7 Gadget Gifts for the High-Tech Chef

gadgetsSince the first wooden spoon allowed a cave man to stir his stew without burning his arm, humans have been on a quest to make shinier, faster and better kitchen gadgets. If you have a high-tech chef on your list this holiday season, take a look at these seven gadgets that are perfectly priced to fit almost any budget.

Salter Stainless Steel Electronic Scale ($100-$150)

Named the number one must-have gadget for home cooks in 2013, by Fox News, this kitchen scale will let you tackle recipes with new accuracy. Because most European recipes are written with weight measurements instead of volume measurements, this gadget is just what your high-tech chef needs to tackle recipes from all parts of the globe. The stainless steel design makes it the perfect addition to any modern kitchen.

Cuisinart SG-10 Spice and Nut Grinder ($60)

The innovation behind a spice grinder is not new, but this essential gadget is often sadly overlooked in favor of more novel items. By freshly grinding and toasting your spices instead of buying them already ground, you add incredible flavor and dimension to your dish. Although you can grind spices with a mortar and pestle, consider buying your high-tech chef a little electronic grinder like the Cuisinart.

Food Network App (Free)

Your high-tech chef is more likely to have an iPad propped up on his countertop than a cookbook, and the Food Network in the Kitchen app is just what he needs on his device. With recipes from all of the stars on the Food Network, this app also lets high-tech chefs store notes about which substitutions they like for each recipe they use. When it’s time to approach a new tactic, the app provides links to countless instruction videos, according to Food Network.com.

Magic Bullet ($60-$160)

Able to mince, dice and blend anything in a matter of seconds, the Magic Bullet is an express blender that shot to fame through infomercials. Its popularity means that it’s now stocked in stores like Macy’s where shoppers can choose between several different sizes of Magic Bullets at great prices, especially on Black Friday. Perfect for the chef who wants to make anything from icy summer cocktails to healthy green smoothies and flavorful pureed soups, the Magic Bullet is a must-have for the high-tech chef.

Jaccard Simply Better Pro 45 Meat Tenderizer ($20-30)

It’s time for your high-tech chef to put down his boring mallet and grab a Jaccard meat tenderizer. Perfect for even the most expensive cuts of meat, this meat tenderizer promises to make cheaper cuts of meat taste tender and flavorful. The 45 stainless steel blades on this tenderizer work with more accuracy than a mallet, and your meat will cook faster and absorb sauces better after a round with this tenderizer.

Omega Nutrition Center Juicer ($300-$430)

In most cases, your high-tech chef will want presents to make cooking and chopping faster, but the Omega juicer does just the opposite. By slowing squeezing fruit instead of quickly grinding it, this juicer preserves necessary nutrients and enzymes. The slow squeezing process also slows the effects of oxidation, which means that you can enjoy your juice for up to 72 hours after it has been made.

Robot Coupe Combination Processors: Bowl Cutter and Vegetable Prep ($400+)

In professional kitchens all over the world, food processors are all referred to as Robot Coupes, and now, the company whose brand is synonymous with the food processor has come out with a combination processor. The Robot Coupe combination processor can grate, slice, dice or julienne whatever your chef needs. Whether your high-tech chef is making a puree, a fruit compote or a batch of mayo, this is the gadget for the job.

Weston Products Launches Website for Michael Symon’s New Product Line

michael-symon-live-to-cookCLEVELAND, Ohio (December 1, 2011) – Kitchenware manufacturer Weston Products has launched a new site, MichaelSymon.WestonProducts.com, as an online source for its latest line of specialty kitchen products, the Michael Symon Live to Cook collection.

Celebrity Chef Michael Symon is an Iron Chef, Food Network Star, host of ABC’s “The Chew,” and now, he has launched his first kitchenware line. The Michael Symon Live to Cook Collection by Weston includes a meat grinder, vacuum sealer, sausage stuffer, French fry cutter, burger presses, and several other stainless steel kitchen tools “for those who take cooking seriously.”
In addition to viewing product details and purchasing the items on the site, consumers can watch product demos hosted by the Iron Chef himself. The site also gives customers the opportunity to preview recipes from Weston’s Michael Symon “For Those Who Take Cooking Seriously” Recipe Collection, which is included free with each product in the line.

