid, and they were great for Christmas baking. I like letting the dishwasher take care of them, so having extra bowls is great when you're baking up a storm.

            Something I'd like to have is the new oblong measuring cups. I have two sets of round (also for baking up a storm), and so haven't been able to justify purchasing more. I also have multiple sets of measuring spoons for the same reason ...

            Oh, I have baskets for organizing my kitchen drawers. Are you happy with your organizational system? All kinds of cool things there ...

            1. re: SailingChef

              I have seen that special edition mixer of which you speak (the sexy red one at Williams Sonoma, right)? I hate to lust after things I don't need (I have a KA mixer in cobalt blue), but that's like wanting to trade in a sport sedan for a coupe. What a gorgeous piece of equipment it is!

              1. re: kattyeyes

                Would this be an appropriate place to confess that I did trade my cobalt blue KitchenAid for a jadite green one that matches my kitchen?? Then I was really irked when there was a bigger Martha Stewart one available ... I could *not* justify a third one ...

                1. re: foiegras

                  LOL, step into the Chow confessional, friend--you are absolved of all your culinary lust. ;) I feel SO much better about my desire for kitchen goods when I read posts like yours. THANK YOU!

          2. I was going to suggest a circulating immersion bath but then I re-read and noticed that it's $250 total and not per person.

            How about a Fluke FoodPro thermometer (Ir and instant-read probe) or a smoker? Or the Kitchen-Aid accessories to get into sausage making? That'd be nice to have along with a copy of Ruhlman's book (and a pig).

            2 Replies
            1. re: wattacetti

              I love the idea of the thermometer. One's going on the list for sure!

              I have a Little Chief smoker that I rarely use. In fact, I'm planning on selling it. What do you use your smoker for? (Maybe I should rethink selling it!)

              I've never made sausage. That's an idea. We don't eat a ton of sausage, but maybe we would if it was made to our exact tastes! I do have the grinder attachment which has barely been used, as well as the slicer/shredder attachment that got superceded by the purchase of the food processor.

              1. re: SailingChef

                I don't have a smoker (yet) but I do have the Polyscience smoke gun for very small applications. A smoker could be used to hot smoke fish as well as the typical barbecue staples but thought that would be an interesting alternative if you were doing the camp cooking thing already.

                Artisanal charcuterie is getting big, especially with bacon (which would then give you an application to use the smoker). And while you're waiting for those you can make fresh sausages for the grill.

            2. An electric kettle...esp if you're a tea drinker. Boils water superfast...indispensable IMO

              10 Replies
                1. re: Scrapironchef

                  Things on *my* Christmas list, but for next year, because this year I bought a fuzzy logic rice cooker and a Le Creuset Round French Oven:

                  1. Thermapen thermometer

                  2. Infrared thermometer (not just for cooking, but for finding air leaks in my not-well-insulated-house).

                  3. A set of odd-size measuring cups.

                  4. A cookbook, e.g., the Molly Stevens book on braising

                  5. A nice carafe, e.g., this Zojirushi

                  6. A new nonstick pizza pan

                  7. Some Oxo or some other thing from this America's Test Kitchen prize list
                  Note: the contest itself is over. I didn't win. :(

                  1. re: philly888

                    I just was looking at instant read thermometers on Cooks Illustrated and discovered the Thermapen. It sounds amazing, but I was stunned at the price! But, that's why it's a gift and not a household expense, right? :)

                    Thanks for the prize list! It's a great wish list, isn't it?

                    I have a carafe, but I never use it. We drink neither tea nor coffee in this house! Weirdos, aren't we?

                    1. re: philly888

                      2. Infrared thermometer (not just for cooking, but for finding air leaks in my not-well-insulated-house).

                      Off site - -58 to 932 degrees F, non- contact temperature readings.

                      Philly888 - How does this work?? I'm intrigued! It comes with it's own carrying case! So, you can just point it at food and it will determine the interior temp? Or, am I just being stoopid??

                      1. re: JerryMe

                        Hehe, no, an infrared thermometer tells you the surface temperature of the pan or something like a hot or cold liquid. Besides being useful, it sounds like something fun to play around with. Here's a quote from one of the Amazon comments:

                        "This thing is cool. This is something I use more often than I ever expected. How cold is tap water? Is enough heat coming from the fireplace? Is that fry pan ready for my tilapia? Does water really boil at 212 degrees? Is my wine at the right serving temp? Is my computer getting too hot? How accurate is my oven temp? "

                        Another comment relates how it helps in making perfect pancakes.

                        But I admit, I'm a guy, and I want it because it's a neat gadget. I'll probably drive everyone crazy, shooting the IR thermometer at the pans like Han Solo with his blaster, and sticking the Thermapen in every roast, steak, and even pork chop until they look like pin cushions.

                        1. re: philly888

                          I bought a couple of IR thermometers to use in one of the classes I teach and so far, it's mostly been used in my kitchen. It IS fun!

                        2. re: JerryMe

                          It tells the surface temp of whatever it points at, for interior temps you'll still need a probe.

                          Very handy item to have, I got mine at $29.99. Solved a nagging misfire in my Fiat by seeing which branch of the exhaust manifold was cooler.

                        3. re: philly888

                          I have and love the odd-size measuring cups. The 3/4 in particular is incredibly useful ...

                        4. re: Scrapironchef

                          third the electric kettle. despite my love affair with my Aeropress i mostly drink tea. after years of being disappointed with every stove top kettle i owned, i finally switched to electric recently. i was initially on the fence about it because i bought - and returned - a couple of electrics that made the water taste nasty, but my current one is terrific. i snagged it at Costco a few weeks ago for $19.99, and the lowest price i've seen elsewhere, even on Amazon, is 33 bucks. pretty happy about the bargain! this is the one:

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            I have an electric kettle. It's pretty basic, but we don't drink coffee or tea! We've only used it on road trips to heat water for instant oatmeal or warming hot dogs! That's fancy eating, ya?