The Elements of Cooking

If you keep an eye on my book list, you may have noticed I am currently reading Michael Ruhlman‘s recently published, orange book*. In The Elements of Cooking, he proposes to break down and discuss the building blocks of the cooking craft, like William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White did for writers in their classic little volume The Elements of Style, to which the title and format are a homage.

The Elements of Cooking It is an engaging and educational read that retains a strong sense of the author’s voice and idiosyncrasies, unlike other reference books like, say, The Food Lover’s Companion, which I consult regularly but wouldn’t think to read from cover to cover.

The bulk of the book consists in an Acid-to-Zester lexicon of concepts, techniques, preparations, and ingredients, which Ruhlman prefaces with a section in which he lays down his founding principles, addressing such themes as salt, heat, and finesse.

In his essay on tools, he begins by asking the reader to “imagine the kitchen as a white box with nothing more than a stove, fridge, countertop, and sink — not a single other element for cooking in it — and then to pose a hypothetical question: if you were asked to outfit the kitchen with as few items as possible, the absolute minimum you could possibly get away with and still be able to cook most things, what would those items be?”

This question is of particular interest to me as it conjoins two topics I find endlessly stimulating: the desert island question (if you could only bring along five books/CDs/articles of toiletry, what would they be?**) and the neverending battle one has to wage to keep one’s home and life clutter-free.

So I’d like to submit the question to you: if you could only have five tools (pots, utensils, cutlery, and let’s add appliances) in your kitchen, what would they be? Note that we are considering your cooking needs only, setting aside the question of baking equipment. (If you’re the playful type, I suggest you come up with your own list before scrolling down to see Ruhlman’s and mine.)

* The book was sent to me as a review copy.
** Great car game, too!

Michael Ruhlman’s five items are:
“- a chef’s knife,
- a large cutting board,
- a large sauté pan,
- a flat-edged wood spoon,
- a large nonreactive heatproof bowl (ideally Pyrex).”

The list makes perfect sense, and I would confidently traipse off to my desert island with this basic kit, but for the sake of argument I’ve tried to draw up a slightly different selection. Mine would include:

- a 12-cm (4.5”) paring knife (I find I use it more than my chef’s knife),
- my vintage cast-iron enamel cocotte (sturdy, excellent heat distribution, virtually nonstick, and oh-so-lovable),
- a heat-resistant silicone spatula (it can be used to stir and scrape),
- my multipurpose stick blender that comes with a whisk and mini-chopper attachments (I hope this isn’t cheating),
- a large nonreactive heatproof bowl — I’m not sure I would have thought of this item on my own, but now I can’t see how I could do without.

Note 1- The cutting board is missing, true, but that’s because I’ve fitted my imaginary kitchen with a bamboo countertop on which I will chop my vegetables. Am I allowed a sponge for cleanup?
Note 2- I’m assuming I’m retiring to a desert island where there is electric power: after all, the kitchen has a stove and fridge.

Want to share your list, or your thoughts on these lists?

  • http://www.msadventuresinitaly.com/blog Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy

    I am definitely struggling with this – my old kitchen is in boxes in CA (complete with KitchenAid) and my new one (after 4 years in Italy) is starting to take shape. Keeping it minimalist is good.

    My five:
    - Santoku knife
    - Calphalon spatula/mixer
    - Medium size saute pan
    - Braun stick blender
    - 9×13 glass baking pan

  • http://aroundtheisland.blogspot.com/ Robin from Israel

    I’d have to go with a good chef’s knife, a soup pot, my dutch oven, a metal spatula, and my Braun stick blender.

    I have a well-stocked (okay, cluttered) kitchen though and I think I’m going into heart palpitations at the thought of paring things down that far!

  • http://gourmeted.com Joy

    Before I read the lists, I actually thought of Ruhlman’s except instead of the bowl, I would like a rectangular clear pyrex baking pan.

    These were the very first items that we invested on (especially the chef’s knife) when my boyfriend and I first moved in together. We were able to entertain guests with complete 3- to 4-course meals using just those.

