THE GOOD AND THE BAD

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CUISINART MINI-PREP
BAD,BAD,BAD
So they say:  This little 250-watt workhorse comes in handy when a full-size food processor is unnecessary. As long as it works….The 3-cup work bowl is just right for making pesto or a salad dressing, and two receptacles in the lid have pinholes for one or two oils to stream into the bowl while the processor is blending a perfect emulsion. It's also ideal for chopping and grinding. Pressing the "chop" button deploys the sharp edge of Cuisinart's patented reversible blade to chop onions, herbs, or bread crumbs. 

MY EXPERIENCE, IT’S A DISASTER 

I used it less than twenty times. In the spirit of making mine as painless a divorce as possible, I threw it in the trash as the blades separated from the center core.  Not a good idea for finger conservation.

HINT:  A little research, all you need to do is in Google or Safari is to type in a product name and model number and add the word “ Complaints".  It searches for you. Others had this problem and after jumping on Amazon it seems I wasn’t the only one not happy with what I thought was the perfect tool for salsa and sauces.   

Simply put another cheap promotional import from an otherwise legitimate company who thinks going overseas and importing crap is the key to their financial future. I have other Cuisinart products and it seems the older they are the better they were built.  In this class the KITCHENMAID is better and SURPRISE!  THE NINJA beat them all.  Not worth repeating but a ton of disenchanted owners.  CUISINART support never returned calls or emails.  


THE WORST KNIFE SHARPENER
BAD,BAD,BAD RUINATION
 

Chefs-Choice 110 -and similar models by EdgecrafT

"Their viewpoint:  The Edgecraft Chef's Choice 110 Diamond Hone 3 stage professional knife sharpener is a must-have tool in any kitchen. This professional, electric knife sharpener safely and quickly gives kitchen, sports, and pocket knives an incredibly sharp, long-lasting edge in seconds. Why pay others to come in and sharpen your knives when you can do it yourself. With the Chef's Choice 110 electric knife sharpener, you will save time, money, and knives. 

The Chef's Choice 110 Diamond Hone 3 stage professional knife sharpener comes with a patented three-stage process, 100% diamond abrasives, and fool-proof BiLevel magnetic guides which create razor-sharp Trizor edges. 

Each electric sharpener comes with a two year limited warranty and is UL and ETL Listed.” But it will not replace a ruined knife.

EDITORS NOTE: I agree I sent my Model 110 back to the company with a letter, cordial, but told them they could take their product and give it to charity, employee of the month, Good Will, or natives in South America to sharpen their machetes with.  It is better to lose eighty dollars than ruin a 200 dollar knife. 

I could do better with a piece of hard stream bedrock. This was the worst product I have ever tested and I will tell anyone I see to pass on it.  It has since been removed from the market, we will not test any other of their models since we value our knives more.


CHEFS CHOICE WARMER
DANGER OF SCALDING 

WARNING!

You have to be extremely cautious and not fill this device to anything close to their warning line.  

Many times even partially filled this device boiled over the spout and shot coffee, tea, boiling water over the counter.  In the photo above I have partially cleaned some of the mess when I took the picture.

I was reheating coffee from the morning and I make it perfectly clear that it was according to their gauge on the handle side of the pot that the level was 1/4 inch under the mark. It shot hot boiling coffer out the spout, all over the counter.   

It does what it says, it's very fast,  almost with a violent sound, and other people wrote about the odor from the plastic are correct.  This is the second product I have purchased with the brand name Chefs Choice and no Chef within a right mind would use it…. 

Their now discontinued Model 110 electric sharpener which I sent back  and never heard a word from them was the most destructive piece of equipment I have ever used or purchased….   I even used it on old cheap blades to get the technique, on a good steel blade it ruined the edge.  Fortunately being a knife nut, I was able to save the blade and reground it.

Being a bit of a food and equipment critic, I get to test a lot of  different equipment. Also I design and manufacture a product myself,  for the photographic industry, so I have working knowledge of both the business side and the consumer side of many products.  Frankly this warmer is scary… And two for two is not a good average for this company (Chef’s choice  AKA Edgecraft) who make the worlds worst knife sharpener.




“KNOCK WOOD” 
WOODEN SOUP SPOONS
Cooks illustrated must know something we don't because we all believed in their writeup on these spoons by Mario Batali.  I believed in Mario Batali.  After buying four of them, I was disappointed. Re-reading their article, it was more about style, shape and not quality of the wood or longevity.  

