Swear Profile April 10, 2018

Cook Like a Professional. Cookbook Author Colu Henry Swears By These 6 Kitchen Tools

Colu Henry is the author of the cookbook Back Pocket Pasta, a collection of recipes that demonstrates how, with a well-stocked pantry and a few seasonal ingredients, you can pull off a beautiful dinner in the amount of time it takes to boil water. Colu is a food-world denizen who has spent the past 15 years working as a food writer, recipe tester and PR pro. On top of her culinary and writing pedigree, Colu also has the street cred associated with growing up in an Italian family where eating is “a thing.” Her job at Bon Appetit had her frequently working into the wee hours, so for dinner, by necessity, she started pulling together quick pasta dishes at home with whatever she had on hand. She started the hashtag #backpocketpasta on Instagram, Bon Appetit was impressed, and eventually put out an article about Colu and her recipes. A friend suggested that she write a book about it, and while she initially hesitated, Colu says she “got a real bee in my bonnet,” and the rest is culinary history. She pitched the book to an agent at a cocktail party after a few glasses of wine, and two weeks later, it was happening. “I don’t know who the hell I thought I was, but I did it.” We love Colu’s approach because all her recipes are time-, skill-, and budget-friendly, and she encourages experimentation. “You want to build confidence in the kitchen. If you don’t have something, substitute. I don’t want people to feel so boxed in.” We were thrilled when Colu stopped by SwearBy HQ in Brooklyn to share a few of her Swears in the kitchen. Her recipes and go-tos add up to the ultimate pasta cheat sheet.

1. California Ranch Olive Oil

“It’s really well priced and the best that you can find for everyday cooking. It’s really mainstream and you can pick it up at just about any grocery store. All of the best home cooks use it and it’s stocked in most test kitchens. It’s clean, affordable and just delicious. I would choose a more expensive olive product as a finishing oil, but this is good for everyday sautéing. Another tip is that I use one of those squeezie bottles for my oils because they’re so easy to grab and I can better control the amount of oil I’m using when I’m cooking. I have one for grapeseed oil and one for olive oil.”

Available at Most Grocery Stores

2. Joyce Chen Kitchen Shears

“These are my favorite kitchen shear. They work on everything. They look really small, but they are mighty. You can spatchcock a chicken [that means taking the backbone out], and they’re good for snipping herbs or cutting a thin crust pizza.”

Available on Amazon

3. Maldon Salt

“Amazing stuff. You use kosher salt for seasoning while you are cooking, but this is also a great way to finish a dish because it brings out more of the flavor while adding a textural crunch, which I love. I put it on literally everything. Ice cream, avocado, eggs, you name it. I am a huge salt person. If I’m making meat, I add salt the night before. As for the name Maldon salt, some people try to get fancy and pronounce it with a French accent because it feels special. But no, it’s British.”

View on Amazon

4. Carbon Steel Chef's Knife

“Carbon steel knives are loved by professionals because they hold a sharp edge and are easy to sharpen. The blades will turn dark and develop a patina over time. It’s important to wipe the knife dry every time you use it so it doesn’t get rusty, and hand wash only. I sharpen it often, like a couple of times a week. I like the weight of it in my hand. It’s elegant. Plus, my husband gave it to me, which was really nice. It’s a fancy knife, but it’s not crazy expensive.”

View on Cutlery and More

5. Kitchen Tongs

“I have about four or five kitchen tongs, right next to the stove. They are the most valuable tool for stovetop cooking because you can flip with them, toss pasta, and grab hot pans from the oven. I believe in not draining your pasta, taking it with the tongs directly from the boiling water and finishing it on the stove. Once you do that, you need to toss your pasta to marry it with the sauce, and tongs (again) are the best tool for doing that.”


View on Bed Bath and Beyond

6. Bonus Swear: SIGNED Back Pocket Pasta Cookbook by Colu Henry

We’re obsessed with Back Pocket Pasta because it helps us cook better meals, faster. We want to share this special Swear with you, and lucky us, Colu has signed two copies of  her book as a SwearBy giveaway! To enter for a chance to win, follow @swearby on Instagram, like the giveaway post, and comment with your favorite pasta. The giveaway closes Monday, 4/16 at 9PM EDT.

Find It on Amazon
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