Thursday, October 7

kitchen tools -beyond the basics recap

[update; on recommendation will have to check out these spoon/spatulas made out of NASAgrade unmeltable silicone]

Reposting the whole set of our kitchen tools for your convenience...

After a few knives, spoons and pans... what do you get to fill out the kitchen? Answer; tongs. We use most of these things, this isn't fantasy shopping. Not a lot here over $30 except maybe #14, and you can pick those up second hand.

1. Steel tongs (or space-shuttle-plastic tipped) are the number one next purchase in my book. You can mix, grab hot trays, add a pinch of something from your premixed bowl of herbs... even if you just use them to flip bacon you will be well served.

2. Butcher's apron. Navy, striped, standard issue. Save your shirt from grease.

3. Syrup pourer. Nice touch. Warming the amber nectar is essential.

4. Roasting pan and tray. Cook your own chicken. Nerd alert: was just scoping some pans out. Can't you just picture scraping all the browned fond off the bottom with a bit of wine and finishing the gravy... mmmm.

5. Flour sifter. Great if you have kids "helping".

6. Micro zester. OK not essential for me, but if you like cookies and cakes with lemon this will be.

7. Popover pan. My english granny had the lineage for making great yorkshire pudding (popovers) but infact they were always awfully flat (how big are yours?? oink). The trick is to barely mix the batter atall. Some leave the batter overnight even. Use some dripping from your roast in the pans. And do not, on pain of death, open the oven door to check on them.

8. Pastry scraper. I don't bake so well. Prefer being able to throw things in and change on the go... that does not work for pastry and bread. These things are pretty cool looking though. Scrrrrape all that floury dough up, chop it, move it around with these.

[BTW the number font used is my handwriting, created with the free YourFonts generator. Takes a few tries to get the spacing rigth but nice to have in your backpocket. Download The Thirty-Nine Steps from The Gutenberg Project, use your handwriting font, print on crumbly paper. Bosh.]

9. Cloth kitchen towels. Use instead of oven gloves (just don't grab a hot pan with a wet towel, the heat goes right through), wipe the rim of plates as you send them out, dry your hands, throw over your oil fire to put it out.... the list goes on.

10. Spatter screen. Stops burger grease spitting all over you and the stove, but lets water vapour out so meat gets color.

11. 2-cup measuring cup. Don't mess around, get the 2-cupper. Ours has the numbers printed on the inside of the glass too so you can read as you fill. Sneaky.

12. Potato peeler. What? Not for peeling potatoes, a peeler essential for making decent twists of lemon.

13. Bone or mother of pearl spoon. Not technically for cooking... almost in "for the man who has everything" territory but these spoons are essential if you like to eat hard boiled eggs. Metal spoons react with the sulphurous egg yolk spoiling the taste don't you know... Egg spoons will have a slightly teardrop shape as well. If you are against the idea of bone, choose a thermo-resin spoon, as from Alessi.

14. Lobster pot. Sure you only use it once or twice a year, but you can pretend you make your own stock... a spigot at the bottom would be handy for that (to drain the stock and leave all the foamy mess).

Not going to get into suggesting knives and pots and pans as others can speak better to that, and it sure gets expensive... I'm lucky to have M's grandpa's Revereware pots and some oldish knives... Below are a few more picks for beyond the basics that everyone could/should have around. W/O shelling out the reddies.

15. Pepperball. A one handed peppermill anyway. I thought the electric ones were just silly but they are actually v useful. The old Pepperball does the job fine.

16. Pommery mustard. Large grained mustard. Take your vinaigrette to the next level. The old jars had a wax sealed cork, made a huge mess to open. New jars have a plastic stopper, cleaner but not as funky. Seriously, freekin wax chunks went everywhere...

17. Lamsonsharp clam knife. A total classic. At least trrrry to open a few clams. I stick w/ mignonette sauce.

18. SeaScissors. Any sturdy kitchen shears are great, but these are made especially for cutting through lobster shells etc.

19. Steamer. This type is purpose built for asparagus but will also steam ears of corn perfectly and broccoli. May seem a bit excessive but you will buy and cook more asparagus, and enjoy it much more w this thing.

20. A steel. Must have. Really a carving set is almost essential, but everyone has knives... There are many views on sharpening technique, and even though not a huge fan generally, Gordon Ramsay demonstrates a clear, traditional way of sharpening using a steel.

21. Ice cream scoop. Same design since 1935 by Sherman Kelly.

22. Lobster crackers. Plain old nutcrackers work too, but these are only $3 a pop.

23. Stainless picks are key to the lobster eating process. A big help.

24. Stainless steel oil can, for cooking oil or olive oil. I can never find one that does not leave an oily ring on the counter but Pops has one that is rock solid. Maybe just years of use and all the seals are nice and gunked up...

