I’m going to give a piece of advice that might hurt a little: Don’t stick to our recipes too much. Read them, take them as an inspiration, follow our step-by-step instructions. But then: Let your intuition, your gut, your senses take over. How do the fried onions look? What does the smell of those crispy mushrooms tell you? Is your sauce rich enough or do you need to add more spices and a generous pinch of salt (more on this later)? What does the freshly-baked bread feel like––and how does the crust sound when you knock on it? Use your senses to train your inner guide. Rely on them and you’ll create the kind of recipes everyone will be asking you for.
And then there are kitchen helpers that have stood the test over several moments and that are different for everyone. They are (cooking) emergency aid and help making your daily kitchen experience way easier. If I would ask my mum what’s her go to helper in the kitchen she cannot (and want not) live without, she would refer to a well-known multifunctional kitchen device. If you would ask me (and my colleagues), you would end up with this collection:

Countertop Compost

When I’m in the kitchen, cooking and baking, I’m really not the neatest person. But at the same time, I don’t want chaos. Some onion peel here, some beetroot over there, sure. Maybe I spilled some milk or left pumpkin cores on the kitchen counter. At some point I adapted and a countertop compost became one of my handiest kitchen aids. In my case, it’s a converted muesli bowl, but this really nice version is also worth a thought. While cooking it holds everything that will end up in your organic compost, you can keep your working space clean as you work, and toss your waste away once you’re done Take a second to think about the bits you want to throw away, though: Parmesan cheese rinds give soups, sauces, and broths a richer taste while pumpkin seeds can be roasted into the perfect snack.

Salt

I used to live by this motto: It’s better to season less. Everyone at the table can add seasoning themselves depending on how they like their food. Though it might seem like the diplomatic approach, on the other hand, as I discovered, you can become quite careless with this approach and less likely to find the right balance between sweet, sour, salty, and even bitter flavours. Therefore: Go ahead and season with salt properly and generously before serving. Go ahead and make an effort to intensify the flavors. And two small things on top: A pinch of salt is about ¼ tsp and every sweet dish needs exactly one of these pinches (and vice versa, savory dishes need this amount of sugar), in my humble opinion.

Mandolines and microplanes

My co-worker Devan swears on her mandoline: “I always use it to thinly slice or shred things from just one piece of garlic to a bunch of potatoes to cabbage to cucumbers. I’ve even sliced things thinly with a mandoline, then finished the slices with a knife because julienne-ing is not my strong suit…”. And Ruby, also from the editorial team, is voting for this helper of hers: “It might seem too obvious, but I use a microplane for grating everything important into ––garlic (I know, controversial), ginger, chocolate, Parmesan cheese...” Speaking of garlic...

Garlic Press

Every garlic lover has a garlic press somewhere. It’s fast, efficient, and can be tucked away in no time. This and nothing more was my opinion on garlic presses. But there are divided opinions out there. Some say, they make garlic taste bitter, acrid, and too rich preferring instead to chop, cut, and dice gloves every time very patiently. Just like Anthony Bourdain said: “Treat your garlic with respect.” Others love their garlic press because they break up garlic’s structure so the aromatics can be released and the almost-paste lik result is east to spread evenly in your pizza oil, tomato sauce, or salsa. Two things to add: Invest in a proper garlic press and please make sure to clean it after usage. The taste of old garlic isn’t the best taste after all.

“Your” personal knife

Keep your eyes wide open when you’re next strolling around your local farmers’ It’s possible that you’ll find a local knifemaker next to the farmers with their fresh fruits and vegetables. Stop over, have a chat, and pick up knife after knife—there will be all sorts of bespoke sizes. Which one has the right feel? Chop and slice to get a feeling for each. And then buy the knife or cleaver that is “you”. You won’t regret it, pinky promise. Something in this direction is my choice.

Pantry favourites

A while ago, I wanted to find “my” canned tomatoes, the ones that taste the best and that you rely on for the rest of your life. I tested the whole supermarket offering and after some tasteless tomato sauces and then the perfect curry, I ended up with these: The greatest canned cherry tomatoes for perfectly creamy curries, tomato sauces and so on (if you cannot find them in your country, try these). I will be faithful to them, I promise… unless someone can introduce me to even smoother, more aromatic tomatoes.

Cooking chopsticks

Cooking chopsticks are longer than usual versions, which mean you won’t burn yourself on hot oil, cannot be missed on this list. Our editor Xueci loves them and now I am also very much into them: Cooking chopsticks are more agile than tongs, so you’re finally able to get out this tiny piece of onion skin and also your toast out of the toaster… Can you think of anything else? Long story short: It needs practice to become a master, but once you are, you will have lots of fun using this kitchen helper. Especially the perfectionist in you.

Cooking spray

Our chef Johanna cannot live without cooking spray (make your own!). It prevents her beloved cakes, brioches, and more from sticking to the baking sheet and baking dishes. The same also works on the BBQ tray. Let’s leave awkwardly greasing with butter behind for good.

Kitchen towels

It’s dinner time again. My tabletop compost a. k. a. muesli bowl is placed and ready. I have an apron, but won’t use it, as always. Never have, never will. I’m grabbing one of my favorite tea towels––the thicker one with the nice structure that can absorb everything and act as an oven mitt––and throw it over my left shoulder or tuck it in my front pocket. It’s now my loyal companion for the next hour at least: I use them for wiping the working surface, freeing my hands from water and also, I must admit, from other liquidy food, and they are my pot holders and coaster replacement. I hope you also have a favorite kitchen towel!

Kettle

I dearly hope you don’t only use a kettle to make tea or to lengthen your coffee. It also helps you to boil your pasta water way faster, to fill up your French press, to make even quicker porridge using instant oats, to make a quick broth and instant noodles. Some days just ask for it.

Do you have any kitchen aidsor supplies that help you everyday? Comment them below––we are always happy to learn more!

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