BACK IN DORM-ROOM days, you earned cred sharpening your MacGyver-style cooking tactics (though, admittedly, that Swiss Army knife got the most play as a bottle opener). You’ve since traded ramen for risotto, but a pint-size kitchen can still make you feel like a freshman playing dress-up in a chef’s hat.
Even so, in most square-feet-challenged cooking quarters, chances are likely that clutter — not a lack of pro tools — is the culprit wedged between you and Padma Lakshmi. “Every single thing in your kitchen should do more than one thing,” says Jennifer Schaertl, chef and author of “Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens” ($19, HCI), whether that means whisking (not mashing) your potatoes or zesting lemons on a box grater instead of on a microplane.
Similarly, extend that streamlined eye for multitasking beyond the confines of your limited counters and cupboards. Schaertl’s knives grip to a magnet strip nailed to the wall, and rarely used appliances, like the blender, are boxed up and stored in a closet, trotted out only when frosty margaritas beckon. “Anything with a handle gets hung from my ceiling on a pot rack,” she says. In other words: Hang up those tools right along with your small-kitchen inhibitions.
» DRIPPY & TRIPPY
Long an ugly duckling in the pool of kitchen must-haves, the utilitarian dish rack has been given a mod makeover that’s also space-efficient, destined to liven up any counter landscape. ($59, Homebody, 715 Eighth St. SE; 202-544-8445)
» ON YOUR SQUISH LIST
Casseroles and cookies won’t flatten your abs, but your cupboard will feel trim when stacked with slim, collapsible silicone-ceramic bakeware. (From $16)
» SEASON, NO WASTE
It’s one thing to get lost in a Moroccan souk hunting for pepper, but another when you can’t find paprika in your cupboard. Stay on task with a space-saving spice rack. ($25, Home Rule, 1807 14th St. NW; 202-797-5544)
» SKINNY GRILLS
“Bigger, faster, stronger” might be the usual anthem of macho men, but these easy-to-stash fold-up tools will be a grill dude’s (or dudette’s) best friend at summer barbecues. ($20-$25 each)
» FOR CHOPAHOLICS
There’s nothing worse than bits of basil stuck between your teeth — except maybe minced garlic jammed in kitchen crevices. Solve the latter with an all-in-one chopper. ($30, Tabletop, 1608 20th St. NW; 202-387-7117)
» STACK ATTACK
If the only thing standing between you and your cupcake-cart dreams is a lack of counter space to cool the cuties post-baking, enlist this three-tier rack, which collapses for easy storage. ($15)
» SLEEK SLICE
Like the sci-fi flick, this blade runner is destined to be a cult classic, with all the slicing abilities of clunky mandolins in a collapsible profile. ($20, Tabletop)
» CUTTING EDGY
Like a flexible yogi, this chopping board-cum-strainer-cum-food chute won’t ever get bent out of shape. Rinse, chop, repeat. ($18)
Written by Express contributor Katie Knorovsky