April 5, 2018 at 12:30 pm #11933
I came across this article on Pampered Chef in the modern age:
It spurred me to think about the role of kitchen tools and gadgetry in the kitchen. I’ve never been to a Pampered Chef party, but I have been pulled in occasionally by KAF with some tools that are great (Thermapen, dough whisk, baking “shower” cap covers) and some that did not live up to their promise, which has led me to be more selective there by remembering that they are in the merchandising business. When I can browse the kitchen section of T. J. Maxx, Ross, and Tuesday Morning, I am in heaven and more willing to try some of these gadgets because they are marked down.
I enjoyed using my egg slicer (Norpro) yesterday for my casserole, and it made neater slices than I could with a knife. Pastry Wands revolutionized my rolling (of course you can make your own with slats from the hardware store). I love my Emile Henry long baker and my baking stone. When it comes to paring apples or potatoes, give me my Zyless peelers!
On the other hand, I’ve never understood garlic peelers, as it is quite easy to push down on the clove, loosen the skin, and pop it out. And then there was KAF’s bagel shaper, to which the bagel makers on this site said WHAT?!!
What are some of your favorite kitchen gadgets? What are gadgets that make you wonder why anyone would buy them?
April 5, 2018 at 1:35 pm #11935
- This topic was modified 5 months, 3 weeks ago by BakerAunt.
Ok pizza cutter,garlic press. Can opener,bench knife,mini food processor,pizza stone,ka bread whisk,herb cutter,mouli cheese grater,citrus squeezer,rasp,thermapen,Pizza peel,kitchen scissors….April 5, 2018 at 3:00 pm #11937
I’m a tool/gadget junkie, but I’m getting more selective, probably because I’m running out of space.
My wife has been complaining about the size of my meatballs (too large) so I’ve been looking at meatball shapers. This one caught my eye, but so far I’ve resisted ordering it: Meatball Master I may just try a #60 cookie scoop first.
I got a Thermapen a year ago, and it’s the best digital thermometer I’ve tried.
I must have a half dozen bench scrapers, some all-plastic. some all-metal, all of them get used frequently.
The crank on our Mouli broke, and since they’re no longer in production (and scarce on Ebay), I’ve been trying to come up with a workaround. It did the best job grating cheese for a souffle.
When we were in Canada a few years ago, I got a nutmeg grinder made by the Microplane folks, it works very well but isn’t very sturdy, so don’t drop it.
By far my favorite gadget is my Bamix Gastro stick blender. It isn’t cheap (around $200) but it has lasted me for quite a few years, and the lesser ones seldom lasted longer than a year. It has a long stainless steel handle so you can blend soup right in the pot, then just rinse it off in the sink.
I’ve got several mandolins, but most of the time I wind up just using a knife. For delicate knife work, I prefer a bird’s beak knife.
My wife has hosted Pampered Chef parties, but has decided they are too much work. (And she’s a former Tupperware dealer.)April 5, 2018 at 3:50 pm #11939
People tend to buy me gadgets as gifts but they are not usually easier than what I use.
I wish I’d known about moulis! I would love something to grate cheese besides a grater or a food processor. I grate by hand because it is less time than cleaning up the Cuisinart.
I love cookie scoops! But I shape meatballs by hand. I weigh the meat portions out and that is how I determine size. My wife would not be happy if I used cookie scoops for meat even if they went through the dishwasher.
My wife bought me a new pizza cutter but it is over he top! And it squeaks when you use it unless you oil it which is kind of funny. She also bought me some fancy KitchenAid sheet pans but they warp in the oven. They snap back when they cool though. Kind of strange. I love my old ones even if they are old and ugly.April 5, 2018 at 5:04 pm #11940
The best pizza cutter we have is still the one we bought some 40 years ago in Illinois. It has never needed sharpening, either, though we tend to use it on metal surfaces that would dull a knife.
The local pizza places tend to use the big curved blade knives, but they take up too much space and look dangerous!April 5, 2018 at 5:13 pm #11942
We have a mini collection of pizza cutters. We have one shaped like a soccer player and one shaped like the symbol for Pi. Plus the fancy one my wife gave me. But my favorite is a cheap plastic one I bought. It cuts very well but doesn’t cut fingers and it goes in the dishwasher!
Pizza cutters tend to work better than knives it seems when people will not wait for the pizza to cool!April 5, 2018 at 5:14 pm #11943
Oh, I forgot, I have a bagel holder for slicing. I don’t really need it but, again, it was cheap and I get closer to making sure the bagel is cut in two equal pieces.
Now if I can just teach my kids not to hold the bagel with their fingers in the hole!April 5, 2018 at 5:15 pm #11944
I also adore my cookie scoops. I have the four sizes of Zeroll that KAF sold, as well as some odd sized ones from my shopping days. I have two bench knives and a variety of plastic bowl scrapers, and also Two German made hard orange plastic ones that are great for leveling ingredients. I have an all metal pizza cutter that I adore, and which works better than any of the various small ones I have. I use my pastry cutter all the time, as cleaning the food processor seems too much work. I also grate cheese by hand.