  • http://mcardle-carrington.blogspot.com/ Lorena Carrington

    Have to delurk for this one!

    -My big Global knife
    -Deep cast iron fry pan
    -Mandolin (one that grates, slices, chips, zests, etc)
    -Spatula (one that stirs and flips)
    -And … it’s indulgent, but I have to include my espresso machine. Or could I just put that in the bathroom (shower, coffee; two birds, one stone!) and add a baking dish?

    Love your site (and book!) Clotilde – thank you.

  • http://www.parisblagueur.blogspot.com Le Meg

    1) Vegetable peeler with a swiveling blade!

    (please don’t say that with the proper technique and a sharp knife I wouldn’t need one)

    2) Soup pot

    3) Chef’s knife (in ADDITION to the vegetable peeler – what luxury!)

    4) One really big spooon

    5) Screw your stick blenders, I want my robot

  • http://foodandlaughter.blogspot.com Bird’s Eye View

    well, like you, I’m figuring i’ll find a surface to chop on – a clean rock, perhaps. So definitely a knife.
    a large shallow-bowled ladle
    my mixie/ blender (which comes with a dry grinding attachment)
    a wok
    soup type saucepan

  • http://thehungryhungryhippo.blogspot.com/ Jen

    Okay, I was just assuming I would chop on the counter top (I do frequently anyhow, but don’t tell anyone! ;-) )

    I would have:
    1) chef’s knife
    2) wooden spoon
    3) large saute pan
    4) casserole dish
    5) steamer

    Bingo bango. I am still reading your book, but it is very good so far!

  • Susan from Boston

    I would need:

    my chef knife
    wire whisk
    large spoon
    stock pot
    saute pan

    I love your book and hope to get to France some day.
    Susan

  • http://botanylicious.blogspot.com Sarah

    Mortar and pestle!!!!! The rest of the list I can’t decide on.
    If it’s not cheating, a lot of serving dishes and utensils can function as cooking tools. (I’m assuming our kitchen is allowed to have plates and silverware!) It’s far from ideal, but soup spoons can stand in for a wooden spoon, a plate can be a cutting surface, a fork can be a whisk.

  • Griffin

    Ohh this is tricky. At least on Desert Island Discs they get a choice of 8!! I think, like Jen I would go for;

    1) chef’s knife
    2) wooden spoon
    3) large saute pan
    4) casserole dish
    but,
    5) a medium sized saucepan

    Then I could do grilled chicken and rice with stir-fry veg. Tho’ I would have to go out for desserts… unless I bake a cake in the casserole dish…!

  • Jennifer

    This is a particularly amusing question for me, as I frequently have to spend time in a tiny apartment in the Caribbean equipped only with a single burner hot plate, 2 glasses, 2 plates, a fork and spoon, and a mini fridge. Restricted by airline baggage weight charges,(and complete lack of any baking/roasting facilities) I have found I can survive with:

    1 saute pan
    1 pot
    1 chef’s knife
    1 silicon spatula/spoon thingie

    My final item often depends on my food preferences at the time– I’ve been known to take my stick blender or a mini slowcooker at times!

  • http://zippyturtle.typepad.com Sara

    Good Q:

    1. chinese cleaver
    2. spoontula
    3. long chopsticks (I’m Japanese – can you tell? Good for whisking, and as a tong)
    4. Le creuset (mine has a skillet top and a saute pan bottom – is that cheating?)
    5. bowl

    Found your site serendipitiously.
    I just ordered your book.

  • gingerpale

    Now wait a minute, doesn’t anybody want a can opener?

  • r

    chef’s knife, dutch oven, wooden spoon, microplane and glass measuring cup

  • Keeley

    I really have to stick with Ruhlman on the cutting board! I’d go bonkers with a good knife and trying to cut on a plate >_<

    My five:
    -Good, ~8″ knife
    -Wood cutting board
    -Nonstick saute pan
    -Soup pot
    -Tongs

    I’d rather fashion my own wooden spoon than cutting board, so I’ll happily trade those out. How in the world do you people get so much use out of a stick blender?

