A collage of whisks for every cooking need.

Gourmet Cooking Utensils

Kozy Nook Has Your

Gourmet Cooking Utensils

So, what’s the difference between an ordinary kitchen gadget and gourmet cooking utensils? The cost? Some gourmet cooking utensils can be quite expensive, but not always. Are they utensils that only professional chefs have access to? That’s not typically the case either. Let’s take a look at the whisk, one of the most common utensils found in most every kitchen. Are whisks considered gourmet cooking utensils?

Technically a whisk refers to a utensil used in a rapid, sweeping motion for the purpose of moving an item. In the kitchen, our intention is to move ingredients. Whisks are vital for incorporating air into eggs and batters or blending ingredients to a smooth consistency. While most kitchens have a basic whisk for whipping up scrambled eggs, others are stocked with several types designed for more specific purposes. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular styles.

Balloon Whisk Baking Utensil
Stainless Steel Balloon Whisk, click image for complete details.

A basic Balloon Whisk is designed for general all-purpose whipping. Most popular sizes range from a mini 6- inch, up to 13-inches. Commonly used for eggs, pancake batter, roux, dressing and a variety of other applications. The rounded structure conforms perfectly to the shape of mixing bowls. Generally, a 9-inch size is sufficient for many purposes and every kitchen should include at least one of these.

Stainless Steel Aerator Cage Whisk Gourmet Kitchen Utensils
Aerator Cage Whisk, click image for complete details

An Aerator Cage Whisk is similar to a balloon whisk except, its unique design includes a large head and an additional wire cage inside which contains a metal ball. It is used for heavy whipping and thoroughly blends thicker batters, culminating in an extra-smooth texture.

Danish Dough Whisk Baking Utensil
The Danish Dough Whisk, click image for complete details.

The Danish Dough Whisk has a unique design, which at first glance, doesn’t appear to be very useful. However, it has become essential in my kitchen for mixing sourdough starter, incorporating delicate ingredients into batter and mixing dough for cookies or biscuits. It requires fewer strokes to accomplish incredible results.

 

 

 

Stainless Steel Flat Whisk Gourmet Cooking Utensils
Stainless Steel Flat Whisk, click image for complete details.

A Flat Whisk is routinely used to prepare a roux or sauce in a skillet. It is formed to efficiently sweep across the surface of your skillet while stirring to prevent lumps. This results in a smoother roux or sauce.

Whisk Coil Whip Gourmet Kitchen Utensil
Whip Whisk, click image to view complete details.

The Coil Wire Whisk is constructed with an individual wire, coiled into a balloon shape. It’s primarily used for liquids or beating eggs. Simply place it in a bowl and pump the handle up and down to distribute liquids. This springing action whips and fluffs batters.

Sauce Master Gourmet Kitchen Utensil
Sauce Master kitchen utensil, click image for complete details.

The peculiar style of the Sauce Master consists of a main loop encased in a wire that is coiled around it. It is wonderful for preparing sauces, gravy, pudding, gelatin and batters. The long handle and angle allow it to be used in deep pots or bowls. The whisk head covers more surface than a traditional balloon whisk.

Mini Saucinator
The Saucinator, click to order yours.

The Saucinator is an extraordinary whisk similar to the Sauce Master, with a few notable improvements. The heat resistant silicone coil covers more pan surface to prevent scorching and will not damage your cookware. The coil that extends up the handle performs like an additional whisk. Your sauce, gravy, pudding or batter will be even smoother. The silicone construction makes it easier to clean. It is available in a large size for deeper pots and a small size for saucepans. It’s another essential whisk in my kitchen.

Flat Coil Whisk Kitchen Utensil
Flat Coil Whisk, click image for complete details.

The Flat Coil Whip bears a resemblance to the Master Sauce Whisk and Saucinator. However, it is smaller at only about 8-inches and the head isn’t quite as angled. It does have many handy capabilities. Its small, slender size enables it to fit easily into small containers to quickly whip up an egg wash for pastries, incorporate milk into eggs for light and fluffy scrambled eggs, mix cornstarch with water for a thickener or anytime you need to mix a small amount of liquid ingredients quickly and easily.

Granny Fork Gourmet Kitchen Utensils
Granny Fork, click image for complete details.

