Tag Archives: Kitchen Tools

Give the Gift of Better Cooking and Eating With These Kitchen Tools

The Holidays are fast approaching, which means you need to get to shopping. If someone on your list is serious about cooking, drinking, and eating, we have the perfect tools and toys to make their kitchen a happier, tastier place.

A Sous Vide Immersion Circulator

I may be a bit biased when it comes to this particular method of cooking, but there is no denying that an immersion circulator will seriously up your game in certain culinary undertakings. Meat, seafood, creamy desserts, and eggs all come out consistently perfect when cooked this way, and an immersion circulator is also a great tool for infusing your way to bespoke oils, vinegar, and booze.

There are two great models out there for the home cook: the Anova Precision Cooker ($149-$199) and ChefSteps’ Joule ($199). Both make great tasting food, but there are some differences in form and function, so check out our sous-vide showdown to pick the right one for yourself (or your very lucky giftee).

Herb Scissors

Chopping chives and other herbs into tiny pieces can be a huge pain, but these stainless steel herb scissors from Jenaluca ($12) cut down your work by a factor of five, and produce consistently-cut little bits of delicious “herbal confetti,” ready to be stirred into soups, stews, pasta, or used as a beautiful garnish.

Oven Pull

Maybe you are a much smoother operator than I, but I cannot tell you how many times I have burned the top of my hand trying to pull something out of the oven. This heat-resistant, happy-looking, silicone oven pull form Joie ($5) lets you drag hot dishes and pans (or even the rack itself) from the deepest depths of your oven, preventing bodily harm by way of burns. (It would also look super cute sticking out of a stocking.)

Silicone Scrape and Scoop

No amount of Nutella should ever be thrown out with its jar, and the Tovolo Scoop & Spread Multi-Purpose Spreader ($6) ensures you get every little bit. In addition to making sure there is no spread left behind, this silicone spreader distributes soft cheeses in a manner that is most pleasant.

Nibble Cake Tasting Pan

How many times have you baked a cake for a function, decorated it, and then waited with bated breath, unsure of how it tasted, until it was served? The Quirky Nibble Cake Pan ($41), which comes with its own little mini-me built right in, eliminates your did-this-actually-turn-out-okay anxiety by letting you literally have your cake and eat it too.

Hands Free Bag Holder

Whether it’s for sous-vide or food-storage reasons, I put a lot of things in plastic bags. I only have two hands, and sometimes I need both of those things to pour, scrape, or otherwise transfer food from its original receptacle to said bag. This neat little rack clip from Jokari ($10) makes the whole process a lot easier by holding sandwich, freezer, and other resealable bags open and stable, preventing spills, slips, and other messes.

Reusable Food Huggers

Resealable bags have their time and place, but storing every little odd and end in a plastic bag can really add up, waste-wise. These washable, silicone Food Huggers ($10), fit around all kinds of fruits and vegetables, and can be used to cover the tops of jars, wide-mouth bottles, and bowls of food, eliminating the need for plastic wrap. They’re also dishwasher safe, which is nice, because washing things by hand is a drag, man.

Thermopop Thermometer

Everyone, and I mean everyone, should have a kitchen thermometer, and you can’t beat the super-fast, splash-proof, seriously reasonably priced ThermoWorks ThermoPop, which can be found for a mere $29 on their website. Not only is it extremely responsive—it gives you a reading in about five seconds—but the digital display rotates with the click of a button, letting you read your accurate temperature from any angle, and any hand.

Heat Conducting Knife

I keep my butter out on the counter, but it can still be a little tough to spread in the colder months. The Spread That Butter Knife ($20) uses your body heat to warm the butter, while the serrated edge scrapes it into super-spreadable ribbons, making your morning toast just a little more attainable.

Jigger Bottle Stoppers

These cute little jiggers ($19.99 for four) will make you feel equal parts mixologist and scientist, with demarcations in both ounces and milliliters. These multi-functional stoppers are also very unlikely to get lost, as they live right on top of your booze, streamlining your at-home cocktail making.

