11 Kitchen Gadgets You Never Thought You Needed
Everybody needs a bit of help in the kitchen.
If you love cooking then you know every little process that's streamlined saves you valuable time on a full meal – or, on the other end of the scale, if you prefer to avoid the kitchen as much as possible, then these will minimise the amount of time you need to spend in there!
Even if your cooking skills don’t venture beyond the odd pasta dish or soup, any household that does their cooking straight from a jar or packet needs one of these. Even basic models can take care of dozens of time-consuming jobs for prepping, cooking and finishing dishes – chop vegetables, blend juices, puree vegetables, make curry pastes, whip cream, mix dough, make pesto, hummus, salsa… while top of the range models are like having a second cook in the kitchen.
Kind of like a mini food-processor, but much neater and handier for small jobs – and will half the time of any prep for any dish. Shred your veg for samosa fillings, or roughly chop for stir-fries, most come with adaptors for different uses. If you want to go a little more up-market you can also get these choppers a mincing adaptor for mincing your own meat: great for home-made sausages or meatballs.
Homemade pasta has a much better texture than store-bought, plus you can make your own shapes, utterly necessary for making stuffed ravioli or cannelloni. Once you’ve made and mixed your dough in your food processor, you’ll need a pasta maker to roll it out thin enough to cook through and retain its texture, or to help shape it for spaghetti or linguine. Add dyes or flavours to your dough mix for a result you simply can’t achieve without making your own.
For coffee aficionados, this is a staple piece of kitchen equipment; for the rest of us, it should be a staple piece of kitchen equipment. There are lots of different types of coffee grinder, and lots of opinions of the effect they have on the coffee, but regardless of which type you have, they are incredibly useful for grinding spices. When you regularly cook with dry spices, the temptation is to buy large bags which go stale and lose their flavour quickly. Grinding your own whole coriander seeds, star anise or peppercorns keeps their flavours punchy and strong, and make your own spice mixes easily by grinding them together.
A really handy bit of equipment that anybody who regularly makes soups and sauces will want – no more spending all your prep time picking out thyme stalks, cardamom pods or cloves. Get all the flavour you need but without the mess, by just attaching this little plastic infuser to the side of your pan while cooking.
The Cube Grater conveniently has three blade styles – fine, ribbon and coarse – which makes preparing your favourite dish easy as pie! Better still, its dual-purpose catch feature can be used as a measuring device and a protective cover. Nice.
Experiment with your cocktail flavours without spending a fortune in bars, by infusing your own spirits. Vodka is the easiest to infuse, but you can add fruit, herb or spice flavours to any spirits, without all the sugar and additives of bought flavoured drinks. Great addition for making spirit-based dishes too, like pasta sauces, marinades and especially sorbets.
Just like with your drinks, experiment with your desserts. Homemade ice-cream is far superior to store-bought ice-cream in nearly every instance, and again, you can avoid all the extra sugars and additives that would normally be part of those. Choose your ingredients and experiment with flavour combinations, and come out with perfect ice-cream or sorbet every time.
Some models come with a built-in freezer, meaning they work incredibly quickly (sometimes just 20mins), so are a no-brainer for pros or heavy users; the less pricey ones will need to be chilled some hours in advance of using. Added value: can double as a wine chiller.
Not just for meatloaf and potatoes – pressure cookers can cook almost anything, as long as there’s some liquid, and does so incredibly quickly. Foods that might normally take an hour can be done in ten minutes, and as you use less oils and fats, are lean and light.
From whole roast chickens to dahls and soups, to delicate risottos and sauces, these are essential for making hearty healthy meals fast.
Similarly with the airfryer. Basically a souped-up George Foreman (that you can actually use for more than plain chicken breasts), this brilliant machine fries, roasts or grills your food using only a tiny bit of oil, and drains the fats from your food as it cooks. Battered fish and chips without the guilt.
Or be a bit more adventurous – veggie croquettes, spicy chicken wings, or prawn crackers, all without the oily texture.
This is the indispensable kitchen tool for every vegetable fan. It conjures up delicious (and impressive) vegetable spirals, making carrots, courgettes, cucumbers, radishes, beet and even potatoes culinary eye-catchers on every plate. Quick, easy and safe – just turn the crank and the vegetable spirals fall into the sealable storage container.
Bake Cook Dine at Arnotts will have a variety of talent participating across the month of April, featuring a host of chefs, food bloggers and entrepreneurs, including Clodagh McKenna, Andrew Rudd, Domini Kemp and Kevin Thornton. They’ll be taking to the stage in the Arnotts kitchen department on various dates across the month to demonstrate some of their delicious dishes and juicing tips. This Saturday 25th Deip Le Shaker's Head Chef Brad Stoward and Cocktail Mixologist Cian will add some Thai spice to the mix at Arnotts 'Contemporary Cooking' event. More info here.