  • Sara

    Oh, I meant to say for my #4 – my lecreuset skillet and a saucepan combo.

    skillet and saute pan – what was I thinking??

  • http://novel-a-month.com Fritz Bogott

    Cutting board, chef’s knife, dutch oven, wooden spoon (I confess I actually prefer my big red nylon spoon), and another pot or bowl in case I want somewhere to put the beans that are about to go into the dutch oven as soon as I finish the soffrito. Hate to have to hold all those beans in my hands.

  • http://leisureguy.wordpress.com Leisureguy

    4-qt Sauté pan (with lid)
    Chinese knife
    Pepper grinder
    3-qt Saucepan (with lid)
    Strainer

  • http://cakesandneckties.blogspot.com/ Amanda

    1. large bowl (for mixing)
    2. soup pot (for cooking)
    3. knife (for slicing, dicing, paring, shaving, and threatening…remember, desert island, possibility of encountering unfriendly “savages and wild beasts”)
    4. fork
    5. plate (the kind with a bit of a rim, perfect for soups and “drier” meals)

    It would be important, since I have a bit of an etiquette thing, to be able to dine upon my desert island meals, without shoveling with my big spoon straight from the pot!

    : )

  • darcyalaska

    I’ve been thinking about this question too, as I am also reading this book.

    My list reads as follows:
    - My Staub dutch oven
    - santoku knife
    - cutting board
    - wooden spoon
    - pepper grinder

  • http://www.spritewrites.net sprite

    Hmmm… I’m not a very good cook, so I’d be lost without eggs, soup, and grilled cheese. Thus, my list:

    A pot with a lid (which could double as a frying pan)
    A sharp knife
    A big spoon
    A spatula (to flip aforementioned eggs and grilled cheese)
    A large bowl for mixing things

  • http://www.realepicurean.com Scott at Realepicurean

    Hmmn, lets keep the following items:

    #1 A chefpan (like my Mayer Anolon). The only one you need at a push, the shape means you can cook anything from a stir fry through boiled potatoes to a casserole.

    #2 My SMEG frige freezer. Well, partially to show off, but also to keep my food nice and fresh :)

    #3 A nice sharp chef knife. I don’t have anything special here (I’d chop my fingers off).

    #4 A microplane grater. I love these and can’t see why they haven’t completely phased out “normal” graters…

    #5 A wooden spoon. You gotta stir!

  • Corinne

    Ha! Having lived with only the VERY basics in Canada, China and Russia (I move a lot and travel light), this is an easy question. Cooking gear is great, but you can make a heck of a lot of stuff with only a few things, and improvise the rest.

    1) soup pot
    2) paring knife
    3) chopsticks (@Sara: you’re so right; you can cook with them and then use them to eat!)
    4) wok (doubles as a mixing bowl…)
    5) blender (the only thing I don’t have…oh, the smoothies I’m missing out on!)

  • http://www.ModernBeet.com Jen

    I personally could not live without a pair of tongs. I think they’re the most useful item I’ve got in my kitchen!

    If I could only have five, I’d go for:
    1) tongs
    2) 2 qt dutch over
    3) chef’s knife
    4) paring knife
    5) cast iron skillet

    what a fun question!

  • Sandy

    1) iron skillet
    2) good knife
    3) 2 qt saucepan
    4) 9×13 pyrex baking dish
    5) whisk

  • http://onewallkitchen.blogspot.com Julie

    For some reason, I keep thinking, “I’m on an island with just these utensils … what will they be?”