“We couldn’t be more excited about our partnership with Chef Symon,” said Michael Caspar, CEO of Weston Products. “Being from Cleveland made the partnership a perfect fit – our shared values on food preparation made it a no-brainer.”

Symon, currently the owner of four critically acclaimed restaurants and eight total locations, chose to partner with Weston Products to make restaurant-style cooking more approachable to the home cook. The self-proclaimed “meat-centric” chef selected products for crafting foods like burgers, sausages, and French fries from fresh ingredients.

“Weston products have changed the way I cook.” said Symon. “They make cooking easier, more efficient, and always fun.” In addition to MichaelSymon.WestonProducts.com, the Michael Symon Live to Cook collection is set to be available at fine retailers across the country in the next coming months.

live-to-cook-michael-symonAbout Michael Symon

Chef Michael Symon cooks with soul. Growing up in a Greek and Sicilian family, the Cleveland native creates boldly-flavored, deeply satisfying dishes at his four restaurants in America’s heartland: Lola, Lolita, Roast and B Spot. He also shares his exuberant, approachable cooking style and infectious laugh with viewers as an Iron Chef on the Food Network. Since being named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine in 1998, Michael and his restaurants have been awarded numerous honors including Bon Appétit magazine’s Top 10 Best New Burger Joints; SoBe Wine & Food Festival’s People’s Choice award, The James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef and Gourmet magazine’s list of America’s Best Restaurants. Michael can be seen on Food Network’s Iron Chef and The Next Iron Chef, ABC’s The Chew and The Cooking Channel’s Cook Like an Iron Chef.

Live2Cook-Weston®- LogoAbout Weston Products

Founded in 1997, Weston Products is a leading manufacturer of specialty food processing equipment, specializing in commercial-grade meat processing equipment, home harvesting tools, and traditional style kitchenware. The company is an independently operated private company, owned by current management team Michael Caspar and Jason Berry. Weston Products was listed on the 2011 Inc. 5000, a list of the country’s fastest growing privately held companies.

More information on Weston Products can be found at http://www.westonproducts.com.

Kitchen Blender Reviews – A How To Guide to Making Baby Food in Your Blender

How to Make Baby Food in Your Blender

Blenders are often used to make healthy smoothies, tasty shakes, and cool beverages. While you may use your blender on a regular basis, have you ever thought about using it to make food for your baby? With this handy kitchen appliance you can quickly and easily make homemade baby food that is healthy and tasty. Sure, you can buy baby food at the store, but you don’t always know what ingredients are being used or how nutritious the food really is. Instead of playing the guessing game when it comes to baby food quality, why not consider making it yourself? It’s fast, easy, and can be a healthier option than most of the baby foods available for purchase.

Making baby food in a blender can provide you and your baby with numerous benefits. One of the top benefits of choosing this route is being able to choose all the ingredients used in the food. You’ll know exactly what your baby is eating when you make the food yourself. Since you are choosing the ingredients, you can avoid things like added salt and processed sugars. Baby allergies are common today, but you can avoid this problem by avoiding ingredients that may lead to an allergic reaction. When you choose this route, you’ll even save money, which is another huge benefit for new parents.

Depending on the specific type of baby food you plan to make, the steps for making it in a blender can vary just a bit. However, the basic steps are usually quite similar. Here is a look at some easy steps to follow for making most baby foods.

Step 1# – Choose a Quality Blender

If you’re planning to make your own baby food, the first thing you need to do is choose a quality blender, if you don’t already have one. A common place to start your search is reading quality blender reviews online. The blender you choose will depend upon the amount of baby food you plan on making. If you plan on only making baby food from time to time and in small amounts, a small hand blender may be a great choice that is reasonably priced. However, if you plan on making baby food on a regular basis and in larger amounts, a full size kitchen blender will be the better choice. The larger blender will allow you to make larger amounts of food so you can store some for later use.

