10 Extremely Specific (Or Useless) Kitchen Gadgets

I was browsing my credit card rewards store, and oohing and ahhing at all the cool kitchen gadgets I could acquire. In the midst of my kitchen gadgetry lust, however, I noticed that there are an abundance of tools and gadgets that are very much uni-taskers. As much as a garlic press might make my life easier when I am mincing a bulb of garlic for a Thai chicken rub,  something about my pragmatic sensibilities makes me cringe at the idea of getting something that only does one thing. Let’s take a look at ten of these items, all meant to solve our first-world problems.

1. The Melon Knife

Kuhn Rikon Melon Knife, $24.95

I’m of the camp that believes that one good knife is all you need, and maybe a bread knife, but that’s all. Half the knives in a knife set probably never get used anyway. The idea of buying a $24.95 knife just for a specific fruit befuddles me even further.

2. The Corn Cutter
Kernel Kutter Corn Cutter, $5.95

Again. These things probably get blunt very quickly and worse, can’t be sharpened. Single-use is right.

3. The Cherry Stoner
Leifheit Cherry Stoner, $29.99

I guess if you bake with cherries a lot this might be okay, but there are cheaper and more compact cherry pitters out there.

4. The Egg Topper
Williams-Sonoma Egg Topper, $24.99

Well, I guess if you’re frivolous enough to spend money on egg holders that look like chicken feet, you’d spend $25 on something to remove the tops off of your eggs because a sharp and precise knock with your spoon won’t do.

5. The Banana Slicer

Banana Slicer, $7.25

You don’t even need a chef’s knife to cut through a banana. A table knife. Even a spoon would do.

6. The Egg Separator

Birchstone Studios Snot-A-Mug Egg Separator, $11.99

That’s just ugly and gross. Also, your fingers are the best way to separate an egg. Crack an egg and pour it into your hand. Let the egg white flow through between your fingers. It’s real easy and you don’t risk breaking the yolk when you transfer the egg from egg half to egg half.

7. The Oreo Dunker

The Dipr, $2.99

Apparently this is for the germaphobes. I don’t know, I think half the fun in dunking your Oreos is getting a little bit messy and then licking your fingers. At least this isn’t too much of a rip off. I could see myself buying this as some kind of gag gift that I expect never to be used more than once.

8. The Banana Peeler

There’s got to be no other fruit that’s easier to peel than a banana. Also, how do you peel a banana, from the stem or from the end? I read somewhere that apes peel a banana by pinching the end and that’s how I’ve been doing it ever since.

9. Spaghetti Measurer

Because the only kind of pasta you eat is spaghetti and also you need a gadget to tell you how much you want to eat. By the way, did you know that Coke bottles in the US are larger than the ones in Singapore? A US bottle holds about 590 ml and a Singaporean one holds 500 ml.

10. The Butter Curler
Things Cooks™ Love Butter Curler, $8

“The choice of professional chefs for creating curls of butter for serving or garnishing, this tool also plays a role in home entertaining.”

What is this I don’t even.

Cook’s Illustrated Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

How is it possible that my year old blog does not have a single chocolate chip cookie recipe? Chocolate chip cookies are the holy grail of home bakers. To not have one in my arsenal of recipes is to let down the baking gods. This grave error must be remedied. And I was craving some chocolate chip cookies anyway. Also, this photo arose because the large, crevasse-filled surface of the cookie reminded of the moon, and I thought I’d give it some high-contrast definition with the lamp.

This recipe is a trusty Cook’s Illustrated one. The recipe itself is a little finicky in terms of steps – you have to brown the butter, and there’s a convoluted whisk-30-seconds, rest-3-minutes x 2 step in order to incorporate the egg into the butter-sugar mixture. But at least that’s way easier than trying to cream butter without an electric mixer, and also unlike many other successful chocolate chip cookie recipes (read: Jacques Torres NYTimes’ chocolate chip cookies) does not require a rest period. This is as close to instant gratification as you’d get!

I really enjoy the balanced flavors in these cookies. They’re not too sweet, and are well-balanced with the amount of salt and the nutty flavors from the browned butter. However, my cookies seemed to fall a little flat. I think letting them chill before baking would create a cookie with more height. Regardless, these were very tasty and I’d definitely make them again.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Cook’s Illustrated
Makes 16 large cookies (about 3 inches in diameter)

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
3/4cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)

Instructions

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.