Saturday , 26 May 2018

Kyra’s Kitchen: A Few of My Favorite Things – Part 1

By Kyra Effren, TSB Food Writer

This week GADGETS – next week – INGREDIENTS

My definition of frustration is going into a cookware store and having more stuff at home than they do!

Kugelhof Mold – I have it – Chocolate Tempering Machine– got it – Waffle Iron – Yup – Assorted Pastry Molds – Éclair Pans  – those too…. Large muffin pans – Small muffin pans – Mini muffin pans….. Uh Huh!

But while most of these gadgets get used perhaps once a year, I have realized that there are   10 items I use all the time and could not do without.

So, let’s have a look, shall we?

This Wenger knife has been a fixture in our family for well over 50 years. Everyone in the family owns at least two.  It is [very] sharp – can be used for just about any purpose – is excellent value for the money and is the most requested ‘gift’ by friends!  Since it has been unavailable in the United States for years I have been ordering the knife wholesale from Canada, where they still understand what a good inexpensive knife is!

That said, I have persuaded Karen at Kitchenwares On The Square [213 N. Kentucky] to bring it in and it is now available there.  Run, don’t walk, to pick one up. But it comes with one caveat.  It is the SHARPEST knife you will ever use – so be careful!

Some years ago while I was teaching Operation Frontline, one of the chefs brought his Santoku knife. Although I had an array of knives – mainly from my time at the Cordon Bleu – I HAD to have one!  The design is ingenious.  With a wide blade and a flat cutting edge it does a magnificent job of chopping, and then scooping up!  They vary in price and are available at all cookware stores including Kitchenwares On The Square.

I use it so much I buy it wholesale, but you can find it at all the supermarkets and cookware stores.  It is a quick release baking paper – ideal for lining cookie sheets and brownie pans. No more washing up of cookie sheets.  No more food sticking to the pan.  It is also perfect for wrapping and chilling pastry. Use it to wrap your refrigerator cookie log. When ready to bake, all you do is unwrap, unfold the paper and set it on the cookie sheet and lay the cookie slices on. No Fuss No Muss. It is absolutely necessary for meringues.  And do not use it ONCE!  You can turn it upside down and bake on the underside – then I use it to gather up and discard leftovers and vegetable cuttings.

I filched these pans from my mother’s kitchen when I figured I was going to use them more than she did!  I think they belonged to my Grandmother and I treasure them.  I also still use them and they  turn out wonderful meat pies. If my daughter does not plan to use them I intend for them to be buried with me!

Ice cream scoops are the unsung heroes of the kitchen.  They dispense uniform cookie dough portions – [which makes for even baking] – they can be used to make meat balls, and chocolate balls, and of course scoop ice cream!  If you can find different sizes, buy them. You will find many uses for them.

I went into mourning the day my “V” jar opener gave up the ghost after 30 years of trojan service.  No other jar opener opened both small and large lids with such ease and required no adjustment of knobs – you just set the “V” around the lid and turn.  So it was a great day when I found a replacement at Kitchenwares.  A little fancier than my old one – with some additional features I have no intention of using  – but the “V” was there and that was all I needed.

My sister introduced me to plain paper plates.  NOT foam – not coated – just PLAIN – CHEAP paper plates.  Oh my what a find!  They are perfect for microwaving – covering dishes that are being micro waved – serving as spoon and knife rests – catching peelings and seeds – keeping your kitchen counter clean.  They are large enough to accommodate flour and sugar on my scale. And they are GREEN – biodegradable and are at all supermarkets.

I keep my appliances until they die.  I love my old Kitchenaid mixer but always had a problem with the beater not getting to the sides and bottom of the bowl.  They have now introduced a new beater blade with what they call a ‘patented wing system’ that ‘scrapes the bowl while mixing’.  I hesitated for some months before investing in the new beater as it is quite expensive, BUT… It is now my new FAVORITE THING!  No more lifting the bowl and manually scraping the sides.

I found this rolling pin at Disneyland [don’t laugh!] many years ago.  It is perfect because it is long, has no handles to get in the way – and is thus more easily controlled – and you can use the ends to flatten pastry and cookies. It is also long enough to accommodate any size dough.
It can double as a weapon should an intruder venture through the doggie door. Wham!

This unassuming gadget is the workhorse of the kitchen.  It is ubiquitous.  It can lift dough – it can cut bread dough – it can scrape up bits and it is perfect for cleaning a counter.   And since it has a larger surface than a spoon it is more efficient at scooping up cut vegetables and fruit.  And it is dishwasher safe.

Next week – my favorite ingredients!

About the Author
McKinney resident Kyra Effren is a contributing writer for’s “Food” section.  She is a retired food stylist and contributing writer for the “Food” section of Dallas Morning News. In 1975, Effren opened Cours de Cuisine Cooking School in Dallas and in 1978, she was awarded The Commanderie des Cordon Bleu in France for her contributions to French cooking.   She has edited multiple cookbooks and served as recipe tester for a number of cookbooks including both of the Mansion on Turtle Creek cookbooks by Dean Fearing and baking books by Nick Malgieri.

Kyra welcomes any and all reader comments and suggestions.  What would you like to have for dinner?

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