The Lexingtonienne




Posted in: Recipes

Hi readers!

We talk a lot about cooking, but we don’t talk much about equipment. So today I thought I’d mention a handful of items that I use almost daily in my kitchen and could not live without. (Exaggeration. But I would be extremely loathe to give them up.)

First, a note about the first three items. I’m an All-Clad girl myself. But whatever you go with, make sure it’s HEAVY and has an aluminum or copper core (the better to conduct and evenly distribute heat with, my dear). That lightweight stuff they sell at the grocery store is for college students. The best thing to do, if you can, is to buy a starter set of All-Clad (which they sell at Williams-Sonoma, Macy’s and Bed Bath & Beyond). Put it on your wedding registry, and if you’re signing a pre-nup, make sure you get the All-Clad. Otherwise, build your collection one piece at a time, starting with these:

A heavy 2-quart saucepan.


A 2-quart saucepan was the very first pan I owned, and I still use it almost daily. It’s basic and it’s versatile and it’s the place to start if you don’t own anything else.

A Dutch oven.


The name is somewhat misleading and is also a fart joke, but basically it’s a large heavy pot with a lid. I of course love All-Clad but I am also devoted to the one from Le Creuset, which comes in different sizes and colors. You can cook on the stove or in the oven with a Dutch oven (and you can take it from the stove to the oven). You can use it to make roasts, soups, sauces, chili, or to boil pasta. You can sear meat in it. It’s giant and has high sides and it’s just wonderful.

A heavy nonstick skillet.


I am a big grilled cheese eater, which is partly why I love this pan, but it’s wonderful for cooking eggs and for sauteing vegetables, and it cleans out so quickly and easily.

A great chef’s knife.


I lurve my Shun Ken Onion knife. It has a funny looking handle that fits in your hand so perfectly. This thing is like a dream come true for slicing and dicing — it always amazes me the difference a really good knife makes. Keep it super sharp and watch your fingertips, and this knife will make you feel like an instant pro.

A large food processor, preferably 14-cup (it sounds big but trust me).


Besides the obvious vegetable grinding (which I use for starting roasts, soups, sauces, all kinds of stuff), you can use this amaaazing appliance to make cake frosting, to grate cheese, to make salsa, hummus, coulis, dips, pie crust — the list goes on. Get one.

If you can’t afford the big one yet, get a mini-prep. You’ll have to work in batches and it doesn’t do as many tricks as its big sister, but it’ll get you by.

The Joy of Cooking.


With instructions on all the basics, from boiling an egg to making a roux, this cookbook is an invaluable reference for the home cook. It makes for excellent bedtime reading (not joking), as you always want to read first — sometimes several times through — before you start cooking.

I could keep going, but this is a good start. Except for the book, these are all investment pieces, if you know what I mean, but cheap cookware is devastating. I say spend the money on the good stuff just one time, and you can keep it forever. Besides, Christmas is coming up. Don’t act like you haven’t started your wish list.

What kitchen must-haves do you recommend?



  • Comment by James — October 14, 2010 @ 12:32 pm

    Cast-Iron Frying Pan…cheap, versatile – and like me, it improves with age/use. Also like me, you should ‘season’ it with animal fat (like say….Bacon?) and never wash it with soap.

  • Comment by Hannilou — October 14, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

    Why, James Mone! Fancy seeing you here. I agree about the cast-iron skillet. Great suggestion! Gold star for you.

  • Comment by Brandi — October 14, 2010 @ 1:45 pm

    Hannah, Do you know anything about the Teflon debate. I heard they are going to be outlawing them soon…and is “non stick” automatically Teflon, or can non-stick be something else?

  • Comment by Hannilou — October 14, 2010 @ 6:02 pm

    Brandi, All-Clad’s website says their nonstick products do not contain the harmful PFOA gases. Also, I think the problem stems from incorrect use (putting a nonstick pan under a broiler, running it in the dishwasher, using metal utensils that scratch the protective surface off, etc.) so as long as you’re using the pan correctly, you don’t need to worry. From what I understand.

  • Comment by jeff — October 14, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

    so…uh…no non-stick in the dishwasher, eh?

  • Comment by Hannilou — October 14, 2010 @ 6:14 pm

    Don’t ever put any of your good pans in the dishwasher! Hand wash only. Anyway the pans come with care instructions when you buy them. Like clothes.

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