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Favorite Kitchen Utensil....What's Your Fav that You Can't Do Without??

DetectDave Aug 24, 2006 03:57 PM

I'm looking for a couple of gifts and thought that some tried and true kitchen utensils (please be brand specific) that work better than any other similar products, might be a good choice. You know what I mean...that great potato peeler that is the best you found after using 20 other different kinds and scraping the skin off your fingers..LOL That's the type of knowledge I am seeking. Thanks in adavnce for your replies.

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    cookinuptop RE: DetectDave Aug 24, 2006 04:04 PM

    You can't go wrong with a good knife, but I don't know your budget, and your friend may have all he/she needs. FWIW, I'm very happy with my Wusthoffs. Something that would make a good gift for the home chef is Henckels kitchen shears. They can cut through a chicken in no time. Not too expensive.

    1. Dommy RE: DetectDave Aug 24, 2006 04:25 PM

      I had to answer this question recently on my girly board... My absolute I'd buy again totally is our Spoontulas from Surfas. I bake quite a bit and I love it for mixing (Because you can spoon it up and scrape at the same time! :)) and I love it for getting ever last BIT of batter from the bowl to my pan. It also comes apart in two pieces so we can clean every last inch...

      They look kinda like this:



      1 Reply
      1. re: Dommy
        AmandaEd RE: Dommy Aug 30, 2006 06:55 PM

        I totally second the spoontula. Hands down, the utensil I use every time I cook. That, and my Swissmar potato peeler. Will never use any other type. Oh, and the Good Grips liquid measuring cup that has the graduated measurements on an angle so that you can view them from the top of the cup. Calphalon santoku knife. And lastly, definitively, the Microplane grater. Amazing.

      2. SnackHappy RE: DetectDave Aug 24, 2006 04:32 PM

        The Zyliss garlic press is the best thing I've added to my kitchen in a really long time.

        You can press garlic without peeling it and it's a charm to clean.


        1 Reply
        1. re: SnackHappy
          Pei RE: SnackHappy Aug 28, 2006 06:25 AM

          I got one as a present and I keep running out of garlic now. It's just too easy to add them to a dish! Great product.

        2. Infomaniac RE: DetectDave Aug 24, 2006 04:44 PM

          Stainless Steel Safe Hands Mandoline


          I just got this model to replace my old one. It gets used almost every day.

          1. f
            fauchon RE: DetectDave Aug 24, 2006 04:50 PM

            Good knives, of course! But also first-class tongs are indispensable--they function like an extra hand. The best ones I've found are the ones from OXO which lock shut for storage.

            2 Replies
            1. re: fauchon
              SarahEats RE: fauchon Aug 24, 2006 05:03 PM

              Definitely my tongs. I use them for just about every kind of cooking. I don't like the ones that have that pull-tab at the end to open and close, though.

              1. re: SarahEats
                MMRuth RE: SarahEats Aug 24, 2006 06:39 PM

                I just saw tongs in an English magazine that have silicone "ends" - looks perfect for non stick purposes.

            2. g
              Gordito RE: DetectDave Aug 24, 2006 05:13 PM

              Our new hand blender, the so-called "stick" blender. I have desired one of these for a long time to do leek soup, and we found a low-priced one on sale. it also came with a whisk, and best of all a small food processor attachment. e find we use the small food processor attachment much more often than the big food processor, since it is far easier to clean.

              1. c
                cheryl_h RE: DetectDave Aug 24, 2006 05:15 PM

                In addition to the other suggestions, the Oxo salad spinner which I bought thanks to CH recommendations. It's simply great.

                Wooden citrus reamer. This little doodad is cheap, works perfectly every time.

                Cutting boards. I have both wooden and plastic ones, you can't have too many.

                Whisks. Big and small, for making sauces.

                Silicon scrapers. I have about 6, seldom cook or bake without using at least 2. Also cheap and handy.

                Going up in price - Cuisinart immersion blender. I got one as a gift last Christmas, absolutely love it. I puree soups, cooked fruit, make salsas and scramble eggs with it.

                1. s
                  slynnkiino RE: DetectDave Aug 24, 2006 05:23 PM

                  These citrus juicers:


                  The lemon one works with limes, too; I bought a separate one for oranges. Especially if you have a lot of fruit to squeeze, these make the job go very fast.

                  If the person doesn't already have one, have you considered a microplane grater? For hard cheeses, zest, even nutmeg, I think these work better than anything.



                  1 Reply
                  1. re: slynnkiino
                    BonzoGal RE: slynnkiino Aug 25, 2006 05:16 PM

                    I second the vote for the citrus juicers and microplane grater. The juicers are fab for cocktails and any recipe calling for lime juice. They get every drop! And the grater can be used on anything you want grated, right at the table even.

