It’s been a while since I showcased some of the products that have made it into the Tin and Thyme kitchen in recent weeks. This post is all about the gadgets.
OXO Good Grips Cherry Pitter
I was super impressed with this sturdy cherry pitter. It made the task of taking the stones out of cherries really quite easy and the mess and fuss was reduced to a minimum. I couldn’t believe quite how fast I got through a large punnet of cherries – and I don’t mean eating them. As the title Easy Grips suggest, this is a nice tactile and easy to handle piece of kit. The splatter guard, which is removable, works brilliantly well and as you can see from the picture below, the juice remained where it was supposed to be; I did not get a single drop over my clothes, which I’m pretty sure is a first. When not in use the splatter guard can be put inside and a lock keeps it all together for easy storage. I used the cherries to great effect and made this Black Forest Gateau.
It can of course be used as an olive pitter too and retails at £11.50.
Billy the Teapot
As I type. I am drinking a cup of tea just poured from Billy the Teapot. Don’t be perturbed by the watery look, it’s green tea and I like it weak. Billy’s a very nice teapot to use. As well as looking stylish and being eco-friendly, it pours beautifully with not a drip out of place. It’s really a rather clever thermos flask which enables you to brew fresh tea on the go, whether that’s at work or out and about. It has a two tier strainer that sits at the top of the flask with a handle for easy extraction. Fill the flask with water and the double-walled reinforced glass will keep it hot. Fill the top part of the strainer with tea leaves and when you are ready to brew your tea, place them in the lower strainer which sits in the water.
But Billy is not just for loose leaf tea, or even tea. It works well with teabags, fruit to infuse water, coffee and pretty much any other drink you care to mention. It can keep drinks cold as well as hot.
Designed by James Levine, a tea-loving student at Bristol University, Billy the Teapot is an innovative and versatile product. It’s a very welcome addition to this chai-imbibing household and saves me repeated trips to the kitchen when I’m working. It gets extra points too for being made from glass and bamboo, which has a relatively low environmental impact.
It can be purchased from the Billy the Teapot website as well as Etsy and Ebay and retails at a very reasonable £13.99 with £5 p&P.
Tala Triple Sieve
This triple sieve from Tala is a lovely looking vintage style piece of equipment which gives your average sieve a run for its money on the looks front. It’s based on the original 1950s model and has high cream enamel sides and blue or green carrying handles. The idea is a clever one too as it has three seven inch interchangeable stainless steel meshes of varying size: fine, medium and coarse. The fine sieve is designed for sifting cocoa powder, icing sugar and even flour; the medium one for flour or to strain soups, sauces or preserves and the coarse sieve for draining and rinsing pasta, beans or rice. The high sides are meant to hold in the mess and stop flour or anything else from being spread around the kitchen. It’s a great idea and it works well in some respects. When I used it to sift cocoa powder for my Black Forest Gateau, I found the handles sat nicely over the bowl, but the cocoa got caught around the edges of the mesh and didn’t sift through properly.
It can be purchased at a number of outlets and retails at £19.99.
Dexam Classic British Biscuit Cutters
I’ve been wanting to try my hand at bourbon biscuits for a very long time – they are rather a weakness of mine. So when I saw these clever classic British biscuit cutters from Dexam, I was delighted. The pack consists of four cutters for biscuits which the UK public will be very familiar with: custard cream, bourbon, jam treat and iced ring. There was no delaying now, bourbon biscuits just had to be made.
The cutter worked brilliantly well and my unbaked bourbon biscuits looked nearly perfect. Recipes for the biscuits can be downloaded from the Dexam website, but I went my own way as usual. The recipe I used had a rather soft dough, so the biscuits didn’t bake as well as I’d have liked, but that is not the fault of the cutter. Despite this, I was dancing little jigs of happiness at having made something that looked like and tasted even better than a bourbon biscuit. The cutter was easy to use, requiring just a light flouring. The biscuit is cut first using the base, then depressed to get the design imprinted. I found the cutter a bit tricky to clean, but that is a minor quibble – it’s fantastic and I’m looking forward to having a go with the custard cream one next. Custard creams are, after all, the nation’s favourite biscuit.
The cutters can be bought from Fenwicks or online at Emporium Cookshop and Amazon and they retail at £10.99. The recipe for bourbon biscuits will be coming to a blog near you sometime soon. It’s a good one, watch out for it.
OXO Good Grips Simple Mandoline
Slicing vegetables with a knife is all well and good, but sometimes you either have so many to prepare slicing them is a bit of a chore, or you want them to be thin and of a uniform size. My knife skills are not so great that I can manage either the thin aspect or the uniformity. To get around this, I thought a mandoline would be a useful tool to have in the kitchen. I tried one a few years ago, but couldn’t get on with it. I didn’t find it easy to use and it wasted large chunks of vegetables which couldn’t be sliced down to the end, or anywhere near it. After spotting this OXO simple mandoline, I thought it was time to try one out again.
As soon as I unpacked it, I knew it was going to work so much better than the previous one. Like all of the OXO tools I’ve tried, the design is both sturdy and comfortable to use. I was slightly concerned it might slip around on the kitchen top, but it grips really well. It has five settings along the top, which you can see in the middle photo above. As well as three settings for different slice thicknesses, it has one for julienne. It also has a closed position so that it is flat for easy storage and no dangerous blades are out to catch your fingers – the blade is super sharp.
I tested my new acquisition out with a courgette. I wanted it finely sliced to add to the tomato and ricotta tart featured in the very top photograph. I knew if I did the slicing with a knife, the pieces would be too thick and not cook through. It worked even better than I could have hoped. It was so quick and easy to do the slicing, I whizzed through it in no time at all and nothing got stuck. The slight ridges on the runway are designed to stop this happening apparently. But the thing I was most impressed by was the spring loaded food holder. Not only does this protect fingers, but it goes in close to the blade so that very little is wasted. My last bit of courgette was no more than two slices thick and I was quite happy to eat that. This is a mandoline that is worth giving precious space to in my kitchen.
It retails at £40.
OXO Good Grips Complete Grate and Slice Set
I haven’t tried using this one as it was sent in error and I was rather keen on trying the mandoline above first. However, Janice over at Farmergirl Kitchen did a detailed review of it a few weeks ago and I urge you to go have a look at hers. It certainly looks like a very nifty set. It retails at £30.
Thanks to OXO, James Levine, Tala and Dexam for the samples. I was not required to write positive reviews and as always, all opinions are my own.