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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Cooking sous vide, wrapped food submerged in warm to hot water, is a relatively new form of cooking now available to home cooks. The method truly does allow for transforming food in ways previously not possible with such precision. The best example of what it can do is short ribs. Short ribs cooked at 140˚ F. for 48 hours results in medium rare to medium meat, still pink, but completely tender. Pork belly cooked for that same time, then chilled is ready to be seared crispy when you’re ready to serve it. Chicken thighs and duck legs the same. Not only does sous vide give you precise control of the internal temperature of meat and fish, it gives you the convenience of preparing food in advance, perfectly, so that it’s ready when you need it. Read On »

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Christmas, 1992, my mom’s beau, an avid cook with whom I shared many happy hours in the kitchen, gave me a KitchenAid standing mixer.  It quickly became and remains my most relied upon countertop appliance.  I use it for mixing all kinds of dough, whipping meringue, making big batches of pate a choux, and, when I joined forces with Brian Polcyn to write a book about sausages and other forms of food economy and preservation, to grind meat (via the grinder attachment) and to mix the meat afterward (more this later).  It was one of the best and most useful gifts I’ve received ever. Christmas is a time when we indulge the people we love with gifts they wouldn’t be able to afford or to justify buying on their own.  For those of you who Read On »

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