Friday Five: Kitchen Toys I Covet.

If money and cabinet space were no object, my kitchen would likely be full to bursting with underused cookware and gadgets, so it’s probably a good thing that storage is at a premium. Still, though, in the spirit of the shopping season, here are five things—from the frivolous to the fantastic—I’m sure I could squeeze in somewhere.

1. Pie Birds.

Fine, so I rarely bake pies. And when I do, venting the top crust produces suitable results. But still, how cute are these guys? They’d be just as sweet on a shelf as they would be in the oven, and maybe they’d provide an extra kick of motivation to get baking as well.

2. Mandolin.

My knife skills are sadly under par, so anything that needs to be thinly sliced either winds up a little bit chunkier than intended—which makes for more cooking time and a less refined dish—or requires a run through the food processor—easy, but more components to wash. (If a recipe calls for an ingredient to be julienned, forget it—I’ve already lost interest.) This mandolin, with a safety cover that would (knock on wood) keep even this uncoordinated cook’s digits intact, would fix all that.

3. Sarpaneva pot.

We’re heading into pipe-dream territory with this one. I’ve had it bookmarked for years, and every time I take a covetous peek at the link, I fall deeper in love with this ’60s Scandinavian pot. The clean lines, the combination of cast iron and wood…it’d make any meal look good. In my future/dream home, the one with the beautiful pantry and the table big enough for actual dinner parties, I’d use this to make something to feed a crowd and fully enjoy doing it.

4. Tortilla press.

After my trip to Portland at the beginning of the year, I had this urge to make my own tortillas. This press is reasonably priced and, at only 6.5″ in diameter, small enough to sit in a cupboard between uses without taking up too much precious real estate. Throw in a multitasking comal and a possibly extraneous but still kind of awesome tortilla basket—I’m a sucker for accessories—and who knows, maybe I’d be inspired to have taco night all the time.

5. Paella pan.

I’d been mildly intrigued with the idea of cooking that traditional Spanish rice dish over an open flame for some time now, but it was my visit to Venga Paella in San Francisco that brought the concept back to my attention. A giant paella pan, one I could use on the grill to turn out a solo main course for summer barbecues, would be ideal for my new attitude toward party-hosting.

Tell us, what’s on your holiday wish list?


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15 thoughts on “Friday Five: Kitchen Toys I Covet.

  1. Anne says:

    I love your ideas. The pie birds are adorable. And now *I* covet that beautiful Finnish pot you linked to. Like most kitchen nuts, I covet Le Creuset. But lately, its not their pots that I’ve been craving, it’s their stoneware for baking:

    Also, I really want one of those immersion blenders.

    • Maya says:

      Anne, it’s well worth checking out the discount stores for Le Creuset—my mom found one of those stoneware dishes at TJ Maxx and gave it to me as a gift. I love it. Also, can’t recommend the immersion blender highly enough! It’ll change your cooking life, for real.

  2. Matrix says:

    Well, I got my 14-cup Cuisinart Elite food processor with the multi-sized bowls for an early birthday present to myself (thanks, mostly, to gift-cards, Kohl’s cash, an unexpected check, and a 20% off coupon!) The device covered several of my expectations for a food-processor: 1) multifunction (chopping, slicing, shredding, and kneading), 2) multi-size (3 bowl sizes and 2 chute sizes), and 3) both low noise and high power. This behemoth (yes, it is too tall to fit under my cabinets without taking the bowls off) meets all my requirements, and it beats the Presto MinnieMax 3-cup we inherited from roommates in 1997.

    When we moved into our new house 3 years ago, we got our first KitchenAid Artisan (4.5qt) mixer, and soon after, bought our first attachments: pasta rollers and cutters. This truly made both pierogi and ravioli “days” a breeze, what with friends and neighbors providing extra KitchenAids with which to make the dough and also to help roll it thin. (We’ve got 2 rollers, one of which is part of the roller/cutter set). We also have two crank rollers, which hardly ever see the light of day, because, well, frankly they’re difficult to use and keep breaking the table clamps.

    My next object of lust is the KitchenAid pasta extruder attachment (think macaroni, etc), which also goes well with the vegetable strainer and meat-grinder attachments. And, I have to admit, after conferring with a friend about the grain mill attachment and her Celiac’s disease, we started lusting over that piece, too.

