Kitchen Tools That Make Summer Cooking Cool
It may be prime grilling season, but it’s still a great time to be in the kitchen, where you can whip up some fabulous dishes.
“Summer is one of the best times to cook because there’s so much fresh produce available,” says Faith Durand, co-author of The Kitchen Cookbook and executive editor of TheKitchn.com. “From a raw ingredients standpoint, it’s much easier to be inspired than at other times of the year.”
Of course, nobody wants to make complicated recipes that take a long time to cook when it’s hot outside. But salads, salsas, snacks, slaws, and desserts are fair game, especially if you use cool tools that can help you showcase nature’s bounty without breaking a sweat.
Here are four of Durand’s top kitchen picks.
Manual Food Processor
A small, manual food processor or chopper, like the Chef’n® VeggiChop Hand-Powered Food Chopper, is “an easy way to make fresh salad dressing, salsa and pico de gallo,” Durand says. With a pump of the handle, which drives the blade, it does the chopping for you. It saves you from having to haul out the food processor and it’s easy to clean too — most of the parts can go straight into the dishwasher.
“I make tons of coleslaws in the summer with different kinds of dressings, and I’ll use a mandolin to shave cabbage really thin, which is key to a great slaw,” Durand says. You can also use a mandolin to slice zucchini ribbons for salad and shaved veggies for snacking. “There are lots of veggies, such as fennel, that are much more appealing to eat raw when you shave them paper thin,” she says. Store freshly sliced veggies in ice water in the fridge to keep them crisp.
If you tend to associate a pressure cooker mainly with canning and preserving, think again. “You can make amazing stews and barbecue chicken in a pressure cooker without introducing any heat to your kitchen,” Durand says. “A pressure cooker keeps the heat trapped inside.“ Just throw in some chicken parts and barbecue sauce and let it do its thing for an hour. “It comes out tender every time,” Durand says. If the thought of a pressure cooker seems scary, consider an electric model. “It cooks at a lower pressure than a stove-top cooker,” Durand says.
Ice Cream Maker
What would summer be without homemade ice cream? An ice cream maker transforms a few simple dessert ingredients, such as cream, milk, eggs, and fresh fruit into an event. “What I really love about making homemade ice cream is that it’s a party moment,” Durand says. “If you’re having people over, an ice cream maker is something everyone will gather around.”
Experiment with ice cream recipes. One of Durand’s favorites is “Watermelon Sundae,” an Epicurious.com ice cream recipe that calls for ricotta and rum. The ice cream is served atop watermelon and sprinkled with chocolate flakes. “The combination is totally genius,” Durand says. “I would never think of it on my own.”
Overall, the summer is prime time to enjoy nature’s bounty and discover new gadgets. Whether it’s fresh salads, chicken in the pressure cooker or watermelon a la mode, “summer can be a cool time to cook,” Durand says.