KitchenAid stand mixer
A stand mixer is a necessity for the frequent baker. The KitchenAid stand mixer is the appliance that put KitchenAid on the map. “Time after time the models from KitchenAid come out on top in Good Housekeeping Institute tests,” Sharon Franke from Good Housekeeping shared. “They just seem to whip up the airiest whipped cream and meringues and have the power to knead enough dough for at least two loaves of bread and a big batch of cookies.”
If you are an attachment junkie, then with your KitchenAid, the sky's the limit. From pasta makers and ice cream makers, to shredders and juicers -- they can do everything. Take care of your stand mixer and it will take care of you for life.
A real chef's knife
Price: $100 and up
The knife is the most personal tool in the kitchen. Think of it as a pair of shoes. It has to fit well to the contours of your hands and, when made well and taken care of, can last a very long time. There is no cutting corners here, you have to go out and hold a bunch of knives, simulate cutting, and then you will find your mate.
There are two main schools of knives: Western and Eastern. Westerns tend to come from Germany, i.e., Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels, though there now some beautiful American knife-makers. The Eastern variety is pretty much Japan. Both schools work just fine, so it ultimately comes down to comfort level and personal preference.
Once you understand a bit about the different qualities of metal and methods of forging, you’ll appreciate the value of your investment. A good starter Western is the Wusthof Ikon, and for Japanese, try the Misono. Remember, treat your knife with respect: keep it dry, sharp, and clean and NEVER, EVER put it in the dishwasher.