We don’t have a lot of storage space so adding accessories to our kitchen is a activity that we do sparingly. I had avoided buying a Chinois for a long time before I finally gave in. After owning it for a few months, I can’t remember how I functioned without it.
As part of cooking school, I realized I needed a proper boning knife. I considered a few options ranging from $30 boning knives (that would have been absolutely fine) all the way to some pretty deluxe options.
I settled on the Wustof Classic Boning Knife. It met my basic criteria: flexible without being floppy, good torsional rigidity (it bends but doesn’t twist) and most importantly, it just felt right. Tools like these can last a lifetime and I’ve learned that if the more expensive one feels significantly better that’s worth my investment (in this case it was just over $100).
Tonight is week 2 of my formal cooking education (I shared more about the class I’m taking last week).
Heading into class this evening I’m feeling excited as well as a little nervous. I’m excited to learn and am thrilled to be cooking in a formal environment. Any healthy nervousness comes from a combination of entering my first formal cooking education as well as a funny hesitation about wearing kitchen whites. Tonight will be my first time ever actually wearing whites in a kitchen. I’ve always viewed them as the uniform of the professional cook; many who I look up to wear them with fierce pride and I feel a little out-of-place putting them on.
We have a 10-inch cast iron frying pan and we were short 1 pie plate:
The frying pan made a great pie plate! Cast iron retains it’s heat, the pan was well seasoned and prevented sitcking and it is really pretty.
Although this was out of desperation, this pan is probably my new favorite pie plate!
We’ve had a few people ask, “What Pasta Machine do you use?” lately so we thought we’d share a little review.
I should start the review with what we don’t use – our old pasta machine. We had used an older model that appeared to be a knock-off of a full-blown machine. It was decent and had great results – for about a year. It started to ‘stick’ a few months ago before I realized that the cutter blades for wide noodles had become misaligned. Once this happens, the cutting action is rendered useless as the machine seizes before making a full rotation.
I turned to our friend, Italian Chef Massimo Bruno, for advice. He looked me dead in the eyes and said a single word.
We had a very social weekend this weekend; it was filled with food, beverage and friends. We were very, very fortunate to have the weekend we did.
Part of our social marathon included a 3-year old birthday party. The party was for a friend’s daughter and was a lovely time. Beyond enjoying seeing old friends and making new ones, the fete featured food made by the toddler’s family. The whole family chipped in to help the efforts of Chef Massimo Bruno who decided to switch to homemade panzerotto (or calzone) from hamburgers when the weather called for rain.
He must have made 100 of these:
I have been curious about Japanese knives for a long time. The opinions are generally fairly polarized – people either love them or they’re not a fan. After years of wondering if they were worth the investment, I decided it was time to take the plunge and see for myself:
This is a HOCHO knife. It’s a form of Santoko and is an all-purpose kitchen knife.
Most Japanese knives have a very different edge than others. I am used to a symmetrical edge – if you looked at most of my blades, you’d see that the edge is like a peak of a mountain and but sides of the knife curl towards the blade to create the edge. These knives are different – one side is flat while the other curves into it. To explain as a ration, most knives have an edge that comes from 50% of the left side of the knife and 50% of the right while most Japanese Knives change that balance and go as far as 0% on one side with 100% of the curve coming from the other. I suppose this is why the first question that Eugene (from Knife, Toronto) asked me if I was left-handed or right.
The Zanmai Pro is close (but not perfectly) to being a 50-50 ratio but does have a slight bias. Using an automated sharpener on this knife (or a person who doesn’t know that) will likely destroy it’s intent in a single sharpening. I’ll be heading back to Knife for one of their workshops where they teach you to use a stone to properly sharpen your own blade (they will also sharpen it for you). I am told that this blade will get even better after a few sharpening sessions.
Japanese Knives are also known for cutting as you pull the blade through an item as opposed to pushing them through. This is very useful, especially for more delicate items like fish as it will cut the item without crushing it. Remembering to cut like that is taking some adjusting but it’s fun to experiment.
It’s a little too early to pass any kind of real verdict on this tool other than to share that I’ve been using it for a few weeks and have been loving it. It’s well-balanced, efficient and feels like a tool (in the best of ways). I’ve used it for vegetables as well as a variety of proteins and it has been awesome!
What’s your favorite kitchen knife?
I was really tempted to end the post there (it would have set a new record for our shortest post ever which still stands at 5 words). Alas, this evening was not destined for such greatness.
The long answer isn’t a lot longer: it really is worth the investment (and storage space) to buy a pasta roller and cutter. Here’s why:
- Pasta rolled by hand is difficult to precisely control for thickness. An even thickness is critical for even cooking time.
- Cutting pasta into noodles is also inconsistently wide (see problem 1) and cutting by hand can easily double or triple the amount of time it takes to make pasta by hand.
- The units are affordable – ours was about $25.
- There’s a remarkable amount available in thrift stores or by asking friends and family – not a lot of people are willing to spend the few times it takes to learn to make it.
- You can dry the pasta for later use.
- It takes me 20-25 minutes of active prep (and about an hour total) to transform eggs and flour into cooked noodles. Although the hands-on time is longer the much shorter cooking time means the total time is almost identical.
We have very limited storage space but I can’t believe how much we’ve ended up using our hand-me-down hand-crank pasta roller and cutter.
If you make your own pasta, how do you cut/ roll it?
edit: April11, 2012. This article was originally published as a page instead of a post and was updated as a post today.