Thursday’s Thingamajig: CONTEST Win a Knife Sharpener

Just last week I was talking with a foodie friend and I was saying that if I had 2000$ lying around I would so love a complete set of top notch knives. That would be such a wonderful dream. But I don’t and I make do with what I have which is the basic kit I bought when I moved out 12 years ago. It has always served me right. Over the years 3 knives have been added: 2 Global knives, a serrated utility and a paring one, and a ceramic knife. My Global knives were and improvement but still they are not top line. My ceramic one is very new.

My knives are in need of some serious sharpening. I have tried the sharpening stones on a cheap pocket knife and destroyed the blade…that is an art form. I have tried an “As Seen on TV” hand held sharpener….plastic broke on first try and it did not do a good job. I don’t have a budget that justifies a professional service. So when Cookware.com approached me about doing a contest/review I decided to treat my knives to a face lift, or blade lift, by trying out the Chef’s Choice Pronto Diamond Hone® Manual Knife Sharpener. I received one to try out AND they offered a second as a prize for one of my readers! Contest time! But first the review:

A good knife sharpener will restores the 20 degree angle of kitchen knives. This model accomplishes that with 100% diamond abrasive wheels that are conically angled. Both sides of the knife are sharpened at the same time with a precise 20 degree angle. No guessing of the angle like with stones. The pronto has a 2 stage sharpening mechanism. The slot 1 creates and hones a sharp edge using fine diamond abrasives. The slot 2 uses micron size diamonds to ultra hone the edge of your knife. It provides the final sharpness.

I used the paper test to check my knife’s sharpness, before and after. A sharp blade should cut right through a piece of paper, where as a dull will tear IF it cuts the paper at all. My knives all failed this test. To sharpen hold down the handle with your left hand. The handle has a soft touch for a better grip and there are 4 rubber disks under the unit so it won’t slip of your table/counter. Always use the sharpener with the numbers 1 and 2 facing you, holding with your left hand. With the right hand you draw the knife in an ‘in and out’ motion according to the manual.

Each type of knife has specific instructions: smooth blade, serrated, or even Santoku knives. Santoku knives have a 15 degree angle so although you can use this sharpener there is one made specifically for them. I completed instructions for slot 1 and then slot 2 and took out the piece of paper again. This time the knife sliced nicely through the paper. I was really impressed at how fast and well it worked.

utility knife left - paring knife right

I now have a drawer full of refreshed knives and I can touch them up at any time. The compact size of the sharpener makes it easy to store as well in a drawer. This is totally worth the investments. A refreshment sharpening only needs to go through slot 2. To keep clean just wipe down the exterior with a damp cloth (no oiling required). Keep in mind this sharpener is not recommended for scissors, ceramic or single sided knives like Kataba knives.

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WHO WANTS TO WIN A KNIFE SHARPENER ???????????

I will draw a name randomly from the eligible entries and that person will win a Chef’s Choice Pronto Diamond Hone® Manual Knife Sharpener. You have till August 14 2010, 9 PM EST to enter. US and Canadian Residents only. The winner will be announced August 15th on my twitter.

How To enter:

**Leave a comment in this post telling me why you want this knife sharpener.**

Extra ways to enter…
– Tweet about the giveaway, copy paste…1 entry per day
@cheapethniceatz CONTEST Win a Knife Sharpener http://cultureatz.com/thursdays-thingamajig-contest-win-a-knife-sharpener/
– Write the knife sharpener’s SKU # in a the comment, click the knife sharpener’s link above to find it…1 entry

Good luck everyone !

Café Latte Weekends

For years now I have my little weekend tradition: I must have my latte in the morning on Saturday and Sunday. Many moons ago I had bought a cheap expresso machine for my dad when the cheap ones were new to the market. It was not a success. Ever since that try I kept my expresso making to the stove top with one of those traditional Italian expresso makers. Until recently that is.

I was given an opportunity to try out any item of my choice (to a certain extent) at CNS Stores and review it. One of the items I chose was a budget priced expresso machine. Would this one be better then the one I knew from the past?

The answer: YES! I chose the Delonghi Two Cup Espresso/Cappuccino Maker as it had the best reviews for an expresso machine of that price range – which is what most of us can afford. Of course if I had a 1000$ to blow I would get the ultra fancy ones, but I don’t so a budget model it is.

This machine was designed and engineered in Italy. It is made of a plastic shell…hopefully durable in the long run. Its overall dimensions are 11″ H x 11″ W x 8.25″ D. The 8.5 ounce heat-resistant glass carafe is perfect for making 2 or 4 shots of expresso. It even comes with a 2-cup adapter that allows you to make two espressos simultaneously(not in pictures, did not use it). One detail I love is the lid of the carafe. The way it is made forces you to align it with the expresso holder part so there is no way it will drip anywhere else then in the carafe.

The plastic measuring spoon that comes with it measures perfectly the needed coffee grounds that I required. 2 spoons matched the notched edge perfectly. After a few tries I found that it was better to fill the carafe with water up to the third line, not the second, to get the needed pressure for frothing my milk. The swivel jet frother arm is too short in general. It does work well with the shape of my preferred cup but this is my number one and only complaint about the machine.

