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The Essential Kitchen

We thought it might be helpful to group our Cool Tools in categories that reflect their role in the meal creation process. So here is our attempt to be helpful:

  1. Prep: These are the tools that are your workhorses, and the ones that most take the place of a sous-chef. These Cool Tools help you prepare your ingredients to be cooked. In finding Cool Tools for food prep, functionality, time saving and ease of use are the most important things we look for. Each and every one of these does its job particularly well and takes your food prep from drudgery to fun (well, almost!) When we finally carry knives, they will fit in this section.
  2. Cooking: These are the Cool Tools that you actually use during the cooking process; that means they have to be easy to use, handy to pick up, and work well without thinking about it, because your focus should be on the food--these Cool Tools take a supporting role.
  3. Serving: These are the Cool Tools that take your meal from the kitchen to the table, and make it easy and beautiful to serve your food.
  4. Entertaining: These are all the Cool Tools that are part of your entertaining repertoire and make the event easy for you and memorable for your guests.
  5. Storage: When the meal is over, what do you do with all those leftover bits? These Cool Tools will help.
  6. Miscellaneous: These are some more Cool Tools that we love, but they didn't fit neatly into one of the other categories.

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  1. Ad Hoc

    AdHoc "Tutto" Pump Oil / Vinegar Sprayer

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    Regular Price: $24.99

    Special Price: $15.00

    Out of stock

    Why It's Cool: Beautiful European design, sprays a beautiful fine mist

    Occasionally life hands you lemonade when you thought you only had lemons … right?

    When we started testing oil pump spray bottles, we looked at several and, after testing, made our choices … you’ve seen those we’ve recommended and have bought many ….  but there was one other pump sprayer out there that we wanted to recommend, but it was too expensive: the “Quality/Value/Price” algorithm just wasn’t right … until now ….

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  2. Pepe

    AdHoc Chili Mill

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    Why It's Cool: It cuts (not grinds) dried chilies into tiny pieces to add a hit of flavor to any dish

    The “Pepe” Chili Mill from AdHoc features the unique SchneidWerk® cutting mechanism - a special stainless steel blade that cuts your choice of dried chilis against sharply etched teeth - so that you can enjoy the more intense, “fresh” flavor of real chilis, even when dried, instead of merely crushing long-dried pepper flakes onto your dish! Freshly cut = more flavor!

    And the Voyage offers the same features and benefits, in a sleek compact highly-portable design … so you can have your own chilis conveniently available wherever you are … in your picnic basket, at your favorite restaurant, on your popcorn at the movies, etc. … yes, we know folks who love their chilis anytime, anywhere! And the Voyage from AdHoc makes it possible.

    It’s all that simple: put the dried chilies of your choice into the storage portion of these Cool Tools - either the acrylic chili-shaped top of the Pepe or the simple smaller, more portable container of the Voyage - and turn the top. The unique SchneidWerk® cutting mechanism is the heart of these Cool Tools. You can cut the chilies into the removable base to measure before adding to your dish, or you can remove the base and cut the chilies directly onto your plate or dish. Then replace the base - it acts as a cover - to avoid making a mess on your table or countertop.

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  3. AdHoc DuoMill Pure

    AdHoc DuoMill Pure

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    $49.99

    Why It's Cool: Both salt and pepper in one tower with 2 adjustable ceramic mills; great functionality and beautiful too!

    Salt and Pepper: essential ingredients in almost every recipe, and therefore in every kitchen and on every tabletop! And there are so many ways to ‘deliver’ these ingredients to your food … we offer electric (Piper’s primary faves!) and manual (Kennedy’s personal preferences!) But the good ones have a few things in common:

    • rapid, consistent and evenly distributed throughput,
    • adjustable grinders for individualized preferences,
    • comfortable ease of use, and
    • no messy “leave-behind” on your countertop or tabletop.

    Over these 5+ years of searching worldwide for truly Cool Tools, we’ve learned a lot, our requirements have become stricter, and the possible field of acceptable choices has narrowed. But this product truly is one of the best! And it’s from one of the first companies we worked with when we started our business!

