Tip of the Week: Tools of the Trade (Part Two)

This week, I am continuing the tour of my kitchen. This series of weekly tips highlights my favorite, most used kitchen gadgets and why I find them useful. Last week’s post, part one, was dedicated to small electric appliances. Part two is dedicated to hand tools, and the last post will focus on cookware and bakeware.

There are so many hand tools that are essential in a kitchen. Since the spectrum is so broad, I am going to share my top five in no particular order: A stainless steel whisk, a zester/grater, an off-set spatula, a fine mesh sieve, and a silicone spatula. I don’t think I would be able to cook without any of these tools, and all of them have many uses.

The first hand tool I am going to highlight is a stainless steel whisk. Most whisks are stainless steel, but some are silicone coated. I also prefer a “balloon whisk”. That simply refers to the shape of the wire part of the whisk. It has more wires than the average whisk, and the wires don’t all touch at the bottom. That not only helps incorporate and smooth batters or sauces, but it also doesn’t rust as easily as the whisks with few wires that all touch at the bottom. I use a whisk every single time I bake, so it is one of the most necessary tools in my kitchen.

The next tool is a zester/grater. I have almost exclusively used a Microplane. Microplane is actually a brand, and not the kind of grater. I didn’t know that until a few years ago. Either way, a fine grater is essential. I use mine almost daily. I always use the zest of citrus because it adds so much more flavor than the juice itself. All of the essential oils are trapped in the rind of citrus, so citrus zest can be used to achieve a more intense flavor. I also have used my Microplane to grate garlic from time to time. It is great to achieve a very fine mince in little time. Finely mincing garlic takes more time and effort than I’m willing to put in sometimes, especially when I am just trying to throw lunch together at home.

An off-set spatula is one of my favorite kitchen tools. It is also one of the most versatile! I probably have four or five of them, just in case! I really like one with a silicone covered handle, because it has a better grip than a plastic handle. I use my miniature off-set every single time I bake! The combination of the flexibility and angle of the blade allows for more control while spreading. For baking, I typically use an off-set to carefully remove cookies or other fragile pastries, to spread brownie batter, to ice cookies or donuts, or to frost cakes. When cooking, I use an off-set to flip delicate foods while pan frying.

A fine mesh sieve is one of the few products that I use daily! It can be used for more than just draining pasta. I always try to find the largest size mesh sieve because they are so versatile! When I’m tight on space, and don’t have room for a colander, I opt for the sieve. I can drain and rinse beans and nuts, wash vegetables, as well as strain sauces or broths all with one tool! I don’t know what I would do without my fine mesh sieve.

The last small hand tool that is absolutely necessary in my kitchen is a silicone spatula. I like a really strong and sturdy silicone spatula that can be used in place of a wooden spoon. They are easier to clean than wooden spoons, don’t warp, or absorb flavors/colors. I use mine for basically anything that requires mixing!

Hopefully this tip will come in handy, when trying to decide on essential kitchen gadgets!  I know that these tools have helped me become a better chef.

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