I believe it is available in four styles, from Mario Batali, Iron chef and so forth.   With his credentials the great Chef and master of Italian cooking  should look at what he and the others put their name on.  

I too noticed some cracking after real short usage, maybe two or three times, lightly hand washed and never in the dishwasher. Also the beechwood used is poor quality, very wide grain and tended to surface distort or rise when swollen or use in anything warm or hot like soups.   

Obviously these products had never been "seasoned", nor oiled before sale. They may have sat in a warehouse and dried out. They "whited" after three usages, even after coating with mineral oil.  I tried exotic wood oils recommended by wood culinary experts…Cutting board makers.

The do however serve a purpose, the broken ones are excellent for stirring paint and also may be used as tent pegs, whittled into toothpicks, or used for holding kite string.  I like wood because it doesn’t scratch my better Stainless D5 All-Clads, and a few Calphalon's with non-stick.

SO YOU WILL KNOW ABOUT WOOD  Wood is a natural item and requires care.  You should not soak  them in water and soap kills the natural oils and resins that wood has.  Do not use peanut or olive oil. They will go rancid and contaminate. Use heavy Mineral Oil, its food safe.   

The endorsed branded units like most items offer style and you would think  “Branding by Batali”  would insure good quality, not any more in this world, its all about the money.  There are better handmade spoons made by some of the best “ Whittlers in the South" with more exotic woods and better in some cases but be prepared to pay for them as any handmade custom piece should cost. 


THE NEW STUFF

Most of my cookware gets to do a lot of reductions which means longer cooking times. I have 16+ pots and pans accumulated over sixty years.

I do put a $ limit on non-stick preferring to keep it reasonably priced as they do wear, but you can keep them longer if you watch what you put in them or do with them.   Or use the new versions of the Calphalon Unison pots and pan, excellent and a tremendous upgrade over the cheaper series by almost anyone.

Wood is natural and the best except for those who never take care of them which is 90% of the breathing public.  More expensive is high-temp plastic from resin and fiberglass, silicon and pure plastic cheaper sets.  

Forget the cheaper plastic light weight crapola, the kind that come in sets for ten dollars and include twenty ridiculous pieces. They will break, melt, actually I consider them dangerous in the kitchen. I have seen someone foolishly doing the heavy lift with  1/8 inch pieces of plastic import junk and the drippings and pulled pork meat went on the floor carefully filling all the grout lines with dark dye.  Hot chicken frying in a pan and the cheap spatulas and tongs letting them fall back and splash you. Cheap tools are dangerous.


EXOGLASS
GOOD BUT NOT PERFECT
Exoglass cooking spoons, made in France, look like wood spoons but they are not. The color tan (not shown) looks like wood in your utility bucket.  Thats because it's natural in color.  They are a blend of resin and fiberglass with a heat resistant quality to 430 degrees which is quite sufficient for 99% percent of your stovetop cooking.  

They come in red, yellow, tan  and blue. Do not buy the red, yellow and blue colored ones!  Order the standard tan because the fancy colors will fade and become the standard tan. The colored ones I got, the red and blue faded within ten uses and now look nicely dull and scratched. I call them battle worn,  they work but get put in a drawer.  I have a small nicely appointed kitchen (condo people eat out a lot and I am the exception)  and take pride in how it's kept.

•  Exoglass spoons are quite durable and they can be thrown into the dishwasher, this speeds up the fade.
•  They do not melt nor splinter. Great for reductions, slow simmering and sauces. 
•  Unlike wood, they don't stain or retain food particles, odors, or bacteria. (Carrots, Chili, etc.) they just fade away.  (Old soldiers never die…they just fade away)

•  To scrape up fond, those flavored bits from the bottom of a pan after searing or reductions,  I still prefer the stiffer Chinese Bamboo or any straight edge paddle style because they will do the job better, don’t usually scratch, are cheap, and can be found in most grocery stores.   Add an once or two of wine you cooked with and the pan cleans itself and flavors the fond even more.


FINALLY GREAT  SILICON TOOLS

I did find good stuff at Williams Sonoma, pretty reasonable and excellent quality, they are stainless handles and silicon paddles, the perfect combo. 

They are made of soft, durable silicone, these indispensable tools can easily withstand temperatures up to 600°F without absorbing flavors or odors and they won’t scratch your nonstick cookware.  
$10 ea.-39.95 in sets.

  • Silicone heads are heat resistant to 600°F.
  • Lightweight brushed-stainless-steel handles ensure a secure grip.
  • Dishwasher safe. Excellent quality.
  • Set includes one of each tool.
  • A Williams-Sonoma exclusive and it’s a lifetime buy.


