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Kitchen Essentials

The Splendid Table: 8 pieces of cookware and cutlery you should have in your kitchen

Whether you are starting out or starting over with your cookware and cutlery, you’ll want to consider investing in these eight items.

1. A straight-sided, 12-inch, sauté pan

One thing I would invest in, because I use it all the time, is a straight-sided, 12-inch sauté pan. Besides sautéing, you can use it as a fabulous roasting pan in the oven, do sauces in it, do stews in it. I do everything in it. I cook for two and I cook for eight.

You want one with a stainless steel interior and a thick aluminum exterior (the aluminum may be covered). You don’t need copper, so forget copper. The thick aluminum is what actually holds the heat. It must come all the way up the sides of the pan. Don’t buy a pan that uses aluminum only as a heat conductor in the bottom of the pan; you will get burned edges around that bottom rim.

The pan should be comfortable in your hand. Because it’s big — mine is more like 13 inches — you want a long handle and you want an opposing handle, a bail handle. You need that so you are not just lifting this large, unwieldy pan with one long handle because it will twist in your hand.

It’s a big investment; it may be well over $100. Mine happens to be All-Clad, but there are other brands that are excellent.

2. A 4-quart saucepan

The other thing that’s great to have is a 4-quart saucepan. That is something that you are going to use for a lot of things, like making a batch of rice.

3. An 8- or 10-quart pot with a strainer insert

An 8- or 10-quart pot is the pot for cooking the chili, making the pasta and doing the broth.

I found one that had a strainer insert for pasta. Usually these pots are 6 quarts, so when you put that insert into it, you are really cooking in a small amount of water. You want the big one that is 8 or 10 quarts.

I use the insert when I make soup. It’s so great when you want to make broth because you throw all the bones and the meat into the colander, and it’s so easy to just lift it out once it’s done.

4 – 6. Bargain knives and a knife sharpener

You want a really good paring knife, a 4-inch paring knife, and an 8-inch chef’s knife (that’s the one with a triangular blade). These don’t have to be expensive; there are knives out there that are $20 – 30. [Ed. note: More on knives from Lynne here.]

You also want a knife sharpener. It doesn’t have to be expensive; there is one out there that is $6. It really does a good job. It’s small, easy to handle, and you can stick it in your pocket if you are prone to sharpening knives while you are traveling.

7. Half sheet pan

For roasting things or baking, I like a big half sheet pan. It should fit in your oven.

The great thing is half sheet pans are shallow. This is what I use to roast vegetables or whenever I need a lot of space for stuff to spread out.

When I flip it over, the back becomes a cookie sheet.

8. A large, metal colander

You will also want a big, metal colander. Forget the little ones and go right for the big one. It should be big enough to drain 2 pounds of pasta — or big enough to hold a baby. You can always drain small amounts in a large colander, but you can’t drain large amounts in a small colander.


All-Clad Master Chef
6-Quart Saute Pan

All-Clad Stainless
4-Quart Saucepan

All-Clad Stainless Steel Pasta Pentola

Victorinox 8-Inch
Chef's Knife

Victorinox 4-Inch
Utility Knife

Accusharp Knife Sharpener

Precision Pierced Stainless Steel Colander

Half Size Pan

The Splendid Table Apron

More Books featured on The Splendid Table



Listen to The Splendid Table:
Beef Stew: The French Way

My Go-to Beef Daube

Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours
By Dorie Greenspan

"Ms. Greenspan's accomplished approach is evident in this handsome, lavishly photographed book. There are those helpful hints, which enhance about every page, and an array of recipes that goes beyond cakes and pies to stove-top puddings, custards and ice creams. This is a book to open time and again when you want to bake an irresistible dessert from scratch, like the delicious fig cake for fall with its port wine sauce, or have a batch of cookies, like the tender sour cream-chocolate cake cookies, handy for family snacking. And when your assignment for a potluck dinner is to bring the dessert, you will not go wrong with the toasted coconut custard tart."
— Florence Fabricant, The New York Times

The Banh Mi Handbook: Recipes for Crazy-Delicious Vietnamese Sandwiches
By Andrea Nguyen

Andrea Nguyen on banh mi

Don't forget Maggi
seasoning sauce or daikon pickles in your banh mi

Shrimp in Caramel Sauce

The 12 Bottle Bar
By David and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson

David and Lesley Solmonson on the
12-bottle bar

The 12 bottles you need to stock your home bar

Splendid Genever Cup

Saving the Season: A Cook's Guide to Home Canning
By Kevin West

Kevin West on preserving

In jams and jellies, acidity is the key to avoiding botulism

Peach Jam



David Leite instructs Lynne on how to make Homemade Nutella

The New Portuguese Table by David Leite


How do you make Nutella?

