…..Where 'La Gourmandise' is not a sin!

Kitchen equipment

Post about kitchen equipment, tips, and tricks

Lee Valley

Lee Valley

Lee Valley

Lee Valley

The wavy line along the forge weld is known as the “hamon” and was one of the judgment points of traditional Japanese swords.

11″ long overall with an ebony composition handle, this knife has a particularly beautiful, lightly textured blade.

The knife has exterior layers of stainless steel forge-welded to a high-carbon steel core. The carbon steel central layer gives you a knife that will hold a razor edge, but has the easy maintenance features of stainless steel.

It is best sharpened on a 1000 grit water stone which uses ordinary tap water for flushing. (Do not use sharpening steels.)

Comes in a decorative presentation box.

Lucito

Victorinox: 47022

Victorinox - 12" Chef's Knife

Victorinox - 12" Chef's Knife

As one of our most popular knives, we know that the 12-inch Chef’s Knife can handle any kitchen task we put it through. The stainless steel blade can move from job to job without ever compromising its sharpness.

Details

One of our most popular knives, the versatile, multipurpose 12″ Chef’s Knife is a must-have for every serious cook. The high-carbon stainless steel blade is perfect for large chopping jobs and carries a lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. And the natural beauty of our Rosewood design is ergonomic, lightweight, balanced for extended use, and will not discolor or corrode.

  • 12″ Stainless Steel Blade
  • Ergonomic, lightweight, and balanced for extended use
  • Will not discolor or corrode
  • Lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship

Lucito

Some months ago I read an article somewhere that supposedly posted the definite list of items that you need to start a kitchen, and another one for cooks who are experts to upgrade their equipment. The list missed a lot of the basic essentials that I think most people should have at home, even those who do not do much cooking. A lot of the items on the basic list I had read were also superfluous, at least for most people who are starting up. Of course it all depends on personal choice, what type of cooking you prefer doing, and how much you are into cooking.

I personally tend to move from one extreme to another in what I use in the kitchen, from using a few basic tools for everything, to using specific tools for specific tasks. It all depends on my mood of the moment, and probably the phase of the moon too. These days I have been paying more attention to what I use daily in the kitchen, and I noticed that the basic tools that I employ the most are not very numerous. Everybody has their preferences, so what I say here should be taken with a grain of salt, as I am sure a lot of people out there could not life without their preferred gadgets or kitchen tools. The following list highlights the basic essentials that everybody interested in cooking should have in their kitchen, and it is based on my own experience. In subsequent posts I will list other items that I think should form the basis of a good kitchen. At a later date I will expand on each item on the various lists to explain my personal preferences.

Basic Essentials (Gadgets)

1. A solid smooth-bladed 8" chef’s knife
2. A 3" smooth-bladed paring knife
3. A sharpening stone (or sharpening gadget that actually works)
4. A sharpening steel
5. A serrated blade bread knife
6. A vegetable peeler
7. A box grater
8. A manual can and bottle opener
9. 3 large kitchen spoons
10. A soup ladle
11. A slotted spoon
12. A potato masher
13. A metal spatula
14. A bamboo spatula
15. A plastic spatula
16. 3 X silicone rubber spatulas of various sizes
17. 2 X 2 cup measuring cups
18. A 4 cup or larger measuring cup
19. A set of small measuring cups
20. A set of measuring spoons
21. A corkscrew
22. A wire whisk

Lucito

Food Loop

I came across an interesting little kitchen gadgets today while reviewing some RSS feed and it seems to be a great thing when you have to prepare some food that need to be tied with kitchen twine. It is called the Food Loop and it is simply a silicone tie rap that is heat resistant up to 675F and it would be very useful when you are trying to tie a roast and you are running out of hands. I have no idea if it works properly and even of the price as they seem to only list stores where it is available, but it would be a very valuable aid in the kitchen if it works as advertised. Since I do not endorse the product and actually never have tried it, the only thing that I can say is buyer beware. If they are affordable and work well I would not mind having a dozen or so in my gadget drawer.

Lucito

When we returned from Canada we went to do some shopping to pick up some late Christmas gifts for our nieces and also something for the birthday of my father in law. While we were going through the department store, we of course made a small detour to the kitchenware department. They were having a sale so Normita bought me one of those stovetop espresso pots. Our espresso machine is in Canada so I have been espresso-less for a while now, and I was really missing my morning dose of high octane coffee. I occasionally brew myself a pot of superstrong coffee, and I normally end up drinking most of a large pot and it takes me about 2 days to come down from the buzz that gets me plastered to the ceiling.