GREAT POT CARE

Note: This is not a segment on growing pot.

Stainless Steel

Use Bar Keepers Friend® to clean and shine pots and pans made of stainless steel and copper.

“To get rid of stuck-on food or discoloration, and stains from using too high of a heat, we recommend cleaning your All-Clad® with a product called Bar Keeper's Friend.” – All-Clad cookware FAQ (www.all-clad.com)

“For hard to clean stains and residues, we recommend you try cleaning your hard anodized surface using a green Scotch Brite® Pad and Bar Keeper's Friend cleanser.” – Calphalon® cookware FAQ (www.calphalon.com)

“My daughter-in-law told me about Bar Keepers Friend and I found it in my local grocery store. I just tried it on a Revere® copper-bottom pot and in less than two minutes it has restored the pot to its original condition.

 I’m so impressed with this product that I had to immediately write to you. It’s so good to find a great product that really works!” – Eileen, Taylor, PA





SAFETY HINTS and TIPS

WHY DO CHEFS SLIDE PANS 
ANS. - Habit for one thing.  You see it on TV all the time the chef doing the flip to turn the dish, and sometimes they rub the pan on the stove for several reasons:  It breaks the food loose so it doesn’t stick.  It moves small particles down to the liquid area. 

On electric stoves it reinforces the contact surface. The coils get carbonized.  Avoid sliding or dragging your cookware over the surface of your stovetop, especially glass top ranges, as scratches may result.  

USAGE and HINTS
Never use your cookware in the microwave.  It's not made for that. Use only microwave approved cookware and Most cookware is oven safe to 350°F.  Cookware with stainless steel handles are generally safe in oven to 500°F.  

Glass lids are oven safe to 500°F.  and never place a nonstick pan under the broiler. Cookware with metal handles and no nonstick is broiler-safe.

Do not make a double boiler out of pots that are not designed for that purpose. Thats an accident looking for a place to happen and wet burns don’t heal so quick.  At the same time use low to medium heat only on Nonstick. Excessive use of high heat will cause pan warping and permanent nonstick coating damage. 

Do not use nonstick cooking sprays on nonstick cookware – an invisible buildup will impair the nonstick release system and food will stick in your pan.   Oil is not needed on nonstick cookware, but if you prefer oil for flavor, olive oil or peanut oil is recommended. Heavy vegetable oils may leave a residue that can affect nonstick performance. Use low heat when heating up oils. Oils can quickly overheat and cause a fire.


CARING FOR POTS

All cookware: Before first used and after each use, wash pans thoroughly with mild dishwashing detergent and warm water. If food remains on the surface, boil a mixture of water and vinegar into the pan to dislodge the food particles.  Copper pots have a protective layer that has been applied to the copper base to prevent tarnishing during packaging.

BEFORE FIRST USE, remove this layer by dissolving 3 tablespoons of baking soda in 3 quarts of hot water and soak each pan for 20 minutes. Then rinse with cold water and dry.

Never use oven cleaners to clean cookware. They will ruin the cookware. For Hard-Anodized: To lessen a stain, make a paste of baking soda and water, apply to pan and scrub with a nonabrasive plastic mesh pad such as Scotch-Brite. 

Do not use steel wool coarse scouring pads or powder. Please note that plain hard-anodized exterior cookware is porous and staining will occur if food is spilled or allowed to boil over onto the exterior of the pan. 

For Stainless Steel or Nonstick: A spotted white film may form which can be removed with a mild solution of water and lemon juice or vinegar.


THE DISHWASHER

Some cookware IS NOT dishwasher safe.  Placing these types of cookware in the dishwasher will result in the discoloration of your pans due to high water temperature and harsh detergents.  The following types of cookware materials are NOT dishwasher safe,  Hard-Anodized Aluminum cookware  Porcelain Enamel-exterior cookware,  Copper Bottom cookware, Plain Aluminum cookware.

Dishwasher safe.   That includes most Stainless Steel cookware, Aluminum cookware with exterior color coating (silicone polyester) with or without nonstick.  Machined base cookware with rings of exposed aluminum, Some hard-anodized cookware is specifically designed to be safe for use in the dishwasher and is marked as such and is noted also on the product packaging.  To avoid scratches or chips on the cookware exterior, place paper towels between pans when storing.


HANDLES AND KNOBS:

Hot handles and knobs: Handles and knobs can get very hot under some conditions. Use caution when touching them and always have potholders available for use.

