Friday, December 9, 2011

My Top 5 Kitchen Must Haves & Favourite Books of 2011

Do you have a kitchen gadget or appliance that you just can't live without? The thing you miss most when you don't have it or run to replace it when it breaks? I do, fact I have a few things like that so since Christmas is approaching I thought it would be fun to do a post of my 'Top 5 Kitchen Must Haves' for any of you out there looking for inspiration for Christmas presents for any foodie family members or friends (or of course yourself!).

The first thing I should warn you is that I have a lot of kitchen appliances – big and small. I've accumulated them over years through Birthday and Christmas presents, treats for myself (when I should have been buying myself new clothes instead!), must have buys and also as Wedding presents, so I do consider myself to be very fortunate. So with so many things to choose from it was difficult to narrow things down to just 5 as there are a few things I use over and over, without even thinking about it. However, in the end I went for a range of things – a couple of things are expensive, others are cheaper and affordable for most but are just as important to me as the expensive items! All in my opinion are essential!

So here they are – My Top 5 Kitchen Must Haves......

At Number 5 are my Digital Scales.
In my opinion Digital Scales are a must have – especially if you bake. I actually have two sets of scales – the first one I got about 5 years ago as a Christmas present (that I chose myself!) which is a lovely Typhoon scale, that I still love and use. But then there are my digital scales that I bought about 3 years ago for around $30 and now I can't live without them. It may seem funny to question a gram or two when it comes to baking but I find things just turn out much better when I stick to precise measurements and for $30 you can't go wrong! The ones I have have the option of measuring in grams or ounces so you can switch between the two and use whichever unit of measurement that you are comfortable with or the recipe calls for. If you have someone on your gift list that likes to bake these make a fantastic present and if you want you can always team them up with a book that uses precise measurements!

Next up at Number 4 is my Meat Thermometer!
If you never want to worry about an undercooked turkey again then you must get yourself a meat thermometer! You can pretty much buy them anywhere these days and they are cheap but boy do they make a difference! I don't ever cook a roast without using my meat thermometer which I think I paid $10 for (it's a digital one – you can get even cheaper ones if you stick to the ordinary ones). So no more undercooked chickens or overcooked roast beefs – this takes away any guesswork and ensures you end up with succulent perfectly cooked meat! A great stocking stuffer in my opinion!

So on to Number 3 which is my KitchenAid Mixer.

 Ok so admittedly this is a super gift as they are certainly not cheap but I just love mine! I got it as a Birthday present 5 years ago from my husband and family and it has sat pride of place on my counter ever since. It makes baking a cinch and I use it for everything from my cupcakes, cookies, perfect light meringues and billowing whipping cream to my favourite pizza dough or bread recipes. It takes all the hard work out and allows you to get on with other things while it is happily working away like the best little kitchen elf! It is a big present but it provides big rewards and you are sure to be someone's favourite person if they receive this! Already have a KitchenAid (or other stand mixer)?, then treat them to some of the fantastic attachments you can get – there are a whole variety of attachments available including a slicer and chopper/ meat grinder/ Sausage stuffer and even a pasta maker! After 5 years I love it even more than I did when I first got it and use it more and more – a fantastic gift that will last forever!

Next up on the list is Number 2 which is my Microplane grater!
 Well for those of you gasping at the idea and cost of Number 3 you can breath a sigh of relief as this 'Must Have' is perfectly affordable! I just love my microplane and hate not having it if I'm cooking somewhere other than my own kitchen. I use it for all the obvious things - grating Parmesan and zesting lemons and limes but more so I use it for garlic (better than a crusher in my opinion – much easier to clean) and ginger. The only thing you have to watch with these are your fingers and nails as they are sharp – making easy work of whatever you need to grate. They also come in a host of textures and sizes so you have a great choice to pick from. I have the fine grater which I use the most but I also have the large shaver which is ideal for long thin Parmesan shavings, chocolate and I have even used it (very successfully!) for finely shaving some black truffle!

So what is my Number 1 Kitchen Must Have? Well I'm sure it will come as no surprise to a lot of you out there but it is....(drum roll please!)...... my Global Knives.

Anyone that enjoys cooking and spending time in the kitchen (especially chefs) will tell you what a difference a good set of knives makes and I am no exception. Over the years I have tried a variety of cheaper knives that start of great but just don't last, but ever since I got my Global Knives (I got a fantastic deal on a box set a few years ago) there is no going back for me. They are light and comfortable, extremely sharp and easy to sharpen (I know what some of you are thinking but honestly a dull, blunt knife in the kitchen is far more dangerous and more likely to cause injury!). I'm honestly at the stage where if I cook somewhere else I take them with me! Again this is a pretty expensive present as they aren't cheap but they are certainly worth it and the cook in your family will most definitely thank you for these! Just don't forget to give the person a silver coin with them for good luck! (An old wives tail but one I tend to stick to!)

So there you go – my Top 5 Must Have Kitchen Items that I hate to be without! There are certainly a lot more things I would hate to be without in the kitchen but I think this is a good start! Do you agree? Let me know what your favourite kitchen items are – for all I know I could be missing out on a critical piece of kitchen weaponry!!

So with one list complete it's now onto my Favourite Cookbooks of 2011......

One of my New Years Resolutions for 2011 was to try my best to continue with Mrs Dobsons legacy and buy as many books as I could to add to our library. There was no way I could afford to buy as many as I wanted but after looking at my list of what I did get this year I rather surprised myself with just how many I did get! Some were gifts, some were ridiculously discounted and were too good to pass up and others were just me sticking firmly to my resolution! Unsurprisingly this was one resolution I was not going to break! I have enjoyed every book that I bought this year so this is another tough one but here are my Top 10 Cookbooks from 2011. They are not all necessarily new books (or rather books published in 2011) but they are new to me which is what matters! It was impossible to also put them in order so they are equally my top books!! Enjoy and please let me know your favourite books of the year!
Jamie's Great Britain – Jamie Oliver
The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days – Tarek Malouf
Full of Flavour – Maria Ellis
A Taste of Home: 200 Quick and Easy Recipes – Angela Harnett
Bill's Every Day Asian – Bill Granger
Casual Entertaining – Ross Dobson
Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys – David Tannis
In the Mood for Entertaining – Jo Pratt
Mad About Macarons – Jill Colonna
A Slice of Cherry Pie – Julia Parsons

{All photographs were taken from the Manufacturers Websites or other sites selling the products}


  1. Great list! I'm still lusting after a KitchenAid mixer, but I know i don't bake nearly enough to justify the space in our tiny, half-kitchen!

  2. A-ha but don't write it off completely because it will MAKE you bake! ; )

  3. What a great Top 5 list! Good knives would definitely be right at #1 for me too!

  4. Great list. I am about to get a Kenwood for Christmas and can't wait to start using it. I only have one Global knife so far but I will be adding to that. GG

  5. A Kitchen-Aid stand mixer is Number 1 on my Christmas list ... and more good knives ... I have a basic Wusthof chef's knife.

  6. We got a Global set for our wedding. I love the knifes but think they are so ugly. A scale is on my list for this year. I hope I get one. Great list...I would agree with every single item.

  7. Thanks everyone!

    Knives are a definite must have!
    Emily - I know what you mean...although I think I have just got used to mine now! And a mixer.....well how can you go wrong?! : )


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