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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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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Mom took the whole family on a trip to canyon country all of last week and I’m just getting back up and running (family vacations really take it out of you). Flew into Vegas for one night, Donna and the kids had never been—and I still think the place is a vision of the end of the world, and 24 hours in Vegas is 21 hours too long (kids loved Cirque de Soleil Mystere, and I love the civilized oasis of Bouchon in the Venetian). At our last stop, Sedona, AZ, they had a continual supply of crisp, cool beverages made from the prickly pear, and on our last day we took a Pink Jeep, bone-rattling, off-road tour and saw many of these. I’d never been to this part of the country and had virtually 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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Wow, what an amazing glimpse into what people are eating.  A lot of stir fries, a lot of curries, pastas, pot roasts, and eggs, American and international.  There are so many ideas in the previous post I feel like I should do something with them, make them more accessible. Of course, people who read this blog are people who care about food and who love to cook already. My goal has always been to encourage people who don’t cook, to know that cooking is not as difficult as people too often think it is.  All these great suggestions are more proof of this. Thank you all for reading and posting and sharing your meals. I’m currently in Key west cooking for a gang of sailors, big family meals, pots of beans and Carolina barbecue, a Read On »

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