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Coincidentlally, Alton Brown turned me onto a pastry scraper many years ago, before I dropped television completely.
I use that thing for everything from pastry to scooping up stuff I dropped on the floor.
I prefer the plastic handle version because it's so easy to clean.
Here's a link to one at the WebRestaurantStore
, an outfit I'm becoming increasingly fond of.
OK, it's not fancy, but I have struggled over the years with opening cans -- every opener has some failing -- I bought one labeled "Good Cook" brand -- the handles are comfortably angled -- the knob is very comfortable and each rotation covers quite a bit of the edge of the can and the blade cleanly cuts the lid (including that last little bit that always hangs on the other openers). The only downside is that it has a little green plastic tab that is used to keep it closed in the drawer -- that was hard to get to release -- but I just broke that off and having the opener slightly open in the drawer is no big deal.
I've tried the divided egg poacher, I've tried the silicone pods, and I've poached eggs the old fashioned way in swirling boiling water.
But, for me, the best, easiest, fastest way to soft-cook eggs is to break them into a non-stick pan with about 1 T. water, and cover for just a few minutes.
I do add a little butter in the bottom of the pan for flavor, but if you are calorie-conscious, just spray with Pam.
I have a glass cover so I can see how done the eggs are - always perfect, really quick, and clean-up is a breeze!
I think that even though I use the food processor for speed, my trusty and very old mortar and pestle is the best. Any spices that I want ground up is nicely mixed in there and clean up is a cinch. Whenever I use the food processor instead, my spices (esp. for curries) don't taste as lovely. Plus, the food processor is so much trouble to clean up.
While it is already somewhat of a multi-tool, I use my microwave well beyond the basics of defrosting a frozen dinner or reheating some left-overs. I use the microwave to:
Decrystallizing Honey (to put in tea)
Even when I'm making a dish the conventional way, my microwave almost always has a job to do. Plus, it's the same model I've had since college. Not even one of those fancy convection microwaves.
Like to use fire extinguisher to roll out pie dough. It's a little heavier than a rolling pin and I don't have to think about pushing down.
There is nothing in the kitchen toolbox more functional and basic than the chef's knife. Instead of buying a fancy chopping gadget or three, it is almost always much easier and more effective to chop with the chef's knife. No taking apart pieces, cleaning, re-assembling and storing required. Ant the knife can be used to slice and dice, scrape (back side, or course), julienne and even peel larger vegetables and fruits.
I agree with Dave99 on the glories of a good knife.
I do use a mandoline quite often. Slicing, dicing, and hopefully not cutting myself.
One simple tool that I have learned to love is my microplane. I never realized how much extra flavor I could get by zesting lemons and limes. I had tried zesting them before using different graters and peelers, but everything was more of a hassle than it was worth. The microplane works really well and is easy to grab and just zest right into the dish.
Instead of whipping cream with a stand mixer or hand mixer, I prefer to do it with a whisk. It isn't very hard, and you have much better control over the final texture.
Yes, I realize the rice cooker can be used for various other purposes other than cooking rice, but that's what I use it for primarily so I'm going to count that as my favorite uni-tasker in the kitchen. :)
I love the simplicity of my thermapen. Open and take a temp, and its done!
I use my chef's knife most often preferring it to the food processor for most cutting applications.
I use an immersion blender to purée soups, make salad dressings, smoothies, hummus and other dips, mayonnaise .... It has replaced my blender and food processor for many jobs.
Have many useful kitchen tools, but thinking specifically of unitaskers that have one job, but do it really well... the pepper grinder.
That's all it does - crack peppercorns - but I can't imagine my kitchen without one. Actually have 4 of them - one for black pepper, another for salt (not *quite* a unitasker), and two smaller ones that are earmarked for specialty peppercorns (someday).
I love my cast iron skillet. Does the job of a saute pan, wok, roasting pan, mini dutch oven, and lots more.
I love my little paring knife. Use it all the time, really quick to sharpen and for those with a small workspace, doesn't take up a ton of room when I set it down.
I know my great-grandmother was a whiz with her paring knife but, for peeling potatoes and such, I like my vegetable peeler.
I often prefer using a whisk instead of a mixer machine.
Does it count that I use the broiler instead of the deep fryer when making Buffalo wings?