A Granny Fork, efficiently incorporates eggs, butter or other liquids with dry ingredients. It has slightly offset stainless steel tines and a sturdy soft grip handle. Due to its size, it can also be used to shred meat, mix together meatloaf or for cookie dough. Although, not usually thought of as a whisk, it can function as one in many instances.

Rotary Beater Whisk Baking Utensil
Rotary Beater Whisk, click image for complete details.

The Rotary Beater Whisk is a throwback to a time before electric mixers. It brings back memories when, as a child, I was not allowed to operate the electric mixer. I have always loved to experiment in the kitchen so, I didn’t allow that minor restriction deter me. The rotary beater would be my alternative. At my young age, the rotary beater seemed so awkward to handle. I always ended up with a mess to clean and usually didn’t achieve the results I was striving for. It was a dream come true when I finally saved up enough money from babysitting to buy my own electric hand mixer. I still keep a rotary whisk, more for sentimental reasons than practical purposes. Even now it seems a little awkward to use, but you never know, I might get the hang of it someday.

In conclusion, all kitchen gadgets, regardless of how common, are considered to be gourmet cooking utensils when they’re used to prepare a gourmet dish. What do you think? Do you remember a time when you were excited to receive a new kitchen utensil? Leave a comment and share with us.

Perfect Burger Press

 

Perfect Burger Press from Progressive Int'l.
Perfect Burger Press by Progressive Int’l.

This Perfect Burger Press by Progressive Int’l. makes it quick and easy to make hamburgers, turkey burgers or veggie burgers. The three-piece set includes a comfort grip pusher, dimple insert and non-skid base. The dimple insert enables the burger to cook more evenly.

 

Garlic Asiago Cheddar Burger

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp. JR Watkins Garlic Powder

1/2 tsp. JR Watkins Smoked Paprika

1/2 tsp. JR Watkins Chipotle

1/2 tsp. JR Watkins Granulated Black Pepper

1/2 tsp. JR Watkins Coarse Sea Salt

2/3 cup Asaigo cheese, grated

2/3 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

Directions:

In a small bowl, mix dry ingredients until combined.

In a large bowl, gently combine ground beef, minced garlic and spices. Don’t over work the ground beef or, the burger will be tough. Divide into 6 balls and form patties using the Perfect Burger Press.

Cook burgers on a hot grill to desired doneness. Top with a mound of Asiago and Cheddar.  These burgers are just as delicious cooked indoors on an indoor George Foreman type of grill.

Here are some of our favorite tools for preparing perfect burgers:

Perfect Burger Press by Progressive Int'l.
The Perfect Burger Press by Progressive Int’l.

To order yours, click on the image

Garlic Twist by NexTrend
Clear Garlic Twist

Quickly minces garlic and is dishwasher safe.

JR Watkins Grinder Seasonings
JR Watkins Spices

Click the image to view the complete line

of JR Watkins spices and herbs.

 

 

Clean and Store Fresh Strawberries

Plump Sweet Strawberry
Plump Sweet Strawberry

Plump, sweet strawberries are such a healthful treat. One cup has only 50 calories and they’re a good source of vitamins A & C, potassium, folate and fiber. Utilizing the following method for cleaning and storing fresh strawberries helps to prolong the freshness so, you can enjoy every last berry.

Normally, we have to purchase twice the amount we need because, we typically eat half of the berries before we have a chance to use them in recipes.

Clean Fresh Strawberries
Wash fresh Strawberries in water, vinegar mixture.

Fill a large bowl or basin with 8 cups cold water and stir in one cup of apple cider vinegar. Carefully pour strawberries into water/vinegar mixture and gently swish to make sure all berries are wet. Allow to set 5 minutes, swishing gently every couple of minutes.

Dry Strawberries
Dry strawberries on dishtowel.

Place strawberries on a dishtowel or paper towels to dry. Discard any berries that show signs of mold and remove any bruised berries.  They will cause the other berries to break down sooner. Blot lightly with another dishtowel or allow to air dry.

Progressive Fresh Fruit & Veggie Keeper
Strawberries stored in Progressive Fresh Fruit & Veggie Keeper

Place a paper towel in bottom of storage container to absorb any moisture, fill with berries and place in refrigerator.

