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.   http://www.cookingwithclass.us    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.”

wu_CLASSIC-IKON_series_710x_
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)

carousel-stand_mixers-crafted
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.”

cuisinart

Nine Must-Visit Food Stores in SE Wisconsin

We welcome 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.   http://www.cookingwithclass.us    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 in Caledonia on April 16th is “Ethnic Sandwiches with Gourmet Flair!”  where she will make a Vietnamese Pork Banh Mi Sandwich as pictured below, as well as a few other ethnic sandwiches.  Sign up for one of her classes, you won’t regret it.

Pork Banh Mi

Staci Joer’s Nine Must-Visit Food Stores in SE Wisconsin

1.  Pacific Produce, 5455 South 27th Street, Oak Creek. (no website) “They carry a wide variety of Asian foods from different cultures such as China, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, just to name a few.  I also really like the little Vietnamese restaurant that is attached, Pho Viet.  Two of us can pop in for lunch and have a couple of Banh Mi and share a bowl of Pho for less than $15.”

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2. LaneXang, 3508 W Burnham St., Milwaukee, WI  53215.  (no website) “Another great Asian shop that carries a lot of Thai products.”

3.  El Rey, 1320 West Burham St, Milwaukee, WI 53204.  “A great store for Latin products and a good selection of produce, meats and great tamales.

elrey_logo1

4.  Tenuta’s Deli, 3203 52nd St, Kenosha.   “A must-visit for a great Italian deli.  The selection of deli foods, pastas, oils. vinegars, wines etc. etc. etc. is fabulous.  When you step in you feel like you’ve been transported back in time. I get carried away when I visit and usually end up having my bags and boxes carried out to my bar by the friendly staff.   Glorioso’s Italian Market at 1011 East Brady St. in Milwaukee runs a close second for great Italian delis.  Gloriosos also always has a great variety of wine and cooking classes.”

tenuta's signgloriosos

5.  Indian Bazaar at 5254 S. 27th Street, Milwaukee.  “A nice little Indian/Pakistani grocery store with a little restaurant.  Good section of groceries and you can grab a quick lunch too.”

indianbazaar_800_600_17

6.  Danny’s Meats, 1317 4 Mile Road, Racine.  “My favorite butcher and Danny, himself, is a great guy who does TONS for the local community. (see http://www.danandrays.com/giveback)   The quality of the meats is unparalleled; pricing is very competitive with the larger grocery stores and he runs great email and texting specials.   A very close second is Brossman’s Meats at 6900 State Road 31 Racine.   It’s been there forever and they still have the best bratwurst in the area.  Their beef jerky is awesome too.”

danny's meatsbrossmans meats

7.  The Oilerie, 17125 West Bluemound Road, Brookfield.  “I love to use a variety of oils and vinegars when I cook and buying a better quality always makes for a better end result.  The owner of the Brookfield Oilerie, Jackie, and the manager, Lori, are just the best!  You can sample the olive oils and balsamic vinegars they offer and the staff will guide you to mixing and matching and using the oils/vinegars in recipes.”

oilerie

8.  The Spice House, 1031 North Old World Third Street, Milwaukee.   “A classic Milwaukee institution that is known all over the country.  Stepping into the store is like stepping back in time to the way things used to be.  You are bombarded with smells and greeted by friendly staff that will scoop and weigh your spices right before your eyes.  The quality and pricing cannot be beat.  Spices are ground fresh in-house and they have many of their own house blends.   Again, the better the quality of the ingredient, the better the end result.  This store is definitely worth the trip — once you experience it you’ll never buy a spice at the grocery store again.”

spice house

9.  The Milwaukee Public Market, 400 N Water St, Milwaukee.   “Everyone should visit Milwaukee’s only public market.  Tons of purveyors selling a variety of foods, groceries, candies, wines etc.  Not as large as some of the public markets I’ve been to around the country but it has a definite fun vibe, is always bustling and they offer a great variety of food and wine classes (watch for me there about once per month).”

milwaukee public market