Monthly Spice Subscription

Playing around with new spices and flavors is a lot of fun, but buying a whole bunch of a spice you’re unfamiliar with can be intimidating (and expensive). Raw Spice Bar’s Spice of the Month Club ($6 per month and up) introduces you to exciting new seasonings with just a enough spice to get you going (or flowing) and delicious recipes that make sure your getting the most flavorful bang for your buck.

Hydro Flask

You should all probably be drinking more water, and the best way to do that is to ensure you have water with you at all times. Cold water is more enjoyable than warm water (at least for me) and the double-insulated, stainless steel Hydro Flask will keep your beverage cold for up to 24 hours, and it comes in a wide variety of sizes and colors (starting at $22). If you don’t want to drink more water, that’s fine too, you can always fill your Hydroflask with booze. I recommend gin.

Immersion Blender

I’ve mentioned it before, but my stick blender is the underrated workhorse of my kitchen. Not only is it portable, light, and easy to operate and clean. It makes great shakes, smoothies, aioli, sauces, and spreads, and it is indispensable in making creamy soups.

Some super-fancy models can cost up to 100 bucks, but I love my two-speed Cuisinart, which can be found for as little as thirty dollars on Amazon.

What to Look for When Shopping for a Digital Kitchen Scale

A digital kitchen scale is an essential tool for anybody that likes to cook or bake. They provide accuracy for making your recipes more reliable and easy to cook. If you’re in the market for one, these are the qualities you should look for.

In this video from the America’s Test Kitchen YouTube channel, chef Lisa McManus reviews the best kitchen scales out there (you can find a complete list here). Based on their results, a good digital kitchen scale should be:

  • Accurate: If it’s not accurate, it’s useless. Fortunately, every scale they tested with lab-calibrated weights scored well.
  • Easy to use: You should be able to switch from grams to ounces quickly, and the controls should be intuitive and easy to access.
  • Legible: The digital display should be large, use big digits, have sharp color contrast, and a backlight option. Also, a large bowl shouldn’t completely obscure the screen.
  • Durable: You should be able to plop your scale on the counter without it being damaged.
  • Easy to clean: The scale should have a removable platform for easy cleanup, and the scale shouldn’t have nooks and crannies that easily trap food and water residue.

So what was their top pick? They went with the OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale with Pull-Out Display which runs for $50, followed by the Ozeri Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale as a best buy option for about $12.

http://lifehacker.com/5840209/why-yo…

Equipment Review: Best Digital Kitchen Scales | YouTube

Four Tips for Mastering the Mandoline Slicer

Mandolines are efficient tools for saving time in the kitchen, but they can be dangerous if you don’t use them correctly. These four tips will get you slicing vegetables quicker than ever, and help you keep your fingers in the process.

In this video from the ChefSteps YouTube channel, chef Grant Crilly demonstrates some mandoline mastery techniques you should keep in mind when you use your own:

  1. Keep your blade sharp: Like with kitchen knives, a sharp blade gives you more control so you don’t accidentally cut yourself. Sharpen or replace it regularly.
  2. Keep it stable: Rest the mandoline on a flat surface so it isn’t wobbling while you slice. The less of a chance it has to move the better.
  3. Use manageable pieces for slicing: Cut your vegetables or what have you into smaller, easier-to-handle pieces before you start slicing them. For example, cut a whole cucumber into thirds or quarters before trying to slice them.
  4. Use the guide: Keep your food against the guide wall on the side as you push it into the slicing blade. This gives you more control and keeps your cuts consistent.

Mandolines can be scary, but if you follow these tips, you’ll wonder why haven’t been using one all along.

http://lifehacker.com/5661941/mark-b…

ChefSteps Tips & Tricks: Master Your Mandoline | YouTube

Eight Smart Ways to Use Your Kitchen Shears

The humble kitchen shears are an often underappreciated tool, and many of us don’t bother when a knife will do. This video from Bon Appetit however, showcases some surprisingly useful ways to use your kitchen tools to make food prep (and serving food) much easier.

