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I recently got sent a Garlic Twist to test out from the lovely Lucinda & Marilyn at The Cook Shop Online. This simple little gadget promises to make mincing garlic easy and odour free. It’s ridiculously easy to clean, which always helps, and I have to say, I loved it after just one use.
Unlike chopping garlic which inevitably means you’re left with lumps of garlic in your dish, the Garlic Twist effectively grinds the peeled cloves into a smooth(ish) paste which is great for curries, sauces and stir fries. It also works for ginger, if you give it a bit of welly.
My aunt and cousin, both of whom are exceptionally good cooks, have one each and swear by them too, so the Garlic Twist gets the family seal of approval!
You cannot underestimate the importance of a good vegetable peeler. Even the keenest of cooks wouldn’t put peeling veg on the list of things they enjoy doing in the kitchen, so any tool that makes a tedious job quicker and easier is an essential for me.
I have 2 different vegetable peelers, each one with their own merits. The first is one I picked up at the BBC Good Food Show this year. This is less of a vegetable peeler and more of a multi-tool, with two different blades at each end, that allow you to peel, shred, grate and make those courgetti strands everyone goes crazy for.
The main thing I like about this peeler though is that you can peel both ways. You can run the blade back and forth over whatever it is you’re peeling, so it’s quicker and I’m less likely to slice my fingers open.
The other one is another gadget from The Cook Shop Online. The Zena Swiss Star vegetable peeler is like the Swiss Army Knife of peelers. Not only is it so stylish that it wouldn’t look out of place in a professional kitchen, this baby is rust proof, dishwasher proof and idiot proof.
The carbon steel blade is super sharp and will stay that way no matter how much you use it. The ergonomic design makes it easy and comfortable to hold and the sharp blade means you get smooth peeling with little effort.
On the subject of blades, my mandolin is an essential in my gadget arsenal. Yes, you can slice things thinly with a knife if you’re careful and have good knife skills, but not this thinly and not this easily. The mandolin really does make a difference, and as its cheap and easy to use, there’s no excuse not to have one in the cupboard.
Mine is a KitchenCraft 7 in 1 slicer and grater and comes with three different blades, one for slicing and two for chipping. It has a stand which is angled to make slicing really easy and it comes with a safety handle which you can stick into your veggies so you don’t get too close to the blade and slice your fingers off, Rick Stein style!
The final blade on my list is a mezzaluna. Named after the Italian for half-moon, the mezzaluna is a curved knife with handles at either end, designed for chopping herbs finely.
With a gentle rocking motion, the sharp blade makes quick work of a bunch of fresh herbs, fresh garlic and even ginger if you press down hard enough. I first saw one of these in use on a Nigella Lawson programme and just knew I had to have one.
I bought mine years ago with a curved wooden board from the now defunct Jamie At Home collection, but you can pick up something similar on Amazon.
Himalayan Salt Pestle & Mortar
I know this sounds like the sort of thing Gwyneth Paltrow would grind her goop in, but ever since I was given this gorgeous item as a Christmas gift, I’ve relegated my traditional stone pestle and mortar to the shelf as an ornament.
As well as being totally beautiful, the Himalayan salt pestle & mortar is also hugely practical, as it seasons your spice mix as you grind, giving everything an amazing savouriness and a noticeable improvement in seasoning.
We use a lot of whole spices in our house and even Steven agrees that there’s a marked difference in the flavour, even when he’s making curries. I don’t know if Himalayan salt has healing properties, or if its healthier than other types of salt. All I do know is that this is one gadget I can highly recommend.
I love cheese. I’m just putting that out there. Though the traditional box grater is perfectly acceptable, the Zeal grater is a step up.
With a much finer blade, more akin to a microplane (which I also have and love) this grater gives you much finer strands,. so you end up using less cheese. It has measurements on the back, if you ever needed to measure the cheese, and, here’s the best part, you grate straight into a container so, you can fill it up, use as much as you want for your dish, then close the lid and pop the whole thing into the fridge for next time.
The lid also has 2 different openings, one large hole to dump as much cheese as you want on, and another opening for sprinkling. I’ll let you guess which one I use…
Ah the humble slow cooker. It might not be glamorous, but like your favourite cardy, it’s a source of great comfort, even in desperate times.
As well as being super cheap, the slow cooker is the lazy cook’s dream. I can chop whatever needs chopping, throw it into the pot and whack on a lid all while still in my pyjamas, then come home after work to a dinner that’s ready as soon as I am. If you make it a one-pot meal and skip sides, it also means only one pot to wash up. Bonus!
I make a multitude of dishes in mine, from the usual suspects stew, bolognese and chili con carne, to pulled pork and lamb shanks. One of my Italian friends even claims you can make lasagne in one, but I’m yet to try that one.
I don’t think I could live without tea. It brings me happiness in all its forms, but I will admit that I prefer loose leaf to tea bags. I will and do happily drink tea from a bag on a daily basis, but when I want a little moment of luxury, a pot of loose leaf tea is just the best thing. Until you come to wash up.
Loose leaf has a habit of getting everywhere, and unless you want to be picking warm, damp tea leaves out of your sink, a tea infuser gives you all the delicious flavour of loose leaf tea with a lot less mess.
Spoon your leaves into the container, seal tightly, pop in the cup and pour over your boiling water. Once it’s infused, simply pull it out, allow it to cool, and you can empty the used leaves straight into the bin or the compost heap with very little mess.
So there are my top 8 time and effort saving kitchen gadgets, what are yours?
If you decide to buy any of the products mentioned here through my Amazon links, I will earn a small commission from their associates programme, but rest assured, I have selected these products because I love them, not because they’ll earn me money!