Kitchen gadgets

20 02 2007

I’m far from a gourmet chef (despite my claims).  But I like gadgets and tools of any description.  And, while I’m, err, inexperienced (some have used the phrase “useless“) at cooking I do enjoy it when I make the time.

Tonight I made a red chicken curry and I’d only be mildly overexaggerating if I state that it was the best food I’ve ever eaten.  While I was cooking I really enjoyed two of my kitchen tools and thought I’d share.

Firstly, my Wustof knives.  Tonight I was carving through chicken like it was warm butter.  My vege’s practically sliced themselves for fear of Wustof fury.  If you’re one of my friends that hasn’t heard me talk about these knives, consider yourself lucky.  They’re great, frickin’ awesome, highly recommended and I’ll try and leave the praise at that.  They only have two problems.  They’re fiendishly expensive here in Australia.  Do what I do and buy them overseas for (literally) half the price.  If that option isn’t available then try searching online – I’ve also purchased some reasonably that way.  But don’t expect to wander down to the King Of Knives or Myer and get ’em for a song.  Oh, the second problem is that I can no longer blame the tools for being the worlds slowest food preparer. 

The other tool I used tonight (for the first time) was my rice cooker.  It was a present from Mum and Dad for Christmas and, while I’ve always thought such devices are great, it was proven tonight.  I may have mentioned that I’m a crap inexperienced cook and am lacking one of the gifts of a real chef – timing.  I can make rice, no problems (absorption method, slow boil, microwave – whatever!).  But when I try to make rice while cooking the rest of the meal I fall to pieces.  Inevitably, my food comes out burnt or the rice comes out gluggy.  Can never seem to get the timing right.  With the rice cooker it doesn’t matter.  Just rinse the rice, stuff it in the cooker with some water and voila!  The machine makes perfect rice and can keep it in that state for up to five hours!  Now I’ve just got to get better at cooking the rest of the meal…

Oh, another fantastic gadget is my pasta pot.  Another Christmas present, this time from Luke & Collette, this pot is sweet.  It’s got a strainer built-in to the lid!  When your pasta is ready, instead of dirtying your colander, just twist the lid of the pot (to lock it) then pour the water out through the perforations.  Simple and effective.  Whenever I empty that water I smile.

What kitchen gadgetry do you love?

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10 responses

20 02 2007
Jiggy

Being a passionate cook myself, this is a topic I’d love to contribute too.

We receive a Wusthof knife block for our wedding, and I have to agree with all your comments — they are fantastic knives and they make cooking effortless. My only problem with them is that I still haven’t gotten the hang of using the honing steel; I am convinced that I am honing them incorrectly (I found the instructions a bit vague) and they have been losing their sharpness over time. I had them sharpened recently and while it did restore them to their former greatness, it’s only a month or so down the line and they have already lost their edge again 😦 I’m not sure if this is normal, but it seems odd that you’d have to sharpen them so regularly if you are regularly honing them…

We also have a rice cooker, and while I do agree that it makes the job easy, I’m still not 100% convinced. For starters, EVERY time I make rice, quite a bit of the rice ends up getting stuck to the so-called non-stick pot inside the cooker. I have tried adding more water, adding less water, even adding a bit of olive oil in there and it doesn’t make a different. My second gripe is that, yes it goes into that “warm” setting after it’s cooked, but I find if I leave the rice any longer than about 5 minutes it dries out pretty quickly. I’m not sure if I’m expecting too much here…

You’ll have to post that red curry recipe!

21 02 2007
trentini

You should hone your knives regularly – I do it quickly (three or four sweeps per side) before using them. I hold the sharpening steel in my left hand, the knife in my right and draw the blade down the length of the steel. There’s a small animation (and a better description) here:

http://www.metrokitchen.com/wusthof/knife_care.html

Sharpening should only be required very infrequently – given that I don’t use my knives anywhere near as much as a chef I expect I’ll need to sharpen them every other year (or four).

