TIPS FOR EQUIPMENT

1. A zester is a necessary kitchen gadget used for grating lemon, lime, orange or ginger.

2. I like using a Mouli grater for grating small amounts of chocolate or nuts.

3. A mandoline is a great tool to use for slicing large quantities of vegetables such as cucumbers.

4. Kitchen scissors are helpful for cutting dill and other herbs.

5. Metal spatulas have wooden handles are 1 inch wide and about 12 inches long.  They are indispensable for lifting cookies and releasing the sides of cakes.

6. Cake tester is a thin metal skewer inserted into the center of a cake that indicates how moist a cake is.

7. I prefer enamel-line cast iron saucepans over stainless-steel or aluminum pans.  I find that they distribute heat evenly and can be used both on the top of the stove and in the oven.  You can also put them in the refrigerator without concern that the flavor and color of the food inside will change because they are nonreactive.  They also clean easily.  Le Creuset is my favorite brand.

8. I use a wok for stir-frying, deep-frying, and, with a rack insert, for steaming.  It heats very quickly and is easy to clean.  I prefer those with wooden, rather than metal, handles, as they do not get hot.  I also like woks with flat bottoms.

9. I like using the Vitamix when I make soups.  It's really quite powerful and creates a creamy texture within seconds.

10. There is a knife for every kitchen purpose.  Some of the essential knives are a paring knife, a chopping French chef's knife, a slicing knife, a boning knife, a cleaver, and a serrated bread knife.  Buy the best quality, stainless steel knives you can afford and choose one with a comfortable handle.  Care for them properly: always wash them by hand, never in the dishwasher.

11. I use an oven thermometer from time to time to check the accuracy of my oven's temperature.  Many cakes have been ruined from not checking.  The Taylor thermometer is the brand I find most reliable.

12.  A food mill is a simple hand-operated device that comes with three discs.  It is good for pureeing soups and sauces.

13.  Poultry shears are special scissors designed to cut through the joints of a chicken, duck, turkey or capon.

14. I like using non-stick, heavy gauge baking sheets.

15. Tongs are very versatile and can be helpful while cooking chicken, meat or even vegetables.  They can also be used as serving utensils.

16.  I like using a mini food processor to chop small amounts of food.

17.  A kitchen scale is very useful.

18. A potato ricer or masher is a handy kitchen utensil with small holes through which you can push soft cheese (like farmers cheese) to form pieces the size of rice grains.