And then there are my “onion glasses,” that keep me from tearing up when chopping very strong onions.
The best baking sheets I’ve found are Valrhona (I think that is the name). I bought mine from cooking.com before they were bought out and closed down. They are thick and heavy and do not warp. Sometimes cookies take a little longer on them, but I do not have to worry about the bottoms getting too brown.
Correction: Actually, I think the name is Vollrath. They also make an excellent high heat spatula.April 5, 2018 at 9:45 pm #11950
Vollrath makes commercial grade heavy duty (and heavy weight, too) pieces, for years you could only get them through restaurant supply houses. It has been pleasantly surprising to see that they haven’t gone to a cheaper grade product for home use.April 5, 2018 at 9:46 pm #11951
I used to weigh my meatballs because I want one meal to be the same as the next. But recently I bought half cup size disher for that purpose, (a number 8). I like it, makes it easy.
A while back, I saw lemon juicers on ATK or Cooks Country, they liked the Chef’n so I bought one. It’s awesome. I also have a watermelon slicer that’s more effort then it’s worth. It has cutting edges on two sides and in the middle bottom so you just run it through your watermelon half and it produces a watermelon wedge. The problem is the edges are pretty dull so it doesn’t do a very good job.
A few years ago I bought a Kitchen Aide Spiralizer. That’s probably my biggest gadget regret, it just takes up shelf space and I don’t use it.April 5, 2018 at 11:34 pm #11952
A #8 scoop makes a pretty big meatball, probably bigger than what I make by hand.
I was thinking a #40 or even a #60. I like them large, too, but my wife wants them a lot smaller.
I bought a spaetzle cutter a couple of years ago for about $15, it works in seconds, and as long as you rinse it right away it is easy to clean. These days I probably make spaetzle more often than I make spaghetti.
A spiralizer is the sort of gadget I’d probably use once or twice, at most. (But I don’t have a fryer, so I’m not sure I’d use it at all.)
I don’t understand the fascination with the French tapered rolling pin, either.April 6, 2018 at 8:11 am #11953
I have doubles of some kitchen tools, since we had the two houses for six years, and I did not like carting various items back and forth. That comes in handy, as when the one pastry cutter had one of the rungs break. I tossed it and moved on to the second, heavier one.
I have a collection of rolling pins–and not a one of them is a French tapered rolling pin. I have a heavy maple one that came from Williams-Sonoma many years ago. I still like it if a heavy dough needs to be rolled out, but I’ve stopped using a rolling pin on bread dough. Most of the time, I use a long, even diameter rolling pin, along with my pastry wands, to roll out sugar cookies, crackers, and pie crusts. I have a Joseph Joseph one that is much shorter and has different sized rings that screw in on each end; it can work for doughs that are not that wide (and it was the back-up pin at the house). I also have a Knackebrod pin for marking Swedish crispbread. I have a long 1/4 inch wooden one (one of those KAF regrets), I have my mother-in-law’s small wooden one. A friend gave me her mother’s glass one–can be filled with ice water for rolling out pastry, although I’ve never used it. I have a small springerle pin (another KAF splurge back when they were a heck of a lot less expensive) that I keep meaning to try. I THINK that is all.
Somewhere I have a spaetzle cutter, and one day I will use it!April 6, 2018 at 11:15 am #11961
I don’t have a lot of gadgets but I love my pastry blender,I have metal and plastic bench scrapers,cookie scoops.I’ve never been to a pampered chef party either.
When I do meat balls I do them by hand.I have several graters and food choppers,processor but rather use hand grater for cheese also.April 6, 2018 at 6:57 pm #11962
So many gadgets – I love them! I couldn’t live without my cookie scoops, they handle so many tasks. The bench knife is a must for bread and roll making. My palm peeler allows me to do many cooking chores painlessly in spite of arthritis. Microplane zester/grater is well frequently used. Love the French pin, so lightweight and easy to manipulate on a narrow kitchen counter. But my absolute favorite gadget (or maybe it is more than a gadget, maybe it’s better called a “tool”) is my Escali scale.
Now — how about a thread titled “Kitchen Gadgets I Never Should Have Bought” ?April 6, 2018 at 9:00 pm #11964
Ah, and then there are the whisks! I have at least five different kinds, and they all get used for various tasks. And don’t forget spatulas and spoonulas of various sizes.
There is also my Kuhn Rikon “pumpkin knife” that not only saws through pumpkins but all manner of squash. I bought their melon knife for my husband, and after first ignoring it, he realized that it really does work better than a regular knife.