                  2. s
                    S_K RE: DetectDave Aug 24, 2006 06:46 PM

                    Good blenders that you can make smoothies in and crush ice. I'm looking for one too. Can someone recommend a brand?

                    If your friend likes fresh juice, the Jack La Lanne Power Juicer is very good. It's powerful and my mom loves hers.

                    Rolling pins for bakers (don't know a brand because the one in my house is very old, well-used and well-loved).

                    If the person bakes or makes chocolates, a marble slab would also be appreciated.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: S_K
                      Jack_ RE: S_K Aug 28, 2006 09:14 PM

                      i have a Braun blender. Got it after trying 2 Osters and a Kitchen Aid from jr.com (well from the store since I live in NYC) and reading the consumer reports. If was $50

                    2. j
                      j2brady RE: DetectDave Aug 24, 2006 07:25 PM

                      I certainly agree with those posters suggestion a good knife.

                      I can't live without my Henckle Santoku! It is so nicely weighted, looks great, sharp, and multi-functional.

                      It is my dicer, peeler, garlic mincer, egg slicer, it chops all sorts of veggies with ease.

                      After using my Henckles, I can't bear even picking up weightless cheepies!


                      1. Katie Nell RE: DetectDave Aug 24, 2006 07:31 PM

                        The best potato/ vegetable peeler, I think, are the cheapy all-metal swivel ones... I've had more expensive ones, and they just don't work as well or last as long!

                        A Microplane... I think it's the Microplane brand, if I'm not mistaken?

                        I like the French-style rolling pins... cheap and pretty much indestructable... no stupid ball bearings to mess with either!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Katie Nell
                          tbear RE: Katie Nell Aug 24, 2006 11:16 PM

                          Actually, the best potato peeler is the Swissmar Classic Peeler/Prep tool, 18/10 stainless steel blade. Every professional kitchnen in NYC uses them. They are very inexpensive ( $3.00 w/ a plastic, square handle). They may be too inexpensive for a gift but they really work well.

                          1. re: tbear
                            Jack_ RE: tbear Aug 28, 2006 09:21 PM

                            Sorry but I like the Swiss one with the open handle much better


                            got mine a Tesco on a trip to England After I saw that english hawking and demoing them on the street in Brooklyn and Manhattna

                        2. c
                          cimero RE: DetectDave Aug 24, 2006 10:53 PM

                          Not a kitchen tool/gadget per se, but I can't live without my fat seperating measuring cups. Most of the cooking sites have them.

                          1. TexasToast RE: DetectDave Aug 24, 2006 10:56 PM

                            Anything from Crate & Barrel.


                            1. OCAnn RE: DetectDave Aug 24, 2006 11:07 PM

                              Pedestrian, since they're not gadgets, but I like flour sack towels (no lint) and those 9x9 cellulose sponges (for quick clean ups).

                              1. c
                                citizenconn RE: DetectDave Aug 24, 2006 11:26 PM

                                My favorite utensil is a Kitchen Aid carrot peeler. It is similar to a regular potato peeler, but it has a curved blade to fit the contour of the carrot. I hate those slimy bags of already peeled carrots and peel a lot of carrots.

                                So, besides a good chef's knife this is the kitchen thing I use more than any other.

                                My second most used gadget is a cherry pitter. My household goes though pints and pints of cherries in the summer and a good cherry pitter (I bought mine from Williams Sonoma) is a must have for me.

                                1. s
                                  slacker RE: DetectDave Aug 24, 2006 11:47 PM

                                  The first thing that came to mind is my Oxo potato peeler. The best. Comfortable to hold and ever-sharp. Haven't tried the i-series with the blade you can change, keep telling myself one potato peeler is enough, but wanna try the new gadget..

                                  Also must have whisks of all sizes.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: slacker
                                    Jane917 RE: slacker Aug 26, 2006 05:48 PM

                                    I also have used the Oxo peeler for years. I recently discovered they came out with a peeler with serrated edges. It is perfect for peeling fruit like peaches and kiwi.

                                    Other items that get used everyday are my John Boos cutting board (it never leaves the counter and sits on a non-slip pad) and my teeny 4 0z. Oxo measuring cup(perfect for salad dressings). Also, my beautiful wooden salad bowl, silicone brushes, Wusthoff sankuto knife, several pepper grinders (including a small Magnum), a kosher salt bowl, and many small cups/bowls for ingredients/sauces.

