Plastic bag dryer
go mama go: japanese tableware
wing hop fung: japanese tableware
Review of consumer products
durable, high-quality albeit expensive pans. You may pay a lot for
such a pan, but you will pay only once, and you?ll get a lifetime?s
worth of very good cooking out of it.
- a nonstick skillet, which can be used for everything from
...An ovensafe nonstick pan (with a heat-resistant handle) can
also be used to make frittatas or other dishes that must go from
the stovetop to the oven or broiler. A 10-inch pan is the most
- a 12-inch ovensafe conventional skillet is also essential. We
use this pan to sauté foods that we want to brown. Crucial to the
development of a flavorful sauce is the creation of fond, the
brown bits of caramelized food that stick to the pan during
cooking; a nonstick skillet by its very nature inhibits the
development of fond and tends to produce less flavorful sauces. A
large conventional skillet can also be used to make quick tomato
- Dutch oven, traditionally used for braises and stews. Choose a
Dutch oven that is at least 6 quarts and preferably 8 quarts.
- a saucepan, which can be used to cook everything from rice to
potatoes to spinach to chocolate sauce. A 3- or 4-quart size.
The All-Clad Stainless Steel 3 Quart Saucepan came out
on top. $139.99. recommended Calphalon
Commercial Hard-Anodized 31/2 Quart Saucepan for
$110.99. The KitchenAid Stainless Steel 3 Quart Covered Sauce Pan $119.
- A few soup makers insisted on having their stockpot for making
chicken, beef, vegetable, and fish stocks. Note that most soup
recipes, however, can be prepared in a large Dutch oven, and this pot
is much more versatile than a stockpot.
blanching vegetables, cooking beans, or making a double batch of rice, sautéing onions
advise against really inexpensive pans?those that cost less than $50. For somewhere between $50 and $100, you can get a perfectly competent pan, including any of those in the Recommended with Reservations category of the above chart. The only caveat is that you may have to watch them carefully to avoid overcooking certain foods; they offer less margin of error than the pans in the Recommended category. The most expensive pans in the group, the All-Clad, Calphalon, and KitchenAid, were not flawless: The Calphalon is heavy, both it and the All-Clad lack rolled lips, and the KitchenAid has a relatively short, curved handle. That being said, these three pans can save your dinner, providing moderate, steady heat, even when you?re distracted.
Our top-rated stockpot, which won for both its ability to slow-cook and its shiny, vision-friendly interior, was the 12-quart All-Clad Stainless-Steel Stockpot with Lid. It can be purchased for $295.00 If you?d prefer to make a somewhat smaller investment, you can purchase the 12-quart Calphalon Commercial Hard-Anodized Stock Pot with Lid, which comes highly recommended but was downgraded slightly in our tests for its dark interior, which made it hard to see what was going on in the pot. The Calphalon stockpot (SKU #644153, $167.99), as well as the 12-quart Calphalon Professional Non-stick II Stock Pot with Lid (SKU #652354, $159.99)
the size we find most useful?12 quarts. need a heavier pot if gonna carmelize vegetables for vegetable broth. Otherwise can get a cheap, lightweight pot.
- salad spinners from Zyliss and Oxo Good Grips got the highest marks for speed, efficiency, and design. The Zyliss was nominally faster, but we thought the Oxo was better designed, with such thoughtful extra features as a nonskid bottom and an ergonomically designed handle.
- cutting board: found dishwasher-safe wood composite and
polyethylene (plastic) to be our cutting board materials of
choice. When shopping for a board, material and size should be
your first consideration?brand, we found, has little bearing on
the matter. There is no mail-order source for the Bemis
Dishwasher Safe Wood Large Utility Board, Model 7502, but,
according to a company representative, Bemis products are sold
at Wal-Mart, Ace Hardware, and Publix stores. (Note that these
stores may not carry this particular board?inventory varies from
store to store.) The Bemis board retails for $13.99. The
polyethylene and dishwasher-safe wood boards we found on the
shelves of our local kitchen stores were good performers. Joyce
Chen?s Spot ?n Chop Cutting Board features a handy color-coding
system, and its surface works like wood to cushion the knife
strike. Cooks Corner (836 South 8th Street, Manitowoc, WI 54220;
800-236-2433; www.cookscorner.com) sells the 17 by 9-inch board
for $14.99, item #103010. The cheap, flexible, and versatile New
Age Products Chop & Chop Flexible Cutting Mat is sold at Kitchen
Etc. (32 Industrial Drive, Exeter, NH 03833; 800-232-4070;
www.kitchenetc.com) for $2.99, item #454822.
We found the two most important factors in cutting boards to be material and size. Material is important primarily in terms of the way the board interacts with the knife, but it is also relevant to odor retention and warping.
Large boards provide ample space for both cutting and pushing aside cut foods and waste. The disadvantage of really large boards is that they may not fit in the dishwasher. We are willing to make that sacrifice for the extra workspace, but if you are loath to wash your board by hand in the sink, as many cooks are, then buy the largest board that will fit in your dishwasher, which is what we did for this test. A board should be heavy enough for stability but not so heavy (or thick and bulky) that it is difficult to move around the kitchen or to store. To us, boards in the range of 3 to 4 pounds are ideal.
