Kitchen Laboratories Report!

Our product testers have been working hard to find some great kitchen stuff for budding chefs and chefettes. A new way to make coffee! An electric citrus press! Another “Best Recipe” book- but this time they mean it!

We have to admit to desperately loving coffee. And we’ve been quite satisfied by our single-cup brewers. But there comes a time when you want a latte, or some truly divine Peet’s coffee, and you need to use beans or ground coffee. French presses are tough to clean, and drip-style brewers make pretty poor espresso. Thanks to the same inventor who recreated the flying disc as an Aerobie, there is another (better) way- the Aeropress.

It’s kind of obvious, in retrospect- take the basic idea of a french press, combine it with the basic look of a medical device (plastic and rubber), and make it super easy to clean and use. The Aeropress claims it makes the best espresso, and we tested it on a variety of coffees and tasters and found it to be pretty much perfect. It’s quick (about 30 seconds), can make up to four cups at a time, and it’s cheap ($25, comes with more than 300 filters). It doesn’t have any buttons, but we love it anyway. Sometimes, the best way is without any fancy electronics.

But sometimes, the best way is with electronics. Take citrus juicers- why on earth should you have to use so much force to juice your oranges and lemons? Fresh squeezed juice is great, but the whole process can be lengthy and messy. The Krups Electric Citrus Juicer takes a chore and makes it kind of fun. It’s also really safe, much better for kids to use than most other juicers. Basically, you press a half of a citrus fruit down onto the plastic juicer and it automatically starts spinning. When you let go, it stop spinning- and it takes just a couple of seconds per piece of fruit. It features an adjustable filter so you can take or leave your pulp, and is available now for $29.99.

Finally, we don’t buy a lot of cookbooks- the internet makes recipes generally easy to find. But good printed compendiums are much easier to use in the kitchen, and Mark Bittman’s Best Recipes in the World is one of the better we’ve used. Better time estimates with helpful information like “largely unattended”, occasional suggestions for modification, and most importantly- a whole lot of really good recipes. 44 countries, over 1000 dishes, and instead of breaking them up by country, he does it by type of dish. It’s aimed directly at American audiences, and the average cook who wants some variety- nothing impossible to find in the US, and nothing too difficult to make. A great example: xec, Mayan citrus salsa, is easy to make and excellent with grilled meats. $30, well spent.

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