Better Living Expert: Kitchen Tools You Can Trust
Doing more with less
More than any other room in the home, the kitchen needs the right tools to function well.
There’s also no other room for which so many gadgets and gewgaws are marketed as must-haves. Far too many of them end their days collecting dust on valuable counter space, which is why many serious chefs edit culinary paraphernalia down to a few simple essentials.
EXPERTS WEIGH IN
That was certainly a guiding principle behind chef Anna Olson’s eponymous line of kitchen tools, check annaolson.ca for availability. “I narrowed it down by looking at what I use on a regular basis and why I like the design of the tools I favour,” says Olson.
The result is a 23-piece collection that includes steel baking pans, sheets, measuring spoons and cups, BPA-free silicone and hardwood spatulas and spoons, and other baking and icing gear.
Tools typically on hand in the pro’s kitchen, says Olson, include a rasp, mini-chopper, silicone spatulas, mandolin, and stand mixer, the latter being a permanent fixture on her own counter.
Olson replaced, however, a food processor with a highpowered blender, because she never used the slicing or grating attachments on the food processor, and finds the blender does such a stunning job of puréeing soups and sauces, and makes the smoothest hummus.
MULTI-FUNCTIONAL & COMPACT
Olson’s not alone—foodies (and smoothie lovers) have, over the last few years, enthusiastically embraced blenders. Many seem to be fans of Vitamix’s lineup, which includes the Ascent blender, whose two-horsepower motor supports five program settings and 10 speeds, and is blessedly easy to clean.
Because Olson likes kitchen tools with multiple uses, her silicone trivets will be versatile, designed to hold hot baking pans, serve as flexible pot holders, keep a mixing bowl in place, or grip and loosen a tightly-sealed jar lid.
Many chefs say the practice of mise en place (French for putting everything—from pre-measured chopped garlic/onion/ginger to whisked egg or flour for a gravy—in small bowls in preparation for cooking) can dramatically improve results for the home chef.
Perfect for this are ramekins, which are also useful for serving condiments or toppings on the table. Small footprint and very affordable, four stackable ceramic ramekins from Quebec-based chef Ricardo sell for about $15 at Kitchen Stuff Plus.
KEEP IT CLEAN
Little details make a big difference to food prep and cleanup. A professional kitchen, for example, is never short of clean dishcloths. Similarly, having lots of absorbent, quick-drying towels makes work easier. Greener than paper towels, they too have multiple uses, such as drying and storing greens, covering dishes or cradling bread in a bowl.
Look for both from Euroscrubby; they have super-absorbent dishcloths ($6) and towels (a generous 19 by 28 inches) made in Lithuania from a cotton/linen blend ($13), and decorated with quaint designs that will make you smile.
For Olson, another simple, but absolutely essential, kitchen tool is an ergonomic rolling pin. “It instils confidence in your pastry. I like to use a French-style, tapered rolling pin. It has no handles on the ends; your hands are on top of the pin, so you can feel the pastry better as you roll.”