Kitchen Equipment Basics part 5 “Electric Kitchen Tools”
The mixer, blender, toaster, food processor and microwave are probably the best of the basic and essentials on my list but I argue that a coffee maker and slow cooker are on the list too. I have several of each of these devices and maybe more than several of some and I will give you a decent explanation of which works best and why I keep more than one on hand.
A blender is the perfect tool to have on hand for making certain salad dressings, dessert toppings, egg dishes, soup preparation, and much more. The ultimate mixer made today is called Vitamix. It is an expensive machine (starting at $299.00 USD) and not necessary for the basic kitchen. I had a Vitamix in my restaurant and ran the fruit bar with it at that time. It was a very nice and powerful machine. I am sad to say I had it auctioned off when I closed the restaurant. Today I have a Ninja Blender System and it is powerful. Along with some of its attachments I find it admirable but not my favorite tool in the mixing department. The immersion blender and its attachments are in my face regularly. I make shakes, sauces, soups, salad dressings, mashed potatoes, creamed batters and more using it. The tool has potential and is compact, light and easy to clean. I can take it from drawer and have it setup in seconds. The little blending attachment is my pie making weapon of choice. If you are hunting this type of tool look at the Kitchen Aide model it is as close to my Ninja immersion blender as you can find.
There are some items that you might want to skimp on but when it comes to your mixer, buy up. A mixer is usually touted as a bakers tool and I agree with that statement. I have Kitchen Aide mixers and they are work horses. I do use my mixer for making mashed potatoes. It has its place in entree preparation but 85% of the time I use the mixer for baking. The stand mixer, which is my favorite electric mixer, is on display in my work studio always ready for a project. It has been ready and used since 1995. I beat it up and it just takes it. I have had perhaps 4 other brands and none measured up for longevity and power than this Kitchen Aide. I make bread every weekend to cover our needs all week. The dough hook and I have saved my arms years of life. The Kitchen Aide is a tool I recommend highly.
The hand mixer I rarely use. My wife loves it as it is right in the main kitchen and not on the other side of the planet from where she works on her brownies. If you have a room in your place for a stand mixer I suggest that tool as a great choice …if you are hampered by space the Kitchen Aide hand mixer is very good in its own right and I highly recommend that tool. The hand mixer is great for whipping toppings, making batters, smoothing pie fillings, soup prep and much more.
I have had lengthy debates with myself concerning the value of an el cheapo 2 slice toaster versus a counter top toaster oven. My 6 slice toaster oven died several years ago and I needed a machine to make toast immediately. I went out to my RV and grabbed the 2 slice toaster and have been using it ever since. It does not do baguettes well and takes whit to make a fat bagel into a thinner bagel to fit in the two slicer but if you are out buying a toaster and will be multitasking and using it as a small second over during the holidays, buy a nice toaster oven. If you are like me and only use the tool when you are wanting a toasted piece of bread….buy a less expensive toaster that feeds from the top.
I received my first food processor as a result of having to buy one for culinary school, they had the Cuisinart models on decent price in the campus bookstore. I still have my Cuisinart. The Cuisinart company have been the go to food processor manufacturers for a very long time. I used to grate cheese, make sauces, knead small amounts of dough, dice fruit and veggies and much more in my food processor. I rarely use it today, as that little Ninja immersion blender and its accessories take the place for a little food processor at a fraction of the cost. If you happen to buy that little Kitchen Aide Immersion Blender kit you will really not need to read this section and invest in this as a basic tool. You will have enough accessories in the immersion blender kit that traverse this area too.
The microwave revolutionized the kitchen. I think it is a universal kitchen tool. From boiling water , defrosting meat, melting butter to cooking a meal. You can train yourself to make food items in the microwave that will amaze. I still have a microwave pressure cooker and a sizzle platter. It is an amazing tool and I say that the turntable is the only interior part that was added to the modern microwave that I dislike. I have some older JVC models of convection microwaves that make me happy to use. They have a flat floor interior and I still can cook a chicken in that machine that you would swear came from my big oven. Many will ask which microwave is better than another. My answer will be…if you can find a nice microwave without that turntable you will have a gem. Some commercial model have no turntable or at least a OFF feature for the turntable. Commercial microwaves differ from residential microwaves in that they use a stirrer system to evenly distribute the microwave energy throughout the cavity. The residential models use a turntable to move the food around the microwave