There used to be a kitchen store in a shopping mall nearby that had a selection of kitchen tools that was, in a word, unbelievable. You would walk in the front door, turn to your left and you were looking at a wall, 10 feet high and about 40 feet long, completely covered in gadgets, gizmos and widgets! I could spend, and have spent, an entire afternoon just checking them out, and every visit brought new and different gadgets, gizmos and widgets to peruse.
Don’t get the wrong idea. We are not expanding the Amoretti Store to include the sale of hardware, and we are not going to promote any particular brand or manufacturer of these items over another, but the Amoretti® Test Kitchen drawers are overflowing with the small tools we call gadgets, gizmos and widgets, which we use when preparing the recipes you find here on the Amoretti® Blog, and we’d like to talk a little bit about these items and their uses so you have a better idea of what tools would be advantageous to have in your kitchen in order to prepare the recipes you find in our blog faster and easier. We try not to promote any “single use items” unless it’s absolutely necessary, so you will find that the tools we discuss here are employed for many different uses.
For example, let’s talk about the Pear Melba with Roman Raspberry Gelato recipe. Of course, we used an ice cream scoop to remove the raspberry sorbet from its container and put it into the serving dish, and everyone should own at least one ice cream scoop. But did you know that ice cream scoops come in different types and sizes, and that a small ice cream scoop is perfect for portioning out things like cookie dough evenly? We don’t recommend any one type or size of ice cream scoop, we just recommend that you have at least one in your utensil drawer.
We also used a vegetable peeler to remove the skin from the pears, and a melon baller to core them so as not to lose any more of that delicious fruit than necessary. A vegetable peeler is also a tool that comes in many styles and sizes, and also different materials. We have several different types in the Amoretti Test Kitchen drawers, featuring both stainless steel and ceramic blades, in both horizontal and vertical positions, and we will select the one we feel is best for the task at hand and is most comfortable for the user. For those of you who may not be familiar with a melon baller, it is a small round scoop with a sharp edge, designed to cut rounded pieces of melon from the whole fruit, especially for use in salads. Not only did we use our melon baller to core our pears, we also used it to prepare the fruit for our Assorted Melon Salad with Champagne Dressing.
Zesters and graters are another class of tool everyone should have at their disposal. Zesters are primarily for removing the aromatic skin from citrus fruits without the bitter white pith. The single headed zesting tool consists of a handle attached to a head with small cutting holes which is used to remove narrow shavings as the tool is pulled along the skin of the fruit. Some models also have a single cutter below the cutting holes that is used to remove wider and longer portions of the zest, to be used as a garnish or decoration. The microplane type of zester/grater is used for zesting citrus fruit and for grating harder materials like ginger root and hard cheeses such as Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano. The handiest type of grater is a box grater, which has multiple sized grating surfaces and is primarily used for grating softer cheeses, shredding vegetables like potatoes and carrots, and for making fresh bread crumbs.
Two of my favorite time saving gadgets are the garlic press and its big brother, the potato ricer. When a recipe calls for minced garlic, it is much quicker and easier to remove the skin from the garlic clove and squeeze it through a garlic press than to finely chop it with a kitchen knife, and there is no danger to your fingers. When making mashed or whipped potatoes, the potato ricer provides a uniform size and texture to your cooked potatoes that no hand masher can provide, and is faster and easier than using a mixer, so your potato is still hot and ready for milk, butter, and seasonings. Another benefit of the potato ricer is, you can cook small potatoes like fingerlings, Yukon Golds, and red skinned potatoes whole, and when you squeeze them through the potato ricer, the potato comes out the bottom and the skin stays behind! I also use my potato ricer to prepare my world famous spaghetti and meatball cake, for which I will provide a recipe soon. Take my word for it, everyone to whom you serve this cake will be impressed, if not totally amazed, by your ingenuity!