I think it is time to confess. Dear reader, I must admit something I have been trying to conceal from you all this time. Here it goes… My kitchen is outrageously under-stocked when it comes to equipment. I am so ashamed.
As a chef and someone who cooks extensively at home I am embarrassed to admit that no, I do not own a pestle and mortar, or a casserole dish, or a hand blender, or a food processor (maybe more understandable as they are expensive). For goodness sake, I don’t even own a wok. And this is coming from someone who longingly strokes the pastel coloured Le Creuset cast-iron pans before being dragged out the store while whispering, ‘I’ll be back for you!’
I love kitchen equipment. I have a wish list as long as my arm which include all the essentials I really should own, like a carving fork, juicer and gravy separator, plus beautiful inessentials such as this copper saute pan and this Magimix food processor (you both will be mine…). Of course, I have some kitchen equipment. Our kitchen is bursting at the seams with saucepans, frying pans, baking dishes, cake tins (lots of cake tins), and a whole range of utensils you’d never think you’d need (we have two pastry brushes, you will always need a pastry brush). But when it comes to imaginative cooking, I’m stumped. I can’t puree, juice, grind, braise, griddle or shred.
As I write this I realise how ridiculous I sound. Why don’t you just go and buy yourself some kitchen equipment already? Yes, why don’t I? A lot of it is due to expense, we have limited space – our narrow galley kitchen doesn’t have a spare cupboard shelf let alone room for a large cumbersome food processor – and maybe it’s because I like a challenge?
I’m the kind of home cook who will use her electric beaters to blitz a soup – please don’t try this at home, soup goes everywhere. Although it does create a lovely smooth yet chunky texture. I use a drinking glass to roll pastry or pasta (until I recently bought a rolling pin! Progress!), I puree ingredients like fruits and vegetables with my hands (I told you it gets messy), I grind spices in a bowl with the end of the rolling pin, and if the scales’ battery runs out I attempt to bake by millimeters printed on the measuring jug. It doesn’t always work but I love the experiment.
A few weeks ago I was raiding the fridge, a regular activity of mine, thinking about dinner. Deciding to cook risotto I noticed we had all the ingredients for homemade pesto. How delicious, I thought, to drizzle fresh pesto over the risotto. Having only prepared pesto with a food processor I was afraid this was all a pipe-dream until I remembered, duh, the sauce was originally made without our new-fangled kitchen equipment. Traditionally, pesto is ground out with a pestle and mortar, which oh yeah I also don’t own, so thanks to a little research and a handy YouTube video I made pesto by hand.
P.S One dish I am determined to perfect without equipment is ice cream. I am determined to master it in my kitchen full of pastry brushes and saucepans, yet no ice cream maker. Watch this space…
Handmade fresh pesto
Large bunch of basil
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
A chunk of parmesan
- Gather your ingredients – peel the garlic and prepare a fine grater for the parmesan. Grab a chopping board and start roughly chopping the basil.
- Add a small handful of pine nuts and keep chopping.
- And half a clove of garlic – be careful, too much is overpowering – and keep chopping.
- Add a good grating of parmesan and a small drizzle of olive oil and keep chopping. Your knife is the food processor’s blade and as you chop you incorporate all the ingredients.
- Taste and add a little more of each ingredient as necessary.
- Add more olive oil and use your knife blade to blend the pesto together until you reach your desired consistency.
- Season with a little salt and pepper.