Why I’m ditching my stovetop pressure cooker

July 12, 2017 at 2:39 pm (Beans, Equipment reviews)

I have a nice Fissler pressure cooker that I use occasionally (mostly to cook beans). I like it, but I don’t love it. Recently I got an Instant Pot electronic pressure cooker. Even though I’ve only made four things in it so far (black beans, chana dal, sweet potatoes, and beets), I can already tell that I like it much better than my stovetop pressure cooker. Here’s why. Read the rest of this entry »

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Essential cookware for the vegetarian kitchen

December 25, 2009 at 4:05 pm (Equipment reviews)

Now that Christmas is over, it seems the perfect time to talk about purchasing pots and pans!  What cookware should you buy if you’re just starting out as a cook, or you have some extra cash (or someone itching to spend money on you) and you want to rebuild your cookware set from scratch?

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Equipment Review: Messless Measuring

October 11, 2006 at 1:06 am (Equipment reviews)

I’ve been posting a lot of recipes lately, but I’ve been wanting to give some recommendations for kitchen items as well. I’m going to start with measuring utensils, such as measuring spoons, cups, scales, etc.

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Equipment Review: Sharp Kitchen Gadgets

October 9, 2006 at 2:00 am (Equipment reviews)

Kuhn Rikon Swiss Double Edged PeelerI am a picky peeler, so it’s saying a lot when I tell you that I love my vegetable peeler. It’s a Kuhn Rikon Double Edged (or Double Blade) Swiss Peeler. I find it extremely comfortable to hold, and it never seems to get dull even though I’ve had it for years. The only downside is that it rusts easily, so I always dry it immediately after washing it. Also, it doesn’t work well on really round, ridged squashes, but other than that it’s great. I highly recommend it!  My mother, however, says its takes off too much of the veggies.

microplane2.jpg

microplane.jpg

Another gadget I’m very fond of is my microplane zester. It comes in two versions: one with a plastic handle and one without. I much prefer the one with the handle. I love these zesters because they don’t get any of the bitter white pith, they yield a very fine zest, and the way the metal is folded over (see below), the zest gets collected in the folds of the zester, and doesn’t fall out.

Every kitchen needs a pair of scissors. I’ve always just bought whatever brand is cheap and has long blades and big handles. I don’t have a particular brand recommendation, but if you don’t have a pair in the kitchen–get one!

Knives

Sizes and styles: Many people say you only need three knives:  a large chef’s knife, a serrated knife, and a paring knife.   I think I could get by with those three, but I have more.

  • 9-inch chefs knife:  The extra length comes in handy occasionally, like when splitting a winter squash or large cabbage in half.
  • 6-inch santoku knife:  If you always cook alone, then you can just get one large chef’s knive, but if you ever cook with someone else, then it’s really nice to have two large knives.  I don’t have any smaller knives for chopping.  Some people find even a 6-inch knife too big; for example, when my sister came to visit, she kept asking if I had any smaller knives for chopping.  Nope!
  • paring knife:  I use this to take bad spots out of apples or potatoes, and for other occasional tasks.
  • large serrated knife:  For cutting bread, I like to have a long, quite thin bread knife.  This can also be used for cutting tomatoes, but I prefer something smaller.
  • small serrated knife:  I have a cheap, small and thin serrated knife for cutting tomatoes.

Derek also likes to have a short, fat knife for cutting soft cheeses, but I rarely use it.

Brands:  I have cheap knives and expensive knives, but I don’t love any of them.  The key is to find a knife with a handle that feels comfortable, and then keep it sharp.

Knife sharpener:

I bought a sharpening stone years ago, but I never really figured out how to use it.  Now I use the accusharp knife sharpener, which costs about ten dollars and is idiot-proof.  It takes only a few swipes to make my knives super sharp. Supposedly it makes your knives wear out faster by taking off more metal than a professional sharpener, but for me it’s worth it to always have sharp knives.  I also have a diamond steel I use to hone my knifes.  If you don’t have a good knife sharpener than take them in to be professionally sharpened someplace that uses a real sharpening stone, not some cheap electric knife sharpener.

Other sharp kitchen gadgets I own:

  • A mandoline. I’ve always looked at mandolines with excitement and trepidation. I’ve read so many mixed reviews on Amazon I just didn’t know what to think. I received an Oxo mandoline as a wedding present, however, and will write up a review when I get a chance.
  • Julienning peeler.  I’ve tried two different brands and neither worked very well.  They julienned soft vegetables like cucumbers moderately well, but they completely failed to julienne hard vegetables like carrots.
  • Grapefruit knife.  Get a curved, serrated one.  I’ve also heard good things about a double grapefruit knife, but haven’t tried it yet.
  • Fat microplane grater for grating cheeses finely, or other handheld grater.
  • Box grater.

Sharp electrical appliances:

  • Food processor.
  • Blender.
  • Stick blender.
  • Spice grinder.

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