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In her new book, Cooking at Home: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Recipes (And Love My Microwave), food writer Priya Krishna and her coauthor, David Chang, sing the praises of the humble microwave—and provide easy, unintimidating recipes that truly anyone can make. “My family has been microwaving our food for as long as I can remember, because both my parents worked and they didn’t have time to watch things boil over a stovetop,” says Krishna, noting that rice and potatoes are particularly easy to nuke and she throws in broth or spices for an extra kick.

But Krishna’s favorite anyone-can-do-it meal is goi cuon aka Vietnamese spring rolls. “I make them so frequently because they require little to no actual cooking, just an assemblage of vegetables, herbs, maybe some rice noodles, and either meat or tofu; then you roll it all up in rice paper,” she says. “If the filling falls out, that’s okay! You’re at home. You can just pick it up with your hands.”

Naturally there are some cooking essentials that Krishna says she can’t live without, like when she’s whipping up dal, a dish she says she makes by heart at least once a week. Here are the rest of her kitchen must-haves. 

Reprinted from Cooking at Home. Copyright © 2021 by David Chang and Priya Krishna.

The Appliance That’s So Worth It

You can use it for dressing, pesto, smoothies, or even to chop veggies into tiny pieces, and it doesn’t take up too much cabinet space.

The Most Overrated Appliance

A panini press. Every time I see one of these in someone’s kitchen, I think: You are wasting valuable space. Just weigh down your grilled cheese with another pan—it does the exact same thing. 

Reprinted from Cooking at Home. Copyright © 2021 by David Chang and Priya Krishna.

The Pan I Reach for the Most

I love my Turkish coffee warmer, but I don’t actually use it for coffee; I use it to make chhonk [an aromatic mixture of spices cooked in fat] or to heat up a small amount of sauce or boil a single egg. It’s really nice for one- or two-person cooking.

The Cooking Tool I Leave Out on the Counter

I use this mini cocotte from Staub to keep my garlic, and I just love that it looks like a tiny Dutch oven! It brings me great joy every time I look at it. (I love most all teeny kitchen appliances.)

The Oven Mitts I Use for Taking Hot Things Out of the Microwave

Features & Interviews photo
Deko Welding Gloves, Amazon ($10)

My partner bought welding gloves because he bakes bread at such high temperatures, and they work shockingly well as oven mitts. 

The Spice That Makes Everything Taste Better

MDH chunky chaat masala has everything you want in food; it’s tangy, savory, a little spicy. It’s the perfect finishing spice for everything from toast to sliced fruit.

Favorite Cookbook Release of 2021

Features & Interviews photo
Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora by Bryant Terry, Amazon ($36)
Reprinted from Cooking at Home. Copyright © 2021 by David Chang and Priya Krishna.

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