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  4. blomus Basic Large Butter dish

    blomus Basic Large Butter dish

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    $41.39

    Why It's Cool: Simple, elegant design that goes beautifully from refrigerator to table

    There are “basics” in every kitchen: those tools that you always need, and use constantly. But often these are so simply utilitarian that they also are boring to look at: they perform their role, well enough, but they’re not particularly attractive. The Butter Dish is an excellent example of this quandary: it’s often a banal piece of molded plastic that came with your refrigerator …. But it doesn't have to be that way: as we know, function and design can be combined, and where possible, should be!

    And we’ve found an answer … the “Basic Butter Dish” from blomus (which is anything but basic)!

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  5. Confessions of a Serial Entertainer by Steven Stolman

    Book: Confessions of a Serial Entertainer by Steven Stolman (signed by the author)

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    $29.99

    Why It's Cool: Witty, entertaining and informative book about how to be a gracious, relaxed and confident host.

    We love cookbooks and have a huge library of them, but it’s not something we’ve chosen to carry at Colbrook Kitchen… until now. But then, this isn’t just a cookbook--it’s a guidebook for anyone who invites people over (or would like to) and wants to do it with a maximum of style and a minimum of stress.

    Steven Stolman, clothing designer, former president of Scalamandre Fabrics, author, and self-proclaimed serial entertainer, shares his secrets, not only of how to be a gracious host, but how to be a great guest as well. Steven is the author of 40 Years of Fabulous and Scalamandré: Haute Décor. And he's our cousin!
    He freely admits to using lots of shortcuts and packaged products to make life easier, and these tips and many others are part of the wit and wisdom that fills these pages and will make everyone from the novice to the veteran party thrower a more confident and successful host. And along the way Steven shares recipes for everything from Pimento Cheese through Chicken Milanese to Sorta Strawberries Romanoff.

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  6. Classic

    Brod & Taylor Knife Sharpeners

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    Why It's Cool: Stylish, easy and incredibly effective knife sharpeners

    Sharpening your knives is an everyday task for everyone who cooks … but it’s often both a pain and a problem: are you doing it correctly? Is what you’re doing effective, or will it hurt your knives? You wind up avoiding the task because it’s one of those chores you don’t feel comfortable with, so you live with dull knives until you can take your knives to a professional, which is both expensive and inconvenient.

    A friend and customer (thanks, Suzy; you got 100 Cooks’ Club Points!) told us about a great knife sharpener that she got. We love leads from our customers, so we sought it out, checked it out, and tested it out, and we were hooked…! This is a truly unique, highly effective and easy to use approach to an everyday problem: getting and keeping your steel knives sharp! You can choose between the Basic, the Classic and the Professional models … all with Austrian Tungsten Carbide blades for the same highly effective sharpening experience!

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  7. Watermelon

    Charles Viancin All Silicone Cutting Boards

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    $16.99

    Why It's Cool: Flexible to deliver cut food to pan or bowl, doesn't move on counter as you cut, dishwasher safe

    When we reviewed the original Charles Viancin Lilypad Cutting Board, we talked about the many choices of cutting boards, including the fact that we all probably have several, in various sizes and materials, in our kitchen. Everybody has to face these choices. Piper has written a Cool Tip on this subject and, in prior first cutting board reviews, we summarized the basic criteria for making these choices:

    • Size: it should big enough that the cut food doesn’t fall off, but small enough that moving it doesn’t constitute exercise;
    • Sturdy: it shouldn’t move or curl while in use;
    • Durable: it should be firm enough that cutting on it won’t gouge it to shreds, but not so hard as to damage your knives;
      Convenient: it should be the right size - or sizes - and it should be dishwasher safe, so that we can be sure it’s really clean the next time we use it; and, finally,
    • Beauty: it should be beautiful in your kitchen - or wherever you use it - because, as  William Morris said, you should “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

    Alas, a couple of years ago the Charles Viancin Silicone Cutting Board was discontinued--it was just too expensive to make. We, and many of our customers were devastated, because it really was one of th ebest cutting boards on the market. Well folks...IT's BAAACK...in cool designs...and at an even better price!