I had no problem getting froth from my milk which I never accomplished years ago with the other gift machine. And I get better at it each time. I read online to not bob up and down but to just barely immerse the nozzle below the milk level. Works great!

The taste test: I found the quality of the expresso better then the one I always made on my stove top and I love how the milk nicely froths up. I am very happy with my now upgraded weekend lattes.  Look at my beautiful result!

If you are in the market for a budget expresso/cappucino machine do not hesitate to get the Delonghi Two Cup Espresso/Cappuccino Maker. I am sure I will get years of use out of this machine, or unitl I have a spare 1000$ lying around lol.

Ceramic Knives, a Must Have

One of the most essential tools in any cook’s kitchen is a good knife – and I mean a really good knife.  For years I have used 2 Global knives, which I love and were a pretty little investment.  That is the problem with knives, quality rises with price. The newest advances in knives, too, these days are ceramic knives…which also come at a steep price.

Well I was recently given an opportunity to try out any item of my choice (to a certain extent) at CNS Stores and review it.  They had a ceramic knife that fit within that budget. I had to try it!

Meet my new knife: the Wade Ceramics American Masala Utility Knife in Green/White. This model is a utility knife which is made of a white ceramic blade with a green handle. The blade measures 5 inches long. One of the things that hits you right a way when you pick up this knife is its weight. It barely weights anything and is super comfortable grip wise. A ceramic utility knife is ideal for slicing, mincing and cutting through boneless meat, vegetables and fruits.

Ok so I hear you asking me why would one want a ceramic knife versus a metal one. Here are some advantages:

– a ceramic knife is a knife made out of very hard ceramic, often zirconium oxide.  Zirconia is very hard; it ranks 8.5 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, compared to 6 to 6.5 for hardened steel, and 10 for diamond, giving a very hard edge that rarely needs sharpening. Ceramic blades can only be resharpened with a material harder than themselves; industrial grade diamond sharpeners are usually used.

– the blade will never rust; they are often used by scuba divers.

– the blade will not absorb the taste or odor of cut food as the ceramic is not very porous.

– Same reason, they are very easy to clean. A quick rinse in warm water will get your ceramic knife a lot cleaner than a thorough scrubbing on a metal knife. It is recommended to hand wash ceramic knives instead of putting them in the dishwasher.

Still, a few precautions…

Since they are very brittle they cannot be used for chopping, cutting bones or frozen foods or for any application which tends to twist the blade such as prying, which may cause the cutting edge to chip or the blade to break free from the handle. The blade could break if dropped or seriously knocked around.

How does it perform? Like BUTTAH. I am terribly impressed. First thing I cut was a zucchini and papaya. I barely put any pressure on the handle and it slid right through the fleshes. Then I tried a tomato. It makes a really clean cut on the skin and lets you cut thinner whole slices. Through meat it was divine as well. Basically, it just requires a lot less arm power for beautiful cuts. I really love this ceramic knife.

Thursday’s Thingamajig: French Café Hot Chocolate Maker

I was so excited Tuesday morning. I participated in a contest over at the Chocolate Cult blog and I won!!!! And my prize arrived Tuesday morning at work: a Hot Chocolate Maker.

I received the BonJour 32 oz. French Café Hot Chocolate Maker

Yes, with summer on our doorstep Hot Chocolate may not be the first treat that comes to mind but an Iced Chocolate would certainly hit the spot. In other words this baby can get mileage year round!

The pamphlet horrifyingly shows how to make it with milk and chocolate syrup (ewww) but have no fear I will be suing sugar, cocoa powder and a multitude of exotic flavoring ingredients such as ginger, lavender and cayenne…to name a few!

Just toss in your ingredients, put the lid on, insert the frother and let it froth baby! Oh yeah!

Features:

  • 32 oz Capacity hot chocolate frother
  • Comes with an automatic battery powered frother that whips hot milk and chocolate reminiscent of the Aztec’s molinillo frothing tool
  • Ceramic construction
  • Dishwasher and microwave-safe

Missed my Contest? Try this One

Did you enter my Ice Cream Maker giveaway contest and did not win? Want a chance to get that machine somewhere else?

Teczcape is hosting a similar contest with the same website CNS Store I had my contest with. And she is giving away a $60 gift certificate!

That can get you an ice Cream Machine, or anything else you may want. Go check it out!

Thursday’s Thingamajig: Cuisipro Ice Cream Dessert Book

What could be better then to win the Ice Cream machine contest then have a book of Ice Cream recipes…

Cuisipro Ice Cream Dessert Book

Cuisipro’s Donvier collection of ice cream and yogurt makers will add an element of fun and nutrition to your cooking. Now you can create yogurts and ice creams while using nothing but the best and freshest ingredients. The Donvier collection is the ideal range of accessories to add healthy and decadent desserts to your menu. Create all-natural premium ice cream and