The stove in my first apartment was so cheap, it tricked me into thinking I was a terrible cook. The oven wasn’t calibrated, so meat never roasted. The burners put out too few BTUs for water to reach a rapid boil—thus, gloppy pasta. I know that lots of cooks could have made fantastic meals on my old stove, but I’ve also learned that the right equipment can make a difference. For this issue, we tested more than 100 small appliances to find the best. Though I never thought I’d buy a rice cooker or a deep fryer, now I’m convinced I need at least one of them. Senior Associate Editor Nick Fauchald tried four new ovens with sexy extras, perfect for the home cook who wants to, say, dehydrate like a pro. We also checked in with Chicago lawyer and chef groupie Richard Shepro, who sought kitchen advice from friends like French master Joël Robuchon, and ended up with an Isokern fireplace and an Equipex salamander.
As long as you have a calibrated oven and enough BTUs, you can make the satisfying dishes in this issue. Cathal Armstrong, an F&W Best New Chef 2006, returns to Ireland to cook at his family home in Donegal—no fancy stove there, but what a feast! Cathal prepares Pan-Fried Salmon with Citrus Vinaigrette, Roasted Lamb Loins With Herbs and Irish Brown Bread (also an ideal Easter meal). Los Angeles’s Big Sugar Bakeshop develops many of its incredible recipes in a home kitchen, so they’re easy to re-create: You must try the apple pie that’s been transformed into a bar cookie and the Pecan-Praline Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce. And, if you’re a cook who has to clean up afterward, you’ll love the delicious one-pot meals—like Crab and Andouille Jambalaya—from F&W’s Senior Test Kitchen Associate, Grace Parisi.
As all good cooks know, it’s not just the stove or the recipe that make food taste great. It is also the pleasure that comes from putting together a home-cooked meal, whether it’s eaten in the kitchen or served to friends at a gorgeously set table.
Where I’m Coming From
Notes from My Recent Expeditions:Fiamma
New York City
Fabio Trabocchi’s menu showcases his exquisitely inventive, elegant Italian dishes—including one of my favorites, tortellini, which he stuffs with cotechino sausage and porcini mushrooms and serves in broth. 206 Spring St.; 212-653-0100.Sfoglia
New York City
This Manhattan outpost of the popular Italian-inspired Nantucket restaurant is casual and fun. I liked the delectable pappardelle with wild boar ragù and the perfect cappuccino. 1402 Lexington Ave.; 212-831-1402.Swoon Kitchenbar
Hudson, New York
Had a lovely carrot-soup-and-salad lunch with a spectacular crackly double-chocolate cookie for dessert. 340 Warren St.; 518-822-8938.