My large cake lifter is great for moving coffee rings or scones from a baking sheet to a rack or plate.April 6, 2018 at 9:24 pm #11966
My favorite whisk is one that ATK gave one of the lowest ratings to.April 6, 2018 at 10:32 pm #11967
My favorite whisk is a Hodges,love it.April 15, 2018 at 8:10 am #12072
I just got a set of cookie scoops for Christmas and made the quickest batch of cookies ever, so I know I’m going to love them.
Microplane, OXO pizza cutter I received for Christmas. I agree about the scale. Whisks, peelers, bench knifes, KAF silicone mat for counter (not oven) – in my tiny kitchen it saves lots of clean up – Chicago metallic sheet pans. Years ago, I put a grapefruit knife in one son’s Christmas stocking, because he was eating tons of grapefruit. I use it for getting seeds out of squash and separating avocados from their skin – rarely for grapefruit. I have a juicer that my mom gave me – she used it for my stepfather’s freshly squeezed OJ (and he died in 1999!) but it helps because my hands can’t squeeze juice anymore. I also find it quicker and easier to grate cheese by hand.
After we downsized, I’ve learned I can live without a lot of gadgets I had.
April 15, 2018 at 10:51 am #12076
- This reply was modified 5 months, 1 week ago by cwcdesign.
I also love my grapefruit knife. It is perfect to slice out pineapple flesh and watermelon quarters. I use my scale to weigh and divide my stolen. When I get lazy and find my onions aren’t chopped fine enough in my spaghetti sauce I use my scissors to cut them finer in the sauce. Ok I love gadgets!!!April 15, 2018 at 12:27 pm #12077
I use grapefruit spoons to dig seeds out of pumpkin and other squash. I have a lot of them, but even when I did eat grapefruit, I always peeled it by hand. My Mom gave me six, probably because they matched my stainless utensils. From my husband’s parents, who did have a grapefruit eating period, we also have several stainless ones and two with yellow handles of the texture of grapefruit skin with the handle end looking like freshly sliced grapefruit. I’ve also found that the pointed tips are helpful for transferring spices to bottles or sprinkling colored sugar in strategic spots on sugar cookies.
I, too, love the silicone mats for counter work. I never use them for baking.
I would bet that most of us have found more than one use for some of these supposedly single-use tools.April 25, 2018 at 2:51 pm #12158
I just remembered this. About 5 yrs. ago (or maybe more) I was testing recipes for Cook’s Illustrated. One of the recipes required a potato ricer so being the good little tester I went to Williams Sonoma and bought one. I don’t remember what it cost nor do I remember ever using it again. I had to quit testing though because it became too expensive and time consuming.April 25, 2018 at 4:00 pm #12160
I have a plastic, with metal discs, potato ricer that I bought years ago from Williams Sonoma. I have used it a lot for making mashed potatoes–usually when there were a lot of people around to eat that batch of mashed potatoes. At the moment, it is one of the items still packed away somewhere, while we continue to wait for the contractor to start our remodeling. I’ve been using a potato masher with a flat round end that has squares; I bought it at an estate sale so that I could mash potatoes in Indiana, during the time we were only here on vacations. It does a lovely job, and is a lot less messy to clean. For large batches, however, I think that my potato ricer works faster.
Navlys–Cooks Illustrated should have given you a kitchen tool/ingredient allowance!
April 26, 2018 at 9:07 am #12180
- This reply was modified 5 months ago by BakerAunt.
I like my potato ricer — it was a gift from a friend when she was cleaning out her mother’s collection. Its messier to clean and has more wastage than a round potato masher, but it does a more thorough job and produces fluffier mash potatoes.
I’m not sure it counts as “gadgets” but I have a lot of cake pans. I liked the deeper 3 and 4 inch cake pans since the idea of baking one large cake and then slicing it in layers sounded so cute and practical and then I wouldn’t have to deal with trying to fit domed layers together. I have 9″, 8″ rounds and a 9″square all 3” deep. I also have spring form pans of various sizes, and a couple shallow 8″ rounds. I am now baking mainly bread and don’t use these pans at all. My last couple of cakes were done in a half sheet pan, or a 9X13 pan.
On the gadgets, I have a glass gravy strainer which is suppose to seperate the fat from the juice. This is really only useful for large amounts of gravy. For smaller amounts like a quart, its easier to just remove the fat with a spoon.April 26, 2018 at 1:44 pm #12184
Skeptic7–I have the same glass fat separator. I have not used it that much for fat separating, but it is very good for precise placement of water when pouring through that long spout.
I did buy a gadget from King Arthur that can be used to fill cupcakes. It has a lever on the handle that opens and closes a centered hole on the bottom. I’ve not used it for cupcake batter yet, and I don’t know that I will, but it makes an excellent fat separator for gravy, and it is easier to clean than the glass one.April 26, 2018 at 4:24 pm #12185
We had one of those glass fat separators and seldom used it, in large part because it was difficult to clean. It broke and we have not replaced it.
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