    In order of importance:
    -A short chef’s knife (8″ for some extra versatility)
    -A honing steel to keep my knife honed
    -A big, stainless steel saucier
    -A wooden mixing spoon
    -A sturdy bowl (stainless steel if I’m on an island) ;D

  • http://foodrockz.com/ Food Rockz Man

    Five items:

    1. 8″ Shun chef’s knife
    2. Large cutting board
    3. 12″ cast iron skillet
    4. 7.5 qt. dutch oven
    5. 4 cup measuring cup

  • http://www.sweatermuffin.com Eva

    At the risk of being redundant, my list (before I read yours and Michael’s) went like this:

    1. Large, sharp knife with a good heft to it
    2. Wooden spoon OR silicone scoopy-spatula
    3. Heavy-bottomed skillet OR wok
    4. Whisk
    5. Large bowl OR pot

    I don’t know why my whisk is so important to me, except that I seem to use it for every meal I cook! From the simple emulsifying of salad dressings to the quick blending of a smooth bechamel to all sorts of sauces and egg dishes, I think I would be lost without it. Of course, a fork does in a pinch/desert island, so I would probably trade it so I could have both a bowl AND an ovenproof pot of some sort (e.g., Dutch oven).

  • Julieta

    1. Medium wide-mouthed saucepan
    2. Wooden spoon
    3. Fork
    4. Paring knife
    5. Mixing bowl

    I think those are my essential cooking tools :-)

  • Rachel

    I’ve been agonising over this, and then remembered that the year I was an assistante d’anglais in Tours, I lived in a chambre de bonne with a ‘kitchen’ consisting of a small fridge and a hotplate and actually did not have ANY of the items on either your or his list. If I’d walked in one day and found either set of five items had magically appeared, I would’ve thought I’d died and gone to heaven!

    So, here’s my list of five:
    1. chef’s knife
    2. cocotte
    3. wooden spoon
    4. mixing bowl
    5. food processor (much as I like my stick blender, this is more versatile)

  • Susan

    My list has the knife, saucepan, and spoon — but I also added a mandoline and a food mill. I am considering swapping one of the last two for a spice grinder! Could I please have six?! :-)

  • trilly

    My five:

    1) Immersion blender (mine has a whisk and food processor attachment!)

    2) Peeler/grater/corer/shredder combo utensil (just swivel the blade)

    3) A large pot

    4) Bialetti stovetop espresso maker

    5) Shun chef’s knife (yep, I’ll ruin the blade without a cutting board, but I’ll find a piece of wood)

  • http://www.robinoriginals.com/eats.html Robin

    This IS a difficult choice, especially for someone like me who loves all kitchen gadgets!

    Here’s my list:

    1- Santoku Knife
    2- Silicone Spoon (my Orka, I adore it!)
    3- Chantal Enamel11QT Roasting Pan (lid flips over and can be used on top of stove or in oven as can the bottom, I adore this, too!)
    4- Cuisinart Food Processor (mine has a whisk…is this cheating!!!? )
    5- I have a toss-up between my Microplane (it’s true, my food processor has a grater disk, but I love the convenience of zesting citrus, etc, with a microplane) or a pyrex bowl that could be used for mixing or for baking!

    I’ll assume I can find some surface for cutting other than bringing a cutting board, too!

    BTW, for a holiday party, I used your spices to make my Mom’s Gougère recipe – the 2 are similar except that mine has more milk and yours has more butter…. “butter, butter, and more butter…” isn’t that the secret of French cooking?! ;-) and they were a great success! I’ll try your proportions next time just to compare!
    Speaking of butter, I’d love to try making my own and then make the gougères!

  • Nikki

    I will have to check out the book. My immediate list is all the things I use the most:

    1. Chef knife
    2. large non-stick soup pot
    3. silicon spatula
    4. food processor
    5. Pyrex baking pan

  • http://mrswskitchen.blogspot.com Mrs.W

    What a thought-provoking question! I’ve been thinking about this all day, and finally decided to answer on my blog.

  • ghoshida

    1) Handmade wok
    2) Butcher’s knife
    3) Wooden spoon
    4) Whisk
    5) Rolling Pin

  • http://www.popcornstories.blogspot.com/ Alison

    I would pick

    A Wok.
    A Chef Knife.
    Long Wooden Chopstick.
    Stock Pot.
    Chopping board.

    I’m boring but that’s the only equipment I use anyway :D

  • http://www.onewildandpreciouslife.typepad.com Ann

    Quick question: why do all your entries have a link to read more? I’d much rather read the whole entry on one link, and then progress to the next and the next, etc. Just wondering if there is some rationale….