As for material, we discovered that we dislike cutting on the hard acrylic, glass, and Corian boards because they absorb none of the shock of the knife strike. Without exception, every tester?s reaction was visceral, as if someone scraped their fingernails across a blackboard. Plastic and wood are softer and therefore cushion the knife?s blow, making for a better controlled, more pleasant cutting experience. The pebbly surface texture of the acrylic and glass boards was another point against them. We found that a rough texture promotes a bit of knife slide.
On the other hand, the boards made from harder materials did not retain odors noticeably during the course of our testing, while the softer plastic and wood boards did. Our preference is not to use the harder boards but to keep two boards in circulation simultaneously: one board for garlic and onions and the like and another for other foods.
The debate over whether wood or plastic is safest in this regard is ongoing. What?s important?no matter what material you choose?is to keep your boards clean. Researchers and government officials recommend washing every board well after each use, in the dishwasher, if possible, or by hand with hot soapy water
Many cutting boards, especially those made from wood or plastic, warp with time and cleaning. Makers of wood boards advise consumers to season the boards with mineral oil to build water resistance and, thereby, warp resistance. (Wood boards should not be washed in the dishwasher.) But none of the cooks we interviewed went this extra mile, and many, as a result, had warped wood boards. Because plastic boards can also warp with overexposure to heat, Keith Ohmart, president of Joyce Chen Products, recommends placing plastic boards away from the heating element of the dishwasher. The hard acrylic, glass, and Corian boards did not warp, but that benefit was not enough to change our minds about their shortcomings in the knife-strike department.
The real surprise in our testing was the dishwasher-safe wood board. Like a regular wood board, it softened the blow of the knife, but it also resisted warping after 50 runs through the dishwasher, even though we neglected to treat it with oil. A representative from Bemis Manufacturing, the producer of this board, explained that it was made by mixing wood composite (think particle board) with waterproof phenolic resin and then compressing the materials with thousands of pounds of pressure. The top and bottom surfaces are covered with wood veneer and the sides sealed with a waterproof coating.
Where does this leave us? Essentially, with plastic. Plastic boards are dishwasher-safe and therefore easy to clean, they don?t need the extra maintenance (oiling) that wood boards need, they come in innumerable sizes and weights to suit your preference, and they provide stability, control, and a pleasant cutting surface. Equally advantageous but harder to find is the Bemis dishwasher-safe wood board, which, if you don?t mind oiling it occasionally, combines the benefits of plastic with the handsome appearance of wood.
- A flame tamer (or heat diffuser) is a metal disk that can be fitted over an electric or gas burner to reduce the heat output. This device is especially useful when trying to keep a pot at the barest simmer.
- We particularly liked the Bosch blade grinder (Model MKM 6) for crushing whole spices. This mill is sold under the Starbucks label through its catalog
- kitchen shears
- box grater:
Stability, not sharpness, makes the best grater.
A box grater is one of those unfortunate kitchen tools?it occupies significant cabinet or counter space, is used infrequently, yet is absolutely essential. While food processors come complete with a grater attachment, not everyone has one, and it's doubtful that those who do would dirty the entire contraption to grate 2 carrots.
grate frequently such as mozzarella cheese, celeriac, carrots, and ginger.
The winning box grater woudl be fast (efficient and sharp, requiring
little effort and pressure), stable (no rocking or sliding),
comfortable (a good grip on the handle), and easy to clean (a single
trip through the dishwasher, or a quick scrub with soapy water?all
models were dishwasher-safe).
Most graters had little problem with speed and sharpness?from carrots
to cheese, the shreds were clean and uniform, falling quickly from the
grater. Ginger proved a problem for two models, which sported only the
punched, raised-spike holes for grating smaller items. Those spiked
teeth grabbed onto the ginger fibers, leaving juice on the counter and
negligible scrapings of actual ginger meat. Graters with miniature
versions of the large-holed side were much more successful on ginger.
Stability proved an essential component to a quality box grater. While
many models slid a bit if set atop a smooth countertop, testers found
sliding to be the lesser of evils. Grated knuckles, the unwelcome
result of tipping and rocking, were a common (and unacceptable)
occurrence with poorly balanced, flimsy graters. The graters with the
largest bases sat firmly on the countertop, allowing fast, safe
Several graters boasted "slip-free" rubber bases, which we found to be
both a help and a hindrance. When grating soft items that required
little pressure (such as cheese), the bases indeed kept the grater
firmly in place. But when grating firmer items (such as carrots)
requiring more pressure, the immovable graters tipped, endangering
fingers. Additionally, testers preferred a smooth surface for making
uninterrupted passes with the cheese or vegetable. The models with
rubber or plastic bases and tops were not composed of a single piece
of metal, so the grated item had to pass over or be halted by the
attached base or top. The attached base also acted as a trap for
juices or tiny bits of grated material.
Comfort was similarly affected by the size of the grater's base; there
was no need for a tight grip as long as the grater was
well-balanced. The most stable graters required merely a hand resting
on the top. As a bonus, larger bases offered wider openings at the
top, enabling a clear view of progress.