This is the best method we’ve found to clean and store fresh strawberries. The vinegar helps to kill bacteria and reduce mold yet, the flavor of the berry is not affected.

This water/vinegar method is good for cleaning most fruit and vegetables.  Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower probably need to set 10 minutes. If you get into the habit of soaking your produce as soon as you get it home from the market, you’ll be able to enjoy it whenever you need it for cooking or for a healthful snack.

Here are some culinary tools we like for preparing fresh strawberries:

Fresh Fruit and Veggie Keeper by Progressive
Progressive Fresh Fruit & Veggie Keeper
Strawberry Tomato Huller
Strawberry/Tomato Huller
Jole Strawberry Slicer
Strawberry Slicer
Push n Spin Strawberry Huller
Push ‘n Spin Huller by Progressive Int’l.

Artichoke Spinach Pizza

Artichoke Spinach Pizza
Artichoke Spinach Pizza

Recently, we went to dinner with our son and his girlfriend. As we were waiting for our waiter to serve our meals, I suddenly felt something very warm on my shoulder and chest. The waiter had attempted to reach over my head to place my dish on the table. While doing so, a small bowl of dipping sauce had slipped off the plate, spilling sauce onto the front of my blouse and splattered the remaining contents as it hit the table. Thankfully, it was not one of my best blouses and we all had a good laugh. I had ordered an artichoke spinach pizza and was really impressed with the flavor.

We enjoy a preparing our own freshly baked pizza. This Artichoke Spinach Pizza recipe is quick, easy and most importantly, delicious. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Artichoke Spinach Pizza

Ingredients:

1 pizza crust
3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Pitted Green Olives
1 Garlic Clove
8 oz. can or jar Artichokes, drained
1/2 tsp. Lemon Juice
2 oz. fresh Mozzarella Cheese, sliced thin
1/4 cup fresh Baby Spinach
1 Tbsp. Sliced Green Olives
1/4 cup chopped can or jar Artichokes, drained
1/4 cup Roasted Red Peppers, thinly sliced
Cornmeal

Directions:

Preheat pizza stone in oven to 500 degrees F, then reduce to 400 degrees F.

Put the next 6 ingredients in a food processor and process until you have a smooth sauce consistency, about 30 seconds.

Roll out pizza dough to desired dimension. Place onto pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal. Spread the processed artichoke/olive pesto sauce over the pizza crust. Take a little more olive oil and brush the edges of the pizza crust, then evenly distribute the toppings: mozzarella, spinach, green olives, artichokes, and roasted red peppers. Slide pizza onto preheated pizza stone.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until crust gets golden brown and top is hot and bubbly.

Note: We enjoy adding a liberal amount of JR Watkins Pizza & Pasta Seasoning right before serving.

Have you ever had an embarrassing moment while dining out? Please leave a comment telling us about it.

Here are a few items you may find useful while preparing pizza at home:

Grip EZ Pizza Wheel Cutter
Grip EZ Pizza Wheel Cutter

 

Solid Bamboo Pizza Peel Paddle
Solid Bamboo Pizza Peel Paddle
Rectangle Pizza Stone 13 x 15
Pizza Stone 13 x 15
JR Watkins Grinder Seasonings
JR Watkins Grinder Seasonings

 

 

 

Healthful Smoothie Recipes

Vita-Mix Green Smoothie
Green Pick Me Up Smoothie

I have had an Oster blender/mixer/meat grinder system since 1981. It has been invaluable for all these years and I continue to use it today. However, several years ago, I witnessed a demonstration for a VitaMix and have been desperately wanting one because, it blends the roughest vegetables and fruit into silky, delicious smoothies. The investment was a little much since I already had a blender but, the results weren’t as smooth as I wanted. In July of 2013, I had an unbelievable surprise when I won a door prize for this beautiful VitaMix 750 Pro!

Smoothie Recipes
Preparing the First of many Vitamix Smoothie Recipes

Obviously, I was beyond ecstatic. Thankfully, a wonderful cookbook was included and I was already stocked up on fresh produce so, I could begin blending up smoothie recipes right away. As you may have already guessed, the first recipe to try was the Green Pick Me Up smoothie. It is so refreshing and flavorful. We have it quite often and occasionally change it up a little according to what’s in season. Here is the recipe and a couple other favorites you may enjoy.

