Professional Kitchen Gadgets For The Next Level Up
Not in any way wishing to malign manufacturers of cheap cookware, professional kitchen gadgets and tools are in a different league in terms of performance – once you’ve used pro knives or saucepans, you’ll never go back!
It doesn’t exactly make anyone ache to bake if the equipment is substandard or faulty and it never stops amazing me that so much of what’s sold is so darned poor.
Inferior cookware and gadgets that don’t perform the task they were intended for are not a bargain buy – and it pays not to think of them as toys either.
Anything you use in the kitchen is performing a task or function and the kitchen is a dangerous environment to play in – plus really cheap equipment simply is not going to last, replacement then making them an expensive bet overall.
You can minimize buying junk items easily enough – checkout my top tips on buying high end kitchen gadgets versus going cheap.
I remember as a student using a roasting tray that was so flimsy, when it got hot it became totally flexible – and almost impossible to safely remove from the oven – the one place you don’t need equipment falling to bits, is in a hot oven, or just as you’re taking piping hot food out.
On the subject of shallow roasting trays, roasted Mediterranean vegetables are used in a plethora or dishes and are hugely expensive to buy pre-cooked – they often add sugar in the process too.
So increasingly people try to make their own and fail miserably, having more steamed the once crisp vegetables to a mushy pulp.
1. A hot oven
2. A shallow sided roasting dish – this is the secret
Any deep roasting dish used won’t allow the water to escape as the peppers, onions and tomatoes etc cook – and these are full of juices. High heat combined with a shallow sided roasting tray will channel water vapor away, leaving the concentrated juices in the bottom of the pan to caramelize and give that fantastic depth of flavor.
If you intend having a go at making your own roasted tomatoes etc, get a professional shallow sided tray. Anything less is likely to buckle and bow – I’ve had them looking like the Enterprise taking off in the oven before now, tipping the lovely juices out as they go.
Few of us can afford to buy high end kitchen gadgets across the board and particularly items only occasionally used. So put your resources into the cookware and gadgets you use most – the ones that frustrate the most when they don’t oblige is a good place to start.
Items I value most include my pro-kitchen solid stainless steel frying pan which transfers straight to the oven from the hob. Ditto these awesome and now very old baking dishes inherited years ago. The most used dishes in my kitchen, these beauties need little more than hot water and a little grease cutting liquid to remove even the most burnt on fatty food. Yep, every time they clean up as good as new.
Handle Professional Kitchen Gadgets With Care
One very important thing to remember about high-end kit is to handle with care – especially the knives. Look, you wouldn’t give a toddler a real cooking set now would you? Just a harmless plastic replica is ideal as a toy and safe. Well, knives are the same and it wouldn’t be kind to give a new inexperienced cook like a student, a Japanese knife set. No — not even if their room mate hopes to be a surgeon one day.
But if you’ve been cooking for a while and feel ready to take it to the next level, then professional chef’s knives are one way to go, though be warned they are definitely not the cheapest. The same goes for other sharpies like a mandoline. Good advice here is to look at the best mandoline slicers you can afford, and don’t forget the Kevlar or steel mesh safety glove – your fingers will love you for it and you will regret it if you don’t! Or maybe you have a big family to cook for – if so you may want to invest money in a meat slicer to save time and effort – I did and have never regretted it.
Just Pick A Few Good Men!
With knives you don’t need to buy a whole set. Fix yourself up with a vegetable knife, bread knife and if funds will stretch a proper filleting knife or sushi knife and you are pretty much set for cutting and slicing anything – including yourself if you aren’t careful. An alternative to knives is a mandoline or meat slicer as mentioned above. Compared to good knives they are inexpensive and for slicing onions or any vegetables actually, there is nothing better – but in my opinion you’ll still need a bread knife!
If you already have a set of knives which don’t slice and pare with consummate ease -more put you through a keep fit regime every time you cut into a loaf of bread, investing in a decent knife sharpener could make a huge difference. Ask a friend who has one to sharpen a knife or two for you and see if it does make a substantial difference or not before you buy.
Quality, Looks – Or Both?
With spatulas, spoons, hand whisks and other everyday cooking utensils, you have two main ways to go – or as with me, both! Quality stainless steel utensils are timeless and always look good either in a pot or hanging from a rack. Buy one good set and they will outlast you – if mine are anything to go by they’ve worn better too!
Equally the first time I saw a set of silicone spatulas in pretty pastel colors, they became the must have gadget of all time and essential for non-stick coated dishes or pans, as are the non-stick reusable silicone baking sheets that no cook should be without – they make great inexpensive gifts too.
But do you know, the old pro set still get used more frequently and can tackle jobs other utensils can’t, like remove the evidence of a cooking disaster in one firm swipe!
There are also some professional cooking appliances that have been downsized for home use, including food dehydrators, which are growing in popularity as you can see by the number of different brands offering them.
Only a few years ago they were difficult to source, luckily not anymore. The post ‘What Is A Food Dehydrator?’ was written to answer most of the more common questions you might have, so go ahead and check it out.
The moral of this post is to take your time and choose wisely, putting resources into buying quality where you need a robust or precise utensil. And do watch your fingers on chef or butchers knives!