Staci Joers’ 10 kitchen utensils and gadgets that all home cooks should own

Staci Joers as a contributor to our group and the author of this list.  Staci is a Caledonia resident, has a degree in culinary arts and has taught cooking demonstration classes all over SE Wisconsin since 1992.    The classes I attended were demonstration-style with a generous tasting of all the recipes, along with recipe handouts.   The price is extremely reasonable; most of the classes are between $20-25 for 2.5 hours which essentially includes a full meal.   The best part of the class is Staci’s personality: she is funny, light-hearted, and does a great job moving the class along, never a dull moment.  You can also see her on-demand on Time Warner Cable Channel 411.

One of her upcoming classes is a Fondue class on Thursday March 19th in Bay View at the Bay View Community Center.  She is instructing the class on a french onion fondue, oil fondue, a tiramisu fondue and other good stuff.    The class is open to anybody, call 414-482-1000 to register,

tiramisu fondue

Staci Joers’ 10 Favorite Kitchen Utensils & Gadgets

1. Garlic press: “used to crush garlic cloves efficiently by forcing them through a grid of small holes, thus releasing all of the flavor and essential oil. My favorite is the Zyliss Susi Press made of a heavy material that will not bend or break.”   (Editor’s note: Available at Amazon or Kohls for about $16)

zyliss garlic press

2. Microplane: “This tool originated as an excellent smoothing tool for woodworkers, which proved to be an indispensable grating tool for cooks. This tool quickly zests citrus fruits and grates even the hardest Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.”  (Editors note: Expect to pay $11-$14 at Amazon or Kohl’s)

microplane grater
3. Lemon Squeezer: “Enjoy fresh-squeezed citrus juice without electricity, batteries, or hard-to-operate juice squeezers. Easy to use, my fav Amco‘s squeezer provides pure juice without any seeds or pulp. Crafted from sturdy aluminum and enameled in a fun citrus-inspired color. I use the lemon size to squeeze limes and oranges, too, although they make a special one for each fruit (oranges have to be quartered to fit in the lemon squeezer).”

AMCO Lemon Squeezer

4. Good Pair of Tongs: “I like Oxo Good Grip brand as they lock for storage and feature heat-safe nylon heads that won’t scratch nonstick cookware. And though tongs may seem not as essential as other tools, being able to easily and precisely grip hot foods is a major plus.”

oxo good grips
5. Super Parchment:Super parchment is a reusable 13″ x 17″ baking parchment. Great for cookie sheets and jelly roll pans. Food slips off easily, no greasing required. Creates a nonstick surface and easy to clean. Replaces paper parchment for baking and is washable and reusable hundreds of times so it’s better for the environment. Plus, it’s about 1/3 the cost of Silpat (which is a great product too) and unlike Silpat, you can cut Super Parchment to fit pans. (Silpat has glass fibers in it so is you damage it, those fibers can get in your food)”

super parchment
6. Good Baking Sheets: “My favorite brand is Doughmakers (invented by a Mom and made in the U.S.) The uncoated, textured surfaces produce superior baking results by allowing air to flow under the baked goods for even browning. Another benefit of the textured surface is that it gives an easy release without having to add a nonstick coating that would eventually wear off. It is also very heavy weight and does not warp in the oven like other brands. This is the world’s best bakeware preferred by professionals.”

doughmakers sheet
7. Chef Knife: “originally designed primarily to slice and disjoint large cuts of beef. Today it is the primary general-utility knife for most western cooks. A chef’s knife generally has a blade eight inches in length and 1 1⁄2 inches in width, although individual models range from 6 to 14 inches in length. There are two common types of blade shape in western chef’s knives, French and German. German-style knives are more deeply and continuously curved along the whole cutting edge; the French style has an edge that is straighter until the end and then curves up to the tip. Neither style is inherently superior; personal preference will dictate the choice. Purchase good quality knives and take care of them and they will last a lifetime (DON’T put them in the dishwasher even though many brands say dishwasher safe. Dishwashers are too harsh and hurt the blade) I use a combo of Wusthof and Chicago Cutlery (wooden handles do require oiling 2-3 times per year) and my knives were all purchased between 1986 – 1991 and I have all of them still.  Note: along with a good chef knife you should also have a good paring knife, filet knife and slicer. You can do anything in the kitchen with those tools.”

8. Knife sharpener: “You gotta have a good one to maintain those expensive knives. Most folks don’t use a steel properly and do more damage than good so invest in a hand held sharpener such as FireStone Knife Sharpeners by McGowan. They are made with fired ceramic stones that sharpen and hone knives to a hollow ground edge. With FireStone, knives have never been so sharp and sharpening has never been so easy. 2-Stage sharpener– tan stones sharpen to a hollow ground edge, and the white stones give a final polish to the blade. Another option is a sharpener that uses two diamond cutters to produce a correctly beveled edge with a minimum of expertise. The AccuSharp is one of my favorites, doing the trick in just five to ten strokes.”

Firestone knife sharpener
9. Kitchenaid: “Every kitchen must have one. A Kitchenaid stand mixer can whip egg whites with ease and knead the heaviest bread dough. Plus, you can add attachments to do anything from grind meat to extrude pasta. My Kitchenaid will be 25 years old in May. My Mom’s is from 1978 and still going strong. Definitely the best mixer on the market. I own 2—the original one from 25 years ago now travels for my cooking classes and the “new” one which is the largest model was bought about 7 or 8 years ago off of Craigslist and was estimated to be 10 years old at that time. I bought from a former bakery owner for $75—watch for those deals!”  (WisFoodTalk’s note: the best deal I have seen on these new is at Kohls, of course using a 30% off coupon)

10. Cuisinart: “Save time in the kitchen with an efficient appliance that’s a whiz at everything from chopping, slicing and shredding fresh ingredients to kneading bread dough, blending sauces and pureeing soups. You’ll say to yourself “Why do I need this”? And then when you have one you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. You won’t use it as often as your Kitchenaid, but when you do, you’ll love it! I own 2—7 cup processors and 1—3 cup processor. The 2—7 cup processors were bought with exchangeability in mind as I use one at home and one travels for my cooking classes, but they are the same size in case I drop or damage a part. My original Cuisinart will be 18 years old this spring and the second one was bought used off of ebay about 10 years ago and was estimated at that time to be approximately 10 years old. You get what you pay for—mine work super hard and have really lasted.”


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