A 9” or 10" chef knife, a 3”
or 4" paring knife, a 10" bread knife and a 8" boning
knife are all must haves. As for quality and type, use only high-carbon
stainless. This is the best quality you can buy. It will last a lifetime, but
require sharpening every now and them. If you buy high-carbon stainless, you
should also get them a steel to go with them (it's used to straighten the
If the couple is NOT into cooking, you may choose to go with a good quality
stainless knife instead. High end brands now make stainless steel knives that
are very affordable. The blades are VERY strong and will hold an edge for a long
time, but once they are dull, they cannot be sharpened and will most likely just
be thrown away. However, this would take 10-15 years of periodic use.
Large Stainless Pasta Pot:
Everyone needs to boil water which makes this simple item a necessity. A good
gift idea are the sets which include a pot, lid and removable strainer. This
makes pasta a breeze. Make sure the pot is as heavy as possible (Copper bottom
is good, aluminum core is great too, basic thin stainless won't cook as evenly
or last as long.)
and Sauté Pans: Frying pans have the
squared up sides, sauté' pans have the curved edges. A small non-stick sauté
for omelettes; a medium non-stick for small stir-fries; a large frying pan for
cooking in lots of oil or long slow braising. A few others as needed by the
household (a family of 6 needs mostly huge pans, a couple of two can get a away
with only one large one for large events). Make sure all frying pans have lids,
you never know when you'll need one.
There is a great range of affordability in pots and pans. If you expect them to
get lots of use (cooking 4-7 nights a week), invest in heavy gauge aluminum. If
the couple doesn't cook much, don't bother spending so much. Find a good
stainless brand or stainless with copper bottoms.
Large Lidded Roasting Pan: For roasting a chicken or beef roast. The
heavier gauge of aluminum, the better.
Set of Bowls: For mixing, serving and
gathering ingredients. Everyone needs at least three and up to ten in graduating
sizes. Stainless is great for everyday, it's lightweight, won't break and cleans
up easily. Clear glass is nice because you can see what is in the bowl before
you get over it, but they are at least somewhat breakable. Porcelain looks
beautiful, can be used for most any task, but is heavy.
Plastic Cutting Board: I prefer
plastic because I can put it in the dishwasher for a really good steam cleaning.
Wood looks nice, and wears well, but it can't be sterilized. There have been
several research studies done comparing bacterial growth on plastic vs. wood.
Initial reports showed that although wood cannot be sterilized completely
(bleach or other anti-bacterial cleaner cannot penetrate into all the crevices),
wood actually inhibits bacterial growth naturally. A sloppily cleaned plastic
cutting board is apparently more of a problem than a wood one.
Good Quality Utensils:
Four sided box grater; Good Grips Peeler and Can Opener; large stainless steel
cooking spoons, spatula, and fork; big stainless steel strainer; a whisk; a
plastic spatula/spreader and don't forget a set of cup and tablespoon measurers.