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  8. Winterberry Big Bundle $76

    Charles Viancin Big Bundles

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    Why It's Cool: Great assortment of sizes of Charles Viancin Lids...at a savings

    Why buy just one Charles Viancin Lid when you can get a whole bundle ...at a savings. In the “$50 and over” category we have some very cool bundles available that will make knock-out gifts for you - or for some very lucky friends or relatives.

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  9. Charles Viancin Cabbage Colander - Large

    Charles Viancin Cabbage Colander

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    Why It's Cool: Drains great, rolls up for easy storage (and looks cool)

    Colanders are a necessity in every kitchen … and the use of the plural form is intentional! But they take up so much storage space! The old-style metal versions, and even some of the newer versions in plastic or silicone, are just “too big” to go easily from sink or counter to the refrigerator, and they don’t stack conveniently, unless you have all the same models, and that almost never happens! And even the newest collapsible silicone models aren’t always the slimmest tools in your kitchen!

    And all they do is simply “be a colander” … they only serve a single purpose and don’t always do that well. Does your model have holes in the bottom only? Or do the holes go all the way up the sides? Does it drain efficiently? Or does water collect in the bottom, even though it was supposed to drain out? Does it do its primary job well? And can you do anything else with it? And how much space does it take up?

    Finally, we have a colander that answers all these questions, and more, in all the ways you would hope for … and of course it’s from Charles Viancin, whose designs are Inspired by Nature™ … this new design is no exception to his high standards of beauty and functionality.

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  10. Charles Viancin Double Boiler Insert

    Charles Viancin Double Boiler Insert

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    $9.99

    Why It's Cool: Easy to store, easy to empty, can be used in microwave, oven or on stovetop

    There are certain times when you really need a double boiler--any time when what you’re cooking is too delicate for direct heat. Melting chocolate or butter are only two examples; my super easy zabaglione from my single days (for each person use 1 egg yolk, ½ egg shell full of sugar, and ½ egg shell full of marsala, and whisk for a long time--until doubled in volume--in a double boiler over simmering water; serve over fresh strawberries) is another.

    The function of a double boiler is necessary in any well-equipped kitchen, but the downsides are that it takes up a lot of space, it can be used only on a cooktop and the shape usually makes it difficult to get all of whatever you’re cooking in it, out of it … even with the best spatula skills. Well, not anymore….

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  11. Charles Viancin Silicone Coasters

    Charles Viancin Silicone Coasters

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    $3.75

    Why It's Cool: Protects your furniture from glass marks and drips, designed not to stick to your glass, prevents sliding if used between your glass and a tray... and they're beautiful!

    Coasters are an interesting subject. What, exactly, are they supposed to do? Are they supposed to be absorbent, like the bar napkin that always accompanies your drink? Are they also intended to be protective (which bar napkins surely are not!) against liquids and watermarks on your furniture or countertop? If so, then how protective? Is merely lifting the glass off the surface enough? Or should they also contain, or absorb, the condensation from the glass? And finally, in the midst of all these functional questions lies the question of beauty … should the functional winners be merely plain and simple? Or does beauty deserve extra credit in your selection criteria?

    We think that it does, and that’s why we’re so excited about these Silicone Coasters from Charles Viancin.

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  12. Sea Collection

    Charles Viancin Silicone Glass Covers (XSmall Lids) - Set of 2

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    $9.99

    Why It's Cool: Keeps the heat in and the bugs out

    OK, it’s a beautiful afternoon, you’re enjoying the outdoors with a lovely glass of wine, and all of a sudden you notice that a fruit fly is doing the backstroke in your wine glass--ugh!

    Unfortunately, bugs are a fact of outdoor life, but they don’t have to be a source of protein in your drink. These small adorable silicone lids from Charles Viancin in a bunch of different designs are perfect for keeping the bugs out of your glass or (in the case of coffee or tea) the heat in your cup. At 4 ½” in diameter, they fit just about any wine glass, highball or cocktail glass, cup or mug, and look good while they’re doing it.