  • Beth

    Clotilde, how ever do you chop using a paring knife? I use my paring knife every day, but I’d be lost without a chef’s knife.

  • A student

    Thinking of my cooking at home, my list would be:

    Vegetable knife
    Saute pan (large)
    Soup pan (large)
    Colander
    Vegetable peeler

    However, as I am currently living in accomodation with a microwave, kettle and toaster only, I seem to be managing with only a pyrex jug, a sharp knife and a cafetiere. Five items? Luxury!

  • Nikki

    “A Student” your comment reminds me of the book “Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant”–an exceptional collection of short stories about cooking and eating for one. Highly recommend it to all.

  • Jim

    6″ chief knife
    wooden spatula
    cast iron frying pan
    stock pot
    watt ware bowl

  • http://mykitchenchronicles.blogspot.com Rodosee

    I’m Indian and live in India, so this is influenced by working habits in a kitchen equipped with certain traditional bits and bobs, and often denuded of electricity!
    1. A balloon whisk
    2. The Indian cook’s blade which rises upright sturdily from a wooden base (and leaves BOTH hands free to play with your food!). No chopping board needed!
    3. Coffee filter
    4. Wide-bottomed kadhai, preferably made of lined copper/brass or else cast iron (for frying, roasting, brasiing, boiling, steaming…)
    5. A bottle — for water as well as doubling up as rolling pin (also for keeping recipe notes and maps of the island’s kitchen garden dry!)
    What I hope to improvise:
    1. grinding stone — basically a rough flat slab and a smoother rounded one will do the job of most grinders and blenders. It’s what most Indians use!
    2. Leaves for grilling in, packaging foodstuff in…
    3. Scalded flint piece or hardwood twig by way of spatula/skewer/stirrer…
    :) (alright, i’m being facetious…but only slightly)
    as for utensils, don’t need ‘em — we eat with our fingers! and actually, one CAN cook many things in a coconut shell or on a thin flat stone slab…

  • http://www.godfulfood.blogspot.com/ anya

    I think I’ll have to take lessons on how-to-restrict-yourself-when- you-are-in-a-kitchen-shop as sometimes I really splurge on too many things I even do not use afterwards…ever. Yes, willpower and self-control probably forget my name every now and then…:-)

    Clotilde, you are a star!

  • http://www.cakespy.com Cakespy

    1. Plain ol’ vegetable peeler
    2. Cutting board
    3. Potholders
    4. cooling racks (love them!)
    5. Our new fancy frying pan

  • http://overacuppa.com may

    1) a really good paring knife
    2) cutting board
    3) cast-iron pan/pot
    4) heat-proof all-purpose mixing bowl
    5) a pair of chopsticks (they are as versatile as anything…)

    the very faithful five in my everyday cooking escapes… =)

  • Mimi

    Hmmmm….
    1. A large chef’s knife
    2. A large non-stick or cast iron skillet
    3. A whisk
    4. Set of nesting bowls
    5. Spoon

  • http://blog.ruhlman.com ruhlman

    fascinating responses. love the comment that a wok could serve as bowl and cooking vessel–but could you fry an egg, make a pancake in a wok? when i asked bourdain he put wok on his list. keller, a big cast iron pan. jim poris an ed. at food arts didn’t have a cutting board-his countertops would be wood.

  • Griffin

    Ruhlman… aka this is all your fault!! :)

    We have a wide wok that I’ve used for frying eggs in… tho’ I haven’t tried pancakes in it… yet! I suppose you could make very small pancakes in it as all the mix would slide to the base of the wok. Then again if the mix was carefully manoeuvred then maybe you could make pancakes… I am sooo going to have to try this now!!!

  • http://www.vicsrecipes.blogspot.com Victoria

    Only 5. Yikes.

    8-inch chef’s knife
    3 quart saucier
    12 inch carbon steel skillet
    whisk (can stir and whip with it)
    6 quart stockpot (can boil water for pasta, make a stew, use as a bowl)

    I assume I have a fork to eat with so I don’t have to include a fork to flip things. Hardest thing for me to do without – the original Microplane rasp.

