I could easily write a post on this topic every week. There are so many useful (or aesthetically beautiful) cookbooks, blogs, gadgets, equipment, and linens around my kitchen its hard to choose one when my week comes around. Due to the change in season, hands down the item I’m starting to use more and more often is the mandolin. Apple, sweet potato, beet and russet potato chips anyone? Perfect cucumber disks for your salad or for your toddler to munch on? Coming right up!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I had no concrete cooking knowledge or experience in the kitchen until very recently. Or for that matter with kitchen gadgets. A mandolin fit into that category. No clue. None. Man-doo-what? “Is that a musical instrument?” Until I learned from my then-boyfriend via osmosis (no lessons, watched him work), received Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything as a wedding gift (MY Joy of Cooking-thank you Dianna & Michael) and then had the massive responsibility to safely feed my son, a challenge sometimes, my venture into kitchen-gadgetry/creative cooking was limited. I was mainly a political vegetarian who ate a bunch of salads, cheese on baguette, rice & beans and blanched kale on eggs & quinoa and drank freshly-juiced liquid veggie concoctions. (My husband used to brag to his co-workers that his girlfriend ate a lot of kale- right honey? so cute).
I remember the first year of Miles’ life I was like a sponge; reading cookbooks and blogs….watching a selective few cooking shows. I came upon a review of a mandolin, and I was intrigued. Oh, and it was aesthetically pleasing.
In my nature, I did a moderate amount of research, scouring reviews on various blogs and websites like Amazon. (That’s a whole different subject but I love Amazon’s reviews. I’ve never gone wrong reading what people have to say about possible purchases.) The more research I did, the more I knew I wanted something that cleaned easily and had no separate pieces. Such as a separate blade to clean. I have enough varying choppers and processors for that dishwasher-to-cabinet nightmare.
“Honey, which processor does this blade go to?”
“Um, what does the blade look like honey”
“Well I don’t know its a blade to a food processor, come here and see it”
“Um, no, Glee/Lost/Community has started!”
I decided on the make & model that was reviewed on whatever blog I was reading back in February 2010 that peaked my initial interest. (sorry unknown blog, you know I love to link!) It is a Kyocera Adjustable Mandolin Slicer in vibrant, full-throttle red. It is very compact (fits in my kitchen gadget drawer it’s almost that flat), dishwasher safe and no separate pieces. I must admit, that I never put my mandolin in the dishwasher, I just quickly rinse and wash it and let it air dry. There are no small dark places for food to hide in this thing, so cleaning is all of 10 seconds. Seriously.
It has a ceramic white blade that cuts veggies like butter in four different widths. I know what you’re thinking- do I really need this item? Nope. There are very few things one truly needs to live a wonderful life, but if eat a lot of veggies it could be of major use. I use it almost daily. First, shaving brussel sprouts, onions and leeks. If I don’t need a small dice or I am pureeing a soup or a jam its perfect cut. I use nice long slices of onion not just for sandwiches, but also for gratins and roasting. Shaved brussel sprouts for salads (oh, brussel sprout season get here already!)
Back to gratins, I cut potatoes for gratin dishes (see above). Second, fruit or veggie chips. When you roast or dehydrating apples, beets, sweet potatoes, potatoes, it makes all the pieces the same width. You end up with seriously professional looking, and properly cooked, veggie chips. Third, carrots. I like pretty orange disks of carroty goodness in my hearty fall and winter soups- mandolin please! Lastly, if you have a toddler who will eat varying veggies and fruits the mandolin is great for slicing raw super-thin-disks-o-whatever. Miles eats his cukes, apples, pears and non-cherry tomatoes like this.
Do you own a mandolin? If not, do you think it’s a lazy way to cut produce? (Just use a knife!)