    And they also make great covers for cups of soup at your table--try a different cover on each bowl for a charming and whimsical table setting!

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  13. Charles Viancin Silicone Measuring Cups

    Charles Viancin Silicone Measuring Cups

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    $8.00

    Why It's Cool: Space-saving, flexible and eye-catching measuring cups that are easy to use.

    Measuring ingredients is just a necessary fact of life in the kitchen and there are a lot of different measuring vessels that you can use. What you want in a good measuring vessel is something that is easy to hold, easy to read, easy to pour, easy to clean, and accurate. That’s a minimum set of requirements.

    Added functionality might include: metric measurements (for those wonderful European recipes), space saving design (so it takes up very little storage space, which is always at a premium), and an easy release interior (so that whatever you’re measuring falls easily into your mixing bowl, pot or pan).

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  14. Grape Cutting Board

    Charles Viancin Silicone-Based Cutting Boards

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    Why It's Cool: Flexible to deliver cut food to pan or bowl, doesn't move on counter as you cut, dishwasher safe

    When we reviewed the Charles Viancin Lilypad Cutting Board, just over 1 year ago - wow! time is flying! - we talked about the many choices of cutting boards, including the fact that we all probably have several, in various sizes and materials, in our kitchen. Everybody has to face these choices. Piper has written a Cool Tip on this subject and, in prior first cutting board reviews, we summarized the basic criteria for making these choices:

    • Size: it should big enough that the cut food doesn’t fall off, but small enough that moving it doesn’t constitute exercise;
    • Sturdy: it shouldn’t move or curl while in use;
    • Durable: it should be firm enough that cutting on it won’t gouge it to shreds, but not so hard as to damage your knives;
      Convenient: it should be the right size - or sizes - and it should be dishwasher safe, so that we can be sure it’s really clean the next time we use it; and, finally,
    • Beauty: it should be beautiful in your kitchen - or wherever you use it - because, as  William Morris said, you should “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

    And now Charles Viancin has taken another step to assure that you can satisfy all these criteria with two simple products in two designs: the Silicone Cutting Boards in both medium and small in both Grape and Poppy designs.

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  15. Cherry Blossom

    Charles Viancin Value Sets

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    $30.99

    Why It's Cool: Use instead of plastic wrap for a better seal and greener kitchen...and it's oven safe...and now at an outstanding price!

    We all love Charles Viancin silicone lids: they’re beautiful, they’re useful, they’re effective, and they’re wonderful to own and to give as gifts. In addition, they’re “green” (reusable, recyclable, etc.) and take up very little space. And now (drum roll) for a limited time (drum roll again) they are even more reasonably priced!

    Those lovely folks at Charles Viancin have put together Value Sets in a few of the most popular designs and in the most popular sizes. Each set contains ... 1 large (11”/28cm), 1 medium (9”/23cm), 1 medium small (8”/20cm), and 2 x-small (4”/10cm) lids (drink covers) in one design; all beautifully packaged. Buy several: at least one for you, and several more as gifts; these prices won’t last forever!

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  16. Chef'n Avoquado (Avocado Tool)

    Chef'n Avoquado (Avocado Tool)

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    $9.99

    Why It's Cool: Easiest, safest and most effective way to prepare an avocado

    Between the myriad health benefits and the wonderful taste and and rich texture, avocados may just about be the perfect fruit. But now there are articles and studies coming out about a syndrome called “avocado hand”: serious stab and slash injuries caused by failed attempts to penetrate the fruit’s hard outer casing with a sharp knife, before encountering a resistant inner stone. Ouch! Most of us have held an avocado in one hand and a sturdy knife in the other, and put hand and limb in jeopardy each time we’ve sought to enjoy a beautiful avocado. What’s an avocado lover to do? Well, the clever folks at Chef’n have created an answer!

    The Avoquado from Chef’n may be the best-thought-out avocado tool that we have yet encountered.

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  17. Chef’n Bramble Berry Basket

    Chef'n Bramble Berry Basket

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    $9.99

    Why It's Cool: Traditional design in modern materials that provides great functionality that extends the life of your berries.

