Friday, August 27, 2010

K is for Kitchen Gadgets

We are a family of food lovers and major cooks. My Pops always starts the day by wanting to discuss what we should buy/cook for dinner, shopping for each meal as needed. Added to that, all of my siblings (3 brothers and I) have worked in the catering trade for varying amounts of time. I couldn't do a better round up of kitchen essentials/gadgets than my brother, so here are some of his picks from 10engines.
"1. Steel tongs (or space-shuttle-plastic tipped) are the number one next purchase in my book. You can mix, grab hot trays, add a pinch of something from your premixed bowl of herbs... even if you just use them to flip bacon you will be well served.

2. Butcher's apron. Navy, striped, standard issue. Save your shirt from grease.

3. Syrup pourer. Nice touch. Warming the amber nectar is essential.

4. Roasting pan and tray. Cook your own chicken. Nerd alert: was just scoping some pans out. Can't you just picture scraping all the browned fond off the bottom with a bit of wine and finishing the gravy... mmmm.

5. Flour sifter. Great if you have kids "helping".

6. Micro zester. OK not essential for me, but if you like cookies and cakes with lemon this will be.

7. Popover pan. My english granny had the lineage for making great yorkshire pudding (popovers) but infact they were always awfully flat (how big are yours?? oink). The trick is to barely mix the batter atall. Some leave the batter overnight even. Use some dripping from your roast in the pans. And do not, on pain of death, open the oven door to check on them.

8. Pastry scraper. I don't bake so well. Prefer being able to throw things in and change on the go... that does not work for pastry and bread. These things are pretty cool looking though. Scrrrrape all that floury dough up, chop it, move it around with these.
9. Cloth kitchen towels. Use instead of oven gloves (just don't grab a hot pan with a wet towel, the heat goes right through), wipe the rim of plates as you send them out, dry your hands, throw over your oil fire to put it out.... the list goes on.

10. Spatter screen. Stops burger grease spitting all over you and the stove, but lets water vapour out so meat gets color.

11. 2-cup measuring cup. Don't mess around, get the 2-cupper. Ours has the numbers printed on the inside of the glass too so you can read as you fill. Sneaky.

12. Potato peeler. What? Not for peeling potatoes, a peeler essential for making decent twists of lemon.

13. Bone or mother of pearl spoon. Not technically for cooking... almost in "for the man who has everything" territory but these spoons are essential if you like to eat hard boiled eggs. Metal spoons react with the sulphurous egg yolk spoiling the taste don't you know... Egg spoons will have a slightly teardrop shape as well. If you are against the idea of bone, choose a thermo-resin spoon, as from Alessi.

14. Lobster pot. Sure you only use it once or twice a year, but you can pretend you make your own stock... a spigot at the bottom would be handy for that (to drain the stock and leave all the foamy mess).
15. Pepperball. A one handed peppermill anyway. I thought the electric ones were just silly but they are actually v useful. The old Pepperball does the job fine.

16. Pommery mustard. Large grained mustard. Take your vinaigrette to the next level. The old jars had a wax sealed cork, made a huge mess to open. New jars have a plastic stopper, cleaner but not as funky. Seriously, freekin wax chunks went everywhere...

17. Lamsonsharp clam knife. A total classic. At least trrrry to open a few clams. I stick w/ mignonette sauce.

18. SeaScissors. Any sturdy kitchen shears are great, but these are made especially for cutting through lobster shells etc.

19. Steamer. This type is purpose built for asparagus but will also steam ears of corn perfectly and broccoli. May seem a bit excessive but you will buy and cook more asparagus, and enjoy it much more w this thing.

20. A steel. Must have. Really a carving set is almost essential, but everyone has knives... There are many views on sharpening technique, and even though not a huge fan generally, Gordon Ramsay demonstrates a clear, traditional way of sharpening using a steel."

Read the rest of his essentials here...

And for the home cooking enthusiast, check your inventory against this list of kitchen aids.

"Kitchen Aids" Print by Erica Donovan for Keep Calm Gallery

I will just ad an obvious point (to me anyway). Classic cookbooks are a must, I mean you don't need to reinvent the wheel with food but a solid understanding of basic techniques will give you the foundation and confidence to create wonderful food. They don't get much better than Fanny Farmer, Julia Child or The Silver Palate, even if you are just looking for inspiration and like me don't exactly follow recipes. Bon Appetit!


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