From a Glestain Santoku knife to a Le Creuset French Oven, 9 kitchen pieces that are worth the price.
I think of this Global Spear Paring Knife as the extension of my index finger--the sharpness and thinness of the blade gives it a dexterous quality. It's perfect for peeling, slicing small fruits, deveining shrimp, and more. The blade is seamlessly connected to the handle which makes it feel incredibly clean.
I bought my Glestain Santoku on a trip to Tokyu Hands in Tokyo. The indents in the blade keep sticky foods like garlic from clinging. It's a pleasure to hold, and I love the way it looks. It's an everyday cooking kind of knife, particularly great for my vegetable-heavy diet.
We have four mandolines in my house, but this is the only one we use. You can shave a whole fennel in less than a minute, and the safety guard keeps fingers from getting sliced accidentally. The storage caddy holds all of the pieces together, making it really compact and easy to stand upright in a cabinet. My roommate even uses it to chop onions quickly without tearing up.
A cheese plane ? I know, it doesn't seem like the most crucial tool to have in the kitchen. But after living in Scandinavia, where every kitchen has one on hand, I came to appreciate their importance. No other implement makes such perfectly thin leaves; it's the optimal way to enjoy flavorful, semi-hard cheeses like gouda and Swiss. Big wedges can go a long, long way when you slice them that thinly, which makes the tool excellent for party cheese platters. But my favorite way to use it is for a humble breakfast sandwich of a fruit-and-nut hard roll with cheese and cucumber. The one with the clear handle belonged to my roommate's grandmother who bought it in the '60s.
I bought the Emile Henry gratin ($49.95) on the left at an auction. They're so easy to clean, they conduct heat evenly without burning, and best of all, they are pretty enough to present to the table straight from the oven. The rectangular Emile Henry on the right was a gift. I use it regularly for reheating single-serving leftovers in the oven.
This 7.25 quart Cherry Le Creuset Round French Oven ($279.95) was my first major kitchen purchase. Choosing a color felt as grave a decision as choosing a new friend, as I knew that we would be partners for life. (I even named her Louise.) 11 years down the line and meat still sears like a dream on the smooth, enameled surface. It has held everything from the big-crowd split pea soups I cooked in my early years to more ambitious braises and curries I tried as my skills improved. As expensive as this piece is, I have easily gotten my money's worth out of it. It goes straight from the stove top into the oven and really holds heat well. But its beauty, with gradated coloring that only looks better with use, brings me as much joy as its cooking properties.
If you've only ever struggled with the skinny, metal vegetable peelers, your hand will breathe a sigh of relief when you try the OXO peeler. The chunky handle is made of grippy rubber, so my hand doesn't tire even after a long potato-peeling session. My peeler is also still sharp after five years. The cupped tip is perfect for scooping out vegetable imperfections.
Growing up, I ate rice every day, and we always made it in one of these. A rice cooker was one of the first things I purchased once I found an apartment to rent. It is the key to zero-effort, foolproof rice every time. Push one button and it's done. You don't need the fanciest fuzzy logic rice cooker to make great rice, and mine has lasted for an incredibly long time. I can't imagine having a kitchen without one.
My roommate's mother bought him this cast iron skillet when he moved into this apartment 13 years ago. This is an easy, incredibly affordable piece to invest in. Seasoning takes time and care, but a good cast iron skillet can last generations. You can bake in it, you can fry in it, the heat distributes evenly, and all it requires of you is a little bit of TLC. Its weight also makes it excellent for weighting down grilled sandwiches.