More Than Functionality: Your Favorite Kitchen Tools

Sometimes our kitchen tools do more than make dinner.

More Than Functionality: Your Favorite Kitchen Tools

Sometimes our kitchen tools do more than make dinner.

A few weeks ago I asked for your favorite kitchen tools and just as I was gathering up your responses, Mark Bittman's New York Times article, "A No-Frills Kitchen Still Cooks," appeared.   (Times subscribers can click on the link below for the full May 9 "Dining In" article.) 

This is a very useful piece in which Mr. Bittman shows us how to decently outfit a kitchen for less than $300.  There was nothing on his list with which I disagreed, although I'd squabble with his point that some of the more pricey brand names are automatically excessive.  Sure you can make an excellent meal with a $25, 14-inch steel pan bought on the Bowery; I know, because I have one.  But I also have a 14-inch All-Clad and given the choice, I always -- always -- reach first for the All-Clad.  With an aluminum exterior and steel interior, it simply cooks better.  The other pan is very good and I use it when I need two at once, but All-Clad's higher price isn't all show and marketing.  And don't anyone dare take my 10" Wusthof chef knife away from me.

I embrace Mr. Bittman's message that the cook makes the tools instead of the other way around.  Still, there's nothing wrong with falling in love with something extravagant or single purpose.  I knew someone who made the most extraordinary Grand Marnier soufflés.  She would beat the egg whites by hand, using a beautiful copper bowl, and swore her recipe wouldn't work without it.  She was right.  I watched her make it and she was generous with the recipe.  But I have no copper bowl and my efforts have always failed.

Power Tools

Nearly every city home cook I know seeks a way to make their cooking personal and many of us achieve this by having one or two tools we secretly feel are only ours.  Perhaps it's one with a history or a story.  Or it once belonged to someone else whose cooking you loved.  Or it's a tool that's necessary for a particular recipe that's a signature dish for you.  The fact is that many of us have something in our kitchens that's less a talisman and more like Dumbo's magic feather.

Some of you wrote to me about chef's knives, tongs, vegetable peelers, thermometers, Champagne stoppers, tea towels, small plastic cutting boards, a 30-year-old bent and beloved Mouli cheese grater, an OXO hand chopper that saves cuts and tears when chopping onions, a pressure cooker (sorry, Mr. Bittman, but some home cooks consider these essential), and melon ballers.  

But you also wrote:

And my favorite:

 

Now that's a city cook.

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Japan Woodworker, TheBowery Restaurant Supply

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