Must-have kitchen tools from a culinary student

(CBS News) Isn't it amazing how fast time flies?

I started culinary school in January, and all of a sudden it's July. When and how did that happen? Am I really halfway done?

So much has changed in these months. Not only my cooking, which I expected...planned for, really. But everything related to cooking in my life: the kinds of food I like to eat, the tools I need to have, and even how others treat me.

Video: Must-have tools for every home cook

My own mother won't make a meal for me anymore without asking what I'd do differently. I've learned that there's really no "right way." As long as it tastes good, who cares right from wrong?

Culinary school has taught me how to make food easier, fancier and in larger quantities. And of course, my recipe Rolodex has grown.

This doesn't mean I hang around in my kitchen making Duck L'Orange all day long (although that doesn't sound too bad, now that I like duck...). I still eat pasta with olive oil and cheese most days, and peanut butter is still my favorite food.

And my favorite kitchen tips are also very straight-forward: the perfect hard-boiled egg needs to boil for 10 minutes, potatoes cook the best at a low simmer, and most importantly, the right tools can make a big difference.

Tools have become super important to me. From a $3 peeler to ovenproof pots, I now feel completely lost in the kitchen without certain items, even if I'm making the simplest of dishes.

To learn about some of my favorite kitchen tools, watch the video above!

Here are some more of my favorites:

Zester: I had this pre-culinary school, but never used it until now. No tool like it to zest citrus fruits for sweet or savory dishes. What I have: Microplane Soft Handle Zester, $15.

Salad spinner: After you wash your lettuce, this useful tool will spin the leaves completely dry. What I have: OXO Pump Salad Spinner, $25-$30.

Turning knife: Great for peeling and prepping fruits and veggies. This also comes in handy when making decorative garnishes. What I have: Wusthof Classic Peeling Knife, $50.

Ovenproof pans: I used to use non-sticks, but now I can't live without stainless steel pans that I can toss right in the oven from the stovetop. These are great for browning meat or veggies on the stove, and then cooking through in the oven. What I have: All Clad Stainless Steel pans, $80-$225.

Tart ring (flan ring): You simply cannot make a tart without it. I know...I tried and failed. A cake or tart ring with removable sides is incredibly useful. Without sides, you can brown your tart crust all the way around, it will cool down faster and it won't break apart when you take it out of the pan. This, I admit, I don't have yet, but it's No. 1 on my to-buy list. What I want: For tarts - 8-9 inch flan ring, $5-$10. For cakes - spring form pan, $20-$30

  • Alison Stravitz

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