Friday, 20 March 2015

6 Excellent gifts for cooks they may not have thought of

I am an old-school cook, having spent a year learning how to make meringues, mayonnaise and profiteroles (many years back) I can now do these and other stand-bye recipes with my eyes closed…..almost.  I don’t like everyday cooking and rarely use a cookery book.  But when my kids give a party they come to me particularly for puds, as although we are a family of cooks, other than one son who shall remain nameless, I love to cook for loads.

There are several items that I wouldn’t be without and I thought I’d list them here.  You no doubt have yours.  Mine are about making life easier in the kitchen from chopping herbs to juicing lemons.  So here they are;

Chai Dao knife by GudeA Chai Dao knife.  This is a very high quality ‘chef’s knife’, made by Gude of Solingen, Germany.  Yes it is used in a lot of Asian dishes, but frankly it is marvellous for chopping anything.  Use it for vegetables, garlic, herbs and the like.  The wide blade is also very good for transferring your ingredients to the pan.  Keep it sharp and the Chai Dao will serve you well for a lifetime.

Most cooks don’t have one of these in their kitchen, so it also makes an excellent giftWorlds Best Knife Sharpener.

The ‘World’s Best Knife Sharpener’.  I can’t promise that this is the ‘World’s Best’, and many chefs would say that knives should only be sharpened with a steel.  But as someone who has always had a problem using a steel I bought one of these, attached it to my fridge and have never looked back.  I’ve again also given them away.

Mini Electric Chopper by Russell Hobbs Mini electric chopper. I know…..I’ve just been going on about a chef’s chopping knife and now I’m suggesting you invest in an electric mini chopper.  When you’re in a hurry, chopping herbs or garlic for the masses or you can’t be bothered to chop by hand this little chopper is wonderful and so much easier to wash up than a large one. 

I use a KitchenAid in the US but particularly like this one as it has an extra lid so you can store what you’ve chopped if you want tkenwood electric hand mixero.

Kenwood electric hand mixer.  My Kenwood has lasted for about fifteen years so far and is perfect for everything that needs whipping or blending.  I use it as an adjunct to my large Kenwood Chef mixer (which again I’ve had for many years) particularly when making cheesecake and similar deserts and you need to mix several ingredients separately but pretty much at the same time.  I rarely use a rotary hand whisk, why would you when this makes life so much easier? 

Mini Electric Juicer by Lakeland Mini Electric Juicer by Lakeland.  For those who don’t want to waste time using a normal juicer for their morning orange juice, or when you need a lot of lemon juice, this sits perfectly between the manual juicer and a mainline juice extractor (which no one ever seems to want to wash up…..funny that). 

This little juicer will squeeze everything you want squeezed in a matter of seconds and is also very easy to clean.  Every kitchen should have one.
Clearview Stainless Steel Porringer, Bain Marie, Double Saucepan
Double Saucepan – also known as a Bain Marie or Porringer.  For anyone who cooks with chocolate or makes delicate sauces this is one of the most useful pieces of equipment.  You may think you don’t want another saucepan, and that you’re perfectly happy resting a glass bowl over a saucepan of water but once you have one of these you won’t want anything else, and of course you can use the lower pan for other things as well.

The idea of this is that the top pan sits inside the lower one which you fill with water and bring to the boil or simmer, keeping the direct heat away from your ingredients, so when you’re melting chocolate, making sauces,  porridge or scrambled eggs they never burn.  And it works every time.  Make sure if you do invest in one that it has a glass lid so you can see what’s going on.

These are all tried and tested tools and appliances that I use whenever I’m cooking.  They all make life easier, and when you’re preparing food who doesn’t want that?