Handle position when cooking: Position pans so that handles are not over other hot burners. Do not allow handles to extend beyond the edge of the stove where pans can be knocked off the cooktop.

Loose handles: Periodically, check handles and knobs to be sure they are not loose. If the handles are attached with screws, re-tighten the screws, being careful not to over-tighten.  Handles that are attached with screws that are loose can separate from the pan and cause personal injury or property damage. Never use a pan that has a loose handle.


 

A CUT ABOVE
THE CUTTING BOARD

HOW TO BUY A CUTTING BOARD
Determine the size of the board you will need by cutting a piece of cardboard to the sizes available  from catalogs and select a thirty-five dollar standing rib roast and hack at it. That will determine the size that best suits you’re cooking needs and also creates a lot of beef stock cubes for your slow cooker...just kidding. 

See if the cardboard size matches or is close to available products, this narrows the search.  The next determination after size and space is material. There are three basic purposes for a cutting board and one other for safety.  Using the same surfaces builds techniques and safer knife handling.

Boards serve three purposes, they prevent you from ruining the edge of your kitchen knife, sanitation and protect your counter top. 

I have three main boards;  A heavy 2” thick wood chopping block for most work with drier products,  and just about everything else. I do veggies and fruits on two big  plastic boards about 5/8 thick. Also for meats, poultry and fish that can hold up to strong dishwashing and frequent use since the onions fruits shallots all leave odors that cling to the wood. I have smaller boards for smaller jobs like cheese  parties, garnishes, odds and ends,  etc. faster cleanup.

Forget glass, ceramic or other hard surfaces, they are for cutting cheese as most cheeses stick to glass and stay in one place while cutting, otherwise they will kill and ruin the edges on your knives.


GREAT  WOOD BOARDS

BOOS BOARDS - The first choice in cutting boards is wood. Boos is one of the most popular medium and high end product lines. Hands down.  There are two basic types, its like the knives, domestic wood is maple, cherry, and good ones are not cheap. The imports are Bamboo and they are not cheap. 

You will get what you pay for. Cutlery and More has a great selection.  The Boos line is quite popular with advanced culinary specialists. The soft wood does less damage to your cutting edge. The best boards with the end grain facing up (butcher block) allows the knife to slide between the vertical wood fibers. There are liquids to keep the boards tendency to kill germs working.


BAMBOO

Totally Bamboo makes excellent quality cutting boards out of bamboo which is a renewable resource. Their boards are made using end grain bamboo which is very stable and holds up to lots of use. Bamboo is becoming very popular as it is a renewable resource and in theme with todays green thinking.  

This handcrafted board is made from flattened strips of bamboo that are bonded together. Its natural beauty comes from the natural sugars in the wood which caramelize to a beautiful honey color. Harder than maple, it's a superior cutting surface you'll enjoy for years to come. 11.5 x 14.5-in. Handwashing recommended. 


HEALTH WARNINGS - BOARD USAGE

A recent report found that 80 percent of all grocery-store chickens in the US are contaminated with Salmonella, may have Listeria, Campylobacter or both.   Clean, clean, clean, the board after any chicken or meat.  

How to wind up in the hospital:  Cutting a head of lettuce after slicing chicken breasts is just looking for trouble and a good Gastroentonologist or trauma room physician will have on hand the chemicals needed to prevent “Praying to the porcelain god”. 

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are between 76 million and 81 million cases of food poisoning each year, the vast majority of which go unreported because they didn’t require a trip to the hospital or doctor’s office. 

The best utility cutting surface are the large soft plastic cutting boards, white and made from recycled materials. These boards are relatively easy on knife edges and are practical to use.  They can be cleaned and sterilized in the dishwasher to sanitize it. These cutting boards range from small to counter-top, and two of mine cover a 4x2 foot NSF table in my kitchen. I use either Clorox Spray Cleaner or Vinegar and water after every use. Costco sells Vinegar Cleaner in a gallon container made for commercial kitchens.

Never use good knives on glass, marble or plastic acrylic cutting boards. They will ruin even the best knives. And wash, wash, wash, Salmonella will ruin the best meal. Wood should be oiled with either mineral oil or one of the commercial oils like Tree Spirit wood and Bamboo Oil.  Nut and olive oil can become rancid in the wood doing more harm.


