Kitchen tools need not be expensive to be valuable. The above Benriner mandoline is one of my most valued kitchen tools for uniform slicing, julienning, and making brunoise (a julienne turned into a dice). By far my most valuable electric device in my kitchen is the hand blender—I use Braun that seems to be unavailable, but I bought this Cuisinart version for my mom ($47) and it works well—these devices all do the job of pureeing soups and sauces, easy whisking, quick mayonnaise, and I make vinaigrettes in the cup attachment, which will even emulsify a great Caesar dressing will pureeing the garlic.
Every kitchen needs a scale, the most reliable way of measuring, especially if you're baking (which is why more cookbooks are including, if not leading with, metric weights, as does the ground-breaking Bouchon Bakery cookbook—another lovely gift, come to think of it!). I use two, one for measuring heavier items, pounds of flour, say, and one for very small amounts, such as 3 grams of yeast.
For measuring temps of roasts in the oven or on the grill, a cable thermometer is a great asset. I've been using this RediCheck cable thermometer for years and love it. But I also got an even cooler one that connects to my iPhone via Bluetooth; it's called the iGrill but I use it more for the oven. It's the bomb!
Every kitchen needs a good pepper grinder for freshly ground pepper that, importantly, doesn't grind too coarsely; you need a mill for fine grinding, and Peugeot’s are excellent ($51), the usual choice in the professional kitchen.
I've already mentioned this from my OpenSky collection, but a mortar and pestle ($44) is one of my most treasured kitchen tools, allowing me to pulverize toasted whole spices in an instant, make great salsas, even guacamole.
Can't forget the Microplane, a real game changer when the company (which originally created them for woodworking) introduced models for the kitchen, for all manner of zesting and grating.
And last but not least, while I'm wary of what Alton Brown calls the unitasker, the kitchen tool that does only one thing, I would be very sad to lose this lemon juicer. Fresh lemon and lime juice are always in play in my kitchen and this baby makes juicing the work of a moment. Worth the $10? Yeah.
Cooking is a craft, and good tools are a must with any craft.
SousVide Supreme, wants to want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!
Their Black Friday promotion, running this weekend (Fri thru Mon) online at www.sousvidesupreme.com.
For only $449 ($749 usually), you can get a SousVide Supreme Chef unit and a free vacuum sealer ($129).
© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.