Kitchen tools need not be expensive to be valuable. The above Benriner mandoline is one of my most valued kitchen tools for uniform slicing, julienning, and making brunoise (a julienne turned into a dice). By far my most valuable electric device in my kitchen is the hand blender—I use Braun that seems to be unavailable, but I bought this Cuisinart version for my mom  ($47) and it works well—these devices all do the job of pureeing soups and sauces, easy whisking, quick mayonnaise, and I make vinaigrettes in the cup attachment, which will even emulsify a great Caesar dressing will pureeing the garlic. Every kitchen needs a scale, the most reliable way of measuring, especially if you’re baking (which is why more cookbooks are including, if not leading with, metric weights, as does the ground-breaking Bouchon Bakery cookbook—another Read On »

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It’s time again for my picks for the big-ticket items, those expensive appliances and pots that are game changers, but real investments. I’ve just started a relationship with Le Creuset, the company that makes the best enameled cast-iron cookware on earth. My go-to pot is the 7-quart Dutch Oven (they’re made in France and the company wants me to call them French ovens, which I find interesting since there really should no longer be a nationality attached to the thing; my preferred name for this one is “My Favorite Pot”). It’s what I bought my beloved Dad long ago; now, sadly, I have two of them. My other favorite is the braiser, the everyday pot in which you can cook just about anything. (Here’s one of the videos we did, where I use this pot Read On »

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I’m going to devote the next several days to my top picks for holiday shopping for kitchen tools, as I did last year. I’ll have a day for big-ticket items, lower-priced tools, and my favorite cookbooks of the season. I’m starting with my favorite tools that OpenSky has sourced for me—first, the higher-priced items and then lower-priced items, and concluding with my top pick for every kitchen on my or anyone’s Opensky page. The above Fagor induction burner is killer for so many reasons. It gets pans really hot really fast really efficiently. It’s portable so you can use it anywhere that there’s an outlet. We used it last night in the dining room to keep the gravy hot.  It’s a great extra burner for big cooking days and it’s perfect for tiny kitchens or Read On »

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We’re back with another cooking lesson and Le Creuset giveaway! This time with my favorite cooking method: braising. Why is it my favorite? Because it so definitively expresses what real cooking is: transformation. Great cooking is about transforming something that would be unpleasant to eat into something exquisite. In my view, grilling a steak is not cooking, it’s heating. That’s not to diminish grilling steaks—one of my favorite activities and foods to eat. It can be done well or poorly, but it doesn’t transform food, which is what truly inspires me in the kitchen. To transform pork shoulder into a sausage is cooking. Whether caramelizing onions to develop their sweetness or toasting seasonings in a pan to grind and create a curry, that’s cooking. And braising, transforming tough cuts of meat into meltingly tender mouthfuls of Read On »

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The best, I mean the very best and most useful kitchen tools, are almost always the simplest. Yes, you’ve got the kitchen workhorse, the standing mixer, the food processor (I almost never use mine), the hand blender (my favorite small appliance). But really what I love most? Two really sharp knives. A thick flat hard surface that gets really hot. A heavy wood cutting board. And these: Rocks and sticks. Point is: fewer rather than more, simple rather than complex. (One clarification in the video that I failed to make clear at the time. For testing the temperature of frying oil, I use the chopsticks I save from Chinese take out, not really nice ones.) Once again, many thanks to Todd Porter and Diane Cu. I called them saints among us in the last “something to say” Read On »

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