I love kitchen gadgets and small appliances! I could spend hours in places like Williams Sonoma and, my fav, A Southern Season. However, a person does not need a lot of gadgets to be a great cook. Some gadgets are so specialized that they get used once in a blue moon. Think pasta maker or fondue pot. Other gadgets are items that no one ever needs, like the $130 cast iron, made-in-France, mussel pot I saw at A Southern Season.
Some gadgets are worth having. My ten favorite ones:
1. Microplane rasp -- Ditch the box grater for fine grating. This grater gives much more control and will prevent you from grating your fingers. I use it for cheese, chocolate, and zests.
2. Chinois -- This is the queen of strainers. It is a very fine mess sieve with a mortar to push the food through the fine mess. It is perfect for smooth soups and sauces.
3. Garlic press -- Buy a good quality one that will allow you to press the garlic with the skin on.
4. Pastry brush with acrylic bristles -- Easy to clean and no annoying bristles that shed. You need one.
5. Cuisinart automatic grind and brew coffee pot -- It makes morning so much more bearable. An evil boyfriend bought this for me. I ditched him but I never hated a man enough to return presents!
6. A saucepan with a spout for pouring -- I have on by Analon that has a spout on each side and a lid w/ holes for straining. It is very convenient.
7. An old cast iron skillet -- If you haven't inherited one from a grandmother or a great aunt, go to a thrift store and buy one. A cast iron skillet takes a good 30 years to be seasoned to a nice, slick, black surface that is non-stick. Cast iron does need to be looked after. It requires oiling and re-seasoning from time to time, but I love it. I only bought a non-cast iron skillet for cooking tomato and other acidic sauces. Apparently cast iron is not good for those flat glass, electric stove tops.
8. A tiny whisk -- It's perfect for whisking up a quick vinaigrette for one or two people.
9. Mandoline -- For those of us lacking the patience or fine motor skills to slice things very thinly, a mandoline is a savior. It takes up a lot of room, I don't use it that often, but when I need it, I love it.
10. Bread knife -- Not only is the serrated knife good for bread but it is also great for tomatoes or other soft fruits/vegs.
What do you have in your kitchen?