Acclaimed blogger, cookbook author and chef David Lebovitz has a special treat for us today — a peek inside his Paris kitchen (of My Paris Kitchen fame) to discover a few of the items he can’t imagine cooking and baking without. He writes:
I discovered these spatula “spoons” when I was doing demonstrations at Sur La Table stores. My kitchen was mostly outfitted with professional equipment, which included oversized, standard spatulas, heavy duty whisks, and sturdy baking sheets, which we call “half sheets” in the restaurant and bakery business. While getting ready to fold a meringue into a cake batter, I grabbed one of these colorful Le Creuset spatulas they had on the counter for me to use, then went home and pushed all my other spatulas aside to make room for these.
The slightly rounded shape of the blade means that you can lift or “cup” some of the batter or meringue as you lift it, with less spilling out over the sides. The handles feel good in my hand, and best of all, they come in a range of colors. Normally I don’t care about how cookware or bakeware looks, preferring to focus on durability and how well it performs, but as I traveled to various Sur La Table stores, I’d find great deals on the sale racks: Since the colors are seasonal, and when the seasons change, they went on sale. Consequently I have a forty year supply of Le Creuset spatulas “spoons.” But come next season, I’ll probably pick up a few more.
Speaking of half-sheets, I find what are called “jellyroll pans” indispensable for baking. I’ve not made a jellyroll on mine, but I do use them for everything, from roasting root vegetables to baking chocolate chip cookies. From setting a lemon tart on them so it’s easier to put in and out of the oven, to using them to toast nuts.
I have a few requirements for baking sheets, and these fit the bill. A baking sheet should be thick enough not to warp or have hot spots. It should be made of heavy-duty aluminum, which conducts heat very well (and are lightweight to boot…), and it should have rims to grab on to. Standard baking sheets are often flat with low sides, and I find the higher sides of jellyroll pans a joy to have when pulling hot pans from the oven. Call ‘em what you will, but I have a stack of these in my kitchen.
Every baker I knew at the time was blown away when the rasp-type zester was first introduced: A long, slender grater with a handle that allowed you to easily zest citrus, removing the colorful yellow or orange part, leaving behind the bitter white pith underneath. It was a simple, no-nonsense tool, yet our whole lives changed in an instant. Having one always within reach became “de rigeur.”
That innovation then launched the paddle grater, with equally sharp blades, but slightly larger holes, which made it wonderful not just for getting slightly larger (and more flavorful) pieces of zest from citrus. But it also makes fast work of grating chocolate and is excellent for chopping fresh ginger. Yup, for fresh ginger. Why? First off, it does an excellent job at getting the pieces small and uniform, so I can zip some fresh ginger into a cake or cookie dough and make sure no one’s going to bite down into a big chunk of raw ginger. It also makes quick work of any ginger fibers that might linger, catching them on the grater so those little devils stay out of your beautiful cakes or cookies.