I much prefer the strong taste of espresso and the smaller quantity you drink and lower level of caffeine is much better for my nerves. They had the regular Italian aluminum octagonal espresso pot, and also a Chinese version with a round contour. I liked the looks of the Chinese version better and at 3 times less I thought it was a good buy. I lived happily with it for a month and was making myself a pot on average every other day when I needed a boost of energy for work. I had a large can of dark roasted Columbian coffee in the freezer ground for a drip coffee maker. I used this for the first month until I remembered to pickup a can of espresso coffee, as I really prefer the stronger taste. This new coffee was ground much finer for an espresso machine. I did not think much of it until I make my first pot a few days later.

To my surprise the pot started spitting and dripping all over the walls and the stove. It took me a while to clean up the mess. When I did so and took apart the pot, it seemed that the finer grind of the coffee blocked the filters and the little valve in the side of the pot did not open so a dangerous level of pressure built-up in the pot. The top filter was completely distorted with a nice high dome in the middle of it and luckily the pot did not burst. That first pot of real espresso was really tasty, but since then I have not taken a chance of using the fine coffee again. I took a chance a few days later and used the regular coffee again in the pot and it seems to be still working properly except for a small leak from the middle joint, and the fact that due to the dome now the pressure is not as high and the coffee ends up a little bit weaker.

I hope that I will learn from my experience and I took an oath to never again buy something cheap that has the potential to hurt me. Today we were shopping and I saw a line of automatic espresso machines from a top Italian manufacturer that grinds the coffee and does everything but drink it for you. I fell in lust, and now I have to save some money to get one of those so that I can automatically and safely satisfy my thirst for strong espresso. It might take a while until we can afford it, and when we do I am not sure of where we will put it, but the fear of exploding coffee pots will always remain with me, so it will be a good investment.

Lucito

I have just a short note today on one of my pet peeves. Sharp knives, or most tellingly the lack of sharpness in knives. I tend to keep my large collection of kitchen knives mostly sharp as I cannot stand using a dull knife that cannot cut anything. I am always amazed when I cook at a lot of people’s places that they can actually cut anything with any of their knives. The main reason they tell me is that they are afraid of cutting themselves when using a sharp knife. I have done that to myself on occasion with sharp knives, mostly due to a short moment of inattention. Over the years I have done a lot more damage to myself, the food I am preparing, and the kitchen while trying to use a dull knife. Not only it is way more dangerous as you have a lot less control since you have to use a lot of pressure to cut anything, but also the knife has a tendency to slide all over the place as it does not want to cut nicely into tough skinned food. Just make sure that when you are using a sharp knife you pay close attention to what you cut into, and make sure that you do not put your fingers in the path of the blade.

Another type of knife I do not like are the ones with very sharp serrated teeth that might cut through all kind of things easily including rubber hoses and wood, but you normally do not have any control with them when doing normal kitchen duties like finely chopping food. The only serrated knives I use are good quality bread knifes, as they are essential to cut bread. Do yourself a favor, keep the cheap serrated knife for your toolbox, and get your knives professionally sharpened regularly if you cannot do it yourself.

Lucito

I was recently researching various kitchenware offerings online when I was looking to purchase a fondue pot. Normita wanted to have a cheese fondue for Valentine day, and all of our fondue pots are in storage in Canada. Fondues are not very popular here in Mexico, so most regular stores do not carry anything useful. I turned to the major department stores and found some offerings online, but they were uniformly overpriced for what they were. I walked to a nearby major department store to see what they had, as their website did not list anything at all, and I found some nice looking fondue pots. They were also high priced, but when I looked at them closely I noticed that they were very cheaply made. The nice shiny stainless steel was very flimsy and I decided to pass on buying one, and we ended up eating something else that I invented for the occasion. More on that another day…

Thinking back on what I saw in the department stores and what is available everywhere else, I came to realize that cooking is now at the level of expensive hobbies where a huge amount of companies are offering a lot of products more from the show factor, than for cooks to actually use them. There seems to be so many types of kitchen gadgets these days, and the price you pay does not insure of quality.

First there are the cheap mass market gadgets that are useless at any prices. Soon after we moved I noticed that I could not find my vegetable peeler. Later that day, at the local supermarket, they had two different vegetable peelers on sale. One was a low-priced one of a generic style I have been using all of my life and the other a fancy brand one that looked cumbersome and useless and that was offered at a ridiculously high price. I opted for the cheap one, as they are normally solid and work very well.

