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Happy-Gourmand

Gizmos, gadgets for foodies

It never ceases to amaze me how many things can be invented that claim to make our lives easier.

The plethora of gadgets you can own is only limited by the space you have. You might never have made smoothies before, but that doesn't mean you don't need a Bullet mixer, right? The guy on TV says it does all kinds of things.

I know you planned to use it to make salad dressing, really you did. Well, this week I'm going to make you feel better about a crazy purchase you bought by showing you some you don't have yet.

I'll inspire you to get another gizmo, or perhaps you'll want to have a garage sale to entice others to join the gadget world :) Either way, we can all learn something.

Top 3 wacky gadgets

When I was a kid, there were ads on TV by K-Tel, the original “as seen on TV" company. Products included the Patti Chef (a tube with a plunger for making a pile of burger patties) and the Veg-o-matic (a hand-powered slicer/dicer/chopper). We joked about their silly ads, but many people still swear by their products.

These more recent inventions range from the simple to the exotic, but I think they can be included in the less-than-essential category, if not the wacky one...

Sage by Heston Blumenthal, the tea maker - at £116 ($220 CAD) this is the most expensive offering. It can make the perfect pot of tea, with 15 settings for variable water temperature and tea strength as well as having a timer.
The Golden Goose - this nifty hand-powered gadget will scramble an egg on the shell, thus providing "golden eggs". It's interesting to note this gadget became a success through crowd funding: "as seen on the Internet.”
Peapod Splitter - just when you thought all the slicing and dicing was taken care of, there is one more veggie to process. Lee Valley Tools has found this one to include in their latest catalog. At $8.50 it's not a big investment, if you are a true lover of shelled peas.

Top 3 practical gizmos

Spurtle - yes, this is a real thing. It comes from Scotland, where it was originally used for stirring Scottish oats for porridge. It works equally as well for any thick stews or sauces, especially in a large pot.
Rasp - not the snake (that's an asp), but rather a fine grater that works well to add citrus zest in a recipe. Once you have one, you'll wonder how you ever cooked without it. (Lee Valley has this in their inventory, too; they call it a Microplane grater.)
Silicone mat - these things are invaluable. Not only will they keep items from sticking on your baking sheets, they save you using oil or butter to grease the pan. You can make crispy delights such as Parmesan crisps and brandy snaps, too - without messy clean up. No need to buy the expensive kind, either; just find one that works with high heat (500F).

Of course, I didn't even start into the various machines you can get - do you want, or already have - a panini maker, a yogurt maker, a Bullet, a margarita machine, a bread machine, a pasta machine...? How often do you use them? Are they still in the box, somewhere in the basement? Maybe it's a good idea to think of a meal in which you could use them in the next few weeks, just for fun.

For a recipe this week, here's a chance to use some of the practical gadgets I mentioned. Don't worry if you don't have them yet as I offer alternatives, but I highly recommend getting yourself one of each.

LIME CHILI SHORTBREAD

This recipe comes from my husband, who is a private chef in the Okanagan. He uses this as an appetizer for the house parties he cooks at in the winter season. It’s wonderful paired with your favourite sparkling wine (I like Prosecco, but choose what works for you.)

  • 1 cup (250 g) butter, cut in small cubes
  • 2 cups (500 g)  flour
  • 250 g Monterey Jack cheese, grated  (if you're adventurous, get one with jalapeños)
  • 50 g powdered Parmesan
  • Grated zest of 1 lime
  • Touch of garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp / 1 mL ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp / 3 mL cayenne powder (optional - you can leave it out of you don't like heat)
  • 1/2 tsp / 3 mL chili powder

Grate cheese and lime for zest. (If you don't have a rasp to finely grate the lime, use the fine grater on your cheese grater ) Combine flour, lime zest and spices in large bowl. Stir in cheeses and butter.

Mix together until you have a dough, a food processor works well, but it can be done by hand.

I make a log on plastic wrap, set in the fridge until solid then cut into cookies, very like sweet shortbread. You can roll it out and cut it into shapes if you wish ( approx. 1/4 inch / 0.5 cm thick). It can be frozen for up to 3 weeks as well.

Bake on baking sheets with silicone mats at 400F (200C) for about 15 minutes or until golden brown on top ( if you don't have a silicone mat, put parchment paper on the baking sheet). Cool slightly and serve.



More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."

 

E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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