Gadgets: New uses
Admit it: Stashed deep inside your kitchen cupboards is an old mango pitter, a pasta maker and a pile of other gadgets you’ve used ... maybe once. It’s tough to resist cool-looking, specialized kitchen tools.
But it turns out that some of those onetrick gizmos cluttering your drawers and cabinets can actually do more than you think. ShopSmart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports, asked a panel of cooking experts for ideas, plus tips on what to buy if you don’t already own these kitchen gadgets.
-- Egg slicer. An egg slicer can do a lot more than slice eggs. Use it to slice strawberries, kiwis, mushrooms, olives and cooked potatoes for salads. It can also cut semisoft cheeses such as mozzarella or Muenster into uniformly thin slices to top a pizza or burger. Steer clear of hard cheeses that may cause the wires to bend.
Shopping tip: Strong and durable stainlesssteel cutting wires are a must.
-- Rolling pin. Beyond rolling out dough, use a rolling pin to soften butter fast. Cover the butter in plastic wrap, and then roll over it until it’s flat. Also, use it to flatten boneless chicken breasts into quick-cooking cutlets. Place chicken in a plastic bag and gently pound, starting at the middle and working toward the edge, until the meat is 1/4-inch thick.
Shopping tip: Wood pins are lighter and easier to handle than marble and stainless ones.
-- Tongs. Beyond flipping meat and tossing salads, use tongs to juice citrus fruits. Cut fruit in half and place a piece between the arms of the tong, close to the hinge. Grab the open end for leverage and squeeze shut, keeping the fruit over a bowl to catch its juice. Tongs can also be used to snatch hard-to-reach boxes and cans from high pantry shelves.
Shopping tip: ShopSmart advises choosing sturdy stainless-steel tongs over aluminum ones. Silicone-coated tips won’t damage nonstick pans and will give you better grip.
-- Veggie peeler. To make desserts look special, use your veggie peeler to make chocolate curls. The key is to have a large block of chocolate (at least 4 ounces) at the right temperature. If it’s too hard, it will shatter; too warm, the curls won’t form. Place the block on a paper towel and zap it in the microwave on high power in 5second increments, testing between each round. To make the curls, draw the grater toward you along the flat surface of the chocolate.
Shopping tip: Look for a comfy rubber grip and a head that swivels easily to better navigate irregularly shaped foods.
--Ice cream scoop. An ice cream scoop holds about a half-cup -- the perfect-sized serving. Use it to scoop out diet-friendly helpings of mashed potatoes, mac and cheese and any kind of casserole, as well as to make just the right-sized meatballs.
Shopping tip: A stainless steel, springloaded model makes for easier scooping and releasing.
-- Muffin tins. Muffin tins are not just for baking. Use them to make giant ice cubes for punches and to