Cleaning proved to be an easy task for most graters. A simple scrub by
hand or a single run through the dishwasher removed all traces of
cheese or vegetables. However, the two models that trapped the ginger
fibers had significant problems. The fibers were thoroughly enmeshed
in the teeth, proving a true challenge for washing by hand, and they
remained firmly in place after a heavy-duty dishwasher run, quickly
drying into an intractable mess. The fibers had to be delicately
plucked by hand from the sharp teeth.
On your next trip to the kitchen store, look for box graters with
extra-wide bases, preferably composed of a single piece of high-grade
metal, with one side offering tiny raised holes for smaller items. You
can justify the extra expense and cabinet space with the savings
you'll reap in Band-Aids.
Kuchenprofi 6 Sided Grater
Material: Stainless steel
Comments: Most stable of all models?very well constructed; 6-sided base provides increased steadiness.
Amco Professional Performance
Material: Stainless steel
Comments: Excellent performer?very sturdy and wide; heavy-gauge stainless steel provides extra strength and weight.
Progressive International Grater
Perfect Prep Stainless Steel Grater
Material: Stainless steel
Comments: Very stable and efficient, with convenient cup measures on side, allowing for easy evaluation of progress.
RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS
Progressive International ProGrip Ultra Tower Grater
Material: Stainless steel, rubber
Comments: Good (and attractive) performer, but the knob was too small for many testers, and the closed top made progress difficult to judge.
Deluxe Box Grater with Covered Container
Material: Stainless steel, rubber, plastic
Comments: Nice and large, but plastic felt flimsy, and the rubber base encouraged rocking and tipping with firmer items. Attachable storage container was intriguing but raised the level of the grater uncomfortably high.
Oxo Good Grips Multi-Grater
Material: Plastic, stainless steel, rubber
Comments: While space-efficient, this model was exceptionally unstable and "rickety," as the two sides moved and pushed together while grating.
Farberware Classic Series
Deluxe Non-Stick Grater
Material: Nonstick coated stainless steel, plastic
Comments: This lightweight model proved a challenge to keep upright, resulting in grated fingernails and knuckles. Ginger remained intractable, and the nonstick face offered no discernable benefit.
Hoan Stainless Steel Deluxe Grater
Material: Stainless steel, plastic
Comments: Flimsy and slippery, difficult to control. Similar ginger grating and cleaning problem as the above model.
- loaf pans: look for practical design, even browning, and ease of release and cleaning when we rated loaf pans. What did come as a surprise?a pleasant one at that?is that our winners are inexpensive and easy to find. Ekco Baker?s Secret Non-Stick Loaf Pan not only took the cake in all categories, but its suggested retail price is a mere $3.99. This loaf pan is made of tinned steel with a nonstick coating and easy-to-grip handles.
- muffin tins: Ecko Baker?s Secret Nonstick Muffin Pan the winner for producing the most evenly browned, easily removed muffins. In second and third place?and still recommended?are the Chicago Metallic Silverstone and the Williams-Sonoma Professional Nonstick.
While there are a variety of muffin tins on the market, the standard 12-count tin holds four ounces, or half a cup, per cup. "Jumbo" muffin tins hold double that amount and are usually sold with six cups per tin. A standard muffin recipe will generally produce enough batter for 12 regular or 6 jumbo muffins.
- A nonstick cake pan makes unmolding a snap. The Ekco Baker?s
Secret nonstick round cake pan, which costs a mere $4, took top honors
in our cake pan testing, squeaking past the $80 All-Clad Bonded
Bakeware. The Ekco is made of tin-plated steel sealed with a nonstick
surface, while the All-Clad consists of triple layers of aluminum with
two outer layers of stainless steel bonded to a nonstick
surface. Unlike any of the other pans tested, both the Ekco and the
All-Clad havehandles affixed to the sides, a handy feature that makes
it easy to get the pans in and out of a hot oven and reduces the risk
of marring batter or the fragile edges of freshly baked cakes
- paring knife: cook's likes 3 1/2 inch blade best. what matters most is the feel of the knife in your hand. Is the handle smooth or rough? Comfortably shaped or awkward? Do your fingers rest safely on the handle, or are they threatened by the blade in any way? Does the knife as a whole feel solid or flimsy? maneuverability is also important. More flexible blades are the easiest to work into tight spots, such as tomato cores and orange sections, and around the round surfaces of turnips and apples.
As with any kind of knife, of course, sharpness was also an important factor. However, the sharpest from the factory often dull the most quickly. Just sharpen with a sharpening steel.
In sum, the forged knives from Wüsthof and Henckels regained their edges well and felt the most solid and stable in use, but that feeling of quality comes at a price. Their cost is, respectively, three and five times as much as that of the inexpensive stamped Forschner. Although this knife did feel superlight and unsubstantial in the hands of some testers, the Forschner is agile, easy to use, and takes an edge as well as its expensive competition.
Rose Amanda Hoberman
Last modified: Sun Sep 26 11:24:39 EDT 2004