NEW YEAR, NEW KITCHEN
The start of a New Year always has people thinking of ways for a fresh start, whether it be dieting, working out, eating healthy etc… And when it comes to giving your kitchen a makeover or a refresh, people often stock up on gadgets and gizmos and things to make kitchen life speedier and more efficient. Nothing wrong with that! But I want to share with you some cooking tools and gadgets from around the world, time-tested and true. These are subtle tweaks to your arsenal that will help elevate your game - there's a reason they've been around so long. Enjoy!
A tagine is a popular North African dish named after the pot that it's cooked in, a spiced braise that has a balanced sweetness. And the design of the pot is what helps the slow cooking of this dish; with its dome-shaped lid, the tagine makes sure all of that steam and condensation stays in the pot, making everything inside come out wonderfully tender and fall-off-the-bone-ish. This particular tagine (my favorite!), can be used on the stovetop, which is great for browning in the pan, and in the oven, for the low and slow process - think short ribs, coq au vin, beans, rice or...a tagine!
I have an obsession with mortar and pestles. I always find a new one when I'm traveling and can never resist bringing it home with me! They are great for hand grinding spices, making pestos, but this molcajete, a Mexican m&p, is perfect for making guacamole and doubles as a gorgeous serving bowl. This traditional one is made from basalt rock, which has a super rough surface, making it ideal for grinding and mixing ingredients.
A masala dabba is a traditional Indian spice box and happens to be one of my earliest childhood, cooking memories. My mom still has the one she used when I was growing up, and I remember being mesmerized by the idea that this box totally transforms food. I could never figure out how she knew, without measuring, what the right amounts would be. Thank goodness I inherited that! :) A masala dabba usually holds around seven different spices, keeping them fresh in light-proof stainless steel and with two covers. They're so useful in Indian cooking, which requires a decent number of spices per dish. But for your kitchen, it doesn’t necessarily have to hold Indian spices - just fill it with the spices you find yourself using the most on a daily basis like I do. My top seven: ground cumin, ground coriander, granulated garlic, granulated onion, Pimentón de la Vera, fine Tellicherry black pepper (though I still fresh grind all the time), and Aleppo chili flakes.
Peep into Michelin-starred kitchens, and you'll see most cooks keep a Japanese mandoline in their knife kit. This tool is vital to the very thin cuts and perfectly, julienned strips of vegetables that appear on your plate. It can slice thinner and more evenly than any of us could with a knife. It's perfect for slicing onions, salad vegetables, shredding for coleslaw, potatoes for chips or a gratin, apples for a tatin. This one is all you need. The bigger bulkier ones just take up prime cabinet space and cost a lot more!
You need a good crèpe pan to make beautiful crèpes, and, since I don't make them daily, this is not a splurge item for me. I love these blue steel ones because they are affordable and season over time. You could easily have these do double duty for crispy chicken thighs or salmon or even to heat tortillas.
Old school coffee didn't require aeropress-ing or siphoning or anything other than good grounds, water and something to heat them in. You don't need Turkish coffee to enjoy your ibrik, but you do want very fine grounds. Drop in a cracked cardamom pod for authentic taste.