Step #2 – Purchase Quality Produce

The next step to take if you want to make baby food in your blender is to purchase quality produce. Look for fruits and vegetables that are fresh and use them quickly. Of course, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables can also be used if you are not able to buy it fresh. Some great fruits to try include pears, blueberries, apricots, peaches, bananas, apples, and plums. For produce, peas, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, squash, and avocados all make great choices. Of course, you are not limited to these options. For ideas, take a look down the baby food isle.

Step #3 – Prepare Foods

Before you actually blend the food, it has to be prepared. Start out by washing fresh fruits and vegetables to eliminate any pesticides or germs that may be on the fruits. Buying organic is always best, but now always an option for some. Certain foods may need to be peeled or seeded. Some foods, such as soft fruits, may not need to be cooked. However, many vegetables and harder fruits may need to be cooked in some way before you blend them. Steaming, boiling, and baking are all methods of cooking that can work.

Step #4 – Blend Thoroughly

After the food is prepared, you are ready to actually blend the baby food. Place the food in the blender and put the lid on. Then start processing on the lowest setting, increasing the speed as you go until the food is well blended. For foods that do not have a lot of liquid in them, you may need to add water to get the consistency you are wanting. Always make sure the food is thoroughly blended to avoid chunks of food that may cause choking.

Step #5 – Storing the Food

While you’ll probably serve some of the baby food right away, any leftovers will need to be appropriately stored. You can store leftovers in several ways. If you plan to use the food within a couple days, simply store it in an airtight container in your refrigerator. If you don’t plan to use it right away, the food can be frozen. The easiest way to do this is to freeze in ice cube trays. Then, frozen cubes of food can be stored in freezer bags, labeled with the contents. Keep in mind that you should not store food that your baby has tried to eat already. Saliva can get into the food and make it more prone to bacteria growth. For this reason, only dish up the amount you think your baby will actually eat.

More Helpful Tips

As you are making baby food in your blender, make sure you avoid using additives when possible. Babies don’t need added sugar, salt, or any type of preservatives. The foods can be blended on their own and will have plenty of flavor. However, simple seasonings and herbs can be used to add extra flavor.

Another thing to remember is to only introduce a single food at a time when babies are just starting to eat solid foods. This is important because it can help you identify any food allergies if they occur. Learning which foods your baby can easily tolerate makes it easier to blend foods together at a later time, such as a nice blend of multiple fruits. You may even want to begin blending entire dinners up for your baby, such as stews and soups.

About the author: April Jones is the publisher of a blender review site. Check out the fantastic free to download blender cookbook at Kitchen Blender Reviews – with full color pictures of the recipes.



Delicious Home-Made Ice Cream Using the Cuisinart Ice-45

Do you love ice cream? Who doesn’t! With all the gadgets filling your kitchen, you may think you don’t need an ice cream maker. I thought so too, until I looked more closely at the ingredient list on some of the popular brands of ice cream. First of all, if you look closely, a lot of the brands say “frozen dessert”, not ice cream. That’s because they use varieties of vegetable oils instead of milk. When they do use milk, it’s usually “modified milk ingredients.” What do they modify it to?

That’s why I decided to get an ice cream maker, and I decided on the Cuisinart Ice-45 Soft-Serve ice cream maker. With home-made vanilla ice cream, here are the complete ingredients you and your children will be eating: milk, cream, sugar and vanilla. That’s it. No chemicals, salt or anything modified. For chocolate ice cream, it’s milk, brown sugar, cream and coco. No more fake desserts for us! And the taste? Much more delicious than store-bought! And there’s a freshness to it, even if we store it in the freezer for long periods.

How to Make Delicious, Home Made Ice Cream

For this model, place the ice cream freezer bowl in a deep freeze. Not your refrigerator, which isn’t cold enough, but a non auto-defrost chest freezer. (Auto defrost cycles from warmer back to cold.) You need the bowl to get really, really frozen, several degrees below freezing. If it’s not cold enough, your ice cream will be too runny. We leave it for around 48 hours.