    Last, but not least, would be a nice enameled cast-iron dutch oven, a la Lidia Bastianich’s “Lidia’s Italy” – sure, Le Creuset would be lovely, but a cheap knock-off or factory second would do just fine.

  3. Matrix says:

    Ah – I forgot to mention cookbooks, but I’m a cookbook addict. I’ll be selling off some (or trading them, cheap) sometime soon. I really want the new Cook’s Country/America’s Test Kitchen 2010, and the latest Nigella or Alton Brown. I can’t bear to pay over $10 for a cookbook, though, so my collection is mostly vintage, and mostly no-names.

  4. Talley Sue says:

    @Matrix: You should check out the Martha Stewart enameled cast iron at Macy’s. It’s a little thinner, of course, which I personally sort of like, bcs it’s lighter that way.

    • Matrix says:

      I’ve got a crapload of store credit thanks to a return I made, so I’ll be going back to get a 5.5qt “Food Network” branded one, I think.

  5. Marilyn says:

    I was shopping for mandolins the other day (sshhhh – it’s a secret). Spend an extra $20 on a mandolin that has one of those food holder grips; you’ll save the tips of your fingers. The one I bought at Sur La Table was in the $40 range, had several cutting blades, won’t slip on the counter, and won’t allow you to cut yourself. I made the mistake of buying a lower-end mandolin, used it twice, cut myself both times, and donated it to a charitable organization after that.

    I adore those pie birds and I don’t even bake pies! Too cute. Great idea on the tortilla press; we’re big taco lovers here at Casa de King, and I think we could learn to make our own.

    Thanks for the fun post, Maya!

  6. Jaydubs says:

    I received one of the Martha Stewart enameled pots as a wedding gift 2.5 years ago; after just a couple of uses, chunks of enamel started peeling off the interior and into my food. After doing some Internet sleuthing, it appeared my problem was not unusual. :(

  7. Matrix says:

    Thanks, Jaydubs – I had a similar problem with a lesser-known brand I got a few years back, which is why I’ve been hesitant to purchase another one, let alone a factory-second or another, more inexpensive product. (I noticed Aldi had one for around $30 this week, and honestly, for THAT price, if it comes apart, shame on me.)

    I went back to one of my favorite stores and picked up another set of mini prep-bowls with lids. I’m a sucker for nested bowls (I’m all about the space-saving), but also LOVE measuring everything out in advance. (Yes, I’m weird like that.) I’ve been using small measuring cups and ramekins for the same job for years, but now I’ve got the 1, 2, 3, and 4 cup nesting bowls! Merry Christmas to myself, a few days early.

    • Maya says:

      Oh, I’m in the market for nested bowls as well, but I need big ones, not prep. Where’d you go for yours? I’m keeping an eye out for a deep set like this:

      • Matrix says:

        I went to Kohl’s (super sale) and I picked up the Komen pink ones in memory of my friend Marcie (also a super cook). I hate to pay full price, so most of my mixing bowls are vintage pyrex that I picked up at the thrift store, or stainless steel ones that I inherited from my grandmother.

  8. Lauren B says:

    I’m also digging the Le Creuset stoneware, but I am having a hard time finding any store that carries it in stock in Columbus. Because I couldn’t get it shipped in time for Christmas, I had to go with an Emile Henry enameled stoneware loaf pan for my sister. She bakes bread and expressed a desire for something larger and better than her glass loaf pan. We’ll see how the Emile Henry version from Sur La Table works out.

    Maya, I’d love a mandolin too and for the exact same reasons you want one – I do okay with a knife, but my thin slices and juliennes leave much to be desired. As far a nesting bowls go, I got a lovely clear glass set from Williams Sonoma as a wedding gift a few years back. I also have a couple of sets of antique Oven Ware & Yellow Ware bowls (but I don’t use them because I don’t know if there’s lead in the glaze) and a vintage Pyrex set that belonged to my grandma — now packed away because of it’s value.

    And regarding a cheaper enameled cast iron dutch oven — check out Lodge (recommended by the gracious owner of The Kitchen Sorcerer in the Short North). I found a 6qt on for $69.99 + shipping. I almost bought that for my sister too. They are more or less used as camping equipment, but they are made in the US and are every bit as good as Le Crueset. I need an 8qt dutch oven and think I may buy one in the spring.

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