Kitchen Wizard Tool Box Part 2: My Top 10 Time-saving Tools

April 23, 2009

Besides your trusted Santoku or Chef’s knife and a large chopping board, what should be in a Kitchen Wizard’s tool box?

It all depends on what type of food you cook. Having a small kitchen, mine is pretty minimalistic.  I don’t even use a garlic press any more. (I mince it with my Santoku.)

In addition to the regular things that most people have, my top 10 items I  can’t live without are:

  1. Magic wand (Immersion/Stick blender)– especially great for pureed soups.Stick right into the pan and puree.  No wait, no mess.
  2. Toaster Oven (large enough to allow a round or square 10″ baking pan)  – No need to pre-heat, or even if you choose to do so, much quicker.  Shortens baking/roasting time significantly and saves gas/electricity.
  3. Microplane — grates everything, especially works well for hard Italian cheeses.
  4. Good vegetable peeler — OXO and Kuhn Rikon are my favorites – Good ones are so much easier to use. You can also use it to shave vegetables thin and add to salad, quick Japanese style stir-fry (kimpira) etc.
  5. Oven-proof Skillet/pans (min 400F, including handles!) — saves time changing the pan to an oven-proof  dish etc.  Great for tarte tatin, frittata, etc.
  6. Oven-proof dishes/plates — you can make single portions, stick right intothe oven and eat from the same dish.
  7. Mesh colanders and strainers:  Drain water a lot more effectively and keeps the food inside — even angel-hair pasta.  Choose colanders that are elevated, so that the drained water doesn’t touch the food inside. I have many different sizes, stand alone, with a handle for different usages, etc. A mesh tea infuser with a handle is very handy for flouring meat.  (Saves a lot of flour!)
  8. Spider strainer:  great for scooping up anything from water or oil: ravioli, vegetables, flitters, etc. You can buy one for cheap at hardware/cookware stores in Chinatown.
  9. Tongs:  for mixing salads, grabbing spaghetti, and of course for grilling. Makesure to test them before you buy. Some are much easier to use than others.
  10. Food processor: Especially for pizza dough and slicing and chopping large amounts.  For smaller amounts or very fine work, I use Benriner slicer, instead.

Thats’ about it.  I have other tools and I barely use them…  Growing up in Tokyo, and living in a relatively small house, I needed to be selective with my tools (and I love things that make things efficient and versatile. )

Please post what your must-have tools are, and why you can’t live without them.  We can all benefit from each other’s expertese!

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