When the bowl is ready, place it into the ice cream maker. Put 1 cup milk and 3/4 cups sugar (brown sugar for chocolate) in a blender and whip it. Then, gently mix in 2 cups table cream and 2 teaspoons vanilla (or 1/3 cup coca for chocolate). I say gently mix. Whip it too much and you get – you got it, whipped cream! Pour the mixture into the bowl, and turn it on. 40 minutes later and you have about 1 and a half quarts of soft ice cream! Times vary – the more frozen the bowl, the sooner your ice cream is finished. Do your own tests – too short and it’s liquidy, too long and it’s too thick. Instructions say 20 minutes, but it takes 40 for us.

Ice Cream For Parties

The one draw-back with this machine is that it does not make a huge amount of ice cream. Though there’s plenty to go around for a family or two, it’s not enough if you have eight kids at a party. So what we did is make several batches in advance and freeze it into hard ice cream. It freezes very well, much better than commercial ice cream that will develop crystals if it’s been frozen too long. For an Elmo themed party, we put a bit of red food coloring into the mix (very little! You want the friendly Elmo red, not vampire red!), and spent a week making 3 batches. Just to clarify the lack of work involved, the “week” consisted of washing and drying the freezer bowl, leaving it in the chest freezer for two days, making ice cream, repeat. If you buy a second freezer bowl , it would make the job a lot easier! The day of, we sculpted the hard red ice cream into circular faces and used marshmallows, whipping cream, bananas and chocolate chips to make Elmo’s eyes, nose and mouth. Viola, a gorgeous and creative party dessert!

What we Like:

  • We’ve always loved Cuisinart products. They seem old-school durable, in that they build their products to last decades.
  • No chemicals or salt. Mix the ingredients and pour in – it’s as easy as that. And the consistency is smooth and creamy.
  • Versatility – You can try sorbets and custards as well.
  • Easy to clean – the parts easily come out to rinse, and easily slip back in.
  • The ice cream freezes perfectly into hard ice cream, so we can make and store a lot for future uses. A quick zap in the microwave or simply leaving it out for a few minutes will soften it.

Though it isn’t a problem for us to spend the time to freeze the bowl, in the future we might skip that step by upgrading to the Cuisinart Ice-50. It has a built-in compressor, so there is no bowl to freeze.

Contributed by Chris Molnar. Chris is the father of two toddlers, so he and his wife host a lot of parties and serve lots of ice cream! He is the editor of Themeaparty.com, a website with party theme ideas for kids and adults. Click here for a guide to personalizing your party supplies.

CorningWare French White 7-Ounce Ramekins, Set of 4

A set of ramekins are a must for  any well equipped kitchen. Ramekins can be used as a small bowl for dipping  sauces, a bowl for your morning Kashi and of course for cooking up individual  servings of custard, flan, and crème brulee.  They can even be used as small  fruit bowls and for dipping sauce.

I have a set of these ramekins actually I have 8 of them. Along with everything else you can use them for, I find them great for making individual chocolate muffins. A treat I don’t make very often thanks to an ever spreading waistline.

The CorningWare French White 7-Ounce Ramekins are really well made.  They are a manufactured  stoneware that can hold up to the harshest treatment.  You can use them in the freezer, the fridge, the microwave and even  in the oven.

CorningWare French White ramekins,  are slick and non-porous. You don’t have to worry about food sticking to the  sides or staining. Since it’s non porous you don’t have to worry about any  strong food odors transferring between dishes.

The ramekins have a classic design with a flared lip and  fluting along the outer sides for a traditional classic look. These are a bit  larger than standard ramekins but that just makes them that much more  functional.

What We Like:

  • CorningWare have so much faith in their product that there French White Ramekins come with a ten year warranty. Something not too many other companies have the confidence to do.
  • The price point for this set of ramekins is perfect. They are  a quality set that can be used in any cooking environment. So the price is very reasonable for what you get. The Corningware set is quite competitively priced  compared to some other units we have looked at.
  • We really like the 7 ounce size. They are bigger than the  traditional four ounce ramekin. This just means that we get bigger crème brulee  servings, not exactly a bad thing.  The larger size also makes them much more  functional than standard four ounce units.

And while you are thinking about creme brulee you might like to consider buying the Bonjour Chef’s Torch.