Beginners Guide to Equipment - Cooking

Once you have prepared your culinary Masterpiece you are going to need to cook it, now what dish depends on the Dish! Obviously things like cakes will need baking tins, muffins and cup cakes their appropriate trays and pies and puddings deeper ceramic dishes. Take a look at the basics below and decide what you will need...

Baking Trays
Baking tray come in all shapes and sizes, I would recommend buying two as they come in handy not only for baking cookies and biscuits but also standing dishes upon to make it easier to put them in and out of the oven.

Baking Tin
Baking tins come in a HUGE arrange of sizes and shapes. The most basic are round or square and it is one of these that I recommend you buy. In terms of size, go mid way, maybe a 17cm, to get you started then decide whether you want to go bigger or smaller. Again, as with all the products the amount you spend is entirely up to yourself and the style you buy is also your own choice. If you want a bit more of an advanced look at baking tins check out my guide: Baking Tins - Big Sides No Bottoms?

Muffin and Cupcake Trays
There is less choice in these items, but as with everything, there is still a choice! I recommend keeping it simple and just going for ones like those in the picture: metal. The muffin tin is the larger of the two.

Cooling Rack
Get yourself a nice cooling rack - you'll be glad you did. These are not expensive and pretty straight forward in thier choice.

Frying Pans
All shapes and sizes. Stainless steel or non-stick. Removable handle or not. I reccommend for the beginner a mid-range size, non stick frying pan. It will do for everything and be able to cope with all sorts of quantities.

As with the frying pans these come in a range of features but once again the beginner would be best suited to a mid range pan, non-stick.

Beginners Guide - Basic Recipes

Everyone new to the kitchen needs some easy challenges. As with any skill there is no point diving into the tricky stuff without learning the basics! You wouldn't sit down at a piano, having never played, and expect to knock out Mozart! It takes practice!! Unlike learning the piano though, cooking can be fun and rewarding even though it is simple! No boring scales and chords you can get straight into producing something great, and tasty!!!

Below I have compiled a list of some basic tasty recipes for beginners to try, I will always be topping this list up and they will appear on the main blog as I do!!

Basic Recipes

~ Cruncy Oat Biscuits
These biscuits are very simple to make and taste great.

~ Flour Tortillas
Use these for you lunch with some cheese and ham inside. Or leave open and cover in fried chicken, salsa and lettuce!

Beginners Guide To Equipment - Preparation

The cooking and baking world is filled to the brim with gadgets and gizmos that are intended to make our lives easier in the kitchen. But what do we really need? What are the essentials? And what can we really just do without? For the starter cook the array of equipment available is immense and can seem daunting, Indeed, many of us avoid the kitchen after gazing blankly at the shelves of equipment and deciding that that takeaway or microwave meal looked a lot easier to deal with! So I have put together a list of what I believe are the essentials for a beginners kitchen. Now cost is not essential, not if you are just starting out! If you want to buy the best of the best then feel free but you don't need it. Buy what you can afford, my first pot and pan set came from my mum collecting Co-Op vouchers and getting them free!! As I progressed I upgraded to the types and kind of pots I want (I still only own two saucepans, and one is from that free set!!) If you discover you love making Muffins, for example, and that 79p muffin tin doesn't cut it any more then go buy a more expensive one, if you've only used it once... money saved.


Knives - Chopping:
Knives are very important, and when you find the knife that is right for you, you will know it! Sounds odd? You'll find out what I mean! A huge selection is not necessary but make sure you have a range of sizes, preferably small, medium and large! In general chopping terms the small and medium will be your most used instrument. The larger knife will be great for slicing up those delicious cakes you make!! If you want to add to the collection later options include, Bread Knife or Serrated Edge Knife.
Knives - Other:
I have included this section as there are other types of knives you will find useful such as the Palette Knife, great for icing cakes!

Chopping Board:
A chopping board is a great all purpose item. Now you only need one, many people use two or three, depending on what they are preparing but if you take care of your board and are sensible then one is enough to start you off. I used to use the same board as a chopping a rolling out board, one side for chopping, turn over, new smooth side for rolling!!
There are loads of different types and styles of chopping board so pick one that you like the look of and fits to your budget to start with.

Rolling Pin:
Rolling pin, there are all sorts of uses for rolling pins beyond the obvious. Again there are many fancy ones out there but a good solid wooden one is just fine!!

Spoons & Spatulas:
Make sure you get yourself a nice wooden spoon! Great for mixing those cake batters!! A spatula is also handy for getting every last drop from your bowl, but a spoon is great for scraping so the spatula is not as essential!!

There are loads of different types of scales out there; digital, ones with dials and ones with weights. Again your first set of scales is down to you, your preference and your budget. Digital scales, are good as the are compact and are considered most accurate. Dial scales allow you to make adjustments if you think your scales are slightly off, weights look more traditional but are more cumbersome. I currently have a set of Woolworth's cheap digital scales, which have worked great for me and I have no complaints but I learnt with a set of weight scales and as I have recently inherited a set from my grandmother I am going back to them, just my preference!

Measuring Jug and Measuring Spoons:
Do exactly what they say on the tin, here's something where money doesn't matter, the cheaper the better I say. My only advice would be: for measuring jugs get a clear one (don't ask me why they make them opaque with the measurements on the outside and for measuring spoons get a set with 1/4 tsp, 1/2tsp, 1 tsp, 1/2 tbsp and 1 tbsp at least. Some have more some have less.

A set of good bowls is always a great thing to have, I find that I use loads of bowls when I am cooking!! So if you can get yourself a nice set. Having said that one or two is plenty if you aren't a bowl nutter like me!! Choose anything that takes your fancy, plstic, glass or ceramic! Any colour is fine too!!

This is down to personal preference and budget! There are hand whisk and rotary whisks. These both take a bit of elbow grease but have, I feel, the most scope. You can use them, particularly hand whisks, anywhere and in any situation. Rotary whisks give you bit more 'oomph' for your energy expenditure
Then of course there are electric whisks both handheld and as part of your mixer. Obviously if you are starting out you may not wish to rush off and but the latest Kenwood, just to beat some cream but if you plan on buying one then the whisk adaption is handy. For the beginner though I would recommend the hand whisk!!

These are entirely down to what kind of biscuits you want to maks! ANy shape will do and any material! There are thousands out there, go mad! One point though, if you are looking to make scones or the Mozzarella Parcels then make sure you buy a round cutter (or set of them).

Well, that is the basics for your preparation equipment! You can add anything you like to this that you think might be handy but to get started, with the Basic Beginners Recipes this is all you will need!! To get a list of the best Starter Cooking Equipment see my other Beginners Guides.