KitchenArt Adjust-A-Cup Measuring Cup; 2-cup is $12.99; 1-cup size is $9.99; mini is $3.99 – Where to Shop: www.Amazon.com.
These cups, composed of nothing more than a clear acrylic tube and a plunger-type insert, make quick and clean work of measuring sticky ingredients (such as honey, shortening, and peanut butter) that cling to other measuring cups. This measuring cup is marked with epoxy-type ink that is safe for the dishwasher and withstands moderate scrubbing. Available in mini size (for just a few ounces) as well as 1- and 2-cup capacities and in an array of materials, from plastic to stainless steel. These cups are ruggedly constructed with a very tight seal between plunger and tube.
Fusionbrands’ Poachpod; Price: $9.95 for a set of two – Where to Shop: www.cooking.com.
It’s all too easy to get tattered egg whites, overcooked yolks, or a wet, runny mess when you set out to poach eggs. Fusionbrands’ Poachpod is a simple flexible silicone cup designed to keep the egg intact while it floats in simmering water like a lily pad. We found them easy to use. Eggs set up in 4 to 6 minutes once the pan was covered. You can pluck out pods with a pair of tongs, or potholder—no slotted spoon required. Once unmolded, the result was perfectly cooked circles of eggs. Dishwasher and microwave safe, the Poachpod is a useful gadget.
Splash-Proof Super Fast Thermapen from ThermoWorks: Price: $96.00 – Where to Shop: www.amazon.com.
If you don’t check temperatures, you don’t know exactly when food is done, and it’s all to easy to overcook it until it’s dry as dust, or take it off the heat when it’s still raw and unsafe to eat. Still, a lot of thermometers are hard to work, hard to read, or take half a minute or more to get a reading. This one is dead simple: flip open, stick probe in, three seconds later, you have large, easy to read numbers. It’s fast, accurate, and worth every penny, especially when you consider all the food you won’t ruin.
Unicorn Magnum Plus Pepper Mill; Price: $45.00 – Where to Shop: www.unicornmills.com.
Pepper mills come in a vast range of styles and materials, but what really matters to us and other serious home cooks is performance. This model produces an abundance of perfectly ground pepper with minimal effort. Its grind adjuster (attached to the grinding mechanism on the bottom of the mill) is easy to use, though it does not have fixed settings.
Kuhn Rikon Easy-Squeeze Garlic Press; Price: $20.00 – Where to Shop: www.surlatable.com.
Why not just mince? Over the years, we’ve learned that for the average home cook, a garlic press is faster, easier, and more effective than trying to get a fine, even mince with a chef’s knife. A longer handle and a shorter distance between the pivot point and the plunger help make pressing garlic less work. The curving plastic handles are very easy to squeeze together. One flaw: Garlic sometimes oozed out the sides. Nevertheless, we like the ergonomic features and friendly price.