By Martha Stewart
The recipe for success in the kitchen calls for the best
ingredients, the skilled hands of the chef, equal pinches
of passion and patience—and the right tools. A properly
stocked pantry is also a must. Here are some essentials in
terms of tools and staples to have on hand in your kitchen
to help you in your culinary pursuits.
The tiny, razor-sharp teeth of a plane zester make it the perfect tool
for grating citrus fruit. When you zest a citrus fruit—that is, grate the
outer layer, or colored part, of its skin—its aromatic oils are released.
These oils give the zest its intense flavor. A plane zester is easy to use,
requiring almost no pressure. To release the bits of zest that get caught
in the holes, tap the zester on the counter. And a zester can do a lot more
than zest fruit: Use it for grating hard cheeses, such as Parmesan, Pecorino
and Romano, or for grating nutmeg, chocolate and ginger.
Measuring cups and spoons
These are basics that each person needs, no matter how little cook-
ing you do: a glass measuring cup for liquid (or a few—they come sized
for one to four cups); when using, read at eye level. You should also have
nesting sets of spoons and cups for dry measures. As with other tools, I
find that stainless steel is the best material because it is long-lasting and
can be easily washed.
Be sure to have two round wooden spoons with long handles so you
can stir all the way to the bottom of deep pans. One should be for savory
and one for sweet, to keep each food flavor clean. Though they come in
many sizes and shapes, you really need just two; you might also buy two
flat wooden spoons with angled bottoms for cooked custards and other
thick sauces (to get at a pan’s edges).
Handheld whisks are designed to blend ingredients without lumping
and to incorporate air into liquids. They are ideal for making dressings,
blending sauces, beating eggs and whipping heavy cream. They’re also
good for whisking together dry ingredients when baking. You can even use
them to break up ground meat during cooking. Whisks should be sturdy,
durable, and feel comfortable in your hand. Choose a whisk with the most
wires (it’ll work fastest), and make sure the wires are embedded securely
in the handle. Most whisks are made of rustproof stainless steel; those with