Sure, multisided box graters offer different sizes and shapes, but for us, the most essential grating tool to have in the kitchen is the classic Microplane ($15), which produces a pillow of fluffy, lightweight, snowflake-like zest. Almost every chef has one, and here's why: it's portable, handheld, produces even shreds, and is super easy to clean.The Microplane was originally used as a woodworking tool, yet in 1994, by pure accident a housewife picked up her husband's new Microplane tool and used it to zest an orange for her cake recipe. The company realized her accidental genius and rebranded the item for kitchens, too. See what makes the Microplane so great.
Though we may be loathe to admit it, one of the most exciting — and frenzied — moments of wedding planning is setting up a registry. While deep down I knew that marrying the man of my dreams was the best present of all, other visions, like that of a perfectly appointed home, turned me into Dirty Harry with the scanner gun. A fondue set? I'll take two. The enormous countertop convection oven? We'll make room. Salt and pepper shakers shaped like mated doves? You get the picture.
It's easy to go crazy when registering for wedding gifts, but ending up with a pile of things you'll never use results in annoying trips back to the store for returns or very full storage closets. Eight years after my perfect wedding, I can't help but think that I should have provided my generous guests with better direction as I watch the dust collect on the paella pan I've never used. Every bride's needs are different, but I've come up with a list of five items from my registry that are highly underutilized and five items for which that money would have been better spent. Tell us: what are your must-have registry items, and what do you wish you left off your list?
Five Things I Could Have Done Without
- Preassembled cookware sets. Those 10- or 12-piece cookware sets may seem like a great deal with many stores advertising "deep" discounts vs. buying individual pieces, but I found that I ended up with pots and pans in sizes I've never used. Take the time to register for individual pieces (you may even find that you like pieces from a few different cookware lines) in standard sizes that make sense for your frying, sautéing, and simmering needs.
- Cooking utensils. Basic utensils like rubber spatulas and wooden spoons are a wedding-registry must have. But I've found that many of the specialized tools I thought I would need have gone untouched. There are so many variations of potato mashers, strainers, ladles, and whisks that you ought to take your time finding the perfect one for you.
- High-ticket single-use tools. Cookware companies would love to sell you pasta cookers, egg poachers, asparagus pots, and butter warmers, often at a few hundred dollars a pop. My pasta pot rarely sees the light of day, because I opt instead for a standard stockpot and colander (which drains much better, IMO). By investing in the right standard pots and pans, you still can cook any of these items and save room in your kitchen cabinets while you're at it.
For the rest of the list as well as a list of items I'd register for instead, just keep reading.
All of the sunshine has got us feeling some serious spirit — especially in the kitchen! We've already shown off kitchen appliances in happy rainbow hues, but all of the fresh Spring fruits and veggies we'll be slicing and dicing want to get in on the action too. Here are a few colorful, Spring-worthy cutting boards that we're sweet on.
With its status as a rapidly renewable resource, bamboo is the golden child of the eco-friendly marketplace. In the kitchen, it's indispensable, forming the backbone of a myriad of products including cutting boards, utensils, dishware, and even textiles. Here's a roundup of some of our favorite products made with our favorite green material.
It's funny to think that just a few years ago, bamboo cutting boards were hard to come by. These days, the boards have taken their place as standard fare beside their wood and plastic peers. This material has endeared itself toall kinds of kitchen products, not to mention environmentalists, thanks to the plant's rapid growth and regeneration. Bamboo grows to a harvestable height in three to five years, as compared to decades for its tree counterparts, and it can regrow without replanting. It's also remarkably sturdy — 16 percent stronger than maple — yet gentler on knives than plastic. So while it holds up against daily chopping duties, it also resists deep gouges better than wood (and thus harbors less icky bacteria).
But bamboo is not indestructible, and it can split along its seams if not properly cared for. Curious as to how you can keep your bamboo cutting boards in tip-top shape? Read on to find out.
If you've ever tackled a recipe that calls for honey or peanut butter, you've undoubtedly felt the pain of trying to scrape every last bit of gooey goodness out of your measuring cups. Last week, I faced the challenge of accurately measuring out 2/3 cups of goopy sourdough starter — a task rendered unbelievably easy thanks to my adjustable measuring cup! This cylindrical tool measures both wet and dry ingredients in cups, ounces, milliliters, and pints, but the best part is the interior plunger that guides sticky ingredients out of the tube and scrapes down the sides in one push. Corn syrup, jam, and molasses are no match for my wonder tool.
Still, I won't let go of my standard measuring cups, which are still the best for measuring flour out of the tub and for small jobs, but the KitchenArt Adjust-A-Cup is an important member of my tool arsenal. Are any specialized tools must haves in your kitchen?
Photo: Sara Yoo
Late-night infomercials seem to have the solution to every kitchen conundrum, but I learned quickly that buying into every zealous sales pitch meant cabinets full of single-use gadgets that receive only occasional use. So when I dove into my shelves of dusty equipment for a Spring clean-out, I found that several could go in the donation bin thanks to one multitasking pot: my enameled cast-iron Dutch oven.Photo: Camilla Salem
While forms of this essential vessel exist in many cultures, the original "Dutch" oven finds its roots in 17th century Netherlands, where it was a way to recreate the effects of an oven when only an open fire was available. My first Dutch oven arrived in the form of a Christmas gift from my mom who remarked, "You need one of these." She's never been so right. That 5 1/2-quart round Le Creuset became a stovetop fixture as I discovered I could use it for everything, from braised duck ragu to frijoles de la olla, to kimchi jjigae. The flat bottom heats evenly, even on my scary, early 90s-era electric coil range, and everything I simmer, braise, and stew takes on flavor depth unmatched by my other cookware. Thanks to the enameled surface, it's a wonder to deglaze, easy to clean, and incredibly durable. Now the proud owner of three of these do-it-all pots (the 5 1/2-quart round, a 7 1/2-quart round, and a 9 1/2-quart oval), I'm armed for dinner for two — or 20.
For a few of the many uses for your cast-iron enameled Dutch oven, just read on
When it comes to healthy cooking, I'd be a wreck without my must-have kitchen tools. From gadgets to cookware basics, these items help keep my fat, sugar, and sodium levels down while making sure that my nutrients for the day are always maxed out. Keep reading to see which kitchen essentials help inspire every meal to be a healthy meal.
From exotic fiddlehead ferns to bright-green peas, there's a bevy of intriguing produce to appreciate during the short window of May and June, when greens and things are abloom all across the country. One can't-miss is the baby artichoke. Sure, we love its larger counterpart, but there's something incredibly precious about this mini version, which is so premature and tender that it's eaten whole, choke and all. Aside from keeping your eyes peeled for a rare sighting, the key to enjoying them during Spring is to trim them correctly, so they're free of any tough stems or leaves. New to doing this? Read ahead to become an instant baby artichoke expert.
Besides stocking my pantry with party-ready items, I also keep several very important ingredients in my kitchen at all times. These are items that I use on a daily basis to make tons of different dishes. Read on to see what they are, and then share your must-have foods in the comments below!