Tools & Utensils

My Sharp Little Friend

My Sharp Little Friend

I am proud to introduce you to my latest acquisition, The Mighty Mandoline! It had been on my I-want-this-so-much list for quite a while, and my parents offered that it be their birthday gift to me. My sister and I paid a little Saturday morning visit to Dehillerin and picked it up, in addition to, I’ll admit, a few other thingies that we really needed too.

I came home and immediately put it to good use (after reluctantly making myself peruse the instructions — who has time for that?), making beautiful julienned zucchini (what else?) for a marinated zucchini and goat cheese salad I was taking to a potluck dinner at Pascale‘s (recipe on its way).

With its sharp blade, its ribbed blade and its set of four little “combs” of varying widths, my mandoline offers infinite possibilities, and it certainly promises endless hours of fun and entertainment, as I fill the kitchen with tiny bits of vegetables in all shapes, colors and sizes.

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New Toys by Flexipan

New Toys by Flexipan

Two weeks ago, I attended a home sale of Demarle Flexipan molds, hosted by my friend and fellow food-blogger Pascale. Demarle is the original inventor of those nonstick flexible baking molds, made of silicon and glass fiber. Originally sold to professionals only, they have been available to happy home bakers for a few years : most brands distribute their products in department stores and such, but Demarle chose to sell their molds (and the other cooking/baking tools they make) in Tupperware-style meetings instead.

Pascale was there of course, as were her sister and our friends Alisa and Isabelle, of the Paris Potluck crowd. Pascale and Chantal, the Demarle representative, had prepared quite a few things for us to taste, to illustrate what you could make with the molds. In particular, Pascale had baked chocolate hazelnut madeleines, which she insisted were “ratées” (failed). We couldn’t have disagreed more, and in fact thought they represented such a high risk for the health and sanity of the general public, that we made sure to eat as many as we possibly could. It was tough, but I think we have reason to be proud.

It was my first time attenting such a meeting, and it was a lot of fun. Chantal presented the different products and their possible uses, they were passed from hand to hand, and we made a couple of recipes together (a really tasty spinach and fresh cheese roll, and some gougères, those little cheese puffs). I had a grand time, as I always do when I’m in the same room with other cooking enthusiasts, and Pascale’s bright and sunny kitchen, filled with goodies as it was, was the perfect place to be on that beautiful June day.

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Mini Paper Cups

Mini Paper Cups

You know how sometimes, you’ll be reading a cookbook or a cooking magazine, and a recipe will call for a specific piece of equipment? And all of a sudden you just have to have that thing, right that minute? Even though this is the first recipe you’ve ever laid eyes on that mentioned it? Because you can just feel, deep inside of you, that it will make your life better?

Well, this is exactly the story of my mini paper cups.

In no way can I be held responsible, of course. The culprit, in this instance, was Pierre Hermé, by way of his cookbook Mes Desserts Préférés. Among all the gorgeous tempting if-I-had-three-days-to-devote-to-it-I’d-definitely-make-this recipes, he offers a simple recipe for Moelleux aux Amandes. These are bite-size almond cakes, on which he encourages you to plop anything you fancy, a pinenut or a piece of pineapple for instance, and he instructs you to bake them in caissettes en papier. “Mini paper cups?”, thought I, “But I don’t have mini paper cups! I can’t go on living like this!”

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The Potato Brush’s Grand Debut

The Potato Shaped Potato Brush

Due to overwhelming popular demand, I hereby present, drumroll please… the unbelievable, the phenomenal, the incredible… Potato Shaped Potato Brush! [Loud applause]

It is small and it is cute! It’s a she and she is shy! Please reserve The Brush your warmest welcome! [Roaring applause]

An amazing con artist, she was discovered by our talent scout, hidden in a basket of confusingly similar brushes!

Shaped like a potato, she’ll scrub your potato! She’ll entertain you and dazzle you with her favorite trick, in which she hides in the sink among all the other potatoes, waiting for you to pick it up by mistake, ready to peel it! Your kitchen will resound with her infectious and bubbling laughter! Your life will be transfigured! Talent and beauty will be yours! You will never have a bad hair day again! Or bang your little toe on the table leg!

And then you’ll realize how badly you need a break! And you’ll fly off to Madrid for a couple of days! To visit friends and buy Spanish food! And you’ll wish your readers a lovely week-end! And leave it at that!

[The ringmaster somersaults and disappears in a puff of smoke.]

Chocolate Dipping Fork

Chocolate Dipping Fork

I keep a running list of tools I absolutely need and must acquire at all costs. I’ll admit that this list tends to be much longer than reasonable, and completely out of proportion with the capacity of our kitchen or the actual utility of said tools.

But hey, some girls buy shoes, I buy kitchen toys! (Well, shoes too, but I’m trying to make a point, here.)

This “fourchette à tremper” is an item I recently crossed off my list. It is what chocolate makers use to make chocolate-dipped things : you melt some chocolate in a wide and not too shallow pan, you balance whatever it is you’d like to dip onto the tines of the fork, lower the fork into the chocolate, take it out, and deposit the coated bite on a special non-stick plastic sheet (“feuille guitare”) for it to dry and harden.

The fork is also used to form the little ribbed lines you can sometimes see on chocolate bites. Just after depositing the coated confection on the sheet, while the chocolate is still soft, you gently apply the fork tines on top of the chocolate, then lift it up and towards you : the chocolate coating will sort of follow the fork’s movement, and will keep the imprint of the tines.

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