Sharpen Your Skills in the Kitchen

September 26, 2012 | By | Comments (2)

Photos by Jennifer Davick

Knowing how to use professional kitchen equipment separates amateurs from the top chefs. There are tons of useful gadgets that can speed up prep time and help you create beautiful presentations. Today, we show you three essential tools to carry you through fall cooking.

Luscious Orange Panna Cotta

Orange Panna Cotta Recipe; Photo by Jennifer Davick

Getting perfectly-sectioned citrus slices, like the ones topping this panna cotta, requires a sharp paring knife and just three delicate maneuvers.

    • Start by cutting 1/4-inch-thick slices from each end of citrus. Stand the fruit, cut side down, on a cutting board.
    • Remove the peel and bitter white pith by cutting down the curve of the fruit in a sawing motion. If you miss any white pith, simply go back and trim it away.
    • Finally, slice between membranes and gently remove whole segments. Discard the leftover membrane and seeds.

Photo by Becky Luigart-Stayner

When you’re trying to get paper-thin slices of any fruit or veggie, a kitchen mandoline is the way to go. We love it for cutting radishes, apples, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, and other firm produce.

After testing several models and going through a few bandages (note: a protective finger guard is vital!), we like the top-notch OXO Steel Chef’s Mandoline Slicer. The legs fold down for easy storage, it has a much-needed finger guard, and the knob on the side allows you to adjust the thickness of slices.


Photo courtesy Oxmoor House

The last thing you absolutely need in order to make cooking a breeze is a Microplane grater. It has tiny, sharp, surgical steel holes that make zesting simple. Make sure you use proper technique, though. Scrape the fruit swiftly across the holes a couple of times; then turn to a new area and repeat. This way, you’ll avoid scraping into the bitter white pith.

What other kitchen utensils would you like to master? Leave us a comment and we’ll teach you how!


  1. Mel davis

    Hi Sara, I would like to buy a kitchen mandolin and you recommend the OXO Steel Chef’s Mandoline Slicer which costs aroung a 100 bucks. Are there any other similar gadgets that you recommend?

    April 21, 2015 at 2:22 pm
  2. Madonna

    Would you elaborate about cooking green veg so they do not turn gray. Lid on or off? How long? Salt or no salt?

    September 27, 2012 at 12:48 pm

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