Toys for cooks.
The new and improved, must have tool for the wanna-be top chef.
How many of you buy them?
How many of you use them?
Here’s the tough question:
How many of you use them more than once?
More than twice?
How often do they become something you refuse to do without?
I freely admit that I have spent money on choppers and processors and fancy electric machines that will do all sorts of marvelous things in record time.
I will also freely admit that they are all languishing in the bowels of my cabinets.
When I do remember that I own them, I think about how much more work they are to clean then one sharp knife.
Then I grab the sharp knife.
It tends to be the simple tools rather then the expensive, fancy ones that I end up using.
Here are three that I wouldn’t do without:
You don’t recognize this? It’s a hand-made opener for cans with pull rings. I got it from a little old man in the mountains near our friend in Spain. He carves them.
This is how it works:
Just slip it under the ring and rock it back. Any shape opens perfectly and easily.
And for mincing/crushing or doing anything else to garlic, this can’t be topped:
Drop the cloves in, twist a few times and it’s done. Rinses clean in seconds.
For chopping herbs, this has been my favorite for more years than I care to count:
The rings; not the Apple Balsamic Vinegar…. I always manage to use food.
I knew when I saw them that I had to own them. I knew they would soon be indispensable.
They’re simple things, just allowing one to make perfectly round or stacked foods… a universal goal for every chef!
This was my first effort, last January, right after I bought them:
Potato Mushroom Timbales
2 medium potatoes, (12oz, 350gr)
2 medium shallots, (3.5oz, 75gr)
3oz (60gr) mushrooms
1.2oz (45gr) Gruyère cheese
2 tsp olive oil
Finely chop the mushrooms and shallots. Shred the potatoes. Heat 1 tsp oil in medium skillet. Add onions, mushrooms and sauté until tender and starting to brown. Remove and set aside.
Heat remaining tsp oil and add potatoes. Sauté until potatoes are starting to get tender and are partially cooked.
Put 2 ring on a baking sheet that’s been lightly brushed with oil. Pat 1/4 of the potatoes into each ring. Divide and add the mushroom, onion, patting down lightly. Top with the remaining potatoes. Put the cheese on top and bake (400F, 200C) until brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Slip a spatula under the rings and transfer to plates. Remove rings and serve.
They were good.
They were pretty.
I have no idea why I put the rings in a drawer and ignored them for 8 months
I got them out the other day and made this:
Sautéed Polenta Cakes
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup quick-cooking polenta
1/4 cup Parmesan
4 dry-cured Greek Olives, pitted and chopped
1 tbs olive oil
Bring stock and oil to boil in a small saucepan. Add polenta, whisking constantly – or it will have little volcanic eruptions spewing polenta all over your stove. Turn heat down and cook about 5 minutes (or whatever your package tells you), stirring constantly. When done, stir in cheese, olives and remove from heat.
Place 2 rings on lightly oiled cling film. Spoon 1/4 of the polenta into each ring. Let rest 2 minutes, then remove ring and repeat. (I only have 2 rings). Allow polenta to cool.
Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet. Add polenta and sauté until browned, turn and brown the other side. Remove and serve.
These were good.
And they were pretty.
I’ll try to get the rings out more often. To be honest I can’t remember why I had to have them….
Thankfully most of my compulsions are for cheap, simple things.
Although I have been yearning for a pressure cooker lately…..
What gadgets are hiding in your cupboards?