Derval O'Rourke's must-have kitchen gadgets

Derval O'Rourke's must-have kitchen gadgets

This week I’ll be talking about my go to kitchen gadgets. I’m also sharing a recipe for my Spicy Chicken Pitta, which is one of the most popular lunch recipes amongst my derval.ie online community.

I record a lot of content from my kitchen which means I end up chatting to lots of people about my kitchen, from the layout to the colour of the cupboards and most asked is about equipment. However, a good place to start can be to try to figure out what you want to cook regularly and then buy a few tools that will help to make your cooking speedy and easy.

I have a good idea about the basic equipment that I need to cook the things I like to eat. Over the years 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. 

Most ‘foodies’ I know have a very similar kitchen equipment list:

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.

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 do your research. 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 bought mine in Dublin Cookery School during the cookery course I did there.

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. TK Maxx can be a great place for paring knives.

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. The make I use is again Wusthof but I’ve seen lots of really nice ones in TK Maxx.


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 recently got sent a Kenwood multi pro compact and I’m finding it really easy to use and versatile.

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 for whipping up a quick midweek stir fry. I have a nice selection of tefal non stick frying pans that are also a super addition to my kitchen. The co-op’s can often have great quality and value in these types of purchases.

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. I got a few as gifts over the years and they've served me brilliantly.

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 family meals with minimal fuss. 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.


Recipe:

Spicy Chicken Pitta:

Chicken Pita Food by Derval O'RourkePicture: Miki Barlok
Chicken Pita Food by Derval O'RourkePicture: Miki Barlok

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 1



Ingredients:

  • 1 cooked free range chicken fillet

  • 2 tbsp chopped nuts

  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt

  • 1 tsp curry powder

  • ½ tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • 1 wholemeal pitta

  • 1 small carrot, grated

  • handful of salad leaves


Method:

  • Pop the pitta in the toaster.

  • While it is toasting mix the almonds, yoghurt and spices in a small bowl. Add the cooked chicken and stir well.

  • Once the pitta is toasted, using a knife split it open and stuff it with the chicken mixture, carrot and salad leaves.

  • Enjoy with a cup of tea!


  • Fitness Tip:

    Refuel after fitness. Get real food in as fast as you can after you exercise, try not to depend on processed bars, gels and supplements only as a last resort. Real food is your friend. I have lots of great post-workout snack suggestions in my Tone at Home Nutrition eBook.

    The chicken pitta above would be a great option!


    Wellness Tip:

    Have a movie night tonight. Make some popcorn, and pick out a feel-good movie that you know will make you smile. Leave your phone in the other room while you chill out. This is one of my favorite things to do with Dafne.

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