Microplane * Mandolin * Immersion Blender * Melon BallerWhat do your kitchen gadgets say about you and your eating/cooking habits? Do they reflect the generosity and creativity of your wedding guests or how well coordinated the color pattern is of your immaculate but under-used kitchen? Hopefully, your kitchen gadgets reflect the frequency, flavor and nutritional value of your meals. With this new perspective of your culinary apparatus in mind, let me share just a few ways some humble, and hopefully not-forgotten tools can improve your eating experience as well as the quality of your diet.
Citrus is a wonderful candidate for the microplane. Fresh lemon zest in dressings, ice creams and sorbets, stir fry and baked goods is incomparable. You get all the essence of the fruit without the acidity. This definitely delivers more culinary bang-for-your-buck flavor than almost any other single ingredient (which is why I keep a lemon, lime and orange in my freezer for just such zesting emergencies).
Hard cheeses such as Romano, Parmesan or Pecorino are fun to grate with a microplane. You end up with savory sawdust that is a perfect topper for salads, soups and pastas.
So dig around in that "everything drawer" in your kitchen and microplane some flavor into your next meal. I'm all about increasing flavor without increasing the typical salt, sugar and fat and sanding some real foods onto your dishes fits the bill. I'll just say "you're welcome" in advance.
This is a chef's secret weapon. If you want your meals to rival that of a favorite restaurant, get to know your mandolin. It is a slicer that can also julienne foods as well as ripple-cut. You can change the depth from that of steak fry to paper-thin potato chip. I love using this to make microwave potato chips for a healthful, tasty and fun side dish when we're having a more casual, picnic-style menu. I also love it for making ribbons of cucumbers, carrots and zucchini. It provides a great change to the typical lettuce-based salad that we all tend to tire of. Plus, you'll get a big wow-factor on presentation with a microplane. Carrot ribbons wrapped around asparagus and lightly steamed is as easy as falling off a log, yet you'll want to get comfy since the stream of compliments will be long and satisfying. Be sure to use the hand guard to slice your favorite fruit or veggie so that your hand remains intact and your veggies stay vegan. :) Here's a link to my favorite way to serve broccoli stems using the mandolin: Broccoli Carpaccio Salad.
This no doubt is the humblest, most inexpensive, and most-likely-to-be-found-in-the-back-of-your-drawer gadget yet. However, don't dismiss it's function simply because of it's common name or cheap price tag. A melon baller may bring to mind flavorless orbs of, well, melon, but don't be deceived. There's a lot more edible potential to this double-ended scooper of cantaloupe than meets the eye. One of my favorite uses for this multi-tasking tool is in making baked apples or for that matter, any type of pome fruit such as pear or quince. It's a fun way to serve up a pat of butter, or a single serving of cheese as well. You could even make little round potato balls that you roast with a little olive oil and spices. The fun shape is more than just functional, it's festive - and that tends to increase the interest and appetite that one has for a meal.
So, take stock of your kitchen implements and resolve to put them to better use at improving your nutrition as well as your culinary satisfaction.