Ruth Reichl’s Favorite Kitchen Utensils 2023

Photo: Michael Singer

I published my first cookbook in 1972. I was 24, very poor, and living in a fifth-floor walk-up loft on the minimally gentrified Lower East Side. We built our kitchen table from wooden pallets found on the street and my rolling pin was a wine bottle.

Even though I became editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine, I have never cooked such delicious food as during those years when I had only a few beaten pans and a single knife.

I’m not a gear freak. This has not served me well as a magazine editor. Advertisers wanted me to persuade our readers that they couldn’t achieve kitchen greatness without spending huge sums on fancy utensils. I couldn’t do it; I truly believe that all it takes to be a good cook is the desire to spend time in the kitchen. There’s nowhere I’d rather be and I spend a few hours a day between the sink and the stove.

But what I can do, after all these years, is tell you which objects make me the happiest once I get there.

8.4 Quart Stainless Steel Couscous Maker

Someone – I don’t remember who – gave me a cheap aluminum couscous maker as a wedding present in 1970; It’s still the pot I use most often. Thanks to its shape and extremely light weight, it is perfect for pasta, allowing water to boil in no time at all. It’s deep enough to use as a stockpot, and the steamer on top is suitable for everything from simple vegetables to Chinese. bao.

(Editor’s note: We’ve linked to a similar alternative.)

Wüsthof Gourmet 3-inch Spear Point Paring Knife

Knives are very personal and I wouldn’t dream of suggesting which one is right for you. Find out what feels comfortable in your hand and buy the best version you can afford. But if you don’t have a paring knife (mine is a Wusthof spear point that I’ve had for more years than I care to remember), treat yourself to one. It is light, keeps an edge and is extremely undemanding. You won’t believe how often you use it.

Chef'sChoice 15 Trizor XV EdgeSelect Professional Electric Knife Sharpener

A good, sharp knife is essential, but let’s face it, you’re probably not going to take the time to sharpen yours on a whetstone. I’ve relied on my Chef’s Choice handy knife sharpener for over 30 years and it’s my favorite wedding gift.

OXO multi-scraper

It doesn’t cost much. It doesn’t seem particularly useful either. But a scraper is essential for people who bake pies (i.e. me), and I’ve yet to find a better tool for cleaning counters, scraping oven floors, or scrubbing steel. pizza.

Anyday The starter kit

These containers are intended for the microwave, but I use them for just about everything else. In the oven, they are casseroles. In the refrigerator, these are practical covered containers. They are pretty enough to put on the table as serving bowls. Oh yes – and they nest so they don’t take up more space than they deserve.

Trudeau Structured Silicone Bundt Mold

I make a lot of coffee cakes and have come to hate the task of scrubbing batter clinging to the crevices of my antique pan. This little beauty never needs scrubbing. In fact, silicone is a great addition to all kinds of things, from bakeware to ice cube trays.

Joyce Chen Unlimited Scissors

Once you install these scissors in your kitchen, you will wonder how you ever lived without them. Delicate enough to shred herbs, they’re also strong enough to cut chicken bones.

White Creatives 11-inch Pro Skillet

I love cast iron but I hate the weight of it. Carbon steel pans are my solution. Half as heavy, they are easy to love; they’re perfect for just about everything, from fried eggs to seared steak. Mine is a thing of beauty; Handcrafted in Kentucky by Blanc Creatives, it came with a lifetime warranty.

From left to right: the author’s serpentine worktop; a similar slab from Vermont Granite and Marble Photo: Ruth Reichl

From left to right: the author’s serpentine worktop; a similar slab from Vermont Granite and Marble Photo: Ruth Reichl

For years, I wanted a marble worktop to roll out my dough. Then I found something even better: serpentine. California State Rock, it’s a gorgeous green and, as far as I know, impervious to abuse. For over 20 years, he’s endured burning pots, spilled acid, endless ice – and he looks exactly like he did the day he came to live in my kitchen.

Wagner Manufacturing Company John Gordon Rideout Magnetite Kettle

Every morning when I walk into the kitchen I am greeted by the art deco kettle designed by John Rideout for the Wagner Company in the 1930s. (It is also in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art.) My day is instantly improved. If your kitchen doesn’t have something that makes you happy just by existing, you’re missing out. It will make you a better cook.

Nordic Ware Kettle Smoker

Person needs a stovetop smoker, but if you live in an apartment and love the taste of smoke, it can change your life. I bought mine a few months ago and I’m having a lot of fun with it; it does a great job on ribs and the whole chickens are extraordinarily tender.

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