Deck Your Kitchen Out With These Must-Haves

Photo: Courtesy of Williams Sonoma.
Weddings are exciting and exhilarating, but it’s important to take a step back, a few deep breaths, and think about what you really need before you choose items for your registry. It can be tempting to ask for the fanciest-looking, most innovative (or sometimes just the shiniest) pieces of equipment. But, before you go crazy with the scanner in that department store, take a minute to read our list of items you should request if you’re going to be doing a lot of cooking for just the two of you. Because why ask for an industrial-size ice cream maker when you really need a few sets of reliable, tried-and-true skillets and saucepans?
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Here’s a list of our suggested items when cooking for two, from our new cookbook The Complete Cooking For Two Cookbook. At the Test Kitchen we put kitchen equipment through the wringer before we even think about recommending it, so if you stick with us you can be sure you’re choosing the best product. And, if you must ask for the ice cream maker, we won’t hold it against you. Just don’t forget to also ask for a loaf pan or two.
America's Test Kitchen — a real, 2,500-square-foot test kitchen just outside of Boston — is home to more than three dozen full-time cooks and product testers. Their mission? To develop the absolute best recipes by testing, then testing again (and again…) so you feel confident enough in the kitchen to cook everything from a simple, mid-week meal to an entire Sunday dinner party menu.
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Small Skillets
A 12-inch skillet is usually our favorite kitchen workhorse; we use it to cook everything from steaks to stir-fries and pasta to scrambled eggs. But, once we started scaling down recipes, we found that many recipes required a scaled-down skillet as well — try to make just enough pan sauce for two steaks in a large skillet and it will over-reduce and burn. So, we recommend buying 10-inch and 8-inch skillets in addition to standard 12-inch skillets. We use both traditional and nonstick 10-inch skillets for sautés and stir-fries, and an 8-inch skillet is essential for baking a small strata or soufflé.

All-Clad 12-inch Stainless Steel Fry Pan, $155, available at Everything Kitchens.
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Small Pie Plate
We rely on 6-inch pie plates to make perfectly portioned pies for two. A small pie plate also makes it easy to scale down quiches for a more savory option.

Small Baking Dishes
Small baking dishes come in handy for scaled-down gratins and baked desserts. We use a 4-cup, 8 1/2 by 5 1/2-inch baking dish for our cauliflower or potato gratin; for a petite tiramisù, for example, we reach for a smaller 3-cup rectangular baking dish measuring approximately 7 1/4 by 5 1/4 inches, although dishes of comparable size work, too. Look for gratin dishes with straight sides no higher than 2 inches; taller sides inhibit browning.

Le Creuset Stoneware Petite Au Gratin Dish, $12.99, available at Amazon.
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Small Tart Pans
When you want to make individual tarts (sweet or savory), two 4-inch tart pans with removable bottoms hold just the right amount of crust and filling.

Small, Medium, And Large Saucepans
When cooking for two, we frequently reach for a saucepan instead of a larger pot. For braises, we use large (4-quart) saucepans in lieu of a large Dutch oven (most hold as much as 7 or 8 quarts). We use medium (2- to 3-quart) saucepans for soups and stews and small (1- to 2-quart) saucepans for melting just a little butter or chocolate or for making sauces. We recommend you have at least one saucepan in each size.

Cuisinart MultiClad Unlimited 4 Qt. Saucepan, $69.95, available at Cuisinart.
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RELATED: Can You Boil Water Faster?

Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick Shallow Saucepan 2.5 Qt., $44.95, available at Williams-Sonoma.
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All-Clad Stainless 4-Quart Saucepan, $223.39, available at Amazon.
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Ramekins
Ramekins, in various sizes, are handy for making scaled-down desserts. We use 5- to 12-ounce ramekins for making individual servings of desserts.

Multiple Loaf Pans
We use both traditional loaf pans and mini loaf pans (which measure approximately 5 1/2 by 3 inches) in the for-two kitchen. We’ve found that standard loaf pans are the perfect size for baking small casseroles, lasagna, brownies, and bar cookies. Mini loaf pans are ideal for scaled-down baked goods such as quick breads and pound cake.

Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch Nonstick Loaf Pan, $19.95, available at Williams-Sonoma.
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Small Cake Pans
With 6-inch round cake pans, you can make a perfectly sized coffee cake.

Small Slow Cooker
For our slow-cooker suppers for two, we found a 4-quart oval slow cooker easier to maneuver and clean and less space-hogging than the standard 6- to 7-quart slow cookers. While you can still make less food in a large slow-cooker, we prefer a smaller footprint if you’re not going to be feeding a crowd.

Cuisinart MSC-400 3-In-1 Cook Central 4-Quart Multi-Cooker, $235.99, available at Macy's.

Want more? Take a peek at one of the team's glossies, Cook's Illustrated, or any one of their must-have cookbooks.
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