                                  2. joltgrrl RE: DetectDave Aug 25, 2006 03:00 AM

                                    A nice gift is a quality stockpot. Something like an 8 quart Calphalon pot which can be used to properly boil pasta, brown meats without spattering all over the stove, make a big pot of stew or soup, deep fry, cook artichokes, can fruits, etc.... Also, it is not something someone stocking a new kitchen usually buys on the first round. Something smaller? If the person likes good coffee, I'd buy a french press. Less expensive? The Microplane grater mentioned above, the Oxo potato peeler (I have arthritis & find the handle comfortable), again, like above, a cutting board - plastic so it can be disinfected with boiling water (my numerous maple ones now usually serve as trivets) ... or, maybe, one those thin plastic ones that can fold and be used like a funnel to pour chopped items. Small kitchen items will make a super gift basket in something clever that can become a utensil holder.

                                    1. Divamac RE: DetectDave Aug 25, 2006 04:21 AM

                                      The two things that get used every single day, without fail:

                                      Global 7-Inch Vegetable Knife: slices, chops and cuts anything.

                                      John Boos & Co. Maple Chinese Chopping Block: gets more beauiful over time, and makes me happy every time I see it. Also brings my counter height up to a more managable cutting height (I am 6'2"). Include block oil so they take good care of it.

                                      As for everyday tools, I constantly reach for:

                                      Chef'n® Spoon/Spatula: All silicone spoon/spatula

                                      A great set of wooden spoons (can't recommend a brand, I have my Mom's


                                      Lodge cast iron pan - gets better every time you use it!

                                      HotSpot silicone potholders double as trivets. I have 6 of them.

                                      My Pedrini vegetable peeler is 6 years old and as perfect as the day I bought it.

                                      And my Rabbit corkscrew! Here's a gift version:

                                      Lastly, I have been waiting for a reason to buy someone an herb and spice set from Penzey's:

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Divamac
                                        mabziegurl RE: Divamac Aug 25, 2006 08:51 PM

                                        ouch that chopping block is mighty expensive... but it sure is pretty. they sell ones for $10 in chinatown..... i don't think i could manage $140 for a chopping board.

                                        1. re: mabziegurl
                                          Divamac RE: mabziegurl Aug 26, 2006 04:34 AM

                                          i got mine at an outlet store for $45. I would never have spent $140 before, but if something happened to it now, I'd gladly spend $140 to replace it!

                                      2. s
                                        serious RE: DetectDave Aug 27, 2006 09:18 AM

                                        The microplane grater is the best I've used..lemon zest is seconds. Perfect for grated cheese, easy to clean.
                                        Use my 32 yr old cuisenart (which has been dropped twice) regularly.

                                        1. anna RE: DetectDave Aug 27, 2006 03:50 PM

                                          Silicone spatulas! I have several of them and can't imagine not having them to cook with nowadays. It's great for using on any type of pans as it won't melt nor would it scratch anything. It's the perfect tool for making candy. I used to use wooden spoons for making toffee and clean up is always a mess with the toffee sticking to them. Nowadays, the toffee comes right off without a fuss.

                                          1. amandine RE: DetectDave Aug 27, 2006 03:53 PM

                                            A reliable kitchen timer... be sure to test them in-store to eliminate ones with irritating rings.

                                            1. TexasToast RE: DetectDave Aug 27, 2006 03:56 PM

                                              One of those wire balloon whisks (which, incidentaly, came from crate & Barrel).


                                              1. Alice Q RE: DetectDave Aug 27, 2006 04:08 PM

                                                I love my silicone coated whisk. It can be used in a non-stick pan, and doesn't make a lot of racket when you are whisking in a metal bowl, etc. Great for stirring dry ingredients together or whisking custard in a pan.

                                                My number one used tool is definitely my tongs though. Have to keep those at my fingertips.

                                                A stick blender is a great gift. Really useful and not terribly expensive.

                                                I also found a nice line of kitchen tools at Target manufactured under the Kitchen Aid brand name. Attractive bright colors, and they are very functional - the new spoonula spatula I got (in bright turquoise) is already my favorite!


                                                1. Vexorg RE: DetectDave Aug 28, 2006 06:59 AM

                                                  I have to go with the spring loaded tongs myself. When I use them, I constantly find myself wishing I had another pair on hand. Another tool I find myself making surprisingly frequent use of is a small metal spatula I picked up for something like $5 at the supermarket. When I bought it, the cashier asked "what are you ever going to use that thing for?" The answer: Lots of stuff. It's great for scraping stuff, especially when deglazing (I own only two non-stick pans and rarely use them, so it works on all my frequently used pans,) works surprisingly well for stirring things (much more surface area to push stuff than a spoon would have,) can be used to chop soft items (this is most helpful for breaking up a big block of ground beef being browned) and, of course, I can pick stuff up with it too. For something the checkout lady thought was useless, it just might be the best multitasker I've got in my kitchen.

