My Favorite (Foodie) Things


People are always curious about the tools professionals use to give their food that extra edge. So, in honor of the holidays, I have assembled a small list of My Favorite (Foodie) Things.  (A baker’s dozen, as a matter of fact.)

  1. Books are always a great gift for the foodie on your list. I read and re-read mine time and again. A great book will act as inspiration, a conversation piece, or even help you remedy a problem with your cooking. I think that the two best cookbooks out now are Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook and VOLT ink.: Recipes, Stories, Brothers. Either will make a great addition to your bookshelf or the perfect coffee table book for your food-loving friend. ($25-$50)
  2. A blowtorch is something I often reach for when cooking. This simple tool will help you unmold a frozen confection or toast a sweet meringue. It helps brûlée your dessert and create easy decorations. I prefer the Iwatani Torch Burner Professional. It will hold a constant flame at any level and the newest ones have safeties for better protection. Another great plus for this particular torch is that you don’t have to have the entire bulky canister at all times; it breaks down to smaller parts for easy storage. ($35-$50)
  3. Silicone spatulas are a must-have for any cooking arsenal. They are the first thing I reach for when mixing batter, spinning ice creams, or folding mousse. My wife always buys me seasonal spatulas for every holiday, and I love them. They add a festive feel to my tool caddy and keep my mind focused on the spirit of the season. ($10-$15)
  4. Vitamix is the gold standard of blenders. They are admittedly expensive, and worth every penny. Nothing blends smoother, faster, and is more user-friendly. They range from basic machines to super advanced puree powerhouses that will make every single soup, cream, or fruit puree better and more easy to use. As an added bonus, the prior year’s model usually goes on sale right after the holidays. ($450-$600)
  5. Whether I am infusing espresso flavors of just downing caffeine to keep going, I look to my french press. I love that I don’t have to have a bulky machine to heat and steep my coffee. The built-in strainer makes it easy to create a beautiful product without watching that pot that never boils. ($30-$50)
  6. The most-used cutter in my entire assembly of tools is my Donut Cutter. This little guy helps me create perfect rings. Gone are the days of trying to perfectly align two different-sized cutters – now I can make quick work of anything I want in a ring shape. ($5)
  7. I do a fair amount of frying, from sweet and savory doughs to fruits or the occasional fritter. These items are delicate and easily grabbed with Stainless Steel Chopsticks. With chopsticks you can pluck the cooked food from the frier without having to fish for it with a clunky strainer or brave the hot oil with your fingers. The stainless steel makes for easy cleaning and they won’t splinter or break down like their wooden counterparts. ($18/4)
  8. In the modern kitchen you need to be able to move fast and produce a consistent product. When I need a cake in less than 5 minutes, a foam to finish a plate, or anything aerated for effect, I turn to my iSi Canister. It eliminates the labor of whipping and mixing as well as the risk of drying from exposure to the elements. It can be used hot or cold and is painless to clean. Add the injector tips and you will be able to fill small cannolis and make the smallest incision for filling bouchons, eclairs, and cream puffs. Be sure to stock up on the charges and you will always be ready to impress. ($75)
  9. Without question, the tool I use the most is my bowl scraper. This simple piece of plastic is my go-to for scraping batter from bowls, scooping chopped items off my cutting board, and even unscrewing tricky jar lids. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and densities so I recommend having several on hand. Every single person I have given one to has come back to say they never thought it would be so useful and they always keep it on hand when cooking. ($4)
  10.  Sharp knives are a cornerstone of cooking. If your knives are sharp they will perform better, lend better results, and be safer to handle. While I think everyone should have a set of stones and spend the time grinding their knives to get that perfect edge, I realize it isn’t entirely practical. The Minosharp 3 Sharpener is the best compromise I’ve seen. With a couple ounces of water and about ten minutes of work you can bring new life to the edge of your knives. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and does a great job sharpening those blades. For best results, sharpen one way then turn the entire sharpener around and go again. ($40)
  11. Commercial parchment paper is just not the same quality as professional parchment paper. It is difficult to use and never holds its shape properly. Enter the Silpat. It’s easy to clean, reusable, more flexible, sturdier, freezable, and provides more even baking. I believe every home cook should have a few Silpats on hand for cookies, candies, cakes, and everything in between. Just remember never to wash a Silpat with soap, because it denatures the material. ($19)
  12. A trusty pan is a baker’s best friend. I hate reaching for a pan and finding it warped or rusted. My favorite brand of pans to use is WearEver. These sturdy sheet pans won’t become misshapen and don’t typically rust. Ask any chef and they will tell you that a stack of brand new, high shine sheet pans is a sight to behold. ($20-$100)
  13. A helper is key in the kitchen, but short of having an extra set of hands and eyes, a digital thermometer and timeris the key to a smooth workday. The Taylor Gourmet Digital Cooking Thermometer/Timer has an alarm that sounds when temperature is reached while still keeping perfect track of time. This handy gadget is perfect for making homemade candies and delectable butter creams. ($15)

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links,” meaning that if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I have not been otherwise endorsed to recommend these products, all of which I use personally.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 


About Joe the Baker

Joe the Baker is a classically-trained pastry chef who specializes in French macarons and viennoiserie. He currently sells his delicious confections online, at the Coppell Farmers Market, and at DFW-area gourmet grocers.

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