Cooking is Easy with Kitchen Gadgets from Knives to Scissors
Number one on the list are good scissors. One regular for cutting fine herbs like tarragon, rosemary, basil, parsley or green onions (start at the green end). I find using scissors for small food items is quicker and safer than struggling with a knife. They come in handy for snipping tops off food bags, too. The second, heavier duty pair is great for cutting through poultry or rib bones.
Equally as important are specialty knives and slicers. An awesome tool for chopping poultry into smaller portions or flattening meats like veal is a meat cleaver. You can purchase an inexpensive, yet good one in most shops catering to the Asian community. Pick up a hacksaw from the local hardware store; it’s another nifty item to have for cutting through large bones.
Whisk away to creamy hollandaise or frothy milk to top your cappuccino. Larger whisks make exceptional whipped cream; a medium sized whisk is perfect for sauces and gravies, while the very small whisk is excellent when microwaving packaged sauces or making dressings. And a cone shaped whisk whips egg whites to perfection for meringues.
A Bagel knife, as implied, is easier to use when slicing because of the dull end and shortness of the blade.
And even if you don’t eat grapefruit often having the curved-end citrus blade in your arsenal is always handy, it’s also ideal for segmenting large navel oranges.
Right up there with whisks is a garlic press and/or slicer; another must have in every kitchen. The slicer does double duty to slice shallots, as well.
Never underestimate the many uses for different sized spatulas. From getting every last morsel of cake batter scraped from the bowl to retrieving mayo from the bottom of the jar they’re indispensable.
A reliable can opener is a must. Try to find one that cuts on top of the can as opposed to the side. It will hold the lid with a magnet which makes it simple to rinse off for recycling.
Small ladles make serving up sauces steaming hot from the microwave or pot a snap. You can pick them up in almost any dollar store in packs of two.
Always be sure to have at least one, if not two, high quality cork screws on hand. One that has a secondary ‘step-up’ function is a boon for longer corks in some wine bottles.
A sturdy and heavy ice cream scoop is definitely an important basic. Buy one with a metal bowl so it can be warmed under hot water before plunging into that delectable ice cream. If you can find one with a quick release lever all the better, it makes a fancy presentation by scooping potatoes or rice.
Potato peelers come in many shapes; fat handle, thin handle, some fit in the palm of your hand, regardless of its shape a sideways, swivel motion blade, I’ve found, work best.
MUST HAVE KITCHEN GADGETS
You can never have too many graters. They come in many sizes for a variety of uses. Small, hand held graters are perfect for grating just enough parmesan, asiago or romano on pasta. For recipes that call for a larger amount use a bowl style that has two or three different sized grater to choose from and comes with a lid for storing. Nutmeg has a more intense flavour when ground from a whole seed or pod so a nutmeg grater should be added to the mix; they’re quite small and will usually fit right on the spice rack. Another essential tool, especially if you love cooking Asian or Indian dishes, is a bamboo, ginger grater. You can usually pick one up for a couple of dollars in any shop that sells ethnic related products.
A great basic is a jar lid opener; it enables anyone to open the tightest of jar lids in a snap. If you have difficulty finding the style try thrift stores or check out garage sales. Mines an oldie, but goodie I inherited from my mom.
An ingenious gadget is the pot spoon rest. How many times have you lost the spoon in a pot of bubbling pasta sauce? This gizmo clips on the edge of the pot and prevents the spoon from falling in. Most kitchen stores carry them. They are awesome.
Every well equipped kitchen should have two or three types of tongs. A long handled metal tong, preferably with a rubber grip, are ideal for heavy food items like corn or whole chicken breasts. A wooden tong, again found in an Asian store, work extremely well for turning hot appetizers and a double-sided flip-style tong is great for turning vegetables on the grill. The best part is they have a slide closer on the side for ease of storage.
Basics for serving up slices of pie and wedges of your favourite cake are triangular servers specifically for this purpose. The pie server has a serrated edge for ease of cutting and cake servers are wide enough to balance a hefty serving.
One of my favourite must have gadgets is an onion comb/pick. It looks like a metal afro pick, but I wouldn’t advise using it on your hair! It does, however, make dicing an onion easy as one, two, three. Cut a thin slice from one side of the onion so it lays flat. Make diagonal slits across the top, in opposite directions, being careful not to slice all the way through and place the bulb (flat side down) on the cutting board. Stick with the pick and your fingers are out of harms way.
Every good cook is as good as her equipment, not that kind, and individual, metal measuring cups are worth paying a bit more for. Once reason being you can use them on the stove top to heat brandy for Beef Bourguignon or rum for bananas foster!
Silicone, wedge pot holders save you from burning fingers when lifting hot lids with metal tops and make moving metal handled pots easy. They also don’t stain when sliding out an oven rack.
If you’ve ever struggled getting long pasta from pot to plate try using a pasta server. It works much better than a serving spoon.
Photos by C.Borthwick all rights reserved