When your favorite student graduates and starts his or her new life, they'll appreciate culinary gifts that will equip them to set up their new home. I am often asked for suggestions for those striking out on their own. What would a great gift be for a graduate's starter kitchen?
A basic, bare-bones kitchen would include a good set of measuring cups and spoons, whisks and spatulas, peelers, mixing bowls, cutting boards, cutlery and cookware. Purchase quality products that will perform well and give excellent results.
For the measuring cups, measuring spoons and whisks, look for stainless steel rather than aluminum or plastic. Stainless steel will keep its good looks and will not discolor when washed in the dishwasher. The better sets of measuring cups include six measures, including the two-thirds and three-fourths cups.
My favorite measuring spoons are called spice spoons because they are rectangular and slide easily into spice jars. They, too, have the one-eighth spoon and three-fourths spoon in addition to the regular measures.
Have you ever had a spatula that was stained with tomato sauce and impossible to clean? Or one that stirred a hot sauce and has melted, ragged edges? When purchasing new ones, look for those designed to be heat-resistant and stain-proof, with sturdy handles that will not come loose. They will not melt or discolor and will last for years.
As far as cutlery, every kitchen needs three basic knives — a good chef's knife, a serrated slicing knife and a paring knife. Others can be added later. Of course, they must be kept sharp, so a knife sharpener is a great idea. And with good knives, a couple of cutting boards are in order to protect the knife edge and the counter top.
Even with good equipment, questions often arise. Perhaps one of the most perplexing is the care of cutting boards.
I understand that cutting boards can be a source of food contamination. What is the best way to clean my synthetic cutting board after using it for meat or poultry?
It is important to thoroughly clean cutting boards after they have been used for meat and poultry. Cross-contamination can occur if raw vegetables are cut on the same board and then used in a salad.
Wash cutting boards in hot, soapy water, rinse well with hot water and dry with a clean towel. I often wash my synthetic boards in the dishwasher.
To sanitize wooden and synthetic boards, mix 1 tablespoon liquid chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of water. Flood the surface with the bleach solution and allow to stand several minutes. Rinse well and dry with a clean towel.
When do cutting boards need to be replaced?
Cutting boards need to be replaced when they are excessively worn and develop hard-to-clean grooves.