FOOD GIZMOLOGY
WORST TV ADS AND PRESENTERS   

BUYING FROM THE TELEVISION IS ABOUT BEING NAIVE 

If you saw it on TV,  it probably sucks.  Based on information supplied by the Gremly-Ogden-Flugal Institute of Severe Hardship Internal Testing, (GOSHIT).  This rule encompasses certain TV ads that basically have triggers you can easily spot:   

  1. The clue is when they tell you it is not available in stores. That means if you picked it up and handled it you would normally put it back and not buy it realizing what a cheap piece of Chinese crap it really is. 
  2. And all those free extras they generously show in with the deal were there to begin with, more con.  And the corker is they give you “The But Wait Spiel”.  We’ll thrown in a second one free just pay the additional shipping and handling which is more than its worth.
  3. When it takes a pitchman, (Con-nus Americanus or Con-nus Austrailus) generally excitable, in a blue button down shirt like the late Billy Mays and his sidekick pumping juice ten decibels higher than the norm.  This combatant professes a strong desire to eat well, watch his calories and is totally amazed at everything he sees. It’s a con job. 
  4. He or she might have an accent, usually an Australian accent, something your ears will pay attention to since you don't hear it that often.  Thats why they do so well, you block the normal speech intonements and something unique grabs your attention.  Go back to Australia.
  5. And it takes four weeks to deliver because it never was here in the states, it’s coming from China via cheap freight and the seller has no warehouse costs.


CHEF TONY CASE IN POINT

  1. Or they dress up as Chefs, usually taking time from their day job as a sous chef at McDonalds.  Chef  Tony was born to first-generation Italian-Sicilians in Brooklyn, New York.  
    Chef Tony grew up helping out at his grandmother's restaurant, while his father sold fresh produce from a horse and wagon and his mother ran a home-based catering business.  This sounds like a scene from the Godfather, his agent wrote this, probably stolen from the movie.
  2. From the age of 12, Tony helped his mother in the kitchen, paying close attention to every detail of her artistic approach to cooking.   Almost 320 million Americans also followed Moms skills, it meant you ate before the others. 
  3.  At 16 he began developing his own culinary creativity in a "Pizzeria", and then went on to demonstrate kitchen products, developing his own recipes at the same time. This opened the door to being chosen as the first person to demonstrate
    T-Fal cookware in America.  
  4. Spare me, please… nausea is setting in.  Culinary     Creativity in PIZZA?   Do you place the Pepperoni left to tight or right to left?  A spoon or should you use a ladle for the sauce.  
  5. A household name in America, Chef Tony has now built up sales of $1.8 billion worldwide across a range of specialty knives, kitchen blenders, cookers and a multitude of cheap Chinese kitchen tools and solutions. And from his website always looking for more work…stoking the ovens of Pizza stores throughout the US earning his P.I.A… Pizza Institute of America.
  6. TONY’S AD FOR MORE CUSTOMERS:  From his website:  “Looking for a real professional to launch your product into the mass marketplace? A veteran with over 25 years of real experience in the direct-response industry? A real chef, a culinary expert (?) and a master of product demonstration and presentation?  (Sometimes called conning)   If you want a real professional and one of the most endearing ( to whom)  and engaging on-camera personalities in the business, then you need Chef Tony Notaro!”  

Excuse me…I gotta throw up… 


THE MAGIC BULLET
Was this ad just BULL?

Raised a new level of suck infomercials when the Aussie Host was surrounded by or in conjunction with a female dingbat idiot level stooge who had trouble boiling water In addition a bunch of shills, cheaply paid and non-talented character actors who are amazed at the wonderfulness of the product.  Terrible actors presented as relatives and friends  And the great taste of the hastily prepped food.  Especially the aunt who was smoking at the table and what a character actress she was.

Like these frickin imbeciles never had a shake before.  Using Neanderthal commentary mixed with some of the worst lines of script they should of been shot soon after the filming and the directors gonads placed in the whirling dervish blender still attached.

All of whom happened to show up at the doo-fusses house to have great food produced by this little gizmo.  The acting was so bad, I recommended the commercial for the annual awards given out by the Hasty Pudding Club at HARVARD.

The food which took six minutes to prepare but twenty hours to set up amazed the actors and actresses.   The audience was selected by Dental Smile Experts on the basis of having all their teeth because they need to smile and applaud a lot to get the free samples.  

And the grandma smoking away easily won the Award For Suck Performances given by the Chinese Western Movie Guild and presented by Kim Jung Yu, a very astute movie fan whom the Chinese control.

This is now seriously considered the worst infomercial ever made but we are confident someone sooner or later someone will lower the bar and we will have a new winner.  

We have received notice from our friends a few Car Dealers Ads are in contention, it’s going top be a HUGE contest for our next winner. 


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