Monday, September 9, 2013

Tools: The big, the small, the essential

Let's talk about what you've got in your kitchen.  Not what food you have, what kinds of tools and equipment you have.  Do you have a favorite whisk or wooden spoon or spatula?  I do!
And, because I do, I'm going to share a few of my go-to's.  I could come up with an entire list of things and maybe I'll do that, in the future but for now, let's just stick to some great basics.  I love basics because they're a really good way to get started.

Of course, there are the knives but I could spend an entire email (or more) just on knives so let's save that, too and get into some super cool tools that will make your time in the kitchen easier and, dare I say, fun!  This will also be fun because I'm going to show you pictures of my personal favs!

I limited myself to five but I have many, many more.
So here are the top five small kitchen tools on my Hit Parade and in my kitchen, right now!

Number 5 - Fine mesh strainer
Pour sauces or stocks through this to get perfectly clear liquids, nothing is left behind.  Also good for draining and rinsing canned goods.

Number 4 - Microplane
Always sharp and makes grating cheese or veggies a breeze.

Number 3 - Poultry shears
These are indispensable for cutting up chicken or other birds.  These are cool because they come apart for easy chicken "goo" left on these!

Number 2 - Utility tongs
Man, I love these things!  If you don't have anything else for picking things up out of a hot pan, this is the tool.  They are really an extension of your hand.
Finally, and this was a hard one because I really love those tongs but...

Number 1 - Japanese mandoline
You must be careful with this guy but if you are...slicing is so fast and fun!!  Plus, it's super inexpensive.  So if it breaks (and it could although none of mine ever have), you don't feel bad throwing it away and getting a new one.

So these are a few of my favorite things, I think I feel a song coming on.
But instead, how about a recipe?  Experiment with it and have some fun!

Penne Mac ‘n Cheese
 Serves 4 – 6

¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded aged cheddar
½ lb penne, cooked al dente, cooled and drained
½ cup Panko bread crumbs
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°.

Butter a 2 qt baking dish.  In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, stir in the flour and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes.  Slowly whisk in the milk until smooth.  Simmer until the sauce is thickened.  Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup of mozzarella and ½ cup aged cheddar.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the pasta and cheese sauce.  Stir in ½ cup of mozzarella and transfer to prepared dish.  Top with the remaining mozzarella and aged cheddar then bread crumbs.
Bake for at least 30 minutes or until the pasta is browned and bubbly.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Be sure to try different types of pasta and cheeses with it!

I continue to get great feedback about my Complete Resource Guide to Stress-Free Entertaining.  If personalizing your cooking and making it fun is interesting to you, you might enjoy this free guide.  Check it out by clicking on the link.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for taking the time to publish this information very useful!
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