Food for thought | What’s the one kitchen appliance you couldn’t live without?

“I put the kitch into kitchen.”
Nigella Lawson

Kitchen appliancesI have a confession to make: I love baking. Bit of an understatement? I love doing things from scratch and pushing my own boundaries to get creative in the kitchen. A recent post I did for the Home Bakers Guild got me thinking. There I talked about my passion for baking and the ingredients I enjoy using. Today my mind went a step further … What’s the one kitchen appliance you couldn’t live without?

Baking ingredientsThose who know me know that I don’t have a sweet tooth. My joy lies more in the making than in the devouring. Without my kitchen and my favourite kitchen utensils, would I be able to create the same great food? Would I find baking therapeutic? The answer’s probably no. AmulPerhaps I’ve grown so used to working with them I take my beloved kitchen appliances for granted, and a  tribute to my favourite and much-loved cooking tools is never too late! Do you have favourites? Other than my heavy duty machines, these are 2 things I often turn to on a daily basis. Irish Creme Chocolate Cakes with an Irish Creme Caramel Sauce

 Sieve

One of the most popular kitchen appliances, some people only use a sieve when they need to strain vegetables, rice or pasta. However, for a baker like me, a sieve can make all the difference between a bad cake and a good cake. Actually I think it holds the key to macarons too. Think sieve, think airy, light and dreamy!

Blood Orange Macarons with Maple Orange Chocolate Pastry CremeLearning that I had to sieve flour to make cakes that not only looked good, but also had a light and fluffy consistency whilst tasting great was probably one of the first lessons I ever learned in the kitchen. Have you ever had a cake that hasn’t had some of the ingredients sieved? I’ve made the mistake once, and I can safely say it’s not very nice! Coffee Chocolate Mascarpone Layered Cake It’s better to play safe … and bake yummy!! Did I forget to add that a sieve is also handy for a quick dusting of icing sugar or cocoa powder to finish off a cake? That’s why I love my sieve.

Hand Mixer

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes Years ago, I used to mix my cake mixture by hand. In the beginning it was kinda fun, had the promise of stronger and leaner arms, but it was very tiring. The lean arms didn’t happen of course!!

Oven Roasted Plum & Almond Cakes Julia Child 500My first hand mixer arrived as a birthday present from my husband who heard me whine quite a bit about the woes of hand mixing and elbow grease issues! It changed the way I have baked since that day. In my early years of baking, this was one good piece of advice I handed out to new bakers especially in India. It makes mixing ingredients together so much easier, quicker and it’s a lot more fun to do too!

Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass I remember the Italian chef at a Masterclass at the Hyatt whipping up egg whites to stiff peaks in seconds with a HUGE bowl and a balloon whisk. I just gaped. Tried to emulate him, and can safely say I was back to the hand mixer really soon. One press of the button and it’s like magic!

Food photographsYou can see how much these mean to me, two appliances that I couldn’t live without. If I didn’t have them in my kitchen, then I truly believe that baking wouldn’t have been the cake walk it currently is!! So, which kitchen appliances can’t you live without? Do you have favourites?

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT THE MICROPLANER?

“A successful tool is one that was used to do something undreamt of by its author.”
Stephen C. Johnson

This is not a recipe post. It’s about a thought that comes to my mind often …What would I do if my microplaner broke? It’s enough to haunt the foodie in me, & cause me serious concern, because it’s not available in India. I was introduced to this ‘magical tool’ about 5 years ago by my younger sis in Houston who swore by it. Until I used it, I often wondered what the big deal about this piece of metal was. Once I laid my hands on my very own microplaner, which my sis got for me from the US, I was ecstatic.I think my friend Manggy @ No Special Effects got one recently, & Andrew @ The New Cook talked about it here - Kitchen Tip: Don’t Use a Box Grater to Zest Your Lemon.
Do you own one? If you don’t, then it’s time you gave it a thought, it’s worth each cent! It costs about US$15-20 , & is the handiest tool I own. An absolute dream zester for all citrus fruits & parmesan, you can use it for nutmeg too. On my sis’s recommendation I tried my hand on it once for some urgent minced garlic that I needed one day. WHOA … magic! Now I do my fine mincing for garlic & ginger for salad dressings & marinades etc on the microplane zester, other than zesting limes & oranges for cakes, cupcakes,muffins, cookies etc. Mind the very sharp blades & all will be well. The good thing about it is that it’s made of steel, so is durable, & importantly, doesn’t hang on to any garlicky aromas after a good wash.
I have a special guest writer on my blog, Suzanne T, an expert at cookware.com, who has written an article for me on Zesters and Graters, with a special focus on the MICROPLANE.
All about Zesters and Graters

Most homes are stocked with a multitude of silverware, dinnerware, and cookware sets, but certain projects require specific tools. When it comes to baking, no kitchen should be without a citrus zester. Citrus zests can add a unique flavor that is unmistakably delicious. Citrus zests are the fine shreds of fruit skin you are left with after you have used either a citrus zester or Microplane grater. Zesters allow you to harness the flavor from the oily skin of fruit without any of the bitterness that comes from the pith underneath. While you can buy citrus zests at your local grocery store, there is nothing that can compare to zest that comes fresh off the fruit.
Citrus zest can be used to add a tasty fruit flavor to muffins and cakes among many other sauces and dressings. The key is to use a zester or grater designed for extracting the thin layer of skin. Larger graters can leave you with a soggy or coarsely ground zest that is unattractive, but a precise and well designed zester will leave you with either finely hard grated zest or stylish and colorful shreds.

The Microplane Grater is the perfect combination of zester and grater. This tool allows you to extract everything from the finest of lemon zest to soft and curly cheese shreds. The surgical steel grater is tough enough to shred even the hardest of parmesan cheeses, while still offering a delicate touch reserved for fruit. Zesting can be a pain with knives or the wrong grater so if you plan on adding some citrus flavor to your baked goods, a zester/ grater like this would be a worthwhile investment. The Microplane Grater is a great multipurpose kitchen tool that can help add flavorful accent to a number of dishes and is a tool that no baker should be without.

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