One for the Table's Favorite Kitchen Tools & Gadgets

We asked our regular contributors what's the one cooking utensil or gadget they just couldn't or wouldn't want to live without. We were suprised to find there was one clear winner...

microplanezester.jpgMy favorite kitchen tool is our Microplane lemon zester. Peter and I took a basic cooking class right before we got married, and on the first day we both accidentally sliced our hands open and had to wear giant Band-aids. At the end of the class series, we got a little gift certificate to Surfas restaurant supply, and we bought the lemon zester, and now when I use it I think about how hard we laughed when we both sustained consecutive ridiculous kitchen injuries on Day One of cooking school. It was pretty embarrassing; no one else in the class shed a drop of blood the whole time. — Emily Fox

Okay, don't laugh. For several years I've had a Microplane Zester/Grater that I just would never be without. Can't be beat for grating chocolate, parmesan, citrus. I was shopping at Target recently and noticed this foot buffer (made for TV commercials) that looked a lot like a food grater. So, I went home and tried my Microplane on my calloused feet. Yep – worked great. So, now I have two of my favorite graters – one in the kitchen drawer and one in the bathroom drawer. I'm not sure what the people at Microplane would think of this! — Sue Doeden

microplane.jpgMy favorite kitchen tool is the Microplane grater, it works for cheese, chocolate, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, etc. I recommend all the different size graters that the company makes. I use it daily. — Brenda Athanus

This is the desert island question: what kitchen tool I can't live without.  Without a doubt, that would have to be a freshly sharpened chef's knife.  Beyond that it would be a Microplane grater, possibly one of the smartest, coolest tools ever adapted to the kitchen.  Mine makes fluffy grated cheese for pasta and fantasy-small shavings of chocolate to top ice cream and cakes. — David Latt

My favorite kitchen utensil is the oft ignored chef's knife. It is essential to have a very sharp and versatile knife in the kitchen in order to ensure efficient and in fact safer preparation. It has been proven that a sharper knife minimizes the risk of cutting hands and fingers because of the sureness of the blade which reduces the risk of overexertion, slippage, etc. The chef's knife is hands down my favorite kitchen tool. — Jackson Malle

cleaver.jpgMy Kyocera Ceramic Nakiri Vegetable Cleaver, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love how you never ever get dull - never and when you do (about 1 or 2 times a year) I send you off  to some strange little shop in Irvine along with $10 and you come back resharpened with all the nicks honed out. I love how you can slice a garlic clove as thin as Ray Liotta was able to in that great jail cell scene in Goodfellas. I love how I can cut perfect geometric squares out of diamond hard celeriac. But most of all I love how easy you make every single cutting job known to man. You, my black Kyocera vegetable cleaver, are even more dear to me than my 33-year-old ginsu knife. — Paul Mones

oxocup.jpgI would personally like to kiss the ring of the genius who thought of the
Oxo Angled Measuring Cup. No longer do I have to execute a Grand Plié every time I need an exact 2/3 - cup liquid. Now, you just pour, look down into the cup from a standing position and watch the liquid rise to the desired line. A revelation. — Katherine Reback

peanut-butter-mixer.jpgI have to call this a thingamajig. It is a device that has a jar lid on it, a crank and hook on the bottom. Can you guess what it's for?  Peanut Butter. You know how the oil is separated on the top and how much work it is to mix it together. It's messy, too. Well, with my  thingamajig, I simply replace the jar top with my thingy, screw it on, turn the crank and voila....less of a mess.  I used to have one of  those apple peelers that gives you perfect round slices in an  accordion, along with the peel in a single strip, but it broke, and  THAT was my favorite. — Laraine Newman

cookbookholder.jpgI have a countertop book stand that keeps my cookbooks clean... and open to the right page.  It makes me feel like a professor with a lectern, which is a good way to feel when you're cooking.
Agatha French

An antique herbal appetite stimulator  grinder. The one that looks like a metal pill box. Perfect for chopping basil, tarragon, and other legal substances. — Michael Elias 

My favorite kitchen tool is my phone because I can order in, tell Len what to pick up, find out what Emily wants to eat for dinner after she is done playing soccer and seek out recipes from friends all over. — Betsy Sherman

I cannot live without a salad spinner.  There is nothing worse than watery, wilted lettuce and since I eat salads nearly every day it is essential to my well-being. — Nancy Mehagian

kitchenaidmixer.jpgMy favorite kitchen gadget is my red KitchenAid stand mixer. My husband bought her for me for Christmas several years ago, and her name is Mildred, after the woman who “did for” my grandmother. I love Mildred more than words can say; she kneads my bread dough, whips my cream and looks impossibly cheerful on the coldest, darkest days. I also love my chef’s knife, but it’s hard to get all sentimental and cozy about a knife. — Ann Nichols

winepull.jpgThough it has nothing to do with cooking – unless you consider wine essential to food – my favorite and most used "kitchen gadget" is my Legacy Corkscrew. Sure, it takes up some counter space and seems a bit over the top, but it looks fancy, can pull the cork out through the foil (which is cool, but not classy and not recommended) and also allows you to re-cork the bottle as well. All it takes is one simple pull. Receiving this item as a "gift" from someone who didn't want it cluttering their kitchen, only made me cherish it more. In fact, when I broke it (a dark day and not easy to do), I loved it so much I spent the money to get another one. I could certainly live without it – though my regular corkscrew skills have dulled over the years since its arrival – but I'm glad I don't have to.
Lisa Dinsmore 

tongs.jpg I always reach for my tongs. With them, I can turn fish fillets and chicken parts, toss pasta with sauce, turn small chunks of meat as they brown, grab a bunch of asparagus spears from the roasting pan, and even pluck hot toast from the toaster oven.  My set is about 9 inches long and made of stainless steel (I don't even know how long I've had them), and they've saved me countless times from burning my hands. — Lisa Zwirn

milkfrother.jpgWithout a doubt, my favorite piece of kitchen equipment is my Nespresso Aeroccino Milk Frother, which my husband bought me for our anniversary two years ago and without which I could not start my day. This sleek little number froths and steams milk like a dream (purring like a kitten while she does it), for perfect latte and cappuccino in my very own home.
Andrea Pyenson

osterblender.jpgI am awed by my Oster Blender. Its sheer endurance for eight years on my counter is astounding. I use it to chop garlic in olive oil which I keep in a jar to season my weekly meals, puree soup, make smoothies with fruits and ice and make salad dressings. I am totally "blender dependent." Is there a twelve step group for that?
Melanie Chartoff

My mom’s old Kitchamajig is a bit like a long-handled mini-colander with holes that are slots instead of dots. The lipstick red paint is worn on the wooden handle, the tin has its share of dings, but it will probably last forever unlike modern plastic gadgets. In etched Art Deco font it claims to strain, drain, beat, blend, whip and mix. I can’t attest to all that, but it’s THE best scooper when I’m skinning peaches or tomatoes. — Edythe Preet

eggslicer.jpgFor those of us whose blinds are all tilted to the same degree and who will leap suddenly  out of a chair to press in the spine of a book that  juts out of the neat, flat row of books on a shelf, the only logical choice of favorite kitchen utensil is the Egg Slicer. The symmetry it allows feeds my ample neuroses to say nothing of other parts also unfortunately ample. — Pamela Felcher