Whether you’re a novice cook or a talented chef, you can always learn a trick or two.
Out of the thousands of products on display at the International Home + Housewares Show at McCormick Place, a few really stood out. These “tricks of the trade” utensils and small appliances will make you a smarter, more efficient chef.
OXO: One pair of tongs ($12-17) is nowhere near enough; they are the do-everything utensil. OXOs are my favorite, and you can get them with nylon or silicon heads so they won’t scratch your non-stick pans. If you’re a fan of Latin-American food, you should check out the 3-in-1 avocado slicer ($10), to safely split, dice and scoop the alligator pears. I also love their hand-held mandoline slicer ($15), which lets you adjust to three thicknesses for perfect, consistent slices.
Microplanes: They have a grater ($17) perfect for every task, whether it’s zesting citrus, grating Parmesan or chocolate, or shredding veggies for a salad. Their new Elite Series includes a clear plastic cover that doubles as a measuring cup and catchall for your freshly grated food.
Joseph Joseph: The smart, colorful design of this line makes cooking fun. I use the scoop colander ($7) constantly for pasta, blanching veggies, and even serving. The new folding mezzaluna ($15) is genius, with folding handles that double as blade covers. Make pesto like a pro, or finely chop herbs or nuts.
Cat Cora for Starfrit: We were a little starstruck to meet this tiny powerhouse in person! We loved the kitchen scale ($24.95) that she’s developed. All professional chefs measure by weight, and her super-slim version is both stylish and functional. It’s easy to clean and measures both dry and liquid ingredients.
Nespresso: Perhaps my favorite new kitchen addition is the Aeroccino ($99), a milk frother/heater that makes a true barrista out of my husband. The cappuccino and lattes that he creates with it are outstanding. I’m living in an Italian coffee bar, and I like it!
Charles Viancin: They are making beautiful and functional botanical silicon lids ($11-17) that fit on any smooth-rimmed bowl or pot to seal in flavors, prevent splatters, and create an air-tight seal. Options include lily pad, sunflower, pumpkin and hibiscus designs, and sizes range from 4” to 11”.
Lékué: Healthy, fat-free steam cooking is possible with their large and small steam cases ($50/40) that go in the oven or microwave. I made a beautiful salmon dish with Asian veggies, and it tasted just like the en papillote fish I had in a neighborhood bistro.