Chef Jennie: 8 Kitchen Must Haves

Chef Jennie is back!

Today she is sharing the 8 things she can't live without (in the kitchen). Click the photos to see where you can find the goods.

These are a few of my favorite things...

1. Microplane: I had never had a Microplane before it was kindly gifted to me by one of my cooking class students (thank you, Jodi!). I use it for everything now -- cheese, nutmeg, lemon and lime zest, etc. In short, it's amazing and I love it.

2. Good Honey: Like most things in my kitchen, I have both a basic and a very special jar of honey. I use the basic one to cook with and the special honey to sweeten tea and coffee, or to drizzle over chunks of good Pecorino cheese and serve as an appetizer. The best honey is that which is subtly flavored by the flowers that the bees feast on, like this cute little jar impregnated with the scent of eucalyptus groves outside of Bogotá.

(this is Melissa jumping in...I love the acacia honey from Le Pain Quotidien, you can get it here)

3. Potato Peeler: Other than its obvious use, peelers are great for shaving hard and semi-hard cheeses to garnish salads or to mix into pasta. I usually peel them in long strips and then crumple them up in my hand so they look more natural.

4. Salt: I ALWAYS have a pinch bowl of sea salt next to the stovetop while I'm cooking. I love feeling the texture of the grains as I sprinkle them into a simmering pot.

I am also a firm believer that your fingertips develop a sensitivity and memory for the salt and that’s how cooks feel their way through recipes. For a big cooking day, I have one pinch bowl of sea salt and another of regular salt for baking (the smaller grains allow for a more precise measurement and disperse more evenly in things like cakes and cookies).

5. Pretty Bowls: Pretty little bowls are so nice to have around and to use for mise-en-place (ingredients that are chopped/grated/toasted and ready to be used). They make the whole event of cooking more playful and fun!

6. Multiple Whisks: A whisk is something that any good cook, and especially baker, can’t live without. When whisking egg whites into peaks, like in the photo below, it’s important to use a whisk that is appropriately sized for your bowl so that you can whisk air into them with ease.

For that reason, it’s nice to have small whisks for small jobs (vinaigrette for an impromptu salad) and large whisks for huge bowls of chocolate mousse and the like.

7. A Good Grater: Not only useful for cheese, a good grater is helpful in many occasions. I usually opt for the microplane to grate cheese these days (did I mention that it’s my favorite thing ever?), but I use the coarse side of the grater to shred tomatoes for rustic gazpacho, zucchini for zucchini bread, and blocks of frozen butter for pie dough.

8. Mini Tart Pans: These are great for the holidays or for any festive occasion that might come along! My favorite things to make in them are quiche (goat cheese, bacon and leek to be exact) and chocolate pear tarts.

 

Thanks so much, Jennie! <3

 

Have a great week...and stay WARM!

 

Con Mucho Amor,

Melissa

 

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About Jennie: Jennie Levitt is a private chef whose training includes instruction in a series of restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts and organic farms in rural Italy along with some of the finest restaurants in Paris and Bogotá. She has launched and managed her own Mediterranean catering company in Aspen, Colorado, a rotating lunch restaurant in Paris, and most recently a series of pop-up dinners and cooking classes in Bogotá, Colombia. Her cuisine is based on traditional Mediterranean recipes that she learned at the source and now seeks to recreate with the best local ingredients in a warm, convivial environment.