The sexy new tools that improved my cooking, in a pandemic
My kitchen has seen a number of changes during the pandemic, or trends. Some will stick, others must be cut like so much overgrown, shaggy hair: severely. For instance, my exploration of white breads, with nutritional value of C-minus, has come to an end. But these additions I see sticking around through 2021 and even past the pandemic. As with the deep dive into wyt brd, my discovery of these tools came through cooking and recipe testing. I bought each tool to make a specific task easier, or to produce a better outcome. And to my surprise, they work. Ooh do they work well.
I bought because of one chef’s recommendation alone. Back in 2018, Cook’s Country published a real winner of a dish in this one from Lawman Johnson: pasta e fagiole. The real secret is that this excellent recipe includes a whole can of cannellini beans, and a can of beans pureed with water as a magical thickener. But the bench scraper is the tool that makes the delivery of all the chopped veggies to the pot an absolute breeze. Chef Johnson underscored the bench scraper as one of the more essential tools of his recipe, and after one time making his soup, I got the bench scraper. Now it’s fun to chop the veg, and a breeze to transfer.
I never loved messing with our food processor, and I also hated transferring hot soup I wanted to puree to our Ninja blender. The soup was mushroom. Since I mostly used the Ninja for making smoothies or frozen drinks, the addition of hot, buttery, braised mushrooms and sauteed onions forced me to clean the thing twice before mixing smoothies again. So I said, let’s leave the Ninja out of the soup game and introduce this sexy immersion blender into our lives, baby. The immersion blender I got is powerful. So much so that it can create a majestic tornado of soup that makes me want to try to lift my blender, melded as one with my cast iron stock pot, able to lift it over my head and shake it in triumph, not a drop of soup spilled. This of course I do not do. I just blend my soups, be they butternut, mushroom, or bean, into the smoothest texture imaginable. I highly recommend an immersion blender for smooth, velvety, incredibly sexy soups.
Feel the danger. Buy a box grater. Danger! Watch yourself! Danger! Show them what you’re working with (it’s a box grater)! Maybe one day I’ll be chef-y enough to own a mandoline and use it safely, but for now, I’m happy to risk my manicure on the super-attractive box grater I bought, mostly to help me with the coleslaw phase of our 2020 pandemic. If you’re wondering, yes, the coleslaw phase closely accompanied the whyte bread phase. I needed slaw to accompany burgers n fries, fish n chips, and to top hot dogs. There were mayo-based slaws, lemon poppyseed slaws, vinegar-seasoned slaws, slaws with ginger-sesame dressings. All these slaws had carrots grated in them. Cabbage is cheap as hell and lasts in the fridge for a while. Carrots sing the same song. And I have found that I prefer my slaw to be grated, not sliced. Many Even sliced with super cool, extremely sexy steel knives. And I learned the hard way which side of the grater works best: the one that looks like a slot. This is the slot that will “shave” fennel for you too, which is chef-y as hell and as versatile as cabbage, if you try. And I’ve also learned that it’s not worth it to try and grate ginger or garlic with the big old box grater, as sexy as it is. That’s a better job for the next tool on the list.
I always wanted to zest lemons or shave chocolate over things with a sexy-ass rasp, like all the TV chefs do. And as I carefully sliced off the tip of my fingernail as a tried to get ginger out of my box grater, I remembered: Many rasps come with a teeny, sexy brush to clean it. So I got the rasp that comes with the little old brush, and a plastic guard so I’ll never reach into the drawer and remove my fingerprints. Teeny perfect cleaning brush aside, the rasp is the best tool for grating cheese, garlic, ginger, and after a good wash, chocolate.
I feel slightly like I watched too much Nigella and Jaime Oliver not to buy an electric kettle. Though boiling water for pasta or ramen is always enjoyable, there is something extremely satisfying about plugging the kettle in, hearing its cyclonic roar, and having cooking water in a minute. And I already keep a cast-iron skillet on the stove, so this lives on the counter.
Paring knife/set of three knives
These knives were a gift for our 11th wedding anniversary. The traditional gift is steel. And we realized that of all the knives we have, our favorite, the sharpest, the one that has held an edge the most, is from Ikea. So I looked and saw this sexy knife set, and wham, though the magic of gifting, it arrived at our house, carefully packed and shipped from an Ikea in Arizona. I really wanted a paring knife with which to make this very attractive salad from The Takeout, plus I didn’t own one before. So this set is not only attractive and functional, like Batman’s plane, it brought something into my life that was missing. Thanks, Ikea.