Some of these will look familiar to old school Lifehacker fans, like the old pizza cutting trick we’ve highlighted before, but some others are a bit more eye-opening. For one, I don’t know why I’d forgotten the old mom-in-the-kitchen trick of opening a can of tomatoes and using the shears to cut them up before you even pour them into the pan, or use them to de-vein shrimp or cut bacon into small, easily cooked pieces. They even use a pair of kitchen shears to get the meat out of a lobster, although it’s arguably not necessary. Either way, check out the video above, or below at YouTube—maybe you’ll find something that’ll draw your kitchen shears out of the drawer and into more frequent use.

8 Inventive Ways to Utilize Your Kitchen Shears | Bon Appetit (YouTube)

You Don’t Have to Spend Big Bucks to Get a Good Digital Thermometer

You Don't Have to Spend Big Bucks to Get a Good Digital Thermometer

Everyone should have an instant read thermometer in their kitchen, as it gives you better control over everything from chicken thighs to caramels. The Thermapen may be the last cooking thermometer you’ll ever need, but it has a less expensive, perfectly serviceable sibling.

http://lifehacker.com/the-thermapen-…

Don’t get me wrong, the Thermapen is awesome, but not everyone has the funds to splurge on a $79 kitchen item. In an effort to find a more budget-friendly digital thermometer, Cook’s Illustrated tested a whole bunch of ‘em, comparing “accuracy, speed, usability, visibility, comfort, and durability with a mix of lefties, righties, small- and large-handed testers, professional chefs, and lay cooks.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the winner was the ThermoWorks ThermoPop, a $29 thermometer manufactured by the same company that makes the famed Thermapen. The lollipop-shaped ThermoPop beat out other contestants because it was fast, easy to use, and long (meaning your less likely to burn your hand). Testers also loved its large, easy-to-read display and its ability to read temperatures up to 400 degrees.

Inexpensive Digital Thermometers | Cook’s Illustrated

Photo by Cook’s Illustrated.

Get Excited About Parchment Paper, One of the Most Useful Things In Your Kitchen

Get Excited About Parchment Paper, One of the Most Useful Things In Your Kitchen

Being beige, dull, and two-dimensional, parchment paper doesn’t seem like the most exciting of kitchen tools. But those cellulose-based sheets have so many uses, it’s hard not to get a little excited about them. I can’t imagine making French macarons without the stuff, but parchment paper has a multitude of uses that go beyond baking, which is why my kitchen will never go paperless.

For those of you who don’t know, parchment paper is a grease and water-resistant paper that has been treated with some sort of coating to give it its non-stick properties (usually silicone). Contrary to what you may have heard, parchment paper is not wax paper. Wax paper is coated with wax (duh) and, though it’s a good parchment substitute for tasks like letting chocolate-covered strawberries set or covering a work space for easy cleanup, it doesn’t do so well in the oven, as the wax can melt or even catch on fire (which is usually frowned upon).

Most parchment papers have a temperature limit, it’s best to check with the manufacturer. King Arthur Flour’s has a recommended temperature of 500℉ for a single use, but Paper Chef only guarantees theirs up to 425℉, so check the box to be safe.

Skip the Rolls, Get Pre-Cut Sheets

Get Excited About Parchment Paper, One of the Most Useful Things In Your Kitchen

When you buy a roll of parchment paper, it’ll probably roll in on itself as soon as you lay it out. This makes it hard to cut and annoying to work with. Flipping it over (so it pops up instead of curls in) makes it a little easier to finagle, but getting it to lay flat fresh from the roll is nearly impossible. You can keep it from curling with clothespins or magnets, or you could buy pre-cut sheets, which is what I do, because I’m lazy and prefer to use my magnets holding up a series of drunken photo booth strips.

If you do a lot of baking, pre-cut sheets and circles will make you life so much easier. Baking goddess Alice Medrich is a huge fan of the pre-cut stuff and has some good tips for storage:

Store a stack of sheets flat in a rimmed baking sheet. If you don’t have drawer or shelf space for a baking sheet, clip your parchment sheets to an old-fashioned clip board and hang it on the inside of a cupboard, pantry, or closet door. There is no excuse not to keep parchment sheets instead of rolls!