My rice cooker is brand new so the non-stick is still *very* non-stick! Literally *rinsed* it 95% clean, a quick wipe removed the remaining 3-odd grains (seriously!). Also, the rice was sitting on the warm setting for about almost an hour when I decided to have a second course…the rice was only marginally drier than when it was fresh. Now, maybe that’s all because my unit is still so new – I’ll report back in a couple of months!

The red curry recipe was simple (I used a paste!) but I’ll write it down later. 🙂

22 02 2007
Gayle

Yes, any Chinese kitchen is not complete without a rice cooker. There is actually a trick to making sure that the rice does not stick to the pot. I can’t remember what it is, but I think if you stir the rice as soon as it has stopped cooking (and just gone into the warm setting)it will not stick later on. (Will check with the best source – my Mum!)

I’ve also discovered recently that if you are making rice for 2 people or less, the microwave is just as easy an option, if not easier. You will need a large enough microwave container (I think they sell ones specific for rice). I usually put in one mug of rice, cover with water to about 2cm above the rice (that works for a cooker too). Microwave on high for 10 mins. You will need longer if you have more liquid in there and want softer rice.

Oooo.. I love kitchen gadgets. I still get a kick out of using those magi-can style can openers as opposed to the oldschool ones that leave sharp edges. Gideon’s Breville grill is also an awesome kitchen gadget (bit like the Foreman grill), cooks meat really quickly and healthily, minimal cleaning (if you don’t clean it after every use) – brilliant. Bessemer cokware is expensive but awesome, not stick saucepan/dishes that act like saucepans or stovetop ovens! (www.bessemer.com.au) My digital kitchen scales – I will never go back to non-digital scales – they suck. A good pair of kitchen scissors – come apart for cleaning and great for cutting spring onions and herbs. Has anyone seen those Jamie Oliver flavour shakers – they look intriguing, do they work?

But when it comes to kitchen gadgets, nothing compares to Tupperware (yes, definitely a sign of having turned 30). Not just their traditional storage containers, but everything else, eg. Rock ‘n’ serve – the greatest way to store and reheat food, the measuring cups with the 2/3 and 3/4 cup measurements, the measuring jug with diagonal measurements so you can see how much you have poured as you are pouring, the pickle & beetroot fridge container that pulls the food out leaving the liquid in the containter – ingenious!

24 02 2007
trentini

Gayle, you may actually love kitchen gadgets more than me! 🙂

According to my rice cooker manual (obviously not as distinguished a source as your Mum) you are meant to stir the rice when it’s finished cooking. “Step 10: Open the lid and turn the rice over with the serving spoon provided”. It doesn’t explicitly say so but I think you may be on to something about the stirring helping to avoid stickiness.

And yeah, the microwave option works well but you still have to get the timing pretty right.

Those magi-style can openers rock! Seriously, that’s what engineering is about.

Melissa got a Breville grill for her birthday but it’s currently still unused. Not sure if you’re meant to put meat on it, I thought it was a sandwich grill?, but either way I’m looking forward to using it. I’ve only heard good things about the Foreman grills…

I’ve never heard of Bessemer products – where can you by them from?

Still haven’t yet gotten a set of digital scales but I’m already feelin’ the love.

My set of Wustof knives came with a pair of insanely sharp scissors. They’re sharp enough to pull apart and use as knives…awesome.

I’ve been intrigued by the Jamie Oliver shaker thingamajigies but despite asking around I haven’t found anyone that owns one. Looks a little on the gimmicky side, but I’m hoping to be proved wrong.

Yes, Tupperware does indeed rock. And I’m not even 30 (yet!). I’ve been told that their plastics technology is state-of-the-art, second only to Lego (seriously!). You really wouldn’t think that such mundane kitchen products could be improved but they put so much thought into everything that they approach kitchen gadgetry nirvana. Mum and Dad have a bunch of Tupperware that I’m going to try and ‘borrow’ on a semi-permanent basis… 😉

Oh, I’m also really fond of my pizza slicer. It’s one of those circular ones, you can see it here:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zyliss-15771474-Pizza-Cutter/dp/B0000AQZWL

Recommended.

