Small Appliances for Your Kitchen
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Published by TOP4 Team
Once regarded as being among the most boring items any of us ever acquired, small kitchen appliances are now not only complex and sophisticated; some of them have also become contemporary style icons.
Even if you can’t afford any of these designer objects of desire, however try to find appliances with simple lines and straightforward styling.
The single appliance most of us would find it hardest to live without is an electric kettle. For some people, a microwave is just vital, while for others a machine that produces perfect toast tops the list.
Don’t even consider buying a kettle that isn’t electric; apart from being much slower, they also use considerably more energy to do the same job. The basic choice here is between a traditional, squat kettle, which is likely to be made of metal (either chrome, stainless steel or enameled), or a jug kettle (tallish, cylindrical and probably plastic – sometimes in a rangeg of delicious, translucent jelly colours).
For small households a jug kettle is best since these can boil up a mugful of water more quickly than their broadly based alternatives. Most contemporary kettles have a water gauge, automatic switch – off and cordless technology, while some appealing optional extras include automatic descaling, programmable temperature control and a super – fast heating element.
• Microwave Ovens
Old – fashioned microwaves had many limitations: they were excellent for thawing food, heating meals and drinks in minutes, cooking vegetables and baking potatoes very quickly, but hopeless for anything that involved crispness or browning .
The latest generation, however can cook by grilling and convection too, in the same way as a normal oven, and so they are much more useful. To make life even easier, look for a model that doesn’t require you to judge the cooking time: just indicate on the panel the type of food or liquid you’re putting in and close the door. The machine weighs the item and does the sums so all you have to do is press the start button and wait.
Remember that you can’t put dishes or lids made of metal or paper into a microwave, and anything sealed, such as a sausage, has to be pricked first so the steam can escape during cooking. If in doubt, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Here, style choices vary from industrial chic in chrome or stainless steel to funky, coloured plastic. Most toasters accommodate two or four slices of bread, but some have a special sandwich toaster or bun-warmer facility included as well.
Other useful features to look out for are a defrost mode, thick – and – thin slice adjuster, cancel button and a wide range of temperature settings.
• Food mixers and Processors
The serious players here are: hand whisks, food mixers, food processors and blenders.
Hand whisks are small, light and easy to use, making them ideal for soups, drinks, eggs and sauces.
Food mixers are best for cakes, batters and whisking egg whites and perfect for making creamy mashed potatoes. A hand mixer will do these jobs just as well as a bully countertop one with a stand and bowl. Some take attachments for chopping, slicing, etc., but they don’t perform these tasks as efficiently as a food processor.
Food Processors are brilliant for chopping, slicing, mincing, pureeing and grating. Some will mix and whisk too, but not as well as a food mixer.
Blenders (or liquidizers) make milkshakes, soups, sauces, purees cocktails and juices (for which you have to add water). A small attachment is often included for grinding nuts and coffee beans.
These machines differ from blenders in that they don’t require any water to be added, so the resulting fruit or vegetable juice is concentrated. Make sure you look for a juicer that will take any suitable fruit or vegetable – some are just glorified citrus presses.
• Coffee makers
If you can’t bear to open your eyes in the morning without drinking a powerful dose or caffeine, consider investing in a conventional filter coffee machine or one that makes real espresso and cappuccino.
• Other Machines
According to your culinary and gastronomic quirks, you might also be tempted by one or several of the following: an electronic wok, a deep fryer, a wine safe or a dedicated machine for making pasta, bread, popcorn, ice – cream or toasted sandwiches.