Derval O'Rourke: The essential kitchen items needed in every house

This week I’m chatting about my go-to kitchen gadgets. For my recipe I’m focusing on delicious and nourishing soups, writes Derval O'Rourke

Derval O'Rourke: The essential kitchen items needed in every house

This week I’m chatting about my go-to kitchen gadgets. For my recipe I’m focusing on delicious and nourishing soups, writes Derval O'Rourke

I get asked all the time what kind of equipment and gadgets are essential in the kitchen. For many of us stocking a new kitchen or updating our current one may feel like an overwhelming task. However, a good place to start can be to try figure out what you want to cook regularly and then buy a few tools that will help to make your cooking speedy and fun.

I have moved house a lot over the past 15 years and so have a good idea about the basic equipment that I need to cook the things I like to eat. With so much moving about, I’ve learnt to identify kitchen clutter and get rid of it. There are a few pieces of equipment that are essential in my kitchen. Once you have these things, you’ll be unstoppable!

Here are my top picks.

Measuring spoons, cups and jugs:

You can pick these up almost anywhere and you don’t have to spend a fortune on them. For example, they are stocked in Dunnes Stores at €6 for a set of spoons and €9 for the measuring cups. When purchasing measuring spoons make sure the measurements are clearly marked, there is a big difference between adding a tsp or tbsp of chili powder to your curry. I tend to use measuring cups for things like overnight oats and jugs for water and stocks.

Mixing bowls

Ideally aim for one small, medium and large sized bowl. Pyrex are great as they are heat-proof and come in super handy for cake-mixing, making salad dressings or beating eggs. These are readily available in most home stores including Argos where you can pick up a set of three clear Pyrex bowls for €15.

Knives

I’m a little precious about a good knife. A long time ago, I invested in good-quality knives and I believe in treating them well so that I can get the most out of them. I never put good knives in the dishwasher:I hand wash them in hot soapy water before drying them thoroughly. I’ve heard this advice many times and I believe it holds true: you really need only three good knives in your kitchen.

- Chef’s knife 8in: This is the most important knife for food preparation. Before you buy a chef’s knife, look at different brands in the shops and ask lots of questions. If you can, ask for a demonstration where you can hold the knife and carefully practise the chopping movement in the shop. I have a Wusthof chef’s knife and look back on it as one of the best investments I ever made. I like a knife with a heavy feel but it’s an entirely personal thing. Sharpen your chef’s knife as soon as it starts to go blunt.

- Paring knife 4in: A paring knife is used for preparing ingredients that don’t need a big chef’s knife,such as peeling fruits and vegetables. I have never spent a large sum of money on a paring knife. I just find one that’s comfortable and replace it once it starts to go blunt.

- Serrated bread knife: This is a knife that looks like a saw. Don’t bother spending a lot of money on this, but do get one that feels solid. It’s the ideal knife for cutting bread, loaves, nut roasts. The make I use is again Wusthof.

Food processor

The phrase ‘food processor’ always sounds boring and a bit robotic but the equipment itself is fantastic and it makes life so much easier in the kitchen. If you can afford to buy a food processor, it’s such a great investment. There are endless options out there and not all food processors are created equal. So read the reviews online and ask for recommendations from family and friends. I use a Nutri-Ninja, you could get a decent model for about €100.

Handheld blender and electric whisk

If you don’t want to spend money on a food processor, a simple handheld blender for soups and a handheld electric whisk will see you through most recipes. My handheld blender was not at all expensive and it is a real workhorse.

Wok

To get the best quality wok at the lowest price I would advise going to an Asian supermarket.

However, you can often pick them up on special offer in Lidl or Aldi too. My wok comes in handy all the time whether it’s whipping up a quick midweek stirfry or cooking a curry for friends at the weekend.

Oven-proof dishes

Buy good-quality, heavy ovenproof dishes for roasting vegetables, meat and fish. One or two big dishes will cover most needs. Keep an eye out for sales and buy a good brand. They will see you through many years of cooking. TkMaxx can be a great place for bargains on all things kitchen ware.

Silicone pans

It’s such a smart idea to buy a few pieces of good silicone bakeware. Silicone has amazing non-stick properties and is so hardwearing. Invest in a couple of loaf pans so that you can make healthy breads and loaves. And consider buying a muffin tray for baking healthy muffins. Homestore And More stock these and you should be able to pick one up for less than €10.

Slow cooker

This has been my best kitchen investments to date. It allows me to create delicious, nutritious and cost-effective meals with minimal fuss. Unfortunately, mine is quite old so I’m not sure if it’s still on the market but a key recommendation I would make if buying another one would be to make sure it is large enough for your all needs. Also read up on the settings to make sure it does what you want. Harvey Norman stocks a good range and they start at about €40.

Fitspiration: @jamieoliver

Jamie Oliver is a British chef, restaurateur, author and media personality. His website is packed with recipes and there is something to suit all tastes. It has lots of interesting articles and plenty of health tips and inspiration. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel too.

Tomato, Lentil and Basil soup

This is a filling and hearty soup that is packed full of fibre. This recipe is perfect for making in a batch and freezing in portions for work lunches.

Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes

Serves: 8-10

Nutritional information (if serving 8):

Protein: 15

Fat: 3g

Carbohydrates: 45.5g

Calories: 266

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 onions, roughly chopped

600 grams ripe vine tomatoes, chopped and hard centre cut out

500g red split lentils

Black pepper, to taste

a handful of basil, roughly chopped

Method:

Heat the oil in small saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2–3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, lentils and black pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Liquidise the soup until smooth and add the fresh basil. Serve immediately or leave to cool and store in the fridge or freezer for lunches.

Coconut and Spinach Soup

This recipe is so worth making. It’s one of the tastiest soups you will taste and is packed full of goodness.

Prep time: 5 minutesCook time: 30 minutesServes: 4-6

Nutritional information (if serving 4):

Protein: 3g

Fat: 24g

Carbohydrates: 8g

Calories: 262.5

Ingredients:

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tin coconut milk

500ml chicken orvegetable stock

150g spinach leaves, roughly chopped

Method:

Melt the coconut oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and spices, sauté for five minutes stirring frequently. Pour in the coconut milk and stock. Simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for three minutes. Using a hand blender liquidise the ingredients. Serve immediately with crusty bread.

This week I’m chatting about my go-to kitchen gadgets. For my recipe I’m focusing on delicious and nourishing soups.

More in this section

Lifestyle
Newsletter

The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up