Our kitchens are rad!! We LOVE them. Cooking is such a joy here, due to some top-notch kitchen stuff. Click on any link below for our tried & true product recommendations. At Hipcooks, everything is in high-use and gets put to the test.
|Large appliances||Pots & Pans|
|Small appliances||Utensils – Kitchen Must-Haves|
|Knives & Cutting Boards|
All about easy access, right? For that, you need a French Door-style refrigerator – two doors on top swing all the way open, like doors into your own private garden! Refrigerator on top and freezer on the bottom mean you are more efficient; you can easily see and reach everything that you use regularly. Clear shelves in the fridge (too see!) and a drawer in the freezer are convenient pluses too. Our fridge of choice? The Amana with a sleek stainless finish – reliable, lovely to look at, extremely easy to use and a great warranty, just in case. Click here to check it out (amana.com).
If you can make it work in your kitchen, two ovens are better than one! Stack up a couple and make beautiful meals for 30 of your nearest and dearest… roast, toast, bake and broil with a couple of built-in beauties. Convection is a nice feature to heat very quickly and evenly (but not necessary). Do make sure the oven will work just as well when the convection is turned off as when it is on, because you don't always want that fan running. Otherwise, you don't need too many bells and whistles. You want your money to go toward an oven that will hold its temperature well, rather than one that has a gazillion settings for bake, roast, rotisserie or whatever other gimmicky things a manufacturer might come up with – keep it simple!
Again, simplest layout possible. Some dishwashers come with moveable racks, which are a nice option, though we've found two racks – one big one for dishes, and one smaller one for glasses and bowls, etc. – seem to work great. If possible get an Energy Star rated dishwasher – saves you money on your water bill in the long run, and you might get a nice little refund check from the state of California for buying one – everybody wins! A stainless interior is a nice option - it should last longer.
At Hipcooks we don't bother calling it a "food processor". To us, it is the Cuisinart. For us, there is only one, and this one we love. It will last you all your days, and then you should pass it on. Its most important and lovely feature – motor size, durability, and quietness. Next: the size of the bowl. You want a bowl big enough for all your tasks, including making pesto, sauces, slicing and shredding veggies. You don't want to constantly have to empty the bowl, doing your job in batches because the bowl is not big enough. Make sure it comes with a slicing blade, & shredding blade as well as the main chopper. Dough hooks or blades we are indifferent to. Our choice: The Cuisinart PowerPrep Plus 14 cup Food Processor.
The luxury of this machine! Sure, a mixing bowl and eggbeaters can render it unnecessary for most tasks, but if you are a hardcore cook, avid baker, or just a straight-up lover of fabulous machinery and ease of use, we've got your number: the KitchenAid. As with the food processor, size matters. Consider your family size and needs when you choose. Also, the larger machines come with bigger and studier motors, which will surely last a lifetime. Our favorite thing about this machine is the attachments (purchased separately), so that you can take advantage of this fabulous, quiet motor for other tasks without having to buy a whole new appliance. Hipcooks love the "pasta excellence set", with pasta rollers, linguine and angel hair attachments. Fresh pasta is easy as 1,2,3 and you'll be making it often (check out our Pasta in Casa class to learn)! Also, the ice cream maker attachment rocks! Because we are spoiled, we also order an extra mixing bowl so that we can multi-task without having to wash in between. Downside: it is heavy to lift. Our choice: (The KitchenAid Professional 5 Plus Series Bowl Lift Stand Mixer).
This is the toughest recommendation, because we're afraid you'll balk at the price. But again, if you are looking for a one-time-buy of a superb quality product to last a lifetime, the VitaMix it is! After purchasing a new blender every 6 months (our studios are busy!), and dealing with loud, leaky blenders, hard-to clean blenders, and exploding blenders, we reluctantly tried the Vitamix and here's what we say: It rules. Why:
- Power. Multiple speed settings including a variable option allow for any type blending, including the smoothest, frothiest soups you can ever imagine.
- Sturdy pitcher. we usually opt for glass pitchers, but this heavy-duty plastic pitcher has been dropped loads of times and is like new.
- Easy to clean. No leaks. Rinse it out, go.
- Size of pitcher. It is huge! Yay! No more soups in batches!
- Good interface: variable speed (low – high) and super-smooth high speeds are easy to use
- Quiet. We can actually talk in class with the motor running. Dual motors rock!
Downsides/suggestions to Vitamix: This machine is all motor so the base is huge. While the grain attachment is hella-cool (to make your own flours, like rice, quinoa, or oat fours), I am curious what other fun attachments the company can supply to really take full advantage of the base motor. We are staying tuned. Our choice: The Vita-Mix 5200 Machine with wet blade container. Get a discount when you purchase with a Hipcooks discount!
Instead of a stand-up toaster just for toast, why not get a toaster oven for multi-tasking? And if you are multitasking, get a toaster oven with a big enough baking tray to actually cook stuff! Here is what we got, this is what we love: Cuisinart Classic Toaster Oven Broiler.
Ice Cream Maker
Cuisinart Ice-21 - our ice cream maker - for the Hipcooks Kitchen page:
Frozen delights in 20 minutes? Now that's our kind of sweet treat. Just keep the base in your freezer and make a batch of lush ice cream from the Persian Immersion & Midsummer Night's Dream, and scrumptious sorbet from Healthy, Fresh & Zingy, Nirvana 2 and more!
Depends on your use. Different uses require different brand pots so, please, whatever you do, don't get suckered into a "set" where you'll get some useless sized pots, the wrong sauté pan, or whatnot.
