Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Bare Necessities

This post will be different than the others; instead of posting a recipe, I will focus on the things I use in the kitchen (gadgets) that I can't live without! Good knives (paring, santoku, filet) are a given (I recommend this Farberware 22-piece set), but here are some of the tools I use pretty much on a daily basis:

1) Microplane= aka a fine grater. Most generic box graters do not have a good fine grater side, which can be used to grate so many things- typically thought of to zest citrus, it can also be used to finely grate a clove of garlic into almost a paste-like consistency. It is also known for grating fresh Parmesan, or other hard cheeses. I use this so often for adding lemon, lime, or orange zest into my cooking, which boosts the flavor of almost anything, savory OR sweet. Click here to buy!

2) Salad Spinner= if you don't already have one, as it is a pretty common gadget to own, GET ONE NOW!!! It's a "one stop shop" for washing, drying, and storing the clean lettuce. It does a great job at "spinning" the water out. Once dry, pour out the water, lock the top knob in place, and store in the fridge.

3) Mini Food Processor= so I only got this one recently, and I wish I got it sooner! I got the Cuisinart Mini Prep Food Processor to puree homemade baby food- for an amazing price of $30 at Costco. Needless to say, it has made baby food making EXTREMELY easy and convenient, as I store my regular 7 cup size food processor on top of my pantry and it feel like it weighs more than Rosie. So, I only use it when Avi is home to get it down for me! Plus it's such a hassle to wash. This mini 3 cup food processor sits right on my counter, has one blade and 2 settings (chop & grind- just different directions of the blade).. I discovered so many more uses for it aside for the baby food. I used it to make pesto, chop nuts (I was lazy), and also used it to blend up my balsamic vinaigrette (see previous post)! The most important part- it's a breeze to clean up! Click here to see it!

4) Kitchen Shears= I've been through a few kinds of kitchen scissors and these Kuhn Rikon are by far the best, from my experience. They have many uses, from simply cutting open packaging, to trimming fat off chicken! The cool thing about these, is that they come in different colors, so you can buy a red one for meat and a green one for Pareve, etc.

5) Tongs= the uses for tongs are endless. No need for anything fancy, these from Crate & Barrel work just fine, for a great price.

6) Good Mixing Bowls= I use these Pyrex mixing bowls for Pareve & these Oxo stainless steel mixing bowls for Meat, which also come in dark gray. The Pyrex are great because they are sturdy, microwave/oven safe, and you can prepare in them, heat food up directly in them, and store in them. They are even "nice" enough to serve in. I love the Oxo stainless bowls because they are sturdy and have a rubber no-slip bottom. (On The Next Iron Chef, one of the contestants had one of these Oxo bowls on the stove and accidentally melted it, not realizing!- so they are NOT oven safe!)

7) Squeeze Bottles= these bottles are great to have on hand for condiments you use often. I use them for olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It's much easier than lugging the Costco size container every time I need a squirt of oil. I also keep dish soap in one. They definitely make my cooking time easier. 

8) Glass Storage Containers= I like to store my food, especially when hot, in Pyrex Storage or Snapware Glass Lock Storage containers. Save the plastic containers for when you need to take food on the go, or lunch to school/work. The Snapware is great, and seals airtight. 

9) Mandoline= okay, I don't actually have a mandoline but I have been meaning to get one for some time now. I like to make homemade potato chips (baked) and it is very tedious, and takes a while to cut the thin rounds. Same goes for cucumber salad, or even shaved fruit. I hear this Oxo Mandoline is great. Maybe I'll get one soon :-)

Well, everyone has their own tools and gadgets, as well as shortcuts for doing things. These are mine, and I hope I have given some "kitchen smart" insight to all you reading!!!!

Happy Cooking,

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