Best Gifts For Chefs

Top 9 Gifts for Chefs, Cooks and All Around Food Lovers

Hello interwebs! I am sure the music on the radio, that pesky neighbor who puts up his tree the day after Halloween and every toy store within 5 miles have let you know that Christmas is almost here! With that comes the struggle of trying to find the right gift for all your friends. Maybe you should just give them money this year, right? That is what everyone wants for Christmas, right? Please don’t go to Amazon and search “Cook Books” and buy them “Thug Kitchen”. No one wants that. Read More..

Best Ice Cream Makers

You Scream for Ice Scream! Are you looking for an Ice Cream Maker? Do you plan to have an awesome summer with fresh made ice cream?  On a hot day, whether it be dairy based or not, frozen desserts are refreshing. Of course, if you live in Seattle, you might be inclined to get ice cream when it is 40 degrees and raining. Places like Sweet Alchemy would go out of business if we weren’t willing to break some norms up here. Gelato and Ice Cream are some of my favorite desserts to make! It is just so much fun. It almost feels a little like chemistry. Trying to balance fat and sugar, and figuring out how it all applies to texture. Then of course there is making your own flavors. Coming up with your own ideas like toasted chocolate, cardamom, smoked bourbon (if you want ideas, I have more than a few) o.O. I really loved cooking the custard, tasting it and making sure there was plenty of salt. Yeah, salt in the ice cream. Important note! It really isn’t very hard to make ice cream base! Plus, if you have ever gone to the store, and not seen a flavor you think might taste good. Guess what, you can make it! So why not make a fun project on a sunny day! The problem of course is how do you take a creamy liquid base and freeze it? Ice cream machines vary anywhere from a 50$ Cuisine art standard freeze core to a 5,500$ Paco Jet. With such vastly varying prices, it can be a little confusing as an end-user to what the quality of the product will be after the work is said and done. Now I have used all sorts of Ice Cream machines. Classic gelato machines, frozen cores, paco jets and a few others. Each of these had their own benefits and flaws. Sometimes it just happened to be price, other times final product. Now if you have never made ice cream before, perhaps it would not be wise to buy the 5000$ dollar paco jet. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. It may just be better to start out with 200$ cuisineart first.  Hey, then when you do a pop up you won’t have to be like me and being forced to use dry ice instead of a good ice cream maker to make Black Sesame Gelato.(Actually, that works pretty well!)