Here's what you need:
One or two Nice, Big Cooking Pots. For soups, stews, risottos, sauces. Hipcooks love love love the Le Crueset. (We know, it ain't cheap, but that is the point. Treat it well and you'll have a pot you love for your life. See a trend here?)
Why we love it: it is heavy, and for a pot, you want that (as opposed to a sauté pan). This is enameled cast iron – you get the benefits of cast-iron with enameling for an easy clean! A heavy-bottomed pot distributes heat well for even cooking (so you don't get a burned mess on the bottom of the pot) and retains heat, (so you can finish your rice, turn off the flame, and serve it an hour later still perfectly warm). You can also throw this pot right in the oven for fuggetaboutit cooking. Big plus. But please, not just any old Le Crueset will do! Get the sloped-side pot, not the straight-edged pot! Sloped sides mean easy stirring, easy to see what you're cooking, an all-around delight! Your only concern should be color and size.
Downside: try not to burn anything too badly in this pot, because it will stain or even crack the enamel. We love the white enamel – you can see so well into the pot! But when it stains, we are sad.
Here's what we recommend: 2 ¾ quart Soup Pot for your every day needs and the gorgeous 4 1/4 quart Soup Pot for the hippest of soups, stews and roasts to share.
One pasta pot, with steamer basket and lid. No need to shell out for a fancy-pants pot here. You're boiling water, for heaven's sake! Go cheap, go thin! That is fine. This pot is for boiling pasta, potatoes, blanching veggies. If you are on it, get the steamer basket so that you can steam veggies or Thai rice or dim sum on the top. It is a cool feature.
One or Two Sauté pans. If you are starting out, on your own and broke, go for one nice 8-incher. Otherwise, an 8 incher and a 10 or 12 incher are great.
We vote non-stick, and we vote for sloped-sides (not straight edged!) so you can flip. If you are just starting out and don't have the bucks, you can find Vollrath triple-coated pans at restaurant supply stores for under $30. You will need to replace them when the finish cracks (if treated well they will last at least a few years). If you like the buy-once-in-a lifetime approach, gulp at the price and shell out for All-Clad. If you are feeling more skint, then check out this really cool link that rates sauté pans:
Here is what we use: Vollrath 10" and 12" Non stick skillets with either removable plastic handles or hollow handles so you can whisk 'em off the stove and pop 'em right in the oven – caramelized pears, anyone? ()
Going for the gold? AllClad LTD2 Non-Stick – oh my my. The greatest – easy to clean, easy to use, easy to look at. Win, win, win.
Both Vollrath and AllClad are great companies who back their products. If you have a problem, call them up and they'll take care of you.
One small pot. For incidentals, like heating up a small portion of soup or stew or whatever. I don't mind really what brand you get, here, as you won't use it super often at all, and it isn't really for hard-core cooking. At Hipcooks, we couldn't resist the cuteness of the enamel on steel Chantel pots. They feature copper fusion bases for good heat conductivity and tempered glass lids – nice to see how your dinner is coming along without lifting off the top! ()
One word for you: Wusthof. We call them the Prada of knives. Full-tang forged blades mean perfect balance, durability, and blade shape. So shell out for the Prada. I adore it for its classy good looks, heft and sharpness of blade (which retains its edge so nicely, due to fine German steel) and curved blade which allows for "rockability" during chopping. This means you work less, as the knife works for you. We like that. Go to the Hipcooks Store to order.
Got you knife? Good – now read about cutting boards. Imperative reading!
Call us crazy, but we say that there ain't nothing like wood.
First of all, do not let any glass, marble, stone or concrete surface come within a 5-mile radius of your beloved knife. It will dull your blade. And make a horrible sound, ew!
Heavy-duty acrylic cutting boards are used in a lot of restaurants because they are bleachable (blech, who wants to eat bleach? Or plastic, for that matter?) We say "no" to these boards because the knife tends to grip the board too much, making rapid-fire cutting not as comfy. "No" also to the thinner plastic boards, since the knife tends to slip and slide across these flimsy boards.
If you've got a good knife – treat it and you well with a decent wooden cutting board. The knife will have the zen-master amount of "grip" to the board, while allowing you to glide through what you're cutting with speed and grace. (Please note however – bamboo boards need not apply! We know they are pretty, but the wood is too dense and hard for you knife – it will dull your blade and you will not have a nice "grip" on the board. Also, bamboo must be glued together and that glue will eventually fail and you'll have chopsticks.)
For you bacteria-phobes, it is said that wood has natural anti-bacterial properties, so bleaching is not necessary. Clean wood boards as you do everything in your kitchen – with hot soapy water. The villain to wood is water, but if you get a solid round wood board like we have at Hipcooks (as opposed to one made of glued wooden strips), you can dunk your board in hot soapy water to clean without fear, and oil whenever your board feels dry.
Shop for cutting boards at the Hipcooks store
And here is a great board when bigger is just better. This is the board we use as the Teacher's Board in our studios. Beautifully crafted, durable, beautiful and oh-so kind to your knives: http://www.johnboos.com
Rather than the fancy (although pretty) stacking plastic bowls, go for the cheap metal bowls you can find at restaurant supply stores. Besides being inexpensive, you can whap them over a pot of boiling water for the easiest double-boiler you can imagine. If you need a few plastic mixing bowls, too, then the Ikea ones come with a lid (so they double as Tupperware, yay) and have a pouring spout, which we appreciate.