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"We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie." David Mamet

Friday, December 10, 2010

robert's favorite gadget

The Down-Home Holiday Guide to Kitchen Gadgets
"The flavors have plenty of time to warm up to each other..." about $100
Robert likes to let the food cook itself - I’m not one to concern myself with details. I have nothing specific against them, but rushing around to accommodate their unimaginative stringency just isn’t my thing. It’s how I work, and it’s also how I cook, which is why I love my slow cooker. It requires no precision and only a cursory understanding of how to plan ahead. Need food for the football game at 8? Start slow cooking in the late morning or early afternoon, or early morning, or the day before. It doesn’t actually matter, yet come game time, your turkey corn chili will be ready! But the best part is that it can handle all the experimentation I throw at it, so I can double the garlic content of almost anything. That’s because in a slow cooker, the flavors have plenty of time to warm up to each other, and after 6 or 7 hours, they’ve really begun to get along; the details will sort themselves out in there. A slow cooker never misses the forest for the trees.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

susanne's favorite gadget

The Down-Home Holiday Guide to Kitchen Gadgets
Spaetzle Maker, $6 and up

For cold winter nights, Susanne's spaeztle maker (plus recipe) - I have two favorite gadgets: the meat pounder my grandmother (who was a pediatrician and an awful cook) brought form Austria; I think it was her mother's originally, and I've been making my kids' favorite schnitzel with it with it for years. In a related vein is my spaetzle maker. It is new. My old one rusted. Everyone is so impressed when I make them, and they are so easy; definitely the right tool for the job.
What is spaetzle?
For the uninitiated, like me, spaetzle is a type of German pasta - dumpling or noodle - that's served as a side dish. Susanne likes to serve it under a good Austrian Goulash.  A good recipe in English comes from Austrian native Wolfgang Puck.  Ausgezeichnet!
Basic spaetzle recipe
2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
Pinch salt, white pepper, nutmeg
Place flour in bowl. Add eggs and milk. Whisk just enough to incorporate. Let rest half hour. Press through spaetzle maker into large pot of salted water. Cook until they float, about 5 minutes. Saute with butter until golden brown. Salt to taste. Add-ons: cheese, parsley, lemon juice, carmelized onions.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

jasmine's and sharon's favorite gadget

The Down-Home Holiday Guide to Kitchen Gadgets
The Mezzaluna comes with bowls, chopping boards, or alone, $15 and up
Two passionate reviews for the Mezzaluna (single blade)
Jasmine's Mezzaluna channels her Italian spirit  - I fell in love with this rocking half moon knife watching my Italian friend Sabrina's mama chopping veggies and herbs in their farm house kitchen in Umbria with a waft of sunshine and rich tomato-y sauces in the air and vino flowing! Molto Bene!!!  It's a real Italian mama tool  -  you can rock it back and forth while talking with your free hand - freestyle Italian cooking!! I love the feel of the motion and the crescent shape as well as the resultant finely chopped and rocked herbs!
For Sharon, the Mezzaluna makes chopping orgasmic - 
My Mezzaluna! I know that sounds like a song your feisty Italian grandmother used to sing but it’s really the most amazing kitchen tool I’ve ever had.  The translation is ‘half moon’. Doesn’t that sound romantic?…"Mezzaluna" said with an Italian accent and a glass of red wine nearby  makes chopping orgasmic. It has something to do with the rocking motion and the smell of great food in the making.

The sky is the limit with this simple kitchen apparatus.  I use it for spices, mushrooms, nuts, vegetables, to make breadcrumbs for stuffing…and on and on.  Just throw something into the rounded wooden bowl and rock back and forth with the sharpened cutting edge for a very hands-on product.  Here’s the ridiculously amazing part: you can use the back of a glass or a pestle in the indented bowl part it to  crush ingredients (like graham crackers for crusts!).  Also, feel free to use the cutting edge for a pie or pizza (I’ll never tell), and if you flip the wooden board over, you have a lovely small square cutting board. There is something so archetypical about it.

Like some great Italian chef, circa 1750, is pressing my hands back and forth for me...oooh Antonio!

julie's favorite gadget

The Down-Home Holiday Guide to Kitchen Gadgets

Soda Stream Soda Maker, $79 and up
Julie Markes could be a spokeswoman for the Soda Stream Soda Maker  - The Best Gadget I ever purchased! Refills are available at the Food Coop. We used to go through a case of seltzer every week or so. and now we make our own at home. It is less expensive, better for the environment, and the seltzer can be made as bubbly or as "Perrier-like" as you wish.