Whenever a new kitchen gizmo shows up in the office, we get giddy. Everyone wants to see, touch and try. But a month later, half the new arrivals are dust magnets. Not these three. All are genius tools that make cooking faster and more fun. And all have passed the ultimate test: time—the newest is a decade old. Yet many people don’t own any of them and are mystified by one! What are they?
The George Foreman grill.
An instant classic but
one many vegetarians haven’t bothered with because it’s sold
for meat. But at VT, it has just about replaced the toaster oven
as our favorite plug-in. Year-round grilled veggies? Yum.
The immersion blender.
People constantly say,
“What’s that?” But we just as constantly grab one to plunge
into a pot of
that needs blending, vegetables that need
puréeing or a smoothie that needs, well, smoothing.
A pressure cooker.
We also constantly pull out one
of these everything-old-is-new-again pots. There’s nothing
high-pressure heat for cutting cooking times in half.
If you already own one of these cool tools, you know how
terrific it is. Trust us, the others are just as rewarding. We
guarantee you’ll find yourself using them as often as that
other foolproof tool: a wooden spoon.
THE GEORGE FOREMAN GRILL
Anybody who owns one knows that the “lean mean grilling machine” isn’t just for meat. Seared mushrooms, perfect veggie burgers and meltingly good panini are only the start. This double-sided electric grill trims cooking time by heating food on both sides (no flipping necessary) and gives you gorgeous grill marks to boot! Now that “The Next Grilleration” models have removable dishwasher-safe grill plates, cleanup is easier than ever.
What it's GOT
A patented slope that lets juices slide away, meaning flavors get concentrated as foods roast in dry heat.
A floating hinge that adjusts to the task at hand, from toasting thick bagels or grilling thin cheesy sandwiches to cooking tender veggie burgers.
An expanded surface area—up to 128 square inches—that lets you cook a meal for two (tofu steaks, asparagus and grilled potatoes, for example) in under 10 minutes.
What it's NOT
A party-pleaser. Most models are too small to cook for more than four to six people.
A space-saver. Left out, even the smaller models take up a fair amount of your counter.
Toast panini sandwiches in under 10 minutes—preheating time included—with this George Foreman GRP99 Next Grilleration 6-Burger Grill with removable plates. $78 at amazon.com
GRILLED SMOKED MOZZARELLA SANDWICHES
Serves 2 -
30 minutes or fewer
The George Foreman grill does a great job of making toasted panini-like sandwiches with characteristic grill marks without using butter or oil.
3 to 4 slices smoked mozzarella
4 slices whole wheat bread
4 to 6 sun-dried tomato halves (oil-packed)
Fresh basil leaves
Preheat grill to 300F. (This will take about 5 minutes.)
Arrange mozzarella slices over 2 bread slices. Lay sun-dried tomato halves and basil leaves on cheese. Top with remaining bread slices, and cut sandwiches in half.
Place sandwiches on heated grill, and close top. Grill 2 to 3 minutes, or until bread is toasted and cheese is slightly melted. Serve hot.
PER SERVING: 207 CAL; 9G PROT; 9G TOTAL FAT (4.5G SAT. FAT); 23G CARB; 22MG CHOL; 412MG SOD; 3G FIBER; 0G SUGARS
Stick this magic wand directly into a pot or bowl to purée without messy transfers to and from a blender or food processor. New attachments make it a multipurpose powerhouse—that fits in a kitchen drawer.
What it’s GOT
A hand-held, motorized blade that gives you more control over how smooth you blend sauces and soups.
A slim shape that fits directly in a large tumbler or beaker to make smoothies and shakes.
A strong chopping attachment that minces garlic and
in 3 or 4 pulses. Also good for mincing citrus peel and blending
An easy-to-clean design that lets you immerse the business end in soapy water, pulse the blade two or three times and you’re done. Some models have detachable blades that are dishwasher-safe.
What it’s NOT
A stand-up blender or hand masher. It won’t crush ice for frozen drinks or make potatoes creamy.
An herb chopper. The high-speed blade turns fresh herbs, peppers and
The mini-chopper attachment on the Braun Multi-Quick Hand Blender makes light work of mincing garlic and ginger. $35 at cooking.com
RED CABBAGE SLAW WITH BAKED TOFU AND PEANUT DRESSING
Serves 6 -
30 minutes or fewer
This recipe showcases the power and versatility of the mini-chopper attachment that comes with today’s immersion blenders. It’s so strong that it turns unpeeled ginger into a soft pulp—making the ginger-infused peanut dressing for this salad a snap.
1 small clove garlic, peeled
2-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into eight pieces (peeling unnecessary)
1/3 cup unsalted, nonhydrogenated peanut butter
11/2 Tbs. low-sodium tamari
2 tsp. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
Red Cabbage Slaw
1 8-oz. pkg. Oriental-style baked tofu, cut into 1/2-inch dice 6 cups shredded red cabbage
1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
To make Peanut Dressing: Place garlic and ginger in mini-chopper beaker, and pulse until finely chopped. Add peanut butter, tamari, brown sugar, vinegar and
cup water, and blend until smooth. Thin with 1 Tbs. of water or more, if necessary, so that dressing is pourable.
To make Red Cabbage Slaw: Combine all ingredients. Pour dressing over salad, and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.
PER SERVING: 186 CAL; 11G PROT; 10.5G TOTAL FAT (1.5G SAT. FAT); 13G CARB; 0MG CHOL; 452MG SOD; 4G FIBER; 7G SUGARS
Any pot that can trim cooking time and actually call for less fussing and stirring is worth clearing space for in the cupboard. The tight-sealing lid allows steam to build up rather than evaporate, creating a hot, high-pressure environment that cooks food more than twice as fast as a traditional covered pot.
What it's GOT
Tenderizing pressure that means you can cook beans without pre-soaking or make risotto without stirring.
A safer-than-ever seal that closes with a quick twist and holds in steam without hissing or jiggling.
Built-in timers and foolproof release handles.
What it's NOT
A skillet or saucepan. Ingredients must all be added at the same time before the pot is pressurized. Also, the high heat can dull the flavor of garlic, herbs and spices.
Just squeeze together the handles of the Kuhn Rikon Duromatic stainless steel pressure cooker, and the pot is safely sealed. $180 at kuhnrikon.com
RISOTTO WITH ASPARAGUS AND PEAS
Serves 8 -
30 minutes or fewer
Once you’ve discovered how easy it is to cook risotto in a pressure cooker— which traditionally requires constant stirring for half an hour or more—you’ll want to make it all the time.
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 large leek or one medium-sized yellow onion, chopped (about 11/2 cups)
11/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp. salt
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces, tips set aside
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional
Heat oil in pressure cooker over medium heat. Add leek and sauté 3 minutes. Stir in rice. Add wine, and cook 1 minute over high heat, or until wine evaporates, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and salt.
Lock lid in place. Bring cooker to high pressure over high heat. Reduce heat, and cook 4 minutes at high pressure. Remove from heat, and place cooker in sink under cold running water 2 to 3 minutes to reduce pressure. Remove lid, tilting cooker away from you to let steam escape.
Return pressure cooker to stove. Add asparagus pieces, and continue to cook risotto over medium-high heat, 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Fold in asparagus tips and peas, and cook 1 minute more, or until risotto is creamy. Stir in Parmesan and vinegar.
Ladle risotto into large shallow bowls; garnish with parsley, if desired.
PER SERVING: 240 CAL; 8G PROT; 4G TOTAL FAT (1G SAT. FAT); 41G CARB; 4MG CHOL; 768MG SOD; 2G FIBER; 4G SUGARS