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Abuse Has Its Uses
I have given up on sifters, both the American and even the French counterpart – the revered tamis. The latter. you either hit on the sides to shake the flour down, or you use a the flat side of dough scraper to push foods through to make a puree or sift out lumps. I must admit that I am not kind to cooking utensils. They are to be used ruthlessly until morale improves. I had purchased some models of the crank sifter and the squeeze type only to discover that after a lackluster response to abuse they quit and were put into the recycling bin. Not so my Kuchenprofi strainers and skimmers, which have been with me for years. (this is the same company that makes the dish brush that I and other La Cuisine clients feel is a necessity) I now use them as sifters, strainers, a quick means of making a coulis without the mess of cleaning up an electric gadget. Need to let some ricotta drain, no problem. A quick whoosh under the faucet or thrown in the dishwasher and they are ready to go on to the next task.
All Stainless Steel Is Key
There are lots of cheap models that get online kudos. The issue here is longevity as well as function. Forty seven years ago, I started out buying paint strainers (on the advice of a really good chef) as they were so much sturdier than the kitchen models I had seen at housewares shows. But the mesh was not that fine and and the screens were made of tin or nickel plated steel, which does not last that long (at least not in my kitchen).Later I purchased ones with plastic handles and frames. Either the handles melted because of my carelessness around the stove or the mesh pulled away from the frame. My discovery of Kuchenprofi ones changed that over 20 years ago and I have not had to replace as trainer or skimmer since.The skimmers in this series have a somewhat triangular handle which makes it a lot easier to hold and control.
The strainers come in three sizes, 8 inch, 5 inch and 3 inc. The largest size is one that gets the most use. The middle size I use to drain salted capers, reconstitiuted mushrooms, sifting together small amounts of powdered spices. The little one is used for tea, and sifting confectioners’ sugar, cocoaa powder or cinnamon sugar and even straining a small amount of citrus juice. The screens are a thing of beauty. The double handle is handy for resting on a bowl or pot.
Kuchenprofi’s well designed and correctly angled skimmers are nice to have. The one with the really fine screen like the strainers is great for lifting congealed fat and particles from any stock you have made. The fine mesh on this skimmer is really useful if you are making custard based sauce or dessert and the foam needs to be skimmed off so that the top is smooth. .
If you love to deep fry (and I do),the one with wholes, gets rid of more unwanted drippage, when you are draining something that you have just deep fried. If you don’t have those cute little French meta egg poaching baskets, the skimmer with holes is great for rescuing eggs out of their simmering bath. Use them to lift gnocchi, dumplings, filled pastas too.
It’s All About Ingredients
All Kuchenprofi stainless steel utensils are made from 18/10 stainless. And as I found out the hard way, there are degrees in stainless steel. Kuchenprofi pieces are made from the 300 series of stainless steel which is preferred in high quality cooking and dining utensils. The 300 series is non magnetic and much more corrosion resistant than the 400 series of stainless steel. In addition, you want is 18/10 stainless steel. All stainless steel has some degree of chromium added to it to make it resist rusting. So anything marked just stainless steel has just enough chromium (18%) to resist rusting and corrosion. There is a scant amount (usually less than 1 %) Utensils marked 18/8 stainless steel have 18% chromium and 8% nickel added which definitely makes it completely rust and corrosion resistant. But with the addition of 10% nickel to the 18% chromium the utensil is not only rust and corrosion resistant but will also maintain a hard polished exterior. Lesser quality stainless steel has manganese added instead of chromium as it is cheaper.
Second Life Chicken Soup
Here is a procedure (my Italian son in law very patiently explained to me the difference between recipes and procedures) for a chicken soup when you have bought a Peruvan style rotisserie chicken. My go-to chicken fix is Su Pollo on Richmond Highway in Alexandria (and you really need to get the pollo alla brasa and not just grocery store rotisserie chicken. But wherever your favorite Peruvian rotisserie is, make sure to get a side order of rice and another of beans. After we eat our way through most of their scrumptious chicken I throw it in the pot with water to cover and let simmer for about two hours. I strain the chicken in the sieve with the broth draining into a bowl. You can allow it to cool and then skim it to get rid of the surface fat. Season with salt and pepper and add the rice and beans to the broth, plus some of the meat that is in the sieve. Heat it up and you have another delicious meal. It takes longer for me to type this out than it will for you make this once the broth is ready. You can garnish it with a salsa, or avocado slices. Your carry out chicken really has a second life.
After owning one of the best cooking stores in the US for 47 years, Nancy Pollard writes a blog about food in all its aspects – recipes, film, books, travel, superior sources and food related issues.