Creating great food is simple with the right inspiration. If browsing the farmer’s market isn’t an option and wandering through your local grocer seems more like a chore than a getaway, maybe you’re the type of chef that finds inspiration in gadgets. Take a walk through any kitchen store and you’ll find the aisles overflowing with new, handy gadgets. There are tools to blend, chop, puree, grate and pound, giving you endless options for creating new and exciting meals. The next time you find yourself in a cooking rut and need a little culinary inspiration, check out the following 10 essential tools for your kitchen to take your cooking to the next level.
1.) Oil Mister – Sometimes less is more and a good oil mister makes it easy to get just the right amount of oil. Oil misters are exactly what they sound like – pump bottles that turn your regular olive oil into a glorious mist. Use the gadget to get the perfect coating of oil on a pan or to add a healthy dose of omega-3s in all of your favorite foods.
2.) Microplane – There are so many uses for a microplane in the kitchen that you’ll wonder why you don’t already have one. They can be used to zest citrus, to grate garlic and even to finely grate parmesan cheese for pasta. When choosing a microplane, look for one that has a storage cover to prevent damage when not in use.
3.) Immersion Blender – Immersion blenders are one of those tools where you won’t know how you ever lived without it. If you’re not familiar with these powerful blenders, they’re basically whirling blades on a stick. You put the blender directly into the pot/cup/bowl that you’re working in and blend whatever you’re making. They’re amazing for hot soups, purees and other similar foods that would be difficult to blend in a traditional blender. Best of all, today’s immersion blenders are easy to clean, with sticks and blades that detach from the motor and are even dishwasher safe.
4.) Double Mezzaluna – For those that like to cook with a variety of fresh herbs, a double mezzaluna is a must-have. The mezzaluna has 2 curved blades, connected on either end by a handle. Usually, a cutting board with an indented area is included with the mezzaluna. Just put the herbs in the center of the cutting board and give the knife a few rocks back and forth to create perfectly chopped herbs in an instant. The mezzaluna is much more convenient and precise than a chef’s knife, making it easy and fast to add fresh herbs to any dish.
5.) Baking Mats – If you’ve ever experienced the agony of burning rolls or having your favorite cookies stick to the baking sheet, you’ll love baking mats. Baking mats are thin sheets of silicone that promote even heating, reduce burning and prevent sticking. They can be used to bake virtually anything, though most prefer to use them for non-protein oven adventures. Baking mats are sized to fit on standard baking sheets. Make your mats do double duty by using them on a counter as a quick non-stick rolling station for dough.
6.) Anti-Fatigue Floor Mat – While not a kitchen gadget in the traditional sense, an anti-fatigue floor mat is one kitchen essential many cooks say they can’t live without. The mats are usually made of thick rubber with a foam interior. They help distribute weight evenly and take pressure off of joints to reduce leg fatigue when standing for long periods of time. The mats are particularly helpful for those with desk jobs, who may not be used to standing for long periods of time.
7.) Coffee Grinder – This is one gadget you should keep a duplicate of in your kitchen. Use one to grind coffee beans for your morning brew and another to mix up spices on-the-go. Putting dried herbs in a coffee grinder – even if they’re already crushed, like basil or parsley – can help release their natural flavors and make them more potent. Spices will naturally lose flavor during the drying process and more of their potency will be lost when stored for long periods of time. Bring back your herbs by giving them a quick buzz in the coffee grinder before adding them to your creation
8.) Mandolin – A mandolin lets you cut any vegetable into very thin slices. Because of the easy sliding design, you can accomplish large cutting tasks in very little time. Some mandolins come with attachments to julienne vegetables as an added bonus. When choosing a mandolin, look for one that has a sturdy stand and a hand guard for safety. A removable slicing plate is another nice addition as it makes for easy cleaning.
9.) Garlic Peeler – If you love garlic, but hate how time consuming it is to peel the little nuggets, you need a garlic peeler. A garlic peeler is essentially a silicone tube that works to gently crush the garlic clove and pull the skin off. The material used to make the tub is half of the item’s brilliance. Garlic peelers are great for cooks that don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen, but want the rich, all-day flavor of a heavy garlic dish.
10.) Digital Scale – Digital scales are great for people on diets that want to measure their food to lose weight. They’re also great for people who like to buy meat in bulk and portion it out into smaller containers. Digital scales can also be helpful for some baking recipes that list ingredients by weight instead of by volume.
Pick up one, two, or all 10 of these essential items to create a kitchen capable of turning out some great culinary treats. Having fun in the kitchen can help keep your meal prep routine exciting, keeping your passion for good food alive and well.