Category Archives: Tools

Gadgets, tools, & toys

Smoking Gun


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For the person who has everything… I got something for Christmas that I’m fairly sure no one else on the mountain has… a smoking gun!

And by ‘smoking gun’, I don’t mean evidence of some insidious plot or nefarious misdoing.  It’s all about the food, or in this case, includes cocktails.  Think smoked margaritas, or smoked bourbon manhattans.  How about smoked scallops, duck breast, or tenderloin… without having to prime your coals for hours?

The device is simple.  Put fine wood chips in the small nozzle cavity.  Hook up the hose, and put it in your desired plate (or glass) of prepared food (or beverage), covered with a little plastic wrap.  Light the wood chips and turn on the smoker.  Instantly smoke wafts into and around the desired product.  Leave the plastic wrap (or foil) on for a couple minutes while the meat (or drink) rests… and no kidding… you can taste the smoke.

A little novelty?… perhaps.  Cool?.. Absolutely!



Ebelskiver Pan

Ever heard of an Ebelskiver?  They are a danish pancake.  They can be savory or sweet, served as a snack, dessert, or breakfast.  It’s like a cross between a donut and a muffin.  They are cooked in a special cast iron pan, with deep holes.  A small amount of batter is it put in the hot pan, then a filling (think banana and brown sugar; chocolate fudge; apple, sugar, cinnamon; green chili cheese; or apricot and ginger), then topped with more batter.  They cook on one side, then are flipped to the other side to finish cooking.


The exterior is crisp, while the interior bread is light and soft, with a gooey filling.

All it takes is a special pan, some eggs, flour, butter, and baking powder.

Sprinkle in some imagination (or the cookbook that comes with) and you’ve got a special, unique breakfast.


I have come to love great cheese.  Not the ordinary Monterey jack, colby longhorn, and mozzarella (not that I have anything against any of those), but I’m referring to the off the wall, funky, unique cheese found in specialty cheese shops in our far away travels.  It may be no surprise to those who know me, I always seem to find myself in food stores, kitchen shops, and gourmet venues of all kinds on my travels near and far, locally and abroad, this country and others.  It’s on these jaunts that  I often run across new product and foods.

On one such adventure I was introduced to Tete de Moine, and a special cutter called a girolle or cheese curler.  This lovely cheese has an intense flavor, and it’s experience and taste is heightened by the act of carving it into thin flowerettes.

girole_SsiDuring a cheese tasting dessert course one evening, my astute friend, Dave, (always one to ask the more obscure interesting questions), inquired of my favorite cheeses.  Tete de Moine was among my favorites I mentioned.  Dave, being Dave, somehow took note of that… found it… and brought it to our home.  Do I have great friends or what?!

When he mentioned he had acquired Tete de Moine, I was quick to order from Germany this Girole (cheese curler) so that a we could fully enjoy the experience.  And enjoy we did.  It was absolutely fabulous.  Every bit as good as I remembered.  Thank you, Dave. You’re awesome!tete de moine_Ssi

From ‘’:

Tete de Moine cheese is being made since eight centuries. It is believed that the monks staying at Moutier the mountainous zone of the Bernese Jura in Canton of Bern (Switzerland) manufactured this cheese. And hence the cheese takes the name ‘Tete de Moine’ meaning ‘Monk’s Head’.

The cheese is made from cow’s milk and half-cooked or half-hard pressed paste. The cheese develops its scented flavours effectively only when it is scrapped. So, to enjoy the best taste, a tool called ‘Girolle’ was invented in 1982. A scraper attached to the central axis of the apparatus makes scrapping the cheese easier!

Sansaire Sous Vide

Sous vide is that boil-in-a-bag cooking method favored by professional chefs.  Chefs like it because it allows them to make ahead food preparations that are consistently done to their exact specifications.  The concept is that you put your food, (let’s say a nice steak), with your seasonings and aromatics (sprig of thyme, garlic, salt, pepper) in a food saver vacuum seal bag.  You fill your sous vide container with water and install your sous vide water circulator, and set to the desired doneness temperature (let’s say 130F).  When the sous vide water circulator has reached the set temperature, you insert the package of meat and aromatics and allow to cook.  Cook until the food product (meat in this case) reaches your desired temp throughout (for steak, 45 minutes is good).  The great part is it will never overcook, as it never exceeds the pre-set 130F temp.  You could leave the meat in the sous vide for 3 hours with no difference in doneness.

Once it’s done, you remove the meat from the water bath and the vacuum seal bag and sear the meat to get a good crust.  Remember that it is already cooked, so don’t over do the sear step.

This is an increasing popular method of cooking with home cooks, but still a relatively expensive kitchen tool.  Not to mention the ‘floor space’ the new appliance occupies in your kitchen pantry or cabinets.  Enter Sansaire.

sansaire_Ssi The Sansaire unit is easy to use and not huge in size (or required floor space).  It’s not much bigger than a bottle of wine, and can be used in an ordinary large pot of water.  It holds the temperature consistently and does a great job in a smallish package.