Cooking is Easy with Kitchen Gadgets from Knives to Scissors part 2
FUN GADGETS TO IMPRESS GUESTS AND DELIGHT KIDS
A is for apple corer. A versatile little gadget, it can be used to core anything that needs coring from apples to tomatoes to oranges. It’s also a great way for toddlers to get their vitamin C with orange ‘bullets’; bite size, juicy morsels without the mess. Use it to make funky potato fries or try them raw with a little salt or chilli powder, to prevent them from browning toss with a bit of citrus juice. Let your imagination go wild...cucumber, jicama or zucchini ‘bullets’ make eating veggies fun for kids! An apple corer is a great tool for pumpkin carving… eerie eyes and weird teeth.
Another fave with kids is the spiral potato slicer, available in most kitchen specialty stores. Simply screw it into the top of a potato and spiral slowly down. What fun to make homemade spiral fries.
When was the last time you had a piping hot soft, boiled egg for breakfast? Bring back memories of mom or grandma with this little gadget that perfectly slices off the top of an egg.
Cheese slicers of all descriptions make entertaining more fun. From ones that slide across the top of cheese to ones that make perfect vertical slices every time to fancy edged ones, they add pizzazz to any party. Some can also be used to make chocolate or butter curls or crinkle cut veggies like the two edged one pictured.
Kids of all ages love pizza. A heavy duty pizza cutter makes slicing into that homemade pie as simple as, well pie.
Do you admire fancy, iced cakes in the bakery window? Well you can get a similar look with a frosting triangle. Smooth frosting with a metal spatula and run the triangle carefully around the outside of the cake, then swirl around the top.
Apple slicers make eating this autumn fruit fun for kids of all ages. It makes slicing pears and other soft fleshed fruits fast and easy, too.
Making ravioli may take a bit of time, but its well worth the effort and easy, peasy with a ravioli stamp. Use sheets of fresh lasagne, dot with filling, top with a second sheet and press together, and scrape excess to one side. It’s another tool that serves double duty… use it to make perogies or wontons.
Eat fresh pineapple with no problems using a tool that makes getting the delicious fruit out in one fell swoop a snap. Cut the top of the pineapple off and place in a shallow bowl to catch the juice. Centre the pineapple corer/slicer and carefully twist down to almost the bottom, be sure not to go through, and then pull straight up, the core remains in the shell. Don’t throw the leafy top away; the kids can grow their own pineapple plant! Find out how here: http://www.learn2grow.com/gardeningguides/tropicalplants/planting/GrowYourOwnPineapple.aspx
COOL GADGETS THAT DO DOUBLE DUTY
Another impressive gadget is a biscuit and butter press. They’re made of clay and come in a variety of different designs. Use them to make fancy topped cookies, too. TIP: dip in a bit of oil to prevent sticking.
An all time favourite with me is a three piece lemon juicer. It works with any citrus fruit. Cut a lemon, lime or orange in half and place in the top, centre on the juicer and enjoy seed free fresh squeezed liquid for drinking or cooking with. Make a jug of lemonade with a few quick twists of the wrist.
Do you have a love hate relationship with egg salad? Love to eat it, but hate the slicing, dicing or mashing with a fork? A pastry blender lives a double life as an egg chopper.
Simply place peeled, hard-boiled eggs in a bowl and chop away, no fuss, no muss; it’s an ideal way to make perfect egg salad for sandwiches. Let the love affair begin.
Speaking of eggs and double duty, a good quality egg slicer is perfect for slicing mushrooms, too. Place the mushroom, stem and all, cap down, in the cradle of the egg slicer. Voila! Uniformly sliced mushrooms every time.
Tired of trying to retrieve olives, pickled onions or capers out of tall, narrow mouthed jars… melon baller to the rescue. Unless you’re going to use the entire jar, a double ended melon baller is perfect for getting just the amount you want. The hole in the centre allows juice to drain making scooping up capers for your favourite dish a breeze. It’s not just for making fancy fruit salad.
A tomato huller makes short work of removing the stem end of tomatoes as well as juicy strawberries. A quick turn and the frequently, fibrous, veined end is snipped in the bud.
A small, metal wire skimmer not only scoops up deep fried wontons, but is terrific for picking up groups of olives or bocconcini cheese balls to add to salads.
This mandoline is very versatile with multiple extras available
MORE MUST HAVES
One of the most versatile and indispensable tools in a well equipped kitchen is a mandoline. It makes quick work of slicing fruits and vegetables for all your favourite dishes.
A bulb-top baster is the answer for achieving a perfectly golden, roasted chicken or turkey. And a butter/liquid injector guarantees the juiciest bird or roasts that family and friends will long remember.
For applying egg wash on pies or BBQ sauce to everything you grill use a silicone brush baster. Have a bowl of warm water on hand to keep the brush in between applications to avoid cross contamination.
If a recipe calls for pounding poultry or meats to a specific thinness the best tool for the job is a meat mallet. I prefer a two ended wooden one, the flat side can be used for more delicate cuts like boneless chicken pieces or veal and the metal capped end is great for denser cuts of pork or beef. TIP: place the meat or poultry between sheets of waxed or parchment paper.
Citrus zesters are great when a small amount of peel is used as garnish in a drink or for a special plate presentation.
Take the guess work out of using the right amount of butter or shortening for recipes by cutting of the measuring tab from a shortening box and keeping it in the tool caddy. Expensive, metal ones can be purchased, but why?
Tired of having an over baked pie crust? Aluminum crust protectors can be found in most kitchen shops, but I find them a pain to keep together while attempting to place it on a hot, half baked crust edge. Again, metal ones are available from specialty dealers, but come with a higher price tag. Solution? Cut out the centre of an aluminum pie plate and crimp the inside edge! It protects more of the crust and makes for a perfect pie every time and can be reused over and over. The best part is a replacement is easy to come by.
Although not usually thought of as a gadget, coffee filters serve double duty… multiple duties in the kitchen. Use one to strain small food remnants from oil or shortening after deep frying so you can refrigerate it to use again. Or use a few to drain fried foods of excess oil. They’re also handy to tie herbs in (rosemary branches, bay leaf or sage leafs that require being removed prior to serving) when you want to enhance the flavour of soups or stews. And they’re also stronger than paper towel for covering foods in the microwave to avoid splashes.
I hope you discover a new gadget from my suggestions and happy cooking!