When it comes to your kitchen, cooking and baking, it's important to understand the rules of the road. Which tools will help you to create the best dishes? Which can you pass on?
While we've been known to create a batch or two of fabulous potatoes without a potato ricer, we never knew mashed potato perfection until this tool--especially when using baby red potatoes. Often, mashed potatoes can become glue-like from over mixing, or adding too many ingredients. To prevent this, skin and boil your potatoes as normal, then run through the potato ricer, place back on the stove, add your ingredients (i.e. milk, sour cream, salt and pepper, to taste) and stir (don't over-stir your potatoes, as this will strip the whip-like consistency).
We know there are tons of talented chefs out in the world (who simply take a knife, smash the garlic clove and chop it up to minced perfection), but the garlic press helps to distribute even flavor and juices, optimizing the garlic flavor as much as possible in your dish. A perk? Say goodbye to the lingering stench of garlic on your finger tips.
We recommend: Rösle 12782 Garlic Press, $38.99 at Amazon.com
Why use a whisk when you can use a spoon or a fork? The extra benefit of using a whisk is that it incorporates more air into the product you're mixing. Spoons and forks simply blend ingredients, while a whisk can increase the volume. For example, try whisking an egg white instead of mixing it with a fork.
We recommend: Martha Stewart Stainless Steel Balloon Whisk, $16.99, Macy's
All-Purpose Digital Thermometer
While there are several types of cooking thermometers available, an all-purpose should suffice your everyday needs. Use this tool for meat, candies and baking, but be sure to sanitize after working with meat. The thermometer helps you better gauge internal temperatures so that your dish is prepared perfectly and not overcooked.
We recommend: OXO Good Grips® Chef's Digital Leave-In Thermometer, $39.99 at Zappos.com
This is one tool we can't live without. The microplane is used for grating citrus, garlic, ginger, cheese and even spices. Trying to get that perfect orange or lemon zest? Need some freshly grated nutmeg on top of that dessert? Skip the spice grater and opt for this versatile tool. It's multi-purpose use comes in handy for everyday cooking and then some.
It only makes sense when shopping for kitchen tools that you get the most bang for your buck. Does your recipe called for sifted flour or powdered sugar? Skip the technical sifter and reach for the strainer. Simply hit the edges of the strainer with the edge of the palm of your hand and voila! Rinse and reuse to wash veggies, fruit, or drain your pasta.
You'd be surprised by how many people cook without a cutting board. Many chop on their kitchen countertops or use a plate. This is a big no-no, especially when it comes to working with poultry or bacteria-spreading products. Not only do we think you should have one, we think you should have two or three. One for your meats, one for your veggies and one for your bar needs (i.e. slicing lemons, limes, oranges). Plastics are often a better bet, as they are easier on your knives and are dishwasher-friendly. Always be sure to sanitize, whether in the dishwasher or using bleach after working with raw meat.
We recommend: Joseph Joseph® Index™ Advance Cutting Board Set, $65 at JCPenney.com
This item usually does not make its way to many kitchens, and it absolutely should. Kitchen shears are a multi-purpose solution for everything from trimming the fat off meat, to cutting off the tips of asparagus and green beans, to trimming flower stems. Truly, the possibilities are endless.
We recommend: KitchenAid Classic Shears, $8.49 at Target.com
This is a hot item! Simply put, and particularly true for those with minimal space, expandable colanders (which sit over the sink) help not only create more space while cooking, but keep your products safe and fresh, sitting above any bacteria-ridden surfaces whether on the countertop or in the sink. An extra bonus? Drainage doesn't go all over your countertops but directly down the drain.
We recommend: Oneida® Stainless Steel Expanding Colander, $25.99 at Kohls.com
A sharp paring knife is more than imperative. It's an absolute must. Working with dull blades can not only make your life more difficult in the kitchen, it can lead to cuts and injuries. Working with the best doesn't always mean forking over the dollars. This paring knife is not only sharp, but comes with a nonslip handle and blade guard.
Furi Rachael Ray 4-Inch Paring Knife with Blade Guard, $6.95 at Amazon.com
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
There are tons of kitchen tools available to us. However, with so many out there, how do we know which ones are beneficial and which ones are not? From spice graters to specialized spatulas to an assortment of sifters, it's important to know the rules of the road in the kitchen. Understanding what tools are imperative and which ones you can pass on will help cut down on expenses.
We realize kitchen tool shopping can be overwhelming. Check out the slideshow above for 10 kitchen tool essentials.