Food writer Michael Ruhlman knows a thing or two about minimalist cooking - he'd prefer, in fact, if we'd forgo most of our recipes. Still, he can't live without a few essential kitchen tools and gadgets. This is his shortlist.
Ruhlman writes at his blog that if he was forced to live with just five tools, he'd pick "a chef's knife, cutting board, large sauté pan, flat-edged wood spoon and a large Pyrex bowl." In a more realistic world, he has a few kitchen gadgets that he finds irreplaceable, including, of course, a good digital scale. Among Ruhlman's other requirements? The kind of hand-held mixer/blender that you can stick directly into a pot or dish.
My most frequently used small appliance is a handblender. This is the one I use because someone gave it to me. Works great. So do the ones from KitchenAid and Cuisinart. I use it for sauces and soups, mixing vinaigrettes. I keep it at the ready at all times.
If nothing else, you can cherry-pick his product links to see what a fairly demanding cook prefers when it comes to thermometers, pans and knives.