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A New Good Gadget Thread--and Cheese

4 years ago
last modified: 4 years ago

What great new gadgets, or new uses of old gadgets, have you found for cooking?

You know I'm a sucker for the right tool for the right job. More than anything else I use my 8" blade chef's knife. All time best kitchen gadget. But if I want pretty or plentiful avocado slices, I use a wire cutter that removes the skin at the same time. If I want perfectly shaved slices, I use a mandoline. I can clean a pineapple no problem except that it's bad for my skin. Instead, I buy the proper size and shape for the pineapple cutter and don't have any fuss or bother.

Today, I'm making cheese. I found reference to making fresh hoop cheese--which has gone from most common cheese to forgotten--by making a basic curd cheese without salt and pressing it. Awhile back, when I was feeling kind of down, I bought myself a lovely cheese press and a (on sale) hoop. The hoop would have been sufficient, but I don't want to make that much cheese today. The lovely press just makes me happy looking at it. It doesn't have age, so doesn't have that old tools visual appeal, but for me, it's earned its place just as decorative kitchen sculpture. Today, it'll actually be used!

I've made ricotta before a number of times, and mozzarella once. The recipe I'm using now is a different process, and I didn't do a good job visualizing the tasks. I started as I would for ricotta. I was gently heating it in an enamelled pot. I do have an instant read/probe+IR thermometer and was getting it out, when I remembered the chocolate thermometer spatula that, IIRC, Lars recommended. I haven't gotten around to using it for sweets, but it's absolutely perfect for stirring milk and taking its temperature.

But soon I thought, no! This has to be held for hours at a constant temperature. How can I do that on the stove? I have a constant temperature machine! An Anova immersion circulator. But how will I manage the pot? Wait! I have a 5L vacuum container. The gallon plus a cup of milk will fit in that. The seal rim is good enough to keep the milk in and the water out, let alone the vacuum pump option. Move on to time to cut the curds. There are special knives for this, but it doesn't matter for my project. I did think, however, that a metal knife in a PP box might be an issue, so I used my plastic lettuce knife. I mean, it's whey-logged cheese curds (without tuffet nor spider).

Yeah, I could have made the cheese with a fire, a pot, a colander, cheesecloth, plus a stick and a rock. But having all these nice tools in my kitchen makes it so much easier!

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