DINO M I YNKEEITDCTHHEANT?
Before you write your Christmas list for Santa, make sure that the cooking utensils you must have won’t spend their lives untouched in a cupboard
IT’S a standard joke in my family that I had to extend my kitchen just to build extra cupboards to hide all the kitchen kit that I had bought but never used.
For those of you who suffer from an obsessive desire to buy things for the kitchen, or those who live with such a chronic sufferer and might be contemplating a kitchen gift this Christmas, I’ve gone through my cupboards and drawers to work out what paraphernalia is worth buying and what’s not…
On the surface a perfect present but stick an old one in a cup of boiling water to see what fate awaits all wooden spoons. Give it a sniff. Phew, stinky! And you were going to stir your custard with that…
Ask for a $10 silicon spatula instead. They’re hygienic, heat-resistant and flexible, so they are great for getting into the corner of a pan or getting every last skerrick out of a bowl.
A PRAWN DEVEINER
No one likes poo shoots in their prawn cocktail but you don’t need a special device to remove them. Just insert a fine wooden barbecue skewer in a tiny slit made at the base of the tail to allow you to hook out the alimentary canal.
A ZUCCHINI CORER
I know they are a popular summer veg but I can confidently predict that stuffed zucchini will NOT be the next big thing.
Get a $40 microplane instead. You’ll find them cheaper, but the best are worth it as they have very fine and flat teeth – perfect for getting zest off your citrus without any bitter pith, shaving off a lovely (and more economical) snowy mound of fine parmesan, and you can even grate garlic or ginger directly into sauces and curries.
AN EGG TOPPER
This scissor-like ring cutter allows you to remove the top of your egg shells neatly. That’s fine if you are making the version of the famous “L’arpege” egg but otherwise it’s just more drawer clutter. Instead ask the cheapskate to buy you a mandoline. Good Japanese ones start at $80 but there are cheaper. Make sure to include a pack of plasters with your gift.
Never give a mandoline to a clumsy cook as this is a recipe for fingertipshaving disaster. Better to buy them a $10 julienne peeler and a good potato peeler, which are far safer and will do a similar job – albeit a little more slowly.
A TURKEY BASTER
With its large plastic bulb and long, syringe-like body, this device sucks up juices from a roasting pan to squirt back over your turkey or chicken to baste. (In these modern times, it can also be used for home artificial insemination…)
Instead, on your Christmas list, ask for a $10 gravy separator, which allows you to separate meat juice and fat from the roasting pan easily. This is priceless when making gravy, or “jus” if you are a wannabe chef.
SOMETHING WITH A PLUG ON IT
I have found it a good rule in life that, unlike jewellery, presents with plugs on them are seldom embraced by the woman you love. (I’m still paying for that footspa I gave one Christmas because her feet got sore at the races.)
And even a kitchen appliance fetishist like me will admit that the seldom used popcorn maker / second ice cream machine / bread maker (used only when I need to make pizza dough and am too lazy to knead it myself) / deep fat fryer (seldom used because cooking that way is on the way out) take up more space than they’re worth.
So if you must give something electric this Christmas, choose a present that delivers more bang for your buck.
A set of electronic scales (around $60), a thermometer so you never overcook fish or meat again (starting from around $20) and a rice cooker (from $25), if you use them religiously, will make you a far better cook than almost anything else.
FOR MORE SUMMER ENTERTAINING TIPS, VISIT BWS.COM. AU/SUMMER