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    The Basics of Appliances and Electric Gadgets
       excerpted from How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food

      ... see great recipes from Mark Bittman the Minimalist on our GREAT CHEFS page!

    Chapter One

    The Basics of Appliances and Electric Gadgets

    Now we're on to the big-ticket items. I'm going to assume that, like me, you're already stuck with an unsatisfactory stove and refrigerator and don't have thirty thousand dollars to remodel your kitchen. (If you have a choice, go with a gas range and an electric oven; if you don't have a choice, don't worry about it.) I'm also going to assume that you already know whether you want a waffle iron, and that you already have a toaster.

    Still, your choices are staggering; there are so many appliances out there now that if you were to buy them all you'd have nowhere to stand. There are several that everyone should have, and several that no one should have, but most are judgment calls determined by what you cook. Here's a list of appliances in my order of priority. Note that I've omitted those--such as countertop grills and electric deep fryers--that I think are not even worth considering:


    * Food processor: Hands down the most important electric tool in the kitchen. It can grate massive amounts of almost anything in seconds; it can make bread dough, pie dough, even some cookie batters, in a minute; it can grind meat, puree vegetables, slice potatoes. If you have one, use it (I rely on it heavily, although not exclusively, in my recipes). If you don't, make the investment as soon as you can; there are very good ones available for less than two hundred dollars, and if you cook a lot you will use it daily. The small ones are valuable in their own right (not the "mini-choppers," but the three- to four-cup full-fledged food processors), but start with a large one, a model that can handle at least six cups of batter or dough.

    Other than the instructions that come with the machine, there's only one trick in learning to use a food processor: Don't overprocess. If you want a puree, turn the machine on and walk away. But if you want to mince, use the "pulse" button, turning the machine on and off as many times as is necessary to get the texture you need. These are very powerful machines, capable of pureeing almost anything within seconds.


    KitchenAid® 12-Cup Food Processor
     With its generous capacity and powerful high-performance motor, baking just got a whole lot easier. Featuring the industry’s largest feed tube, pulse control, Clean Touch™ control pad and base, and premium stainless steel blades/discs. Sealed, heavy-duty motor base for quiet operation. All bowls, blades and discs are dishwasher safe.
    * Electric mixer: If you bake a lot, you will want both a powerful standing mixer and a small, handheld mixer. If you bake occasionally, you will want either. If you never bake, you still could use a hand mixer or an eggbeater for the occasional egg white or whipped cream.

    Viking 7-qt. Professional Stand Mixer with Blender Attachment
    All-metal construction and a 1,000-watt motor give Viking's stand mixer a stylish, no-nonsense design and plenty of power. Rugged, all-metal gear transmission is built for heavy use. Motor is positioned for a low center of gravity, providing increased stability when mixing large loads. Speed/power selector covers a complete range of mixing speeds and the planetary mixing action reaches all areas of stainless steel bowl, reducing the need for scraping. Three separate power drives (primary, low and high) match power source to an array of attachments. Exclusive Easy-Glide™ rear wheels move the unit without lifting. Mixer's tilt-back head is hinged below bowl level—food won't collect in the seam when tilted back. Low-profile mixer fits beneath most cabinets. Includes stainless steel 'V' beater, whip and dough hook. Stainless steel mixing bowl features a cast, ergonomic handle. Unit wipes clean; bowl and accessories are dishwasher safe. One-year warranty. Made in the UK.


    * Blender: Perhaps not for everyone, but if you make a lot of soups and want to make some of them creamy, this is the tool. Also great for any blended drink (most food processors leak if loaded up with liquid) and for coconut milk. The new handheld immersion blenders are terrific for pureeing soups right in the pot.

    Waring® Turquoise 2-Speed Blender
    Powerful, professionally rated motor is strong enough to crush ice, chop, puree and liquefy foods. Signature 40-oz. cloverleaf glass carafe is marked with metric and English measurements. Heavy-duty metal base. Self-cleaning blade assembly. Hand wash. 15½"x 7¼". Limited edition.


    * Electric knife sharpener: See The Basics of Knives. Few people, including chefs, can put a good edge on a knife with a whetstone. The new electric knife sharpeners turn a difficult craft into a no-brainer. Probably not the first investment you should make, but a good present for your wish list.

    Chef’sChoice® Professional Sharpening Station™ 130
    Professional-quality sharpener creates a flawless customized edge for all cutlery, including serrated knives. Three-stage sharpening uses diamond-coated disks, super-hardened steel and flexible stropping disks to produce unprecedented sharpness in seconds. Easy to use, with precision spring angled blade guides. Limited three-year warranty. Wipe clean. Made in USA. 12" x 6½" x 6".


    * Ice cream maker: Far from essential, but what a joy. If you like ice cream or sorbet, this is a worthwhile device, even if you use it only ten times a year. There are inexpensive manual machines, which contain an insert that you prefreeze, and these work fairly well. But the electric models with built-in refrigeration are divine; unfortunately, they cost several hundred dollars.

