For someone who is always testing and reviewing products as part of her job, I'm proud to say that I can keep it pretty minimal when it comes to things in my home. A perpetual purger, I constantly relieve my personal space of things that I don't need and that includes books, clothes, tech items, and even kitchen gadgets. Yes, kitchen gadgets. I love to cook and am always down to try the latest and newest product on the market, from garlic peelers to sous vide machines, but if I'm not careful with my product intake, my kitchen could potentially look I'm the perfect candidate to star in an episode of Hoarders.
And for all the crazy gear that gets introduced in the marketplace each year, I find that the best products that I never tire of seem to be the classics. Sure the zippiest hi-tech gadget might be fun for a while, but never lasts long at Casa Vorrasi because it's a) a pain to clean or b) I'll only use it once in a blue moon and no N.Y.C. kitchen has the space for that.
So this list of essentials is for you, from one avid home cook to another. Hopefully these recommendations will inspire you to replace some of the extra noise within your cabinets and make putting dinner on the table a little swifter.
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Here's my list of affordable—and essential!—kitchen gadgets that get used on the regular.
Serrated ceramic knife
Total. Game. Changer. This is the most expensive item on the list, and well worth it. It can replace your existing pairing knife, since you can use it to chop up everything, but it really shines when it comes to chopping up or slicing tomatoes. We go through a lot of tomatoes in our home, especially during the summer time, and this bad boy just slices right through them without any crushing whatsoever.
Also known as a spider in the culinary world, these wide-woven gadgets are like mini baskets on sticks and perfect for grabbing anything from a pot of boiling water: pasta, veggies, you name it. I almost never remember to keep the pasta water when the recipe calls for it, so this keeps me from accidentally tossing it out when I drain the pasta in a colander in a sink.
This slender product is more versatile than you might think. Bakers and mixologists swear by it for zesting citrus, but you can also use it to get the finest pieces of garlic and ginger to infuse into your dishes. As a garnish, it works well with chocolate and cheese, so pull it out when you have your next bowl of ice cream or pasta and make it snow with your favorite topping.
The best way to scrape out the contents of a bowl is to use a silicone spatula. The flexible head gets to all the grooves of the bowl, so not a drop of cupcake batter is left unused.
I have a high power blender, but if I was forced to choose between that and my compact immersion blender, the latter wins, hands down. It's much easier to clean than a larger appliance and if you're making soup, prevents you from having to potentially pour the hot contents of a pot into another vessel—you can purée directly in the pot you cooked in. Plus they're way more powerful than they look.
A mandolin makes meal prepping a breeze. I wouldn't invest in a large model—there are too many pieces to clean—but a simple version like this with multiple blade settings allows you to slice n' chop fruits and veggies in a snap.
If you're an avid cook, you're probably mincing garlic all the time. This is probably the most out-of-the-box gadget in my kitchen that I use nearly every day for the garlic that goes into everything from salad dressings to soups and practically every other savory dish I make. Use it to smash cloves to get the peel off. Then, toss the garlic inside the cup and twist the two parts of the gadget back and forth. The teeth will mince the garlic lickety-split.