  • http://lindystoast.com Lindy

    Yes, you can make pancakes in a wok, I have done, but it doesn’t make my list, because I need something heavier for stews and braises.

    Like virtually everyone, my 8″ chef’s knife, and silicon spoonula. My 5qt. black Staub iron cocotte with lid, my kitchenaid coffee grinder with removeable washable blade section- which will do coffee and grindings of spices, etc., and a paring knife.

    Just missed the list: Braun immersion blender and wok.

  • http://errantpotter.blogspot.com Sam

    My 5 items:

    my trusty knife
    saute pan
    coconut shell spoon
    tamis
    tagine

    and i have to hold back with hands on chest!! :)

  • misswhisk

    such a good question! my top five are:

    - solid wooden spoon
    - food processor
    - chef’s knife
    - microplane/zester
    - cutting board

  • http://www.flanboyanteats.com Bren

    Hmmm. a tricky question, but if I had to:

    1. Pressure cooker, vintage preferably.

    2. Large non-stick frying pan

    3. Chef’s knife

    4. Rice cooker/steamer

    5. Wooden spoon

    whew… please dont make us to that again! :)

  • http://www.swirlingnotions.com swirlingnotions

    * A good chef’s knife and paring knife (Funny, a friend of mine was just here for dinner the other night and I was prepping a bunch of vegetables, blissful with the thump-thump of a shiny new knife when she said, “what, don’t you have a food processor?” I was so thrown off.)

    * All-Clad stainless skillet with cover

    * Le Creuset doufeu

    * Mandolin

    * A big orange ceramic mixing bowl

  • Slicer N. Dicer

    1. Fireman’s axe
    2. Sledgehammer
    3. Small vial of KY
    4. Brillo mitts
    5. Lighter with plenty of fluid

    As you can probably tell, I am an outdoorsman and live off the land. Except for my laptop and satellite dish.

  • cwb

    my list:
    1. 5 inch serrated utility knife (Currently I have a henkel one of these…it isn’t the best for anything, but will, with patience, do almost everything)
    2. Le Creuset marmitout (3 qt please, i have a 2qt now, and use it at least 5 times a week, just a touch too small-but i’ve made most everything on the stove, plus roasted with it, and made bread and cakes)
    3. wooden spoon (although yes, a silicone spoonula is tempting, but i wouldn’t give up the real spoon)

    I could stop there–i did have only these things (although I added a cheese grater after a month) for about 4 months. But i did no baking then…

    4. large heatproof bowl (10 qt at least!)
    5. 9×13 metal pan (I bake a lot of cakes in a 9×13 pan with lid that was my Grandmother’s in the 50s–but maybe a 9×9 would be easier to work with/more flexible).

    Just missed
    Cheese Grater (not a box–medium if just one)
    Sheet pan
    Silicone spatula
    cutting board
    paring knife (3″)
    oven stone
    whisk
    spatula (turner)

  • http://foodforlaughter.blogspot.com Astra Libris

    I love how similar tools float around with unusual ones in everyone’s lists… I know I’m posting a bit late on this topic, but I couldn’t resist. :-) Here’s my humble list:

    My enormous Calphalon non-stick skillett, with which I could cook dinners for the whole county.

    My 8″ JA Henkles chef’s knife – the greatest (and albeit most unusual) graduation present ever!

    Cast iron dutch oven

    A nice plump balloon whisk

    Food processor (who could live without being able to whip up hummus at the drop of a hat? :-)

  • Mrs Redboots

    Wok
    Steamer (especially microwave steamer, but the ordinary one that sits on top of the stove is pretty brilliant, too)
    Food processor
    Manual cappucino whisk which actually whisks eggs far better than anything else I have!

    (I am acting on the assumption that the regular “batterie de cuisine” is taken for granted!)