DL: It's actually so simple. All you do is you take hazelnuts, you roast them, take off the skins and let them cool. You grind them in a food processor, add a little bit of oil, confectioner's sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Grind that even more. Then you have melted chocolate that has been cooled -- you add it in, blend it a bit, strain it into a glass jar and let it cool to room temperature. Voilà: Nutella.

Recipe: Homemade Nutella



We got a great deal on a wonderful cookbook from Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift, and decided we would pass the savings onto you. Lynne is the host and Sally is the producer of The Splendid Table, public radio’s premier program about food. How to Eat Weekends contains recipes that range from very simple to complex. I urge you to mix and match the recipes to create the perfect meal. We served many of the recipes at the book launch event and they were SOOO tasty that I had to buy the book myself to make a few of the side dishes that were served. So, here’s the deal, the cookbook regularly retails for $35.00 and is now specially priced at $15.00 while supplies last! Get your copy soon so you can make recipes like the one featured below.

David Edin
Merchandise Manager

Splendid Table Offer

The Splendid Table's How To Eat Weekends

Pine-Smoked Chicken
From The Splendid Table's How to Eat Weekends

We're always game for a good ceremonial burning. This quick-smoked grilled chicken comes together in a heartbeat, making it perfect for a post tree-trimming family meal.

You have to use those branches you cut off the bottom of your tree for something, right? We're not sure why people don't use pine boughs more frequently to flavor their grilled things. Admittedly, the boughs do tend to flame (we find that exciting), but they also impart a lovely resiny scent to whatever they touch.

This recipe is started in the oven and finished over a dying charcoal fire, just hot enough to get that pine smoke going.

Cook to Cook: Since this chicken is fully cooked before it hits the grill, you can prepare it a day ahead. After roasting the chicken, store it loosely covered in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before grilling.

Wine: Look for a moderately rich New World Chardonnay, something with a touch of oak or less than 14 percent alcohol (which is one way to tell if something is lightly oaked).

Serve hot or warm. For encores, this bird is superb in salads, especially with dried cranberries.


  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup Spanish Sherry wine vinegar
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3-1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 4 to 5 fresh, green pine boughs


  • 1 to 2 pine boughs


1. Combine the wine, vinegar, garlic, sugar and liquid smoke with salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Pour one third of it into a storage container and reserve. Add the chicken to the remaining marinade in the dish, turning the pieces to coat them. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Drain the marinade into a small bowl. Pat the chicken dry and spread out the pieces in shallow roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes, basting often with the marinade. You want the breast to read 165ºF on an instant-reading thermometer. Take the chicken from the oven, and either set it aside while you ready the grill or refrigerate it for up to 24 hours.

3. Heat coals in an outdoor grill until they're covered in grey ash, or heat up a gas grill to medium-high. Spread the coals out. Add the pine boughs, and set the rack in place. If the boughs begin to flame, cover with the grill lid and let them die before adding the chicken. (You need smoke but not flames.)

4. Take advantage of the smoking boughs by quickly putting the chicken on the grill. Cover and cook, turning and basting occasionally with the marinade you set aside. The chicken should brown and crisp and come to an internal temperature of 170ºF. This takes 10 to 15 minutes. Pile the chicken on a platter, garnish with pine boughs and serve hot or warm.

From The Splendid Table's How to Eat Weekends: New Recipes, Stories & Opinions from Public Radio's Award-Winning Food Show by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2011). Copyright © 2011 by American Public Media. Photographs copyright © 2011 by Ellen Silverman.

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