    Cuisinart® Mix It In— Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker
    Fully automatic—makes up to 1½ quarts of soft ice cream, yogurt, sorbet or sherbet in as little as 20 minutes. Mixes treats right into ice cream as it’s dispensed—choose one, two or all three. No chemicals, salt or ice required. Cone holder fits flat or pointed cones. Wipe clean. Limited three-year warranty.


    * Electric juice extractor: A nice item that you will only "need" if you're into drinking homemade juices. But an apple sorbet made from freshly juiced apples is a revelation, so this is worth thinking about. Good extractors are heavy and have large feed tubes so you don't have to chop fruits and veggies into tiny pieces first.

    Omega Juicer 4000
      Once you have enjoyed fresh carrot or apple juice, you will never want to return to drinking frozen or bottled drinks. The legendary Omega juicer is now available in a larger model. It offers continuous juicing operation with pulp ejection. Easy to use and clean, this heavy-duty machine is particularly efficient at extracting the flavors, vitamins and minerals from fruit and vegetables. A stainless steel bowl neatly gathers up discarded peels and pulps. Made in USA. Stainless steel blade and basket 1/3 horsepower. 5200 RPM 15-year warranty. 250 watts.


    * Coffee/spice grinder: If you drink coffee, you probably have one of these. But even if you don't, consider it a wise ten-dollar investment. Freshly ground spices are a real joy, and this takes the work out of them.

    Capresso Stainless Steel Burr Grinder
    Commercial-grade grinder is housed in sleek brushed stainless steel, featuring 17 clearly marked settings that can be pulsed, timed or fine-tuned for grinds from extra fine to coarse. Conical burrs offer precision and superior grind consistency, with electronic timer for 8- to 40-second grind cycles; on/off switch for added control. Large bean container holds up to 14 ounces; lidded container holds up to five ounces of ground coffee. For added safety, grinder will not function without lid in place. Internal cord storage reduces countertop clutter. Cleaning brush and measuring scoop included. Wipe clean. 9" x 5½".

    * Pressure cooker: For people in a hurry. Pressure cookers don't make anything better than regular cookware, they just make it faster. If you are short on time and big on stews, soups, stocks, or beans, it's a worthwhile investment. If you can take time to cook, or don't like slow-simmered foods, don't bother.

    Pressure cookers have been improved enormously in recent years. They're safer than ever, and easy to use. If you want one, buy it new.

    Fagor 10 Quart Pressure Cooker
    Save up to seventy percent of the time needed using traditional cooking methods. Using a pressure cooker is healthier than cooking with oil—foods retain more nutrients and natural flavors are intensified—making the Duo ideal for quick dinners or preparing fruits and vegetables for canning. Features an ergonomically designed handle with a triple safety system—lid won't open until pressure has completely dissipated. Includes high/low selection dial, visual pressure indicator, plus an automatic pressure-release valve. Made of 18/10 stainless steel, it can be used on any cooking surface, even induction. Includes pasta/steamer basket, trivet, instruction manual and color recipe booklet. Pot is dishwasher safe; hand washing recommended for lid. Limited 10-year warranty.


    * Microwave: Now that the fuss has died down, it turns out that this is a useful but hardly indispensable tool. I hardly ever cook in the microwave. But I use it to heat and warm, and for that it is of some value. Still, I will not replace my current machine when it goes; I'd rather have the counter space.

    KitchenAid® Countertop Oven
    From baking cupcakes to reheating fish sticks, this handy oven offers full-size performance when it comes to baking, broiling, toasting and warming. Heavy-gauge brushed stainless steel is trimmed in black, with clear tempered glass window, user-friendly controls, full-width crumb drawer and Teflon® nonstick oven coating. Limited one-year warranty. Six-slice toast capacity (.5 cubic feet). Catalog, website and select stores only.


    * Bread machine: As you'll see when you get to "Bread" (pages 217-253), I think that the combination of food processor and oven is a better way to bring fresh-baked bread to your house. But if you really have zero time, a bread machine is a good option.

    Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme™ Bread Machine
     Enjoy the delicious taste of freshly baked breads, cakes and more with a minimum of effort. This versatile baking machine prepares perfect traditionally shaped loaves of bread, fresh fruit jams and cakes. With its 13-hour programmable timer, memory settings for your personal recipes, sourdough starter function and crust control function, the Home Bakery Supreme™ is well worth owning. A large viewing window lets you watch the baking process. Its quick baking cycle prepares a 2-pound loaf of bread in under 2 hours.


