As I continue my summer series on how to #ShopLikeAChef, of course I had to visit with Coryanne Ettiene, culinary expert and owner of Ettiene Market in downtown McKinney. Her vast knowledge of kitchens (stateside and beyond!) is exactly what this series was needing to inform readers of the best ways to stock their kitchens. My morning with Coryanne was spent exploring her store and listening to her speak about cooking logic and good sense mixed with bits of humor…and the sudden desire to clean out my kitchen.
When shopping like a chef in a kitchen store, Coryanne’s first piece of advice is to forget the gadgets…they are your worst enemy. For example, it isn’t necessary to purchase one special tool to remove the stems from strawberries, and something else to peel the skin from garlic, and a third instrument to cut bananas into chunks–yes those are all real cooking gadgets. A good old fashioned pairing knife can be used for all those tasks. Kitchen gadgets are a waste of money and take up precious drawer space.
Never buy on impulse, shop with a purpose. Be honest about what you can do; If you’ve never cooked before, maybe don’t begin with purchasing a giant paella pan and inviting your friends over to taste your first attempt at cooking. Start at the beginning, learn to cook one dish properly and go from there.
Branch out a bit when purchasing cookbooks. Select a book you wouldn’t normally gravitate toward and READ it. Even if you never cook from it, cookbooks provide valuable knowledge and inspire lots of creativity.
When shopping to stock your kitchen, Coryanne has suggested a few essentials that every cook needs, and believe it or not, these suggestions cultivate a relatively simple theme: BASICS TAKE YOU EVERYWHERE.
Below is a list of kitchen essentials straight from Coryanne to you.
1.) Good quality pots and pans
Ask yourself, what are you using a microwave for that a stove can’t perform better? Food tastes better when (re)heated on a stove, and the health benefits of cooking with quality pans far outweigh the convenience of nuking leftovers for 30 seconds in the microwave. Knowing how to use steel, iron, and copper pots is essential for home cooks to master. Scientifically they all bring something different to the table. (Pun definitely intended.)
Avoid the temptation to purchase a set of pots. The pots you purchase need to be functional and practical. Who needs a giant wok if you never make stir-fry?
Sidenote: I mentioned to Coryanne that I often heat my coffee in the microwave three and four times a morning. She responded by asking why I wouldn’t keep a small saucepan on the stove to take care of that task. There would be almost no clean up (maybe a quick rinse with water) and the flavor in my coffee would remain bold and delicious. Hmmm…I think she has a point.
Copper pots and pans
Copper pans are known to cook evenly and manage both high and low temperatures well. Don’t worry if your copper doesn’t stay shiny and new-looking; patina really isn’t an issue for the food, and is testament of your culinary journey.
Cast iron pans
Good-quality cast-iron pans are very smooth the touch, therefor can be washed with soap and water. Did you hear that? Lesser quality iron is bumpy and requires “seasoning” to fill in the ridges to make the cooking surface flat and even. It is necessary for you to become seasoned as a cook, not your iron.
Interesting Fact: Cooking with iron actually has a interesting health benefit. Iron, the nutrient, is actually cooked into your food during the searing process. I think that makes this a “twofer”.
Interested in learning more about cooking with cast iron? Coryanne shares some of her wisdom with the Dallas Morning News and on her blog, Kitchen Living with Coryanne for some of
Carbon steel pans
Carbon steel pans are a long preferred pan of European chefs. They cook similarly to and have the health benefits of cast iron, but are pressed into lots of shape, are lighter, and less expensive. I am definitely interested in purchasing a few of these!
“Never cook in something that scratches or peels, it’s like having a superficial relationship.”
2.) Prep bowls in assorted sizes
Of everything Coryanne showed me in her kitchen haven, these large bowls were my absolute favorite. Whether marinating, tossing, stirring or serving, these giant bowls provide a steadfast companion through all of life’s kitchen successes and even a failure or two. I can close my eyes and envision the large bowls my mother used when I was a little girl, and guess what, they are still in her kitchen today. For me, these giant mixing bowls have become synonymous with comfort food, motherhood and home.
Small prep bowls
A collection of small bowls allows the preparation of food to be much simpler and tidier. These are easy to wash, stack and store.
3.) Baking essentials
Heavy grade baking sheets come in various sizes and won’t buckle when subjected to high temperatures. They are excellent to use on simple nights-in with a Trader Joe’s frozen pizza, or for the fanciest of dinner parties with a delicately breaded red snapper. Silpats and parchment paper are every baker’s dream. They keep food from sticking and make clean-up a cinch!
4.) Assorted wooden spoons
Wooden spoons and a good pair of self-locking tongs are Coryanne’s favorite hand tools to use in the kitchen. Wooden spoons can be used in high and low heat, not to mention people have been making kitchen tools out of wood for thousands of years. It just makes good sense! Understand what each spoon does: a slotted turner is excellent for flipping hamburgers, allowing the grease to drip through the slots. A wooden spoon with a hole in the middle is an old-style whisk but is also great for lifting poached eggs from boiling water. A tall delicate spoon can be used for tasting, emptying a blender or stirring cocktails.
“It baffles me why anyone would use something made of plastic near heat. Does that even make sense?”
5.) Airtight glass jars
These are necessary for food prep and storage. They come in a wide variety of sizes and some are able to go in the freezer. Using glass containers to store and preserve food decreases the body’s exposure to BPA, the toxic chemical found in many polycarbonate plastic containers. Juices, salad dressing, nuts, beans, granola, cookies, stock…the possibilities are endless!
6.) A few favorite spice mixtures and really good olive oil
Spices are very personal. Smell a few and find what speaks your language. Keep those on hand for evenings you don’t feel like following a recipe. Mix your favorite spices with some olive oil, rub it into a pork loin, and throw it on the grill. Make a simple salad in your big bowl, and you have a new ‘go-to’!
If you are anything like me, the second I finished this interview I decided to clean out the kitchen and then head to Ettiene Market for some new essentials. Coryanne’s philosophy of knowing the basics, walking before running, and keeping cooking simple can resonate with all of us. Whether we are trained and accomplished chefs, home cooks or those of us just getting started on our culinary adventure, we can all appreciate Coryanne’s wisdom and are so fortunate to have access to her and her culinary haven on our downtown square. No wonder she was voted Best Cooking Accessories Store in Dallas by D Magazine!
Thank you Coryanne for sharing your wisdom.