Rachel Khoo has been going on about her little Paris kitchen, so I thought I would tell you about my equally tiny Balham kitchen and how I stock it with some essentials to make cooking in such a small space stress free and enjoyable.
1. Planted Herbs: I’m loving this new addition to the usually dreary vista. We’ve got two boxes but my favourite is the one with rosemary (all things roast), chives (all things salad) and sage (all things Italian). I’ve been warned off parsley and coriander and these herbs are growing wonderfully in these cold and wet conditions - I almost feel slightly maternal watching them grow and survive such tough climes!
2. Good Knives: Frank treated us to a set of Global Knives which have transformed my chopping skills and noticeably reduced prep time. I tend to use the big Cook’s knife the most, followed by the smaller chopper. But I do also love my peeler and bread knife. If you ever see these on offer, please get them - you will have them forever.
Also, my Kuhn Rikon chopper and tomato knife are rarely not in use, along with various Microplanes.
And remember, any good knife requires a really good quality chopping board.
3. Pot Rack: This seems pretty obvious but I’m always surprised more people don’t have these. By hanging them up on the wall, you’ve got so much more room for yummy food in your cupboards.
4. Spice rack and wooden counter top: This area was previously just the fireplace - completely unused and a real waste of space. We put in a thick wooden counter on top of the fireplace which makes the perfect home for all of our spices. Essential to any kitchen are: paprika, ground cumin, coriander seeds, tumeric, curry powder, saffron, dried chilli flakes, dried oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice and sumac (but the list goes on).
4. Oils: Make sure you have a good selection of oils - they are essential to almost every dish. I make sure that I always have some low calorie cooking spray (for when I want to keep things really light), some light & mild oil that you can cook on a high heat such as groundnut or vegetable, a couple flavoursome oils like sesame and hemp, and a really good extra virgin olive oil. I’ve also just started using coconut oil which is great for stir fries.
5. Electrical: My favourite piece of electrical equipment is definitely my blender. I use the little mini blenders for my shakes, curry pastes and sauces and the hand blender for soup. Franks uses the whisks and seemingly all other parts for his baking.
I’m also very partial to my drip coffee machine (and coffee grinder), the popcorn machine and my DAB digitial radio.
6. My store cupboard essentials are: pasta (spaghetti and rigatoni), rice (brown, basmati, bomba, alborio), rice noodles, soba noodles, porcini mushrooms, pesto, stock cubes (vegetable and chicken), tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, quinoa and various pulses (chickpeas, cannellini, & kidney).
7. For the freezer: I always make sure I’ve got fish fingers & fish cakes, a couple packets of mince, straight to wok prawns, frozen herbs, peas & petit pois, and some of my roast potatoes.
I hope some of this can help you make the most out of your little kitchen. Happy cooking!