Monday, January 24, 2011
Kitchen Gadgets to Love
Whether they’re competing on “Iron Chef” or getting ready to prepare a dish for a restaurant guest, professional chefs begin by gathering ingredients and getting organized. This is called “mise en place” — a French phrase that loosely translates to “everything in its place.” If one of your resolutions for this year is to eat more healthfully and to learn to prepare delicious and nutritious dishes, why not give your kitchen a diet makeover so that it will be easier for you to whip up quick and healthy meals at home? Here are a few tools that cooking pros love:
Garlic press. Add aromas and healthy antioxidants to sauces, salad dressings or sauteed vegetables with minced garlic. These s little gadgets allow you to crush unpeeled cloves without scenting your fingers with garlic perfume. Find them at Cook’s Warehouse. www.cookswarehouse.com
Slow cooker. Quickly becoming a fixture in modern kitchens, slow cookers do the work for you while you’re away for the day. Toss ingredients in before work so dishes are ready for dinner. Slow cookers and pressure cookers concentrate flavors so less salt or fat is needed in recipes, and long braising times tenderize lean cuts of meat.
Microplane grater. This long, thin and graceful gadget makes it easy to add fresh lemon zest to recipes and can be used to grate hard cheeses such as Parmiagano Reggiano . A Microplane is much easier to use than stand graters that can threaten manicures and knuckles.
Immersion blender. Dietitian Jill Nussinow, an expert on vegetarian cooking, shares her favorite gadgets for a healthy kitchen on her website www.veggiequeen.com and includes the hand-held immersion blender for turning steamed veggies into smooth purees for delicious soups or to thicken sauces without adding butter, cream or flour. Also great for making single serve fresh fruit smoothies.
Mini-food processor. These petite powerhouses are less expensive than big food processors and take up less counter space. Easy to use to chop up a batch of onions, bell peppers, celery, parsley or shallots in the just the right amount for recipes.
Mini kitchen scale. “Take the guess work out of portion sizing and get better results when following baking recipes”, says Susan Nicholson, Atlanta based dietitian and author of 7 Day Menu Planner for Dummies. Her cookbook includes kitchen basics section called “The Tools of the Trade: Cookware and Appliances.”
Salt grinder. Upgrade your salt shaker and grind salt from large crystals. Freshly ground sea salt (as with peppercorns) can taste more intense so you use less on foods to get the same zing. Amy Myrdal Miller, dietitian at the Culinary Institute of America notes that while table salt and sea salt are both made up of sodium chloride, “sea salt can contain slightly less total sodium. For instance, a teaspoon of fine grain table salt contains 2360 milligrams of sodium. Fine gain sea salt contains 2160 milligrams of sodium per teaspoon.”
Posted by Carolyn O'Neil at 9:01 AM