Modern kitchens are social showplaces, and kitchen gear is keeping pace. Check out the latest. Something amazing is happening.
Kitchens once looked like factories with tools in which function was more prized than form.
In those days, kitchens were small, almost hidden rooms. You’d never invite your dinner guests to see yours.
Modern kitchens are social showplaces, and kitchen gear is keeping pace. Check out the latest products; something amazing is happening.
Kitchens have become art museums with tool design as important as function. Chrome can be beautiful and functional (easy to clean). Simple items such as knives and peelers offer sculpted handles and high-tech blades.
Some of the old timers, including the mezzaluna and coffee press, are back in gleaming stainless. Electrical cords and batteries are out. Some items are marketed as ready-made family heirlooms.
Is all this happening at high cost? Surprise, you no longer automatically need $100 for a shiny countertop appliance or imported knife.
Example: The new West Bend can opener — sleek and functional. You are proud to display it. It looks straight from the Museum of Modern Art.
You feed it any can, any size, and it runs. It is all silver and chrome in a sculpted design that stops visitors. Big plus: It easily pops apart for thorough cleaning and no more yucky cutting blades.
High price? Try $20. Add another $10 and get a knife sharpener on the back. That’s another trend of today’s kitchen gear — multifunctionality. Even with a huge kitchen, you always need more space. Combining chores into one device is crucial.
Here are more items that share timeless beauty, common-sense efficiency and user-friendly pricing:
Granton Edge knife: These are based on the Japanese Santoku design. The blade is shorter than Western knives and flat ground, making it perfect for mincing, slicing and dicing.
Swedes and Germans added flutes in the steel, called kullar. These create air pockets between the food and the blade, which helps to prevent sticking, especially with meats and cheeses.
You can find stainless ones for as low as $18. True Santokus cost many hundreds.
Henckels Twin Sharp sharpener: Chefs tell us we must sharpen a knife before every use. That is a lot of work.
The Henckels sharpener cuts it down to size. If features two levels. The coarse is hard steel for really dull knives. Then move to the fine made of ceramic disks that add a precise edge.
Passing a blade through the device five times is usually all it takes. There is nothing to break or wear out, so this one is a kitchen heirloom at only $20.
Immersion (stick) blenders: Tired of constantly pouring food into and out of your blender or food processor and hand washing it between blends?
The stick blender takes the blender to the food. It consists of an easy-clean blade at the end of a stick with a motor in the handle. Choose one with a long enough stick (about 15 inches) to reach into deep pots.
Dual speeds are useful.
You will soon find it a necessity for mixing soups, batters and sauces plus milk shakes and smoothies. It will froth the cream in your coffee or tea mug.
Twenty bucks buys a good one with a cord. Cordless, rechargeable models are about twice the cost and may have less power.
Countertop electric griddles: These are more precise than stovetop ones and free up one or two burners for other uses. They heat fast and have thermostats to control temperature.
The star is the Cuisinart Griddler at $65 to $150.
Too rich for your budget? The top-rated Dafino standard electric grill includes reversible plates (ribbed grill, flat griddle). Pull off the control and hit the dishwasher.
The price of griddling nirvana: less than $25.
Coffee press: For great coffee or tea without the scorched taste, use a French-style press.
You load it with ground coffee, dump in boiling water and press the lever on top. This forces the coffee into the water, steeping it in the process. It concentrates the flavor so you use less coffee.
It doubles as an espresso machine.
Bodum makes eight-cup presses ranging from $20 to $40 in styles named for coffee-producing regions. They last forever. Great coffee in three minutes.
Mezzaluna: This is an old-time Italian herb chopper (the name means half moon). Two curved blades on a handle mince large amounts of fresh herbs in seconds.
Most come with chopping boards with a shallow indentation to hold the herbs. You will find other uses such as chopping garlic and shallots. Prices range from $15 to $45.