    It’s going to be berry season soon (it may be already, in some parts of the country!), and whether you grow your own, or buy them from the local farmer’s market or grocery store, you’ll want to be prepared to enjoy those delicious gems for as long as possible.

    But the problem always has been that the berries seem to spoil before you get a chance to finish them. (How many times have you reached into the refrigerator, eager to enjoy some sweet luscious berries, when you’re instead met by a molding mess?).  

    We’ve published a Cool Tip about extending the mold-free life of berries, but we’ve still been in search of other solutions to this seasonal problem: how can you prolong the life of berries in your refrigerator? We’ve found a very useful Cool Tool to address this problem.

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  18. Chef'n Corn Stripper

    Chef'n Corn Stripper

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    $7.99

    Why It's Cool: Makes fast easy work of strippin gthe kernels off a corn cob

    Ahhh summer! The time for tomatoes, and berries, and CORN! I love corn (kennedy, not so much, but he’s from the south, what can I say!?) I love it on the cob (and have a great Cool Tip for getting the husk and silk off) and off the cob in dishes like Corn Soup and Shredded Zucchini Sauteed with Corn and Chives. But getting the kernels off the cob can be messy, frustrating, and sometimes even a little dangerous. (The knife down the corn cob always makes me a little nervous, and knives just aren’t curved the way a corn cob is.)

    Well, we found a great solution, although I admit, I was skeptical at first…

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  19. Chef'n Hullster Tomato Huller

    Chef'n Hullster Tomato Huller (Corer)

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    $9.99

    Why It's Cool: Cleanly and easily removes the hull (core) from the tomato, so it's ready to use!

    It almost tomato season, it’s almost tomato season, it’s almost tomato season!! I keep telling myself that, as I wait for the tomatoes to ripen in our garden. We actually had our first full-sized tomato from our garden (a Cherokee Purple) just last night … finally … and it was worth waiting for.

    So once tomato season finally arrives and there are many beautiful tomatoes in your garden, or in the farmers’ markets, what do you do to make them ready to devour? Well, first wash them (yes, I did grow up to be my mother!). Second, DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT PUTTING THEM IN THE REFRIGERATOR! And the next, and final preparatory step is to hull the tomato.

    Hulling a tomato means to take out the core that formed at the south end of the stem; it’s that tasteless hard cone that’s at the top center of the tomato. So once you’re ready to hull a tomato, what’s the best way to do it? You can take a sharp little paring knife and dig the core out of the tomato. But I’ve never wanted to do a down-facing dog into a tomato with a sharp knife: the possibilities of slipping and doing damage to myself are too great.

    This problem cries out for a tool, and what do you want in a tomato huller that would make it a Cool Tool? First it has to be easy, so that even a child could do it well. But it can’t have scary dangerous sharp edges, because you may want to give it to your child, to help and  feel part of the dinner-making process. However, it does need to be able grasp and cut out the hull - the center core - without taking too much of the good part of the tomato, because, after all, tomato season is short! And you want that tool to extract the hull cleanly from the tomato … and do it with style. Oh yes, and you also want it to be dishwasher safe for safe and easy cleanup because, during tomato season, you will be using it every day!

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  20. Chef'n Kale, Greens and Herb Stripper

    Chef'n Kale, Greens and Herb Stripper

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    $7.99

    Why It's Cool: Takes the work out of getting rid of the tough stems!

    So I think we can all agree that kale is good for us: it’s nutrient-dense, loaded with antioxidants, a great source of vitamins C and K, a cholesterol and cancer fighter, a good source of minerals we often don’t get enough of, high in eye-protecting nutrients, and it may even help with weight loss.

    With all of those benefits, it’s no wonder it’s been catching on like wildfire. So we’ve been looking around for potential Cool Tools that make eating all the kale you should much simpler. For us, one of the biggest preparation frustrations with kale is just getting the edible part of the kale leaf off the nearly inedibly tough stems. We’ve tried cutting it off with a scissors, running a knife down both sides of the stem, tearing the leaf off the stem. None of these provided satisfactory results, and all of them took too much time and effort. There had to be a better way…

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