25. Galumpia salad dressing. Mario DiGregorio stopped making his parmesan enhanced, garlic drenched vinaigrette (the label used to say "heartburn added") but thank you Woodstock Farmers Market for recreating it. The old stuff used to come in small plastic milk jugs, as if it was moonshine. Mario mixed it in his washing machine apparently. Side note: don't google galumpia... trust me.

26. Terra cotta garlic roaster. Sure you can just wrap garlic in tin foil and roast it, but somehow the clay gives the garlic that just back from Florence taste...

27. Egg basket. There are a million styles, rubberized or just wire. If you go through eggs as fast as we do it is a definite "nice to have".

28. Chicken bucket. This model a little overkill, but a classic Fortex pail that will resist rust/cold etc. Bucket lives under the sink for food scraps, clam shells, anything but citrus rinds and coffee grounds really. Taken out to the chickens each day. If you have a dog better bolt that lower door or he'll get into it.

29. Salad spinner. This model is a French style, has a place in MoMA. Not so great for if you can't get outdoors easily as Pete Townsend type windmilling needed to dry your washed lettuce, but a great job for the kids.

30. Ramen bowl. No way do you need to buy them from wagamama, just need a big bowl. Otherwise I end up eating out of a mixing bowl.

31. Chili oil. The base of this one is sesame oil, nice. I think this was the type used at Waga' actually.

32. Honey spoon/dipper. Wood ones look nicer but maybe less hygienic?

33. Stick/handheld blender. Many options out there, if you get a cordless even better. Essential this one.

34. Ramekin. Get a bunch. Great for nuts/olives/shrimp cocktail sauce placed in bowl of ice/dumpling dipping sauce... Winner.

35. Champagne stopper. The joke is that we never have a half finished bottle of sparkling... i.e. it always gets finished but this model works well.

36. Milk jug. No, technically milk doesn't come out of a cow's mouth... rarely whimsical over here, but we have this.

37. Just saw these yday. Seeds embedded on cardboard sticks, like matches. Great presentation. Matchstick Garden. Grow your own heeeerrrbs.

38. Diner mugs. Some don't like the lip-feel of these. Too dribbly. Have a bit of a collection going.

39. Corn cob holders. Sort of unnecessary/kitsch but then so would be red gingham tablecloths and clam dip. Not up for discussion...

40. Clamp. Have a bunch of these to keep bags of pork rinds or whatever closed... Yes a clothes peg works too, but hammer to a fly, we use safety orange rubberized 4" spring clamps.

41. Matchbox holder. Don't need a branded one but this goes w/ our v yellow kitchen.

42. Kitchen matches, in a box, to go in your wall mounted matchbox holder.

43. Pie funnel. Support the pastry lid during cooking and ventilate the pie, so that the filling does not boil over. -via The Historic Royal Palaces shop; classic Britannica.

44. Mortar and pestle. Can't believe haven't brought this up yet. Go marble like Julia Child did, or basalt if you just want to make guacamole.

45. Colman's Mustard. Get the powdered version. Clears the sinuses and then some. A must-have for roast beef. Don't mistake this for "yellow hot dog mustard". (Ultra sneak tip; sprinkle some mustard powder on buttery scampi/shrimp and it increases the butter flavour x10. You can use a tiny amount of butter and it tasty alllll kinds of buttery.)

46. Tablespoon measuring jug. Brilliant idea... stop futzing around with multiple pours of greasy oil or whatever. Made by Catamount Glass in Bennington, VT and available at the recently launched Kaufmann Mercantile store -really worth a look, all borosilicate glass/leather/wood products. Clean as a whistle. Can't wait to see more.

47. Table top knife sharpener. Perfect for small knives like paring knife 48. which may be tough to manoeuvre on a carving steel. Both made by Rada Manufacturing in Waverly, Iowa. "This is the knife your grandmother used" -aluminum handled cutlery since 1948.

49. Love making freezer pops... just pour some orange juice in there and see you on the front steps after lunch. Millions of styles available but this model by Progressive International even comes with wooden sticks. (Get all Martha and write little jokes/notes on the sticks... you with me? Too much??)

50. A soda syphon to make seltzer (plain water carbonated with CO2). Think Tom&Jerry shooting these things, and it is also a fun/educational kid's project to create the seltzer. Just twist down the CO2 cartridge into the guide until the whole syphon is aerated. Neat to feel the cartridge go ice cold as it releases the pressurized gas into the syphon. Believe this is due to the remaining tiny amount of liquid CO2 evaporating to restore the pressure in the cartridge.

What did I miss?