Monday, August 31, 2009
These are a few of my favorite things...
Seriously though.....it's about time I share some of the kitchen tools that I think are essential and I can't live without! Let's start with the tongs- these almost act like an extension of my hands as much as I use them! They are great for just about anything you need to turn or pick up out of a hot skillet or pot. The ones shown here are from where else? That's right, that wildly successful gadget company, OXO Good Grips. This size suits me but they do make a shorter and a longer variety. Next up is the all-purpose ladle. This one was a gift from one of my sales reps many years ago and it's from a company called Rosle. They make gorgeous and very pricey stainless steel kitchen tools so I am forever grateful that I got lucky with this gift! My ladle does overtime whenever I am making risottos or soups. And FYI...Cooks Illustrated just reviewed this ladle in their latest Soups and Stews Winter 2009 edition.
The Microplane grater is something I use a lot, almost daily I would say. Grating cheese, citrus zest, garlic and nutmeg are just a few of the foodstuffs it works well with. Moving along to the Japanese Mandolin- this tool is another one of those labor saving kitchen devices ever created. If you are looking for uniform slices of say, cucumbers or carrots, potatoes, onions or you name it, this is the right tool for you! It can also julienne and do a "french fry" cut. Just warning ya though, it is sharp so use the guard to keep your fingers in tact!
Then comes my all time favorite tool and this one has been with me since the beginning of my cooking days. Can it be possible that this little strainer is almost 30 years old?? Wow. Now that says something about the way things were made back then! I don't remember where I found this tool, but I hope I can get at least another 10-20 out of it! It's the perfect size flat strainer (or some like to call it a "spider") for hoisting things out of boiling water like dumplings, ravioli and my favorite thing, poached eggs.
I've had many variations on "kitchen shears" over the years, but this next tool, these herb snippers from Silvermark, are my new go to scissors. I use them for cutting anything from fresh herbs to kitchen twine, to cutting up a whole chicken. The best part of this particular model, is that they come apart for easy and thorough cleaning.
Ahh, the lemon reamer.....this one dates back to the days when I worked at Williams-Sonoma. I remember they really loved this variety, wood and all. The only challenge is that it doesn't strain the pits, so you have to work around that. It's great for limes because, well, they have no pits (not sure why this is but nature must have decided there was a good reason for it!).
Nigella Lawson, a cookbook author, food writer for the N.Y Times and host of her own television show, uses this next little item religiously so I followed her lead and I am a complete convert! It's a small whisk, but works great on beating eggs and making salad dressings. I have had this particular whisk for close to 10 years now, but I do believe that they are available at most kitchen stores. I checked Nigella's website and she also carries a version of it with a wooden handle. Super cute!
So now let's turn to the subject of timers and thermometers. If you do a lot of baking, or just need a "reminder" that you have something on the stove top or in the oven, then you really ought to have at least one timer in your kitchen tool repertoire. This small timer I am showing here is from CDN, a company that makes timers as well as thermometers. This little guy is digital, and has a magnet on the back so you can stick it on the stove or fridge or anywhere you find handy. The thermometer featured in the photo above is an "instant read" which is my favorite type. This one is also digital, and is from Polder. I like this particular model because it has a "hold" feature so you can test your roast, for instance, hit the hold and read it after you close the oven door back up. That way you aren't standing there letting all the heat out. But alas, it is an older model and not so sure they still have it, but there are other models to choose from as well.
And finally, last but not least on my list of essential kitchen tools, is the rubber spatula. These days, the best kind to get are those made of silicone because they can withstand very high temperatures so they don't "melt" like the non-silicone varieties do. I happen to love Le Creuset's spatulas not just for the variety of colors they offer but also because the silicone "heads" detach and you can put them in the dishwasher. Easy!
So there you have it and congratulations if you got through to the end of what turned out to be a longer post that I had intended! Stay tuned for my "Favorite things Part 2- Pots and Pans" coming soon!
Posted by joanne at 1:11 PM