You heard Alice: no excuse. (But live your life. If you’re some sort of parchment Jedi who can wrangle unruly rolls with grace and dexterity, carry on and just know that I am in awe of you.)

The Many Uses of Parchment Paper

Parchments uses span the savory and sweet, the hot and the cold, and everything in between.

Use It in Your Baking

If you use it for nothing else, use it for lining things. From cake pans and cookie sheets to work surfaces, everything that’s lined with parchment is that much easier to clean. For cake pans, you can buy the pre-cut circles I mentioned above, or you can use this clever trick from my favorite ginger, shown above.

Lining a brownie pan with parchment is never a bad idea, as doing so allows you to remove the whole batch right out of the pan, preventing the the loss of valuable chocolate through pan stickage (and cutting down on the amount of scrubbing you have to do). In the case of cookies, parchment paper not only makes them easier to remove, it can help prevent burnt bottoms. The more reflective the surface, the faster the cookie cooks; placing a sheet of light-colored parchment on a cookie sheet makes it less reflective and slows the whole thing down.

Fold Up Your Food

You probably knew about parchment’s baking uses, but this is a bit more clever: parchment is great for making little cooking pouches. Not only can you MacGyver your own little bag for toasted sandwiches, you can also get all fancy and French and cook your meals en papillote (that’s French for “in parchment”). The above video from Bon Appetit shows you how to fold the versatile little packets. This is one instance where it might behoove you to have a roll on hand, as pre-cut sheets might not give you enough to work with.

Once you’ve mastered the folding part, you’re free to fill the parchment packets with any food that can be steamed. En papillote meals are cooked using the steam generated within the packet, and are a great for tender foods that cook quickly, like flaky fish (this sesame-ginger salmon, for example) and vegetables with high moisture content (try roasted zucchini with saffron and garlic). Since this cooking method relies on steam, make sure you have some moisture in the packet, whether it comes from juicy vegetables or a splash of liquid.

Finally, throw some flavor in there! Herbs and spices are an obvious choice, but citrus wheels, broth, or a splash of wine can infuse your meal with extra tasty oomph. Fat isn’t necessary for the cooking process, but a little herb butter or sesame oil make can go a long way.

Replace Other Kitchen Tools

The folding doesn’t end there. With a bit of origami-fu, you can use parchment paper in place of two different baking standards: cupcake liners and piping bags. Making the cupcake liners is as simple as pressing a little parchment square down into the tin, but if you need a visual guide, watch the above video. I probably wouldn’t use this for an entire batch of cupcakes—so many squares!—but it would be a real lifesaver if I was short by just a couple of liners.

Making the piping bag is a little more involved, so I’ll let this nice lady break it down for you:

As someone who hates the floppy, messy nature of plastic piping bags, I really appreciate the stiff, disposable nature of these paper cones. It sounds wasteful, given the fact that I ice cookies exactly twice a year, I don’t mind burning through a few sheets of parchment every twelve months if it means not having to wrestle those floppy plastic abominations.

Keep Things Separate in the Freezer

Finally, parchment paper can be helpful even in the coldest part of your kitchen. Just like parchment keeps food from sticking to pans, it can keep food from sticking to itself. When storing food in the freezer, whether it be chicken breasts, bacon, or tortillas, slip a sheet or parchment between each item to keep your food from fusing into a solid block.

Similarly, you can use it to keep ice crystals from forming on your ice cream. Simply press a little scrap down into the container so it makes contact with the surface of the partially devoured dessert. This will help keep it fresh until the next scoop. (So like, an hour.)

So even though parchment is dull, beige, and two dimensional, it’s the most useful dull, beige, two-dimensional product I’ve ever encountered. We’ve covered a lot of uses today, but I’m sure you know of more, because you are all very resourceful, so feel free to share them in the comments.

Photos by Mattie Hagedorn and Claire Lower.

De-Pill Your Clothes With the Rough Side of a Dry Sponge

De-Pill Your Clothes With the Rough Side of a Dry Sponge

Little balls of fuzz, or pills, can build up on the fabric of some of your favorite clothing items. Sweaters and jackets are particularly susceptible to them, but you can easily remove them with the scrubbing side of a dry sponge.