 GREEN PICK ME UP SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (75 grams) green grapes

1/2 orange, peeled & seeded

1/2 green apple

2 cups (72 grams) Swiss chard

2 cups (480 ml) ice cubes

Directions:

Place all ingredients into the blender in the order listed, secure lid and process until smooth. For the Vitamix, select Smoothie program. Per 1 cup serving, this recipe has only 70 calories, 3 grams of fiber and no fat.

FRUIT SALAD SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

1/2 cup green grapes

1/2  medium orange, peeled & seeded

1/2  slice pineapple, core included, cut to 1/2 inch thickness

1/2 cup (65 g) peeled and roughly chopped cucumber

1/2 medium carrot

1/4 medium apple, seeded

2 cups (480 ml) ice cubes

Directions:

Place all ingredients into the blender and process until smooth. For the Vitamix, select Smoothie program. Per 1 cup serving, this smoothie has only 83 calories, 3 grams of fiber and no fat.

PEANUT BUTTER BANANA SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

1 cup almond milk

1/2 tsp. JR Watkins Original Vanilla Extract

1/2 tsp. JR Watkins Peanut Butter Extract

1 medium banana

1 Tbsp. peanut butter

1 cup ice cubes

Directions:

Place all ingredients into the blender and process until smooth. For the Vitamix, select Smoothie program. For the Vitamix, select the smoothie program. This recipe contains only 177 calories, 3 grams of fiber and 1 gram of fat.

Options:

JR Watkins Extracts impart incredible flavor without adding additional calories or fat.

Various herbs and spices can be added for additional health benefits such as ginger, turmeric, cayenne powder and cinnamon.

To increase the protein in smoothies, we like to  add one or more of the following:

1/4 cup soft tofu

1-2 scoops of whey protein powder

1 Tbsp. Peanut or Almond Butter

1/2 cup Greek Yogurt

Here are a few items you may find useful for preparing your favorite smoothie recipes:

Stainless Steel Measuring Cups Set of 4
Set of 4 SS Measuring Cups
Measuring Spoons SS 5pc rectangle
Set of 5 SS Measure Spoons
Sink Station Green
Sink Station for washing, peeling and draining fresh fruit and veggies.
Swiss Pro Peeler
Useful to remove peel from kiwi, potatoes, carrots and a variety of other fruit or vegetables.
JR Watkins Naturals
JR Watkins Naturals offers the finest quality Gourmet Extracts and Spices to add incredible flavor to your favorite smoothie recipes.

We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment telling us about some of your favorite smoothie recipes.

 

Oxo Swivel Peeler and Paring Knife Review

Oxo Swivel Peeler and Paring Knife with Kiwi
The Oxo Swivel Peeler and Paring Knife easily handles a ripe kiwi.

Oxo Swivel Peeler and Paring Knife Set Review

Recently, I had the opportunity to test and review the Oxo Swivel Peeler and Paring Knife Set. I already knew of the quality and the excellent grip of Oxo peelers so, I wasn’t surprised that it would become my favorite. However, I was surprised when I asked my husband to try using it, to see how he would react. He rarely helps me prepare meals unless he is the official taste tester. As he quietly peeled the potatoes I became anxious to hear his opinion. After he completed his task, he simply said he liked it. Since then however, every time I mention that I need to peel vegetables, he quickly volunteers to do it for me. He will hunt for the Oxo Swivel Peeler and doesn’t want to use any other peeler. Now, I keep it in a small utensil crock so he can find it easily. He loves how the handle is easy for him to hold and the tip makes it simple to remove imperfections in potatoes and fruit.

The Paring Knife has very sharp blades and cut through a ripe kiwi without crushing it. Most of my paring knives are not as sharp so, I have to take precautions when cleaning it to avoid cutting my hands. It cuts through fruit and veggies very easily. Of course the famous handle grip is comfortable and reduces hand fatigue when there’s a lot of produce to prepare.

Every year, I collect some of my favorite products to give as gifts for birthdays, wedding showers and Christmas. This set will definitely be in my collection. The set is a great value costing less than $15.00!