10 Kitchen Essentials From The Founders of Food52
Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs let us peek at the ingredients, tools and resources with which they can't live without.
With credentials that include stints at the New York Times and Cook's Illustrated respectively, writing the James Beard award-winning The Essential New York Times Cookbook, and creating the hub of recipes, how-to's, and products that comprise the culinary wonderland that is Food52, Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs basically dominate food. So when they're willing to give away a few hard-earned secrets, there's nothing to do but pull up a chair and start taking notes. Here, Hesser and Stubbs share the tried-and-true favorites, new discoveries, and personal keepsakes that are the hallmarks of their exceptionally well-equipped kitchens.
Jacobsen Sea Salt
"I'm newly obsessed with this sea salt. It's made in Oregon where it's hand harvested from the ocean. The flakes almost look like snowflakes, they're the biggest salt flakes I've ever seen and they're beautiful and so delicate and the flavor is so clean and pure. It's really great finishing salt; just a little sprinkle elevates anything in both taste and look." - Merrill
"The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" by Marcella Harzan
"I just find this a comforting resource. Her sauces chapter is really wonderful, as are some of her braised meats. Sometimes I follow a recipe as is, and sometimes I just use it as inspiration. Even the design itself I find is super clear and inviting. So sometimes I just page through it because it gets me in the mood to cook." - Amanda
Le Creuset Shallow Round Braising Pan in Dune
"Amanda and I both love this braiser. It's a really beautiful shape so it's great for cooking and then bringing straight to the table if you're making a braised chicken dish. It's also great for casseroles and it's fantastic for making risotto because it has such a large surface area that the rice really cooks evenly and you can keep an eye on every bit of it as you're stirring. This color works with any ingredients; you can serve something with tomato sauce or something pale like risotto and it looks equally beautiful." - Merrill
"I'm famous for my love of cheese, and that goes from mascarpone, fresh ricotta, cottage cheese, all the way through to the stinkiest blue cheese. I love it all. For grilled cheese in particular I like either really sharp cheddar or gruyere, and I typically slice the cheddar and grate the gruyere. I don't know why but grating the gruyere really makes it melt beautifully and evenly." - Merrill
Double Oven Mitts
"Merrill introduced me to these, and it's one long strip of oven mitt with little pockets for your hands. It's great in general, but especially for anything you're doing in the oven. You can grab a roasting pan, both sides of it, and the oven mitt kind of wraps around the roasting pan so it protects not only your hands but your arms. It's really fast to use, you can hang it over the handle on your oven door and it's always in a convenient place instead of having to go open a drawer to find your mitts. I use it probably more than anything else in my kitchen." - Amanda
Frantoia Olive Oil
"I have probably 5 or 6 really special olive oils, but this is my staple that I use every day. I love it because it comes in big bottles and I go through it very quickly, but it's also not so expensive or fancy that you feel guilty using it liberally. It has subtlety to it and a great all purpose taste, and it's nice enough to sprinkle on crostini or something to add a little flavor." - Merrill
9" Cake Pan with Removable Base
"One of my most treasured pieces of bakeware are these heavy grade aluminum 9" cake pans. They have a removable base but it's not a springform pan which have that belt buckle thing, this one the base just comes out of the bottom, so it lifts up. I like that because I find springform pans warp and they often leak. This never leaks and you can take the cake out on it's base and if you lined it with parchment it's really easy to lift the cake off. With baking, it's definitely worth buying higher quality stuff. Whenever you try to take a shortcut in that department it rarely works out well." - Amanda
Old Fashioned Metal Hard Boiled Egg Slicer
"My mom gave this to me; she always used to make egg salad with it and I loved watching the process of the slicer cutting through the egg. I think it's beautiful and it takes me back to a happy place. It goes against my typical approach in the kitchen which is not to have tools that are good for one thing only. But in this case it's indispensable because when I'm making egg salad it makes it happen in a breeze and if I'm looking to make beautiful slices of egg there's really no other way to do that well. It's the exception to my rule."
Nabisco Chocolate Wafers
"I always have a packet of these in my pantry. I grew up having ice box cake fairly frequently and my mother always used these, so I feel like it's a great thing to have around. If I need to come up with a great dessert fairly quickly, all I need is heavy cream, sugar and these and I'm done."
Carbon Steel Forks
"A tradition that's been passed on, from my grandmother and probably her mother as well, down to my mother and then on to me, has been using carbon steel forks, which often have bone handles. They're very old but not very expensive, you can find them on Ebay and at most vintage cookware stores or flea markets. The tines are really thin and sharp and I find that they're really great for testing vegetables to see if they're done or turning a piece of meat that you're roasting. They're really strong and sturdy and almost function as knife and fork at once. I really love these and find them indispensable." - Amanda