24 02 2007
Red Curry « Matts Mind

[…] incandescent bulbs by 2010 Red Curry February 24th, 2007 As mentioned in the recent kitchen gadgets post, here’s the recipe I used for my Red […]

26 02 2007
Lamb

Yes, Wusthof – and don’t you forget who led you to that particular religion.

Here’s another suggestion for you: a decent electronic scale. If you’ve ever mucked around with one of those cheap spring operated things you’ll understand this. Buy one reasonably from eBay.

Then there’s my Turkey fryer, which I love nearly as much as my children. Well, maybe more than one of them.

28 02 2007
Gayle

Cool! pizza slicer… i’ve never seen one like that! Amazing what you can find when you look.

Yeah, I tend to agree with you re. the jamie oliver flavour shaker thing being somewhat gimicky… what happened to the good ol’ mortar & pestle?

I have a feeling the Bessemer products are sort of like Avon, you have to know someone who knows someone who sells them! I think Le Creuset also does similar quality and purpose items, but their pots can be used on the stove and in the oven as well.

I’m guessing Breville made a variety of electric grills. Some for just sandwiches and some for meat. The one we have does both, but is best for meat. It has a steak sear setting, so it definitely is for cooking meat!!

And of course, have to mention Tupperware again! Also love their soft bakingware, even though it is so expensive. Other brands make them now at a more affordable cost. Still do wonder if the silicon is safe though, despite their claims it is well tested. Oh, and the lifetime guarantee! Can’t beat that.

Lego is still state of the art? I would have thought their technology has remained pretty much the same for years and years?

Turkey fryer?? Sounds rather cruel!

28 02 2007
trentini

Yes Lamby, everyone should know that you are my high priest of Wustof. 😀 And I will get a set of electronic scales. Maybe this weekend. Don’t know about the turkey fryer, I’ll have to see it in action!

I can’t wait to get me a good mortar & pestle! Any way that you can involve stone into your cooking has to be good. And it’s gotta be better (though maybe slower) than the Oliver equivalent.

I bought Mum some silicone baking trays and she loves ’em – so easy to ‘eject’ the goodies and to clean.

I was looking for information about the Lego plastics manufacturing and, while I didn’t find anything to back up the “state of the art” rumour, I stumbled on this wikipedia entry:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lego

Two interesting facts. 1) The parts are manufactured to within a tolerance of 2um (micrometres) – wow! 2) On average, everyone in the world has 52 lego bricks!

I’ll have to listen out for the knock of my local Bessemer sales person then… 😉

19 03 2007
Belinda

doesn’t the pizza (cheese etc that sticks to the knofe) get stuck inside the pizza wheel? I have never bought one out of fear of that happening – instead we use the knife that comes in teh set with the curved chopping board for chhopping herbs – also an excellent devise (not for me, I am too slow, but when Brett does it its cool)

mandolin (?) those chopping devices that mean you can slice etc super fast – LOVE IT

analon non stick frying pan – beautiful to use – really is non stick

rice cooker

toasted sandwhich machine

tupperware knife sharpener – come with a two difference sharpener options, uses a ceramic surface not metal (better for knives)

tupperware can opener – even better then the maggi ones, but would want to be for the price

tupperware storage containers…

I prefer the pirex version of the tupperware rock and serve – it has a glass base (i hate heating in plastic in the microwave – all those plastic chemicas going into the food)

OOH – Barmix LOVE IT

all of these things came to germany with us bc I didn’t want to live without them

20 03 2007
trentini

The pizza wheel doesn’t get icky stuff stuck inside it because there’s a fair gap between the blade and the housing. Also, that housing splits in two for ease of cleaning (if anything does get stuck!).

Those curved blades look fantastic!

I haven’t seen the tupperware can opener – but I’m sure it’s good. Wouldn’t let my knives near a sharpener though – it’s sharpening steel for the Wustofs!

And yes, how could I forget the Bamix!? We don’t yet have one, our kitchen is incomplete. 😉

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