Chef Dez Cooking in Langley: Fine time to talk of gadgets

Due to a couple of revelations I have had with my food processor recently, I thought it would be appropriate to focus on kitchen gadgets and appliances that I find worthy.

Also, with the holiday season approaching, you may find these recommendations helpful.

I usually opt for the manual alternative to kitchen prep – old-fashioned cutting by hand and elbow grease – but sometimes it is not always the best way.

Recently, my wife wanted to make a dish from her childhood that basically consists of layers of thinly sliced potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables. Those ingredients along with seasonings and chunks of sausage are cooked together to create a single pot casserole.

When it came time to prepare the dish, the die-hard chef in me reached for my knife, readying myself for the task at hand.

“Why don’t we use the slicer attachment on our food processor?” exclaimed my wife.

After some convincing, I decided to give it a try, and was quite impressed with the uniform slices and ease of preparation.

To be honest, it was the first time in the 15 years that I owned this food processor that I actually used the slicer attachment.

I have also discovered (with subtle pressuring from my wife) that the regular blade of a food processor can also ease the preparation of finely chopping vegetables, as long as caution is used to prevent from pureeing them into oblivion.

A hand-powered kitchen appliance that I love is my all-in-one apple peeler, corer, and slicer. A lip on the edge of the counter is not necessary, as it simply suctions to the surface with amazing strength. A single apple is pressed onto the hand-crank, and all tasks are completed with a number of circular revolutions – perfect to speed up pie/crumble making.

And the best part is that I purchased mine in brand new condition at a second hand store for only five dollars.

For small hand tool gadgets, there are a few that I simply cannot (or more correctly, would rather not) live without.

Olive pitter – This tool resembles a pair of spring-loaded pliers. It has a circular base to hold an olive on one of the ends, and a prod on the other. When squeezed together, the prod inserts into the olive and pushes the pit through the opposite side. It works great on cherries, too.

Garlic press – I have gone through many poorly made garlic presses in the past, but there is one brand that has never let me down. I highly recommend the Switzerland made Zyliss. I have crushed thousands of cloves with mine for the past six years, without fail.

Melon baller – Great for its intended purpose of creating bite-size balls of melon, but works just as well on cheeses and an assortment of fruits and vegetables. Caramelized balls of potato, for example, make an appealing side dish.

Although I do tend to be a bit stubborn when it comes to letting go of my knife skills for a gadget or appliance, the time saved in these circumstances is well worth the loss of Chef’s pride.

Dear Chef Dez:

I noticed that many chefs on TV use a flat grater that lies across a bowl to remove zest from citrus fruits. Is it the best way to do that?

Charlotte E., Surrey

Dear Charlotte:

I actually recommend using a “zester.” It is a hand tool that has five little circular blades at the end. When it is dragged across a citrus fruit, it produces beautiful curls of zest while leaving the bitter pith behind.

Although flat graters remove the zest in small bits, and thus prevent further chopping, there is no guarantee that one will not grate too far into the bitter white pith.

Besides, the curls of zest make great garnish!

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