                                                  1. w
                                                    walker RE: DetectDave Aug 28, 2006 08:05 AM

                                                    I gave away my old potato ricer when I bought a new Wm-Sonoma one -- it works SO MUCH EASIER. Costs about $20. After you boil the potatoes, put thru ricer. In another pot gently heat up half & half and butter. Mix into potatoes with salt and pepper. Very delicious.

                                                    1. w
                                                      WineWidow RE: DetectDave Aug 28, 2006 08:31 PM

                                                      1. heavy duty stone mortar and pestle -- cannot live without it for making pesto, making up spice mixtures, bruising mint leaves

                                                      2. good quality cleaver -- use it for obvious meat & fish related stuff but its also my favorite thing to mince fresh herbs

                                                      3. tongs -- 'nuf said on tongs, i use cheap ones but you can never have enough tongs

                                                      1. Kagemusha RE: DetectDave Aug 28, 2006 09:40 PM

                                                        I have and love Globals but my fave knife is my weirdo ergonomic Stirex chef's knife. Great design that all but eliminates wrist fatigue.

                                                        1. Jennalynn RE: DetectDave Aug 28, 2006 09:44 PM

                                                          I'd make a nice little package of:

                                                          A Microplane grater
                                                          Three silicone spatulas/spoonulas (make sure they're really silicone)
                                                          Spring loaded tongs
                                                          And to add some "spice" a bottle of Fleur de Sel.

                                                          That's very close to what I gave a friend of mine for a birthday present just a few months ago.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Jennalynn
                                                            brooklynmasala RE: Jennalynn Aug 29, 2006 08:56 PM

                                                            You can use the salad spinner as the basket - that would be a great presentation and no waste!

                                                          2. l
                                                            llinza RE: DetectDave Aug 29, 2006 09:49 PM

                                                            I heartily agree with..

                                                            Tongs, 2 pair, one with silicon ends one standard
                                                            OXO veggie peeler
                                                            OXO salad spinner
                                                            Braun immersion blender
                                                            Silicon spatulas

                                                            Some that may not have been mentioned:

                                                            Flat silicon whisk - I adore this, great for deglazing a pan
                                                            Probe digital thermometer (with the screen that sits outside the oven)this is worth it for Thanksgiving alone.

                                                            1. w
                                                              walker RE: DetectDave Aug 30, 2006 07:49 AM

                                                              I second that probe digital themometer -- Alton Brown uses one. My Thanksgiving turkey comes out so much better with it. When I cook the turkey I do not use foil, only dampened cheesecloth draped around and tucked in and melted unsalted butter. Later on, dry white wine and some brandy -- it makes the gravy great.

                                                              1. Covert Ops RE: DetectDave Aug 30, 2006 08:14 PM

                                                                My two most used items are my Good Grips jar opener. Perfect for when you don't have a man around! Opens everything from sauce jars, bottles of juice, anything screw-top (ever tried to crack open a 2-liter of soda w/wet or greasy hands?). I use it several times a week:

                                                                Another thing is my Pampered Chef thick terrycloth pot holders, square so you can use them as trivets, but with a slit in them so you can actually securely hold things with them. I can't find a picture, but I believe they're retired.

                                                                For potato peelers, I have one with a plastic handle, because the open metal one my mother used always hurt my hand.

                                                                1. NYchowcook RE: DetectDave Sep 2, 2006 04:36 PM

                                                                  I like my silicone spatulas quite alot -- functional but also fun colors. by le cruset.
                                                                  I have a kitchamajig that I use all the time -- essentially a rounded spatula w/ slits -- great for lifting out poached eggs, steamed vegetables.
                                                                  My mini mate Cuisart chopper sees alot of action when I have alot of garlic or ginger to chop, or to blend herbs w/ oil.
                                                                  Tongs are always in the dish drainer -- use them all the time.

                                                                  1. LilMsFoodie RE: DetectDave Sep 2, 2006 05:11 PM

                                                                    serrated peeler for peaches and other thin skinned fruit, microplane grater

                                                                    1. j
                                                                      joleta RE: DetectDave Sep 5, 2006 02:30 PM

                                                                      Thermapen digital food thermometer. Quite pricey but we've made up the price 10 times over in the cost of food not spoiled by overcooking.

