Favorite Gadgets

Oh, the gadgets we've learned to love!  As a Personal Chef, we'll probably try anything once.  If you've seen us carry our gear into your home (about 50 pounds worth!), then you know that only the best and most versatile products earn a place in our equipment bin.  Here are some favorites:

 

Bench Scraper - SS/Polypropylene

Bench Scraper

This fabulous item can be used for any number of tasks.  I like it for scooping chopped vegetables from the cutting board and tossing them easily into a bowl.  They're also great for cutting brownies and dough.  Made of either stainless steel or plastic, the plastic one is also great for scraping burnt food scraps from the bottom of your pans (heard this from a friend).

 

Microplane zester and grater

Microplane Zester

Microplane started a kitchen revolution in 1994 and has been going strong ever since. These graters are dishwasher-safe and feature surgical-grade stainless steel blades.

Slide an orange across the Microplane blades and watch lacey shards of zest fall from its surface like snowflakes. Grate hard or soft cheese and appreciate the difference in quality and performance compared to old fashioned cheese graters. This is a fine tool, and now a kitchen classic.

Suggested uses for your zester:

Grates Parmesan cheese light and fluffy.
Zests lemons and limes in seconds.
Grates chocolate or coconut for baking and decorating.
Purées garlic and ginger instantly.
Grates soft cheese quickly and easily.
Shreds cabbage for colorful salads.
Grates butter for the perfect pastry.

These zesters come in different sizes and shapes.  I like the larger zester with fine teeth for just about any task.  When you're done zesting a lemon, turn it over and use the back side to catch the seeds as you squeeze the juices into a bowl.

Taylor Instant Read Thermometer

Some people can tell if a piece of meat is done by the feel of it.  I can't.  I like the precision of a thermometer.

Santoku Knife (7 inch)

Most people are familiar with the Chef's knife - that big, impressive looking thing that can slice a tree trunk.  I prefer the Santoku - a style perfected by the Japanese.  The name means "three benefits" - mincing, dicing and slicing.

Mine is by J.A. Henkels. 

And while we're talking about knives, you only need three:

1. Chef's knife or a Santoku knife
2. Three or four inch paring knife
3. Serrated bread knife

If you have three good knives that you keep sharp, you'll use them for 99% of your cooking tasks.  Get three good ones, rather than spending the money on an entire set.

Oxo Good Grips 12" Cooking Tongs with Nylon Tip

A good pair of tongs is indispensable in the kitchen.  If you get a pair with nylon tips, they'll also work well in your Teflon fry pan without scratching the surface.

In general, we've found the Oxo Good Grips products to be terrific.

All Clad Chef's Pan (12 inch)

There's something about the versatility of this pan that sets it apart from others.  Whether it's sauté, simmer, braise or stir-fry, this one pan can handle it all. 

All Clad pans are more expensive than others you'll find, but they last a lifetime.  Buy them on eBay, and you'll save about 50%.

As with knives, you don't need an entire set of pans.  Here's the recommended list:

1. Dutch oven or stock pot, around 8 quart capacity
2. Four quart saucepan
3. Teflon fry pan, 10 - 12"
4. Chef's pan

Cuisinart 11-Cup Power Prep Plus Food Processor

Yes, we actually carry a food processor with us to work.  The Cuisinart is a workhorse, consistently earning high ratings for it's power and easy-to-use features.  The trick to making in irreplaceable in your kitchen is to make it accessible.  Mine sits on the counter, in a sacred place right next to my Keurig coffee maker.  If it's easy to get to, you'll use it more.  To make cleaning a snap, just throw the pieces into the dishwasher.

There's also a 14-cup model; 11 cups is plenty.  If you're feeling adventuresome, try using it to make bread.

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