When I returned home I washed it and after one minute of use the blade had broken off. I was very disappointed as the design normally works perfectly for years, but the one I had bought was obviously of very bad quality. Thus beware of the very cheap kitchen gadgets that however low the price is, are not worth it.

The next Sunday, when we were shopping at the tianguis, I found a solid looking vegetable peeler that was not much more expensive than the one at the supermarket. It was built solidly, was very sharp, and turned out to work perfectly for all normal purposes that you would put a vegetable peeler to do. Those unglamorous, well made gadgets that are a tad higher priced than the bargain basement variety are great values. Of course they might clash with the stunning decor of your fancy ultra-modern laboratory kitchen, but what to you want from a lowly vegetable peeler.

Of course, if money is not a factor and you want pure style, there are a lot of high quality kitchen gadgets that offer both good looks, and great function. These tools seem to be very popular now with cooking becoming a spectator sport and getting to be a hobby for many. The main complaint I have with a lot of those branded gadgets, is why in the world would you want to pay upwards of $50 for a whisk or similar tool, when you can buy a commercial duty one at a restaurant supply shop for about 5 times less? I know that the commercial one does not have the branding of the fancy, endorsed by a famous chef, one, and might be a tad less stylish, but unless you want to decorate the kitchen with it instead of using it, the commercial whisk will just as well or better.

There is also a proliferation of kitchen gadgets that are advertised in infomercials and in boots in various malls. Most of them offer solutions to kitchen problems you never had, and some are so specialized that they make you part with your money for things that you will only use once or twice a year. How often do you need to make heart-shaped pancakes or carve a 10 pound melon in the shape of a swan? Occasionally you manage to find some interesting gadget that is both well-made and very useful, and I have indulged with those in the past and will certainly do so again in the future. One thing to keep in mind is do you really need the gadget, can you afford it, and most importantly how often will you use it. If the answer is yes for the first two and very often for the second, then you should seriously consider it.

In coming months I will talk more about gadgets and make a list of essentials that every cook should have in their kitchens. Until then keep cooking and don’t buy too many kitchen gadgets you will never use.

Lucito

I’m taking a short break between doing some work in the office and cleaning the old aquarium. A very cheerful combination of tasks for a grayish Saturday. Normita should be here in about an hour or so, and she will bring some things so that we can prepare a decent meal. More on that recipe later…

Yesterday I went to a trade show about restaurants, bars, and hotels. They offered a wide variety of food supplies, equipment, and services for the trade. I was there for a quick run around the exhibition floor, as I only wanted to check a few things, mainly what was available locally for restaurant/bar management software. Of course I kept an eye open for dishes, glassware, and kitchen gadgets, as well as potential suppliers of foodstuff. I also spent a few minutes looking and drooling at commercial ranges as I plan to install one in our next kitchen when we move to a new house in a few years.

I met with the people representing an extensive line of kitchen gadgets and knives and I particularly liked their line of commercial kitchen knives. The sales rep told me to come back a bit later, as since it was the last day of the show they were planning to sell everything at deep discounts so they did not have to bring back everything with them again through customs.

Of course, you know what that means; I stopped by on my way out of the show and left with 5 new knives. Luckily I had not brought much cash with me, as I was not expecting to shop there, so I did not come back with more gadgets that I have room in the kitchen. The only thing I want to know is why food people are so addicted to buying so many things… I know about it, I even wrote about it a few days ago, and I still went along and bought more knives. I think that I will go finish cleaning the kitchen so that I can actually use them, or at least one or two of them… I’ll have report on them if they turn out to work as well as they look…

Lucito

I was reminded of how many things we accumulate in the kitchen over the years while we were unpacking and cleaning all of the kitchen gadgets we got since we moved to Mexico about two and a half years ago. We had a large cardboard box full of all sorts of things, and I realized that we probably have about 10 times that in storage back in Canada.

Do we really need all of that stuff, or do we just become addicted to purchasing all of those neat kitchen gadgets? Over the coming weeks I will give my opinion on what are the things I find useful in the kitchen, and about what things I should never have bought. I have a weakness for kitchen knives of all size, and over the years I have oscillated between using 10 different ones to prepare a dish to using a single one to do everything. This does not stop me from purchasing new knives all the time, as we all must have our vices…

For now I have just washed everything and stuffed them in a few drawers in the kitchen, and next weekend I will go through everything and decide what I will keep and what will go in storage or be given away. I’ll make a handy list of basic kitchen essentials for those starting out with a new kitchen, or who want to do some fall cleaning. This will also help me in finding out if we are missing something important when we start using the kitchen heavily.

Lucito