Kitchen gadgets…some are useful, some remain sitting in the bottom of the drawer for all eternity. Without further ado, I present my top ten favourite kitchen gadgets, in no particular order.
I own three of these now – that’s how good they are. I mainly use the zester for things like zesting citrus fruits, and grating rhizomes like ginger and galangal. The medium ribbon microplane is what I use when I am grating hard cheeses (Granna, Reggiano) and palm sugar. The more conventional one (Extra Coarse) I use for potatoes, carrots, and soft cheeses. Microplane makes my life in the kitchen easier – I honestly don’t know what I’d do without them.
KitchenAid Stand Mixer
This is one of the ultimate in home appliance luxuries. It whisks, beats, stirs, and even has a dough hook . A lot of commercial kitchens I have worked with have had KitchenAid’s in service for a long time – they are built to last.
One of the best things about the KitchenAid is the attachments you can buy – having said that, the only attachment I have bought so far is an ice cream making bowl (which I should be using more often). On my attachment wish list is the pasta roller kit, the mincer, and the juicer.
This is a massive time saver in the kitchen – we use it for everything from making cake batter, meringues, choux pastry, ice cream, and scones.
This is basically a japanese mandolin. Very very helpful in the kitchen, and also very dangerous! I use this for slicing anything that needs to be more uniform than my knife skills can handle, or when I have a big batch of stuff that needs slicing up – for example, a bunch of tomatoes for Caprese Salad, or a whole heap of onions for french onion soup.
Expensive, yes. Hard to find, yes. I have two of these – they are, in effect, a replacement for baking paper. It’s a silicone mat that you can bake everything from cookies to tuilles to meringues on – a small mat (around 30cm x 20 cm) will set you back around $30, but it’s worth every cent. They should last forever, provided you look after them, and only require a soapy rinse after use. The best thing about them though is the even heat transfer when cooking.
Sure, it’s no Robot Coupe – in a way though, that’s what makes this so good – if you’ve tried using a full sized food processor to make a dressing or a paste for 2 people, you will see what I mean. It makes light work of dressings, mayonnaise, spice pastes, and pesto.
We didn’t own a bamix for far too long, despite both our parents owning one. My favourite use for the bamix is actually whipping cream – using the included beaker, you can whip cream in around 15 seconds. We also use it for soups and some sauces.
Le Creuset Cast Iron Ovenware
Possibly the most used cooking vessel in our kitchen – these are seriously heavy as they are made from cast iron which has been enamel baked. We have two different sizes, a 28cm and a 20cm casserole pot. Great for curries, ragouts, even the old spaghetti bolognese – they are so easy to clean, usually just requiring a soapy rinse after use, and produce such an even heat that you hardly even have to stir whatever you are cooking.
OK, so I probably lied above. I use our wok a lot. Mostly due to laziness, as it’s so easy to clean and heats up so damn quickly!! Ritsy does not use it much, maybe because it’s too awkward for her. I mostly cook pastas and stir frys in our wok, but also use it for deep frying and steaming (with a bamboo steamer inside it).
Good quality knives
There is a lot to be said for outlaying over $1000 for a set of knives. Luckily for me, I got most of that back in tax, back in the day. The thing with the more expensive knives is they are (generally) balanced better and stay sharp for longer. I say generally because you can buy expensive knives that feel terrible to cut with (I’m looking at you, Mr. Global and Mr. Furi).
I have 9 knives in total – a 26cm Mundial Chef’s knife (the cheapest of the lot, it does not stay sharp for long and does not feel terribly good to chop with), a Wusthoff Trident chef’s knife, carving fork, filleting knife, paring knife, boning knife, oyster shucker, a 20cm J.A. Henckels santoku knife, and a 30cm ICEL bread knife.
Even with all these knives, there are days when I have used most of my knives and without doing the dishes, I have to resort to using a filleting knife to chop an onion…
AccuSharp Knife Sharpener
You would think that, having been a chef, I would be into using steels and stones. But I’m not. Not because I am lazy either – it’s because they just don’t work as well as a pull through sharpener. I have had my AccuSharp for about 7 years now – including 2 years in a commercial kitchen – and it’s still going strong. It keeps my knives sharp like no other – you can actually see the metal filings coming off the knife as you pull the trusty diamond honed cutters along the blade.
One thing I always tell people is that they are more likely to cut themselves when they attempt to slice and dice with a blunt blade – there is just no grip on the knife, which leads to slippage, which leads to bleeding. If you own one of these (around $40) you really have no excuse not to keep a sharp knife anymore.
In commercial kitchens I would need to sharpen my knives about once a week with this tool – at home it’s closer to once every 2 months.