Kitchen Gadget Drawer No. 3 -- Onions and Garlic
Some of my favorite plants are members of the genus Allium: onions and garlic. These plants are favorites in many cuisines, including most of those that I cook frequently - Cajun, Mexican, Italian, and a variety of Asian styles. That's not to mention good old American food, where sliced onions are a necessity on a burger, chopped onions on a hot dog or a brat, and red onion shavings are de rigueur in a fresh salad.
When you combine the household's fondness for onions and garlic with our penchant for kitchen gadgets, it should come as no surprise that - yes - there's a pile of gadgets related to the Allium genus at our house.
Don't Bother Without a Good Knife
My Henckels Four-Star chef's knife has a forged six-inch blade, full tang, heavy bolster, and contoured resin handle. This is the knife I reach for first when I need to chop onions, smack a clove of garlic to peel it, or mince the cloves.
Though a paring knife might seem the right size for cutting onions and especially for garlic, its shore blade is designed more for peeling and is overmatched by chopping and mincing.
Skin that Garlic
While professional chefs are taught to peel garlic by smacking it with the blade of a knife, for the rest of us (and I occasionally do it this way myself) there's Zak's cunning little E-Z Roll Garlic Peeler. It may not look like much, but this little rubber tube will strip the skin off a clove or two of garlic slick as a whistle.
Some Recipes Call for Garlic Juice
If you need to squeeze the heck out of a clove of garlic, a garlic press is the next tool on your list. Some of the high-end (and -price) ones boast they can press a clove without the need for peeling it. At the other end are the painted aluminum and even plastic ones.
Get a good one: it's easier to clean and won't corrode. Plus, you'll never have to worry about enamel chipping off.
Onions Without Tears? What a Concept!
Old wives' tales say to cut an onion under water; modern science seems to suggest that wearing contact lenses will stop you freom tearing up while chopping. I don't do either: if I have a lot of onions to cut up, I reach for my RSVP Onions Goggles: the foam seal and the polycarbonate lenses keep the irritating vapors away from my tear ducts.
Sorry to say, though, that the goggles won't fit over glasses. Maybe ski goggles will do the trick, though.
Got Leftover Onions? Keep the Scent Trapped with a
Leftover onions (yes, I occasionally have one) don't dry out as fast and their scents don't leak out when you use a Hutzler #59 Onion Keeper. This dishwasher-safe two-piece plastic ball is shaped just like an onion, comes in colors for either red or yellow varieties, and helps keep you onions fresh and prevent your butter from that slight taste of onion.
Buy two: they're cute and decorative as well as being sensible.
The Cleanup -- When You'd Rather Taste than Smell
That silver thing on the sinkboard isn't an odd bar of soap, it's an onion bar. The stainless steel slightly ridged surface is said by the maker to absorb the odors left behind by onion and garlic. Ours even has a little prong on it to help clean under your fingernails.
I'm not certin that it works, but I don't usually care enough to remember to use it. The Ms doesn't think so, either.
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