Buried Black Sesame Gelato made using Dry Ice

 Ice Cream Makers 1. Cuisineart ICE 50-70$ Let’s start with one of the cheapest options. There are still cheaper, but this ice cream maker is around 50$ and does alright. It is the standard Cuisine Art ICE. I personally bought this one when I was about 18. It requires you freeze the core over night before spinning and hold about 1-1.5 quarts of ice cream. It doesn’t do a very good job with gelato based products. Gelato should be made almost entirely of milk, vs. ice cream which often is half cream and half milk or some combination of the two. The lower fat content requires a lower freezing temperature for a longer period of time in order to avoid the formation of ice crystals. However, the Cuisine art freeze too fast per rotation. The cheap plastic blades of the cuisine art can’t sheer the ice crystals. So if you are making a lower fat content product, it is obvious. However, if you are making peanut butter, Nutella, or olive oil gelato. It works great! I actually remember being in Culinary School and using this for my final product showing. I had to make enough for the whole school and there weren’t enough Ice cream makers in the school. So I had to add in this puppy. Luckily, I had used it before, so I only used this for my Nutella and Peanut butter ice creams. Of course, the product came out amazing. 2.Cuisinart ICE-70 Electronic Ice Cream Maker, Brushed Chrome-90-120$  I didn’t want this to feel
like a Cuisine Art commercial, but they are often the cheaper options….. Similar to the previous Cuisine Ice cream maker. This one relies on a frozen core. These can be pains. So the reduced price tag comes with a lot of extra work. However, this model is better at handling lower fat products like gelato. It has a better blade and a stronger spin. Really, those are the best added features. Personally, I would buy the Gourmia GSI if I had to choose again. If you really just want to do this once, and then never plan to use this tool again. Then pick either of the cuisine arts. It touts an LCD display. I don’t really know why. It really doesn’t add that much to the user experience. A mechanical timer works just as well. I guess the LCD was break through technology for them.
  3. Gourmia GSI-400 Sleek and Serve 200$-300$ I did say this was not a list of Ice Cream makers under 100$. In fact most of these ice cream makers will be more than 200$. The best ones sadly are :(. Now if you are like most people and can’t afford these. Check out the previous recommendations. Most of these ice cream makers will be 200$ or more and often time, you will only find them in restaurants. This product is the first product with an actual compressor. This means it cools on its own. Unlike the Cuisine Arts that require a frozen core. It can be a little bit of a pain to clean. Any of the one piece cleaners have their difficulties because you can’t really separate the pieces easily. Nevertheless, I love not having to freeze the core. Then you can easily do multiple batches. If you forget to freeze the core, no problem. This puppy just needs to spin. It can be noisy, because of the compressor. It is a small price to pay for the convenience 3.Lello Musso Pola Dessert Maker 900-1200$ Alright, now we are starting to play with some real power tools. This beauty can spin you a batch of Ice cream pretty quick. It doesn’t have a cheap plastic blade, nope, it has a rotating metal blade that really helps shear through any of the ice crystal formation. Now, this puppy doesn’t come cheap. It usually is well over 1000$ for an ice cream machine. However, it requires no frozen core and is a heavy duty champ. I used it a lot when I needed to spin a a separate batch. Typically, most of my gelato and ice cream was done in a Paco Jet, which is the next option.This could make a chocolate sorbet in about 7 minutes. It is very heavy though. So make sure you know where you want to put it. It does cause it to be difficult to clean. However, I have never seen this machine break. So if you don’t mind it’s heavy duty nature. This is a great ice cream machine. 4.Paco Jet Finally, I would say, most chef’s personal favorite, as long as they don’t have to pay for it. A paco jet is amazing. Instead of spinning liquid base, you freeze the base in canisters. This step does take longer. However, it offers the advantage of being able to spin what you need, when you need it. The way a Paco Jet works is it has a very solid metal blade that it spins at XXX rpm and sheers all the ice crystals. At the same time, it is aerating the gelato or ice cream. To make it even better, you can decide how far you want the blade to go. So if you only want to spin half of your tube and leave the other half for later. Well, that is an option. If you want to spin the whole thing, go for it. Trust me, fresh ice cream is just better. So if you are border line spinning to order. Your customers are going to get their ice cream at the best it could be! The downside, a 4-5K price tag. One final note, this is much easier to clean compare to any of the ones above. There are two parts to cleaning it. You need to clean the canisters, which can go through the dish washer. You also need to clean the actual machine. For that, you have a special insert. You just put in the insert with some water and cleaning solution(not soap). Spin it, dry, and done. Some of the ice cream makers above require you to tip the machine over, or put a frozen canister into the sink and try washing it. Way harder. 5. Dry Ice or Liquid Nitro For this last version. You should be careful and maybe even have an expert. The last thing you want is frost bite. If you want to learn about using these products you can email me or watch the video below! I would say use a slowly spinning kitchen aid, over a whisk. Again, Safety first. I am not responsible if you freeze off your thumb :). These were just my recommendations for good ice cream makers. I am sure some of you think differently. Please feel free to share what you prefer. Maybe your favorite ice cream to make?
Now with your new ice cream maker. You will need a solid recipe. Check out the Gelato base in the Black Sesame Gelato recipe. You can use it to make any flavor you like. If you need help mixing in other flavors, feel free to ask! Thank you for reading. I am always trying to find good, and reliable new products. So feel free to send me your recommendation. Also, if you have your favorite restaurants, send those too! Have a great day.

All of the links to products are Amazon Affiliate links. I would like to be candid that I do receive a percentage of the purchase price. That being said, all the products I reference I have either used or own. I want to help people looking for products anyway! I don’t want people buying things that won’t benefit them. Read More..

What are Reliable Chef Knives?

What is the Best Knife

Are you thinking of becoming a Chef? Are you searching for the best knife to buy?

I could give you the cliché answer, “It depends” when it comes to answering this question. Of course it really does! I did want to take a minute to list out some of my favorite knives and which company they come from. During my tenure I found that each company makes certain knives that are great and some that I would prefer not owning. Read More..

Top 10 Kitchen Power Tools 2016

Shout out to anyone who grew up with Tim the Tool Man Taylor. He had a love for power tools that knew no bounds. He would stick a V6 engine on your garbage disposer so you could both get rid of unwanted food and drive yourself to work. Power tools are the big guns, the large mama jamas…ok I will stop. Read More..

Top 18 Cook Books For 2017; Part 2

For those of you in 2017 who are a little more experienced in the kitchen, I have listed some of my favorite books that may require a little more skill. Some of these books involve sous vide cooking, others just have a little more complex technique, or valuable nuances that might be missed by a new cook. I will use this analogy again in this post. However, reading these books is like getting an MBA with no industry experience. You will learn all the theory, all the vocabulary, and maybe some techniques. However, you won’t see the nuance, the small details, the minutia that people who have been working in the industry understand. Of course, that is my personal opinion(which I recommend you take with a grain of salt). Read More..