  • Mo

    It’s funny – I live in a small apartment with an even tinier kitchen (I tried to find the biggest kitchen possible when I was apartment-hunting, but one’s funds reach only so far), and every time I cook, I have to be content with the essentials. When I started out, I really did only have five or so tools. I had the following:

    Rice cooker – essential because of how often I eat rice and it reminds me of home (and was in fact a gift from my parents)

    No-stick frying pan – essential for making omelets, pancakes, scrambled eggs, stir-fries, etc.

    No-stick pot – essential for everything else that need to be boiled or submerged in liquid.

    Knife – I just started getting interested in cooking recently, my mom cooks a lot but has never had different kinds of knives, so I go with one basic one (I have no idea what kind it is) and use it to pare, chop, slice, mince, all of the above.

    Wooden spoon – For mixing when using silverware isn’t safe.

    My kitchen tools have grown in number since then, mainly because I’ve grown more inventive as to how to make space for them. But still it’s growing slowly – for instance, just yesterday, I bought my first whisk ever. :)

  • http://lollya.blogspot.com lollya

    My picks:

    santoku knife
    ceramic baking dish
    rubber spatula (the cake scraper kind)
    cheese grater
    cast iron pan

  • Diane Carlson

    1. Wusthoff santoku knife
    2. Cast iron wok or karhai (Indian wok)
    3. Medium sized mortar and pestle
    4. Ceramic baking dish
    5. Flat spatula (good for stir-frying, flipping pancakes, cleaning baked-on crud out of wok, etc)

    I’d also really like a grater and my cast iron skillet, but that’s #6 and #7…

  • http://souptonuts.wordpress.com Jess

    1. 12-inch skillet
    2. immersion blender
    3. stock pot
    4. whisk
    5. chef’s knife

  • dory

    I find it interesting that people are divided between paring knives and chef’s knives. I try to use a chef’s knife more, but end up chopping what some food writers call “grandma style” with a paring knife. I cut almost everything except meat this way. It is instinctive. Obviously I would take the paring knife which I can do anything with, and a dutch oven for a pan, as it can be used, in a pinch for sauteeing or for making soup or stew. I couldn’t do without eating untensils, though. I think it would be too hard for me to slurp from the pan– especially if I was sharing the meals with others.

    Dory

  • Steve C

    knife
    Dutch oven
    wooden spoon
    stock pot
    spatula

  • http://intheacorn.blogspot.com vickie

    my five: trying so hard not to look up…

    my cast iron pan
    good sharp chopping knife
    flat wooden spatula
    cutting board
    stock pot

  • Laura

    For cooking purposes I would have to have what I use each and every day and what I love to pieces. My…

    1. 7 inch santoku knife (can we bring the knife sharpener as a set?)
    2. wooden block cutting board
    3. microplane grater
    4. mortar and pestle
    5. William Sonoma spoonula

    My 6th item would be a cast iron dutch oven.

    But cooking aside, I would also need my tea kettle and French press. A day does not start without caffeine!

  • Lauren

    Mine is very similar but I would choose…
    My Santoku Knife
    A large Heat proof bowl
    A whisk or tongs
    I love using a whisk for lots of things but a spatula is good also.
    My large Green Cast Iron Enamel Dutch Oven. It can do anything and I never make soup or chili with out it.
    And a wooden spoon I would take this over a spatula any day.
    But If I could I would choose my Kitchen Aid Mixer oh and a cake pan too.

  • Dean

    Lots of great discussion on this topic. My five would be:

    1. Good 8″ chef’s knife
    2. Heavy duty mortar and pestle (for years I went without a processor and just used my smooth granite mortar)
    3. Big enamaled cast iron Dutch oven – it can be used for nearly everything
    4. A silicon “spoonula” – I saw someone else mention this and think it’s a great idea. I never realized how handy they’d be until someone gave me one.
    5. A 2 1/2 qt sauce pan – sometimes that big Dutch over would be overkill

    If I get to add a 6th item it’d be a good Swiss Army knife with a can opener and a corkscrew!!!. Yeah, I know adding a 6th item is cheating, but whatcha gonna do about it – throw me into blogger jail? :-0

  • june

    My five:
    Wok
    chopping board
    chef knife
    Wooden spatula
    Kettle

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