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Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets

September 6, 2011, 4:09 pm

Every cook has his or her favorite, can’t-live-without-it kitchen gadgets and I’m no different. On the rare occasion when I find myself in a strange kitchen, faced with the task of having to prepare food, I can’t help but chafe when the tools I consider basic and indispensable to cooking are not there. Of course I muddle along, but if I only had a decent knife and skillet, or ________ I could do it so much better and faster, I say to myself. Here then are some pieces of kitchen equipment I simply MUST have to be able to prepare meals quickly and efficiently.

Immersion Blender

Immersion blenders are wonderful for pureeing soups and so much easier and safer to use than counter top blenders where you have to pour hot liquid and risk scalding yourself in the process. They are also good for blending dressings. Get one with a detachable blade and that makes clean up a cinch.

Garlic Press

I use a garlic press when I need minced garlic. It is much faster than doing it with a knife. Just press and voila. For a faster way to peel the clove, do this: lay the blade of a chef knife on the clove and then smack the blade hard with the heel of your hand. The peel will just slip right off and be ready to go into the press.

Cast Iron Skillet

Cast iron cookware is every bit as convenient as non-stick cookware but without the toxic chemicals, assuming that the pan is properly seasoned. I have purchased cast iron pans at thrift stores and still use them, years later. To season a cast iron pan, follow these instructions.

Food Processor

A food processor is a wonderful time saver. I use it to make pie dough, grind nuts, vegetables, and bread crumbs, and make sauces. I make homemade dog food and it is quick and easy to use the processor for this. I have been using a Cuisinart for 15 years and it is still going strong.

Chef’s Knife

I could live without all the above mentioned items if I absolutely had to but I could never, EVER, live without a chef’s knife. I am amazed at students in the cooking classes I teach when I see them cutting vegetables with a measly little paring knife. They often tell me they have been cooking that way for YEARS! With some very basic knife skills under one’s belt, it is so much easier and quicker to use a chef’s knife for prepping vegetables and other things. Here is a small primer on how to cut certain vegetables from Cook’s Illustrated.

Sturdy Rubber Spatula

I say ’sturdy’ because I purchased spatulas from a dollar store and they were flimsy and practically unusable. But a rubber or nylon spatula is indispensable when getting out every last drop of the good stuff in the bowl, whatever it is, be it pancake batter or melted chocolate. Also great are heat-resistant spatulas that you can use while cooking. They won’t melt like regular spatulas.

Flexible Cutting Boards

These are great for transferring chopped vegetables into a pot. You just take the whole cutting board and bend it into a U-shape over the pot and let the veggies slide in. It helps to place a moist paper towel or dish cloth underneath the cutting board while you’re chopping so it doesn’t slide all over the place. They are cheap too.

These are just a few of my favorite things. What are some of yours?

Posted by Oryana at 4:09 pm
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