                                                                      1. missclaudy RE: DetectDave Sep 6, 2006 09:08 PM

                                                                        Set of 30 year old, Sabatier carbon steel knives.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: missclaudy
                                                                          Leolady RE: missclaudy Sep 14, 2006 06:19 PM

                                                                          I agree missclaudy!

                                                                        2. yongjoo RE: DetectDave Sep 6, 2006 09:34 PM

                                                                          A nice French or Japanese knife. Wusthof is a great brand. I know it's been said, but I want to reiterate it. It's something someone will definitely will use... unless you're my mother who will lock it up because she thinks it should only be used for special occassions.

                                                                          1. bolivianita RE: DetectDave Sep 15, 2006 12:44 AM

                                                                            Don't know if this qualifies as a utensil but it is something that is very important to me in my kitchen. A good sized wooden cutting board. Theres nothing worse than trying to use one of those little guys.
                                                                            And tongs are an essential (already mentioned)
                                                                            One of those little hand blender thingies. I call them Brr Mixers but they havr a name.

                                                                            1. c
                                                                              Chow Bella RE: DetectDave Sep 15, 2006 12:47 AM

                                                                              The most indispensible item in my kitchen, by far, is my mandoline. Mine is a restaurant quality but I have seen many out there which would do nicely for far less cash.

                                                                              1. c
                                                                                chezsqueaky RE: DetectDave Sep 15, 2006 10:56 PM

                                                                                Happy thread!

                                                                                My faves:

                                                                                **Alligator Onion Chopper -- It rocks.


                                                                                **Global knives -- lightweight, great grip, and fabulously sharp. I gave away all my Henckel Pro S knives once I discovered these. I can't figure out what all the fuss is about the Shun--tried those and found the grip uncomfortable.

                                                                                **Oxo mango slitter -- it really is worth getting... really. :



                                                                                Foodsaver handheld -- Instead of tupperware, I store a lot of stuff in mason jars, and used to always have to drag the full sized Foodsaver gizmo out of the drawer, which was PITA. They finally came out with a handheld version that just seals jars/canisters, and takes up minimal counter space. I use it daily.

                                                                                And yes, definitely the Cuisinart mini chopper gizmo. My full-sized Cuisinart pretty much collects dust these days.

                                                                                1. p
                                                                                  PikeOuttaPlace RE: DetectDave Sep 15, 2006 11:06 PM

                                                                                  Knives are the most important tool in the kitchen, but you may not want to give them away. In many cultures, giving a knife as a gift is considered bad luck and in poor taste. Also, a knife is a very personal item, as the balance, size, and shape must be right for the person using it; it's like a glove.

                                                                                  If you still decide to go for a knife anyway, I'd steer clear from the santoku craze and go for a classic French-style chef knife. The best manufacturer is Messermeister and Bristol carries the best, most classic division of Messermeister. They're pretty price-comparable to Wusthof.

                                                                                  1. c
                                                                                    chezsqueaky RE: DetectDave Sep 15, 2006 11:17 PM

                                                                                    Yes, I actually come from such a cultural background and understand the implications of giving a knife (among other things) as a gift. However, in this case, it wasn't so much intended to be a gift, but rather, a hand-me-down. =) The recipient was happy to receive it, and no offense was given or taken.

                                                                                    Agreed about the santoku as far as a basic chef's knife.

                                                                                    1. k
                                                                                      kirsch RE: DetectDave Sep 21, 2006 12:23 AM

                                                                                      Been cooking gourmet for 30 years, with a passion for improvisation. I praise the mighty onion and everything it does for dishes of every genre. My taste buds adore them, at the expense of my eyes, who detest them. To "keep peace" in these upper regions of my body, I have used the spring-plunger style choppers, which are too small and inconsistent to be of any value and my Cuisinart which I hate to drag out everytime, due to weight and cleaning etc. Neither of which make my eyes happy.

                                                                                      Eureka! I found my salvation while browsing the aisles at Linens N' Things (also available at Bed Bath and Beyond). My eyes couldn't believe my eyes, and my taste buds danced at the thought of peace in the family. Brand name is Progressive. It is a clam shell style, hinged chopper that is so darned simple in concept and so very fast to use with one down-stroke that I bought one, used it once and then returned to the store to buy two more (just in case it breaks and/or disappears from the shelf, which often happens to your favorite finds). Chops an absolutely perfect and uniform dice. Quarter your onion and place cut side down on the square cutting surface and give it one downward push and you're done. Pieces drop into a fully enclosed clear base that doubles as a measuring cup. Just leave them imprisoned there until they are needed in your concoction. Alas, my wife can no longer call me a cry-baby cook. You will never dice another onion by "hand" or "processor" after you use this "under $20" glorious tool.

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