Results tagged scissors from David Lebovitz

Étamine

Étamine

Sometimes when I’m asked about what I miss from “home” (ie: the US). I might answer dried pluots, crunchy organic peanut butter, aluminum foil that you can’t read the newspaper through, and an unending supply of Sharpies. (Although thanks to a slew of well-meaning friends and other folks passing through, I now have an unending supply of them here in France.) But I no longer sherpa over cheesecloth, because I’ve found something better: Étamine.

Étamine

Way back when, I brought over a few packages of cheesecloth for such culinary projects as soaking fruitcakes in liquor (with mixed success), at times…and draining cream or yogurt for homemade cheeses, marmalade-making, and labneh. Then I discovered the gauzy, wispy fabric known as étamine and I haven’t gone back to cheesecloth. Nor have I asked anyone to sherpa some over for me. (And I can finagle them into bringing other things, such as dried pluots.)

Étamine

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Kylie Kwong at Billy Kwong

lunch with Kylie Kwong

I crave Asian flavors, which became apparent on a couple of occasions this month. For one thing, it seems that I want to add chiles and fresh ginger to everything. Here is Sydney, Australia, where so much of the food feels Asian-influenced – clean flavors, fresh ingredients often cooked quickly over high heat (cooks using fiery woks always seem to be “attacking” the food, simultaneously pulling out and searing flavors), and served with immediacy – I mentioned to a dining companion that I loved everything I’ve eaten here. And what was particularly delightful was that my favorite flavors were used liberally in the food, including fresh ginger, which was so Asian. He looked at me, and said “Really? I think of fresh ginger as an Australian thing.” But when I said that I always saw fresh ginger piled high in Chinese markets, he said, “You know, it’s abundant in regular markets here in Australia as well.”

Being from California, Asian food is my “comfort” food and I never realized how much I depend on a bowl of spicy bibimbap for lunch in the winter or a light plate of cold buckwheat noodles with nori and ginger dressing in the summer. I like any and all Asian food, no matter what time of the year it is or where I am.

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How to Take Care of Your Knives

drying knives

I can deal with a lousy oven. I can use crummy cookware. And I’ll admit that I can bake a cake in a flimsy pan. But I refuse to use a dull knife. It’s not only that they’re hard to use, but a bad knife is downright unsafe. Some people are terrified of sharp knives when in fact, when used properly, they’re actually safer: Most people cut themselves when a knife slides off something they’re slicing rather than when it makes a clean cut right through it.

Professional cooks bring their own knifes to work and take care of them themselves. It’s something I still do to this day. And when I go away for a weekend to someone’s house in the country, if I plan to do any cooking (which I usually do), I bring along at least one knife of my own so I know I’ll have a good, sharp knife to cook with.

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Scissors

In a world of kitchen gadgets gone amok, there are some that look cool, and some that might make you look like a fool. When you live in a small kitchen, things get pretty brutal, and when natural selection kicks in, only the essential equipment survives the cut.

drawer

Yes, my mixer and espresso machine get a disproportionate amount of space, but only because I use them a disproportionate amount of time. But down below, every year or so, I go through my gadget drawer and take out anything I haven’t used in a long time.

My chocolate thermometer stays, along with all my measuring cups, the pair of cherry pitters (I invested in two, which ensures help), that super-handy little offset spatula, a pile of plastic scrapers, the essential Microplane zester, mini-spatulas I bought at Ross in Fort Lauderdale (which one might think are silly, but I use them all the time), the all-important wine opener, ice cream scoops in every conceivable capacity, and my Michael Graves vegetable brush from Target that I have to keep hidden away in a drawer because “someone” keeps trying to use it to scrub pots and pans and I don’t know when the next time I’m going get my derrière back into a Target again in case I need to replace it.

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My Favorite Knife

My Favorite Knife

I have a knife block on my counter armed with a sharp, ever-ready arsenal of knives for almost all kitchen purposes. There’s a nice, long bread knife, several fancy Japanese knives, a terrific 3-inch paring knife I bought in 1983 at Columbus Cutlery in San Francisco that I lost my first week at Chez Panisse and found it ten years later sitting in a silverware bin, a jumbo Martin Yan Chinese cleaver, and a flexible boning knife, which we used to simply call a ‘boner’ in the restaurant.

(Which we did simply because in our juvenile fashion, we got a kick out of asking our fellow cooks, “Can I use your boner?“)

But the one knife I reach for 97% of the time in my 4½-inch Wüsthof serrated knife. I bought mine at a cookware shop in Ohio that I was teaching at. And when I saw them at Zabar’s in New York last week for only $7.99, I started thinking what a fabulous little knife this baby is and how dependent I am on mine.

Beets

Dirt cheap, I’ve had my handy little knife for about six years and it’s still as sharp as the day I bought it. (Actually, it seems to get sharper and sharper. Either that, or my other knives are getting duller and duller.) I use mine for everything: slicing crusty baguettes, tomatoes, perfectly-diced beets, cutting up fruit, and a gazillion other things. It does every job with the greatest of ease and its small size also makes it fabulous for space-challenged cooks.


Update: After decades of great service, mine finally bit the dust as it was no match for a large block of well-aged slab of cheese. This particular knife has been discontinued but happily, Wusthof has replaced the knife with the Silverpoint “Brunch” knife.


Related Links and Posts

How to Take Care of Your Knives

Inside the KitchenAid Factory

Mini-Tongs

Scissors

Buying an Ice Cream Maker

Kitchen Cutlery (Amazon)