Who doesn’t love a kitchen gadget? Nobody. It doesn’t matter what kind of cook you are; an old school stickler, an inventor, a crazy creative, or someone vastly more practical we all have some form of kitchen gadget in our arsenal. You need them – there are drawers designed for them!
But there are gadgets that are well, let’s say, less necessary than others but there are some that you will think “how did I live without that”. We have delineated gadgets on the basis of their primary use; and over the next few weeks we will introduce you to our top 10. So here’s the lowdown from The Essential Ingredient Newcastle.
For those of us whose knife skills are less than perfect, who long to be able to slice and dice like a pro; a mandolin is the way to go. Essentially a flat board with blades most mandolins will allow you to slice in a number of thicknesses; julienne in thick and fine; some are very flash and allow you to create lattice patterns (perfect for potatoes). Always look for a mandolin with a hand guard – they are extremely sharp and sadly don’t discriminate between knuckles and carrots.
While sometime it’s fine to throw caution to the wind, there are some culinary creations that require accuracy and precision. Enter stage left the kitchen scale. Unless you are using molecular ingredients, a scale that measures down to 1g is more than adequate. Some scales allow you to measure to 15kg – perfect for working out cooking times for turkeys! Digital scales tend to be more accurate but the old fashion dial-style definitely look the part. There are scales that allow you to ‘tare’ off the weight so you can continue to add ingredients, and some will allow you to move between liquid and solid measurements. Whatever you purchase – make sure it’s easily accessible and if it’s a digital scale – buy some extra batteries to pop into the gadget drawer!
3. To Whip or not to whisk?
Not only a fabulous way to reduce those ‘tuck-shop’ arms – a whisk an essential for mayonnaise, dressings, and eggs. Used interchangeably the whisk or whip is an undervalued item in most kitchen armouries. Essentially there are two main types; the piano and the French. The basic difference is the size of the wire of the actual whip. In a piano whip – the tines are finer which allows more flexibility and will whisk to perfection sauces and dressings – light jobs. These are generally flexible enough to be able to scrape the sides of the bowl or container you are using. When looking for the perfect whip – look for a large one. The bigger the whip, the more flexible it will be and the greater the volume you’ll create due to the greater surface area.
The French whip on the other hand has thicker wires and can deal with thicker mixes (like cakes for example). While it can mix firmer products, it won’t scrape the sides of the bowl so have a spatula handy. When looking for a French whip look for one of a medium size – you’ll have greater control. Finally look for a whip that has the tines firmly held together in the handle of the whisk – this will stop the tines flying free. Free flying tines simply jam the gadget drawer – very frustrating.
The chef’s secret gadget in the kitchen is the rasp. More commonly known as a Microplane, the rasp and its siblings (medium, course, ribbon and slicer) are an absolute must have. The rasp grater allows you to zest citrus, grate parmesan to a snowy cloud, and grate ginger and garlic to a fine pulp, not to mention the transformation of whole nutmeg to a spicy dust. There is no knife skill known to mankind that could compete with the rasp.
Feel inspired? There is a world of gadgetry at The Essential Ingredient. Pop into our store and we’ll walk you through the selection.