01 March 2010

Must-Have Cooking Tools

As we prepped for a week of cooking outside the familiar surroundings of our own kitchen, we realized there are certain tools and gear we just don't want to try to cook without.

(OK - it is possible and we could definitely manage, but the operative word is want ;-)

Here are the Must-Have Cooking Tools we made room in our luggage for this week.

(1) Rösle Garlic Press (retail value $39.00). 
We hate a wimpy garlic press.  When you tend to cook with a lot of garlic, it gets frustrating not be able to mince quickly and smoothly.  This shouldn't an exercise in building hand-strength!  And, then there's clean-up.  We don't like to dig around trying to scrub out the garlic skin inside the basket.  We were introduced to Rösle's version, and have probably spread our garlic-press love with at least 20 friends!!

Here's how Rösle describes this 8" kitchen favorite:
Even unpeeled garlic cloves can be easily processed with the Garlic Press. A special leverage mechanism ensures that minimum effort is required. Sieve component swings up for easy cleaning under running water.
~ Cleverly designed lever system makes pressing effortless.
~ Can press even unpeeled garlic.
~ Large basket holds elephant garlic or several smaller cloves.
~ Completely opens up for easy cleaning, no extra parts that can be lost.  Dishwasher-safe!
~ Special conically shaped and sharpened holes in basket contribute to uniform size and texture of crushed garlic.
~ Handles clip together to make storage easy.
~ Round ring for hanging.

This handy tool is available online from Williams-Sonoma (as pictured above left), Cooking.com and Chefs Catalog.

(2) Microplane Classic Series Zester/Grater (retail value $12.95)
A little lemon zest brightens up so many different dishes.  And limes are a staple for any Caribbean, Mexican, or Vietnamese cuisine.  Microplane's zester makes it so simple and quick to zest citrus (including oranges!) ~ and did we mention it's also ever-so-handy for grating cheese (not to mention ginger and chocolate)??  Truly a jack-of-all trades that we couldn't imagine cooking without...

Microplane offers this background about their Zester:
Originally a woodworking tool, this best seller grates even the hardest Parmesan Reggiano as well as other hard cheeses into fine lacy wisps. Ideal for topping your favorite spaghetti and meatballs or a Caesar salad. It’s also wonderful for effortless citrus zesting to add natural flavors to a lemon crème brulee or a basic vinaigrette.             
~ Dimensions: 12" x 1 5/16"
~ Weight: 4 oz.
~ Materials: Blade made of surgical grade stainless steel. Plastic handle.
~ Dishwasher-safe

Don't you wonder how you've managed without one?  Available online directly from Microplane and in a new soft-handle version (pictured above left) from Sur La Table (you know what we're ordering as soon as this piece is posted!!)

(3) Wusthof Classic 7" Santoku Knife (retail value $80.00)
Cutting a tomato with a dull blade is almost as annoying to us as nails on a chalkboard.  Never knowing what we may find in another kitchen (unless it's the home of another Savvy Host or wannabe chef ;-), when we know we'll be handling several meals, we like to have the comfort of at least one good sharp knife.  Our pick is to pack (though not possible in carry-on luggage remember) a Santoku Knife to be Boy-Scout ready for whatever kitchen prep we may encounter.

Why the fuss about a Santoku knife?  About.com offers this insight:
The word Santoku has Japanese historical significance meaning 'three virtues', and a Santoku knife wears its name quite proudly, with its marvelous chopping, dicing and mincing abilities.  Typically, they range in sizes from 5" to 7" in blade lengths, but smaller ones are available. Sporting a unique styling somewhat like a narrow-bladed cleaver, the Santoku knife is designed for a comfortable, well-balanced grip, while allowing for full blade use. 

Santoku knives are best known for their sharp edges, either beveled or hollow ground, which enhances their cutting performance. Another feature is the 'granton edge' release pattern (scalloped) on the blades that not only adds style, but helps to release thin slices and sticky food after slicing.

We may have our favorite (we like the Wusthof product line, and in particular must-have the Wusthof Asian Cook's Set priced at $79.95), but in selecting a brand, it's really up to your preference whether it's Paula Deen's Santoku or Rachel Ray's or...  We like the Santoku Knife Gallery at Cooking.com for ratings, descriptions and a fantastic selection.

And, to keep it sharp (though maybe not a good tool for on-the-road cooking), don't forget the Wusthof Santoku Sharpener available online for $19.95 from Williams-Sonoma.

Do you share our passion for having the right cooking gear?  What tools do you keep in your kitchen arsenal that are so key to your cooking that you too would make room in your luggage??

And, by the way, this list continues ... more later...

1 comment:

the savvy host said...

We knew we liked Michael Ruhlman's blog ~ this was doubly confirmed with his recent post "My Essential Kitchen Tools" featuring Wusthof Knives!! Take a look...


Related Posts with Thumbnails

looking for something specific?

find SavvyHostMarket on amazon