Pills can make your clothing look more worn down that it really is, so Cambria Bold at The Kitchn suggests you use a typical kitchen item in a different way. Grab one of those half-and-half sponges with a rough, scrubbing side. Make sure it’s clean and dry, then gently rub the textured side of the sponge along the fabric of your clothing item. The pills might get caught in the sponge material, but you can make this one your dedicated de-pilling sponge. If you don’t have the right sponge lying around, you can also use a disposable razor or a pumice stone to get the job done.

http://lifehacker.com/5978242/use-a-…

10 Surprising Uses for Kitchen Items Around the Rest of the House | The Kitchn

Photo by Jnzl.

Keep Leafy Greens Fresh Longer by Storing Them Right In the Salad Spinner

Keep Leafy Greens Fresh Longer by Storing Them Right In the Salad Spinner

Salad greens can start to go bad within a day if you don’t store them properly. This salad spinner trick makes sure they get washed, and stay fresh for up to a month.

http://lifehacker.com/5637622/use-a-…

If you have a typical salad spinner, Kristen Miglore at Food52 suggests you use it as an all-encompassing salad prep and storage tool:

Wash and spin your lettuces, then stick the whole contraption in the fridge, lid and all. You can wash your greens right in the spinner by filling the cavity with water, swishing the leaves around to shake off stubborn grit, then lifting out the basket to drain off the sooty water… There’s enough moisture left pooled in the bottom of the spinner to keep the leaves hydrated and prevent them from withering, but not enough to sit on their surface and inspire rot.

Miglore explains that this method has allowed her spinach, arugula, and lettuce avoid wilting for up to a month at a time. Considering it hardly ever takes that long to eat up a batch of greens, that’s more than enough time for effective storage. The downsides, of course, are that your salad spinner is unusable and it takes up a lot of space in your fridge. Just don’t forget to keep the lid on; that’s the most important part.

The Best Way to Store Lettuces & Other Greens (A Controversial Method) | Food52

Photo by Robert Couse-Baker.

Weed Out the Kitchen Tools You Don’t Use with the Box Method

Weed Out the Kitchen Tools You Don't Use with the Box Method

Some kitchen tools are indispensable, but others just float around your kitchen, never to be used again. You can declutter your kitchen tool storage with this simple process.

We all have kitchen tools we bought to make that one thing that one time and then never made it again, even though we swore we would. Well it’s time to clear those out because they’re just taking up space you could be using for other things. Commenter cook_at_home at The Kitchn suggests you go with the box method:

  • Take everything and put it in a box. Only take something out when you need it. [Then return it to it's home in the kitchen after you've used it.]
  • Before you take something out, think if there is another way to do the task with what you have.
  • After a month move the box to the basement (or other ‘distant’ storage). After 6 months, donate the box.

You’ll quickly see what tools you use constantly and what tools hardly ever get touched. The trick is to be honest with yourself when go to grab something out of the box. Unless it’s something really expensive, you’re bound to find another way to do what you’re trying to do. Putting the box away for 6 months—or at least a week or so—gives you a little more time to see how little you use those tools so you can give them away, no problem. Whether you donate your stuff or try to sell it at a yard sale, you’ll feel great once it’s all gone.

A Smart Tip for Weeding Out Your Kitchen Tools | The Kitchn

Photo by Felix.

The Right Way to Use a Chinese Chef’s Knife

The Right Way to Use a Chinese Chef’s Knife

Many chefs agree that you really only need three knives in your kitchen: chef’s, paring, and bread. You may want to add the Chinese chef’s knife to that list. In this video Chef Martin Yan shows you the right way to use a Chinese chef’s knife.

Simply put: place your thumb and index finger against the blade on either side of the handle, then wrap your other fingers around the knife handle. Cut with a rocking back and forwards motion. Besides this instruction, Chef Martin Yan also has specific video tutorials which you can use to master the Chinese chef’s knife:

Besides developing your knife skills with these videos, you can also learn how to use an entirely new type of knife.

How to Use a Chinese Chef’s Knife | Sunset