My cheap Hamilton-Beach chef's knife I use more than the pricey ones I have. Just the right weight, feels great, and holds its edge nicely.
My preferred tool is my boning knife. The handle is a perfect fit for my hand, and its narrow blade lets me easily slice and dice foods as needed. Though its supposed to be limited in purpose, my boning knife has come to be my "go to" knife of choice. It doesn't hurt that once sharpened it stays sharp for ages.
I'll have to agree with the earlier poster about a good mortar and pestle. I use and love lots of kitchen equipment like my KitchenAid mixer, the food processor, and immersion blender, but for a low-tech tool that does its one task extremely well, the mortar and pestle is it.
I agree on the rice cooker - it is such a simple appliance and it cooks rice perfectly every single time.
I love toothpicks. They're sharp, non-abbrasive, and easy to dispose of. They have a million uses in and out of the kitchen, and they'd belong in my zombie survival kit together with a roll of duct tape.
I frequently use them instead of a spatula and/or fork to make scrambled eggs.
I really like my egg slicer. It makes egg salad a breeze and eliminates time consuming chopping.
It seems silly, but parchment paper is a life-saver/time-saver.
Tear off a piece, lay it on the cookie sheet, and make as many batches of cookies as you want. They all come off cleanly, and the pan underneath (assuming nothing else happened to it) doesn't even need to be washed after it has cooled down.
Cut a square to fit the bottom/sides of your brownie pan, and you'll never again have to try to figure out how to separate the edges of the brownies from the pan (how do you get a flat knife to cleanly round the corner of the brownie pan without butchering the heavenly corner pieces?).
Line your casserole dish with it before cooking fish.
Cut a round of it to fit the bottom of your springform cheesecake pan (don't let it get between the edge of the bottom and the lip of the side when you clamp the pan closed though... that would be a mess)... now you can slip your flat spatula or cake round between the bottom of the springform and the parchment and the graham crust will remain intact.
Cut parchment rounds for the bottoms of the cups in the muffin tin if you're not using the muffin/cupcake wrappers. Parchment comes off far easier than the paper muffin/cupcake wrappers, and it also keeps anything from bonding between the bottom of the muffin and the muffin pan (ever get frustrated when trying to turn-out a pan of blueberry muffins??? Parchment paper is your best friend!)
You can't go wrong with parchment paper... it's cheap and a roll lasts a long time!
I would go for my kitchen knife as the best multitasker. No need for garlic peeler, just smash it with the knife. No need to a fancy food processor, just slice, chop, cut with the knife !!
I grew up watching Martin Yan on Yan Can Cook. Since then I've inherited a Chinese Cleaver that I think belonged to my grandmother. For mashing garlic, ginger, I always go to that rather than my microplane, graters, or any number of other fancy tools just like I learned from Martin Yan 30 years ago. One Giant whack, and I have instant garlic, ginger puree.
Here's a Martin Yan video, for anyone interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRrsifp2FpA
On another note, I could really use the thermometer. I actually just put the exact model on my Christmas list last week!
A simple toaster oven. I use it for literally everything that doesn't require a cook top. It's more efficient than a full oven, the broiler element is in an extremely close proximity to the food, and it heats up in a fraction of the time.
I make everything in my ninja. Cheese straws dough, Biscuit dough, cookie dough, cakes, mixed drinks, and of course anything i need to chop up goes in there as well. I have burned up every mixer I have ever purchased making divinity and cheese straws. So the NINJA is my secret weapon of choice.
Heh, that's GREAT. Thanks for the tip.
I like my egg slicer too, from everything from eggs to mushrooms to strawberries.
But I have yet to find a brand whose wires don't break after a while. Goy any recommendations?
I have to agree with the 8" chef's knife.
Contest ends now. All entries showing before this comment will be counted.
I found 31 entries for this giveaway. Using random.org, I generated a random number which was #23 and that was watusecook!
Congratulations to watusecook, I'll be contacting you by email to get your preferred color for the DOT and your mailing address.
I like to use a simple pocket thermometer instead of the digital ones. Every time I try to use my digital thermometer, it's out of batteries and I'm not even sure it's that accurate. My simple chefs pocket temperature indicator works like a charm.