    How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food
    Great Food Made Simple!
    Here's the breakthrough one-stop cooking reference for today's generation of cooks! Nationally known cooking authority Mark Bittman shows you how to prepare great food for all occasions using simple techniques, fresh ingredients, and basic kitchen equipment. Just as important, How to Cook Everything takes a relaxed, straightforward approach to cooking, so you can enjoy yourself in the kitchen and still achieve outstanding results.
    Buy this book at Barnes & Noble

    The Minimalist Cooks Dinner: More than 100 Recipes for Fast Weeknight Meals and Casual Entertaining
    Back with another splendid collection, America’s most popular cooking authority and author of How to Cook Everything, presents more than 100 fast, sophisticated main courses for home cooks of every skill level.
    The Minimalist Cooks Dinner showcases Mark Bittman’s signature ease and imagination, and focuses on center-of-the-plate main dishes. And, in this new volume, he also provides recipes for classic, versatile side dishes as well as recommendations for wine and food pairings. With a majority of its main dish recipes taking less than thirty minutes to prepare, this is truly the book every busy cook has been waiting for. Every recipe in The Minimalist Cooks Dinner is big on flavor, drawing on the global pantry and international repertoire that sets Bittman apart.
    This inventive collection offers a refreshing new take on standards, along with ideas that will inspire both novices and experienced home cooks to branch out, making it the perfect solution for weeknight after-work meals or elegant weekend dinner parties. From Steamed Chicken Breasts with Scallion-Ginger Sauce to Korean-Style Beef Wrapped in Lettuce Leaves to Roast Fish with Meat Sauce, Bittman banishes the ordinary with an exciting range of choices. Also covering hearty pasta dishes, steaks, pork, veal, lamb, chicken, and a wide assortment of seafood, The Minimalist Cooks Dinner is the answer when you’re looking for “satisfying dishes with a minimum of effort.”
    About the Author: Mark Bittman is the creator and author of the popular weekly New York Times column “The Minimalist,” and a frequent contributor to the newspaper’s Dining InDining Out section. His previous books include The Minimalist Cooks at Home (winner of an IACP Award), How to Cook Everything (a four-time award winner, with more than 400,000 copies in print), Fish (winner of an IACPJulia Child Cookbook Award) and, with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef (winner of a James Beard Award) and Simple to Spectacular. He lives in Connecticut.
    Buy this book at Barnes & Noble

    Mark Bittman's Quick and Easy Recipes from the New York Times : Featuring 350 Recipes from the Author of how to Cook Everything and the Best Recipes in the World
    Mark Bittman’s New York Times column, “The Minimalist,” is one of the most frequently clipped parts of the paper’s Dining section. For Bittman’s millions of fans who regularly pore over their clippings, here is reason to rejoice: A host of Bittman’s wonderfully delicious and easy recipes, 350 in all, are now available in a single paperback.
    In sections that cover everything from appetizers, soups, and sauces to meats, vegetables, side dishes, and desserts, Mark Bittman’s Quick and Easy Recipes from The New York Times showcases the elegant and flexible cooking style for which Bittman is famous, as well as his deep appreciation for fresh ingredients prepared with minimal fuss. Readers will find tantalizing recipes from all over, each requiring little more than basic techniques and a handful of ingredients. Cold Tomato Soup with Rosemary, Parmesan Cups with Orzo Risotto, Slow-Cooked Ribs, Pumpkin Panna Cotta—the dishes here are perfect for simple weeknight family meals or stress-free entertaining. Certain to appeal to anyone—from novices to experienced cooks—who wants to whip up a sophisticated and delicious meal easily, this is a collection to savor, and one destined to become a kitchen classic.
    Buy this book at Barnes& Noble
    The Best Recipes in the World: More than 1,000 International Dishes to Cook at Home
    In this highly ambitious and accomplished work, which spans the globe, Mark Bittman gathers the best recipes that people cook every day on every continent in the world. And when he brings his immensely popular no-frills approach to dishes that might previously have been considered “exotic,” cooks gladly follow where they once feared to tread.
    Bittman, in more than one thousand recipes, shows American cooks that there are so many other places besides Italy or France to turn to for inspiration. Asian food now rivals European cuisine’s popularity, and this book reflects that: it’s the first to give equal emphasis to European and Asian cuisine, and the easy-to-follow recipes for such favorites as Stir-Fried Vegetables with Nam Pla from Vietnam, Pad Thai from Thailand, Salmon Teriyaki from Japan, Black Bean and Garlic Spareribs from China, and Tandoori Chicken from India will be a hit with home cooks looking to add exciting new tastes and cosmopolitan flair to their everyday cooking. In addition, other less-familiar cuisines such as Turkish, Spanish, and Mexican are also explored in depth.
    Shop locally, cook globally–Mark Bittman makes it so easy: • Many recipes can be made ahead or prepared in under thirty minutes
    • More than one hundred line drawings
    • Sidebars and instructional drawings make unfamiliar techniques a snap
    • 52 international menus, information on ingredients, and much more make this an essential addition to any cook’s shelf

    The Best Recipes in the World is destined to be a classic that will change the way Americans think about everyday food.It’s simply like no other cookbook in the world.
    Buy this book at Barnes & Noble


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