And the winner is- the Baratza Virtuoso Precioso

Posted by    |  October 26, 2011  |  Filed under: Equipment, Home

Two weeks ago at the crack of dawn I found my way to my pantry.  I pressed the button on my electric coffee grinder, anticipating the nerve-addling crunching and whirring that precedes the beautiful fragrance of freshly ground Kenyan coffee beans hitting my nose.  I heard little more than a struggling grunt- the coffee grinder version of a car-engine turning over and over without starting.   Read more

The Swiss Army Knife of Kitchen Appliances

Posted by    |  February 11, 2011  |  Filed under: Equipment, Home

Like a redneck handyman without a roll of duct tape, I’d be lost without my immersion blender. I’d sooner give up my iPhone or baby wipes.  There is no better or more effective kitchen multi-tasker. Nothing else saves me more effort or clean up. Nothing comes close to its versatility. I reach for it as often as I reach for my chef’s knife. Read more

Cast Iron Pans

Posted by    |  June 9, 2010  |  Filed under: Equipment, Home

Have you ever known a bubbie?  I’m talking about one of those Eastern European grandmotherly types.  Her face reveals the days of joy and sorrow she has lived in its lines and folds.  Her body is sturdy though her movements are deliberate.  Her hands are knowing and confident in all that she does.  Her eyes still twinkle.  She understands so many things you don’t.  She knows you can’t yet understand them.

Cast iron pans are like bubbies.  They’re reliable, versatile, functional.  They’re absolutely beautiful with their dark sheen, dings, and the patina qualities that only come with age and use.  I can’t imagine buying a new cast iron pan from a store.  There are so many floating around garage sales and flea markets.  The older they are the smoother their surfaces and deeper their seasoning.  There’s also a sense of being a part of history- continuing a culinary tradition that someone else began in that pan 50 or 75 years ago. Read more

The One. The Only. The Irreplaceable Food Mill

Posted by    |  May 3, 2010  |  Filed under: Equipment, Home

The first serious cookbook I ever acquired was The Martha Stewart Cookbook. Her recipe for a spicy corn chowder was among the first dishes I ever attempted in my teensy NYC studio apartment kitchen.  That recipe also began my collection of serious cooking tools.  The recipe calls for the use of a food mill to separate the soft starchy corn from the tough outside hull of the kernel.  This begs the question, “What the hell is a food mill?”

Undaunted, I traipsed off to the nearest store selling cooking miscellanea.  I asked a fellow 22-year-old who was looking infinitely more knowledgeable about such matters in his authoritative red apron to show me where I might find a food mill.

“A what?” was his answer.  “Lemme go find my manager.” Read more

Plugged in to my Pestle

Posted by    |  March 10, 2010  |  Filed under: Equipment

I have lots of tools I love.  My Bob Kramer chef’s knife- affectionately named “Mike” for reasons I’ll explain later-  is like an extension of my right hand when I’m prepping.  When I’m making hot chocolate, whipping up a little cream, or blending an elixir to pour into a martini glass, my Bamix immersion blender gets its daily workout.

No tool holds me under its spell like my mortar and pestle.  Though I’m not a romantic girl, I have a silly, girlish passion for this stone bowl and stick.  This isn’t an infatuation- it’s the real thing because this love has grown and deepened the more I’ve used it.  I’ll get to the practical ways that I use it in a moment, but indulge my little rhapsody a little longer. Read more