Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Top 10 (Last Minute) Kitchen Gifts

A while back, I did a list of 10 of my favorite things - and they haven't changed!
So, here's a re-run. Hope you enjoy it!

I figure if Oprah can have a list, I can, too.
So, here are 10 kitchen items things that I truly love.

Dawn Direct Foam
I truly love this stuff. It's not a traditional dish soap that you pour into water to produce bubbles. Instead you squeeze it onto a damp (but not sopping wet sponge) and scrub your wet dishes. It's dissolves grease like magic and gets the orange stains out of your plastic ware! The less water you use the better. And, one soapy sponge will clean lots of dishes. Then simply rinse everything off. Be sure to get all the foam off.

It's a whole way of doing dishes. And, it's really worth the try.
(Just do NOT think use it like regular dish soap. It's not the same.)
Leifheit Pro Line Stainless Steel Cherry/Olive Pitter
I pit a lot of olives and this is a lifesaver. I can pit a pound of Kalamatas in no time flat. It can supposedly be used for cherries, too, but I haven't tried that. Now, I will offer a disclaimer that folks have reported that the pin falls out. (Maybe the small cherry pit makes the pit hit off-center?)

I can absolutely say that I have pitted more than my fair share of large pitted Kalamata olives and my pitter is in perfect shape. (Oh, and the pitter comes with a little plastic "closer" that keeps the pitter, well...closed. Perhaps the pin can get damaged by leaving the pitter rolling around in their drawers?) I swear by my olive pitter.
Citrus Squeezer
I bought some generic yellow one from Linens and Things and I love it. But, if I had to buy one again, I would prolly try this Norpro Stainless Steel Press. One quick squeeze and your done. (You place the citrus half in upside down. Then when you squeeze, it turns the flesh and rind inside out.) Whether it's orange juice for cookies or lime juice for mojitos, my citrus squeezer gets a lot of use. (I first saw one on chef Rick Bayless' TV show. Thanks, Rick!)
Microplane Stainless Steel Zester
From orange, lemon, and lime zest to nutmeg, and chocolate, this little zester is a handy-dandy multi-tasker. While you *could* buy a microplane with a handle, this model is my favorite.

Bbecause if you are grating, say nutmeg, and you want to measure it, simply slip the plastic cover on backwards. The filings will fall into the plastic sleeve. Then you can just slide them into your measuring spoon. Granted, I don't often get the urge to measure my nutmeg, but I like the ability to do it if the mood strikes. *wink*
Half-sheet pan
At the suggestion of Alton Brown, I bought my first half-sheet pans at my local commercial kitchen supply store. They were 5 bucks each. Three years later they are still going strong. Love 'em. I can bake up a whole pound of bacon to a perfect crispness on these. Yum.

Half-sheet grate
This grate, obviously, goes with the pans. Perfect pairing.
Digital instant-read thermometer (waterproof)
This isn't the exact model I have, but you get the idea. (I wish mine were waterproof.) If you don't already have one, get yourself a nice digital thermometer with large numbers. This one doesn't stay in the oven - it's more for temp'ing on the fly - like a nice pork tenderloin on the grill. Open the lid, temp it, pull the pork, let it rest, indulge...
Digital thermometer with timer
Again, not exactly my model. But, my model is currently $99 on Amazon. (And, no I didn't pay that. I paid about $25.) This type of thermometer stays in the oven - well, at least the probe end does. You set the temp you want, like 151 for a turkey, and then the thermometer will beep when the temp has been reached. (No, you won't eat the turkey at 151, but carry-over should take it to 165.) There is also a timer and a nice long cord that extends out of the oven and (hopefully) on the back it has a magnet, so you can just *stick* it on the oven while you wait for the turkey to come up to temp. It's a true "Set it and forget it" Ha! :)
Silpat (11-5/8 by 16-1/2 inch)
From cookies, to brittle - I use this almost daily. Forget foil or parchment paper - or those expensive "thermal" cooking sheets. I never made a cookie that tasted good until I used my Silpat. (There's also a knock off brand that works well, too.)

A note about Silpats:
They come in many different sizes - I have found Amazon to be a great resource. Be sure you measure your half sheet pans or cookie sheets to get the best fit possible.
Kitchen Grips oven mitts (Extra long)
These mitts rock. If you've ever pulled a pan with juice to the rim out of the oven, you've wished for longer mitts. These are safe to 500 the company says. (Actually, I found they tend to track/melt the red color onto my pans at about 475.) Even at 475 I can't feel a bit of heat through the glove. They are absolutely wonderful. (Note: Looks like the Kitchen Grips are currently unavailable. But, the Duncan Euro Design, Extra Length Mitts look comparable.)

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