Favourite Kitchen Tools or Gadgets (X-Mas Help)
- Minor Gourmand
I need to make a X-mas list, and as a new baker, I want the list to be full of useful utilities which I can use over and over again.
- So my question is, what are the tools you use in the kitchen that you constanly return to, or couldn't live without?...specify anything, as banal (or odd) as it might sound.
I am also looking for some good new bakeware...if anyone has any tips for buying new gear, or where to go to find new stuff, I would appreciate your recommendations.
Here are a few off the top of my head:
OXO measuring cups
welding gloves for use as potholders
12" fry pan
spring loaded tongs
good chef's knife
kitchen shears (not poultry shears)
1/2 sheet size jelly roll pan
glass mixing bowls
very large cutting board, at least 12 x 16 and preferably much larger
Third the microplane -- very useful in grating fine shavings of parmesan, citrus, nutmeg. Very sharp, very convenient, easy to clean. A great addition to the repetoire.
I would also add good measuring spoons and cups, and a good peeler. I have the oxo peeler, and friends will come over for dinner, and will ask what they can do to help. I often ask them to peel potatoes, carrots, etc., and am met with a groan -- until they have their hands on my oxo peeler. If a chore can be made simple by a good implement, the task of peeling is made easy with the oxo peeler.
Someone gave me a tip a while back that if you are right handed, it's good to have a left handed cook friend to exchange peelers with. My $5.95 oxo peeler is probably just about ready for the left hander (I've had it for about 6 years, and it's still sharp, just not as very sharp it was at the get go, and it's done a great deal of peeling, very well, in it's day in my kitchen :-) But for the price, I think it paid off in spades.
Check out the Endurance stainless steel measuring spoons. They're elongated rather than round so you can dip them into spice bottles. Very handy. Set includes 1/8 and 3/4 teaspoon measures--also handy and not often found on the cheaper sets of spoons. Finally, each spoon is marked with the equivalent measurement in milliliters, convenient if you need to convert a recipe from a British book.
Strainers of verying degrees - be sure to ask for a "chinoisse" to sound super-cheffy.
The red/green/orange silicone oven mitt thigies - I never realized the joys of having dishwasher-safe oven mitts until I had 'em.
Do you have a salad spinner yet? Oh no - you don't have to get married these days in order to own one.
Ditto a spare coffee grinder (or two) for spices.
As far as baking (blech!) goes, do you have a bench scraper? Do you have one of them baguette perforated pans? Maybe just ask several people for gift certificates to the King Arthur catalogue (they have GREAT gear).
For baking: (for the baking pans, there's a number of brands: Doughmaker, Kaiser, Chicago (something or other)
High quality measuring spoons, measuring cups and liquid measures.
Marble pastry board and rolling pin
Stainless steel scraper
Silpat mats for cookie baking
Silicon basting/pastry brushes
Spring form pan
A couple of sizes of tube pans
Tart pan (with removable bottom)
Kitchen Aid mixer!
Set of stainless steel bowls
Set of plastic mixing bowls that pour with non-skid bottoms
Penzey's double vanilla
"air cushion" cookie sheets or Doughmaker's cookie sheets
high quality non-stick cooling racks
microplane grater (one for citrus zest, smaller one for nutmeg and spices)
I just did a piece on my favorite kitchen gadgets from my kitchen for the Tokyo Food Page. See the link below.
Also, have heard that the baking stone for the oven is great. Especially if you are committed to baking. Of course a reliable scale.
re: Yukari Pratt
Thank you for the link. I hope to get into Chicago's Chinatown before Christmas to buy a Wok for my daughter. (She wants one that does not have steep sides, kind of a more open curve, to move things to the side easier? Have any suggestions on a wok??) But I will look for a mandoline and other things you mentioned. Thank you again, Mary
re: Tamar G
I have to say I hated the flexi-mold silicone baking pan and loaf pan I bought awhile back. The house stunk of burning rubber, and the stuff I baked in it had to be thrown away, as it tasted the way the house smelled. I returned them and am sticking with still very servicable, old baking pans from about 25 years ago.
re: Tamar G
I have only used mini-canales molds, but I loved it. you just pop it out. There was no rubber smell at all, although I was cooking at 350 and didn't get higher than that. Do other people have a problem with rubber smell at high heat? I've mostly heard good things so far but I'd like to know if they cause problems.
re: Tamar G
I've never had a problem with smell, I actually find that pretty odd, and they're great for some cakes/cookies that are hard to get out (i.e. madelines, certain bundt cakes). However I don't like them for everything, crusts don't get quite as crispy and I've over/under-cooked things because it distributes heat differently than a conventional pan and I haven't quite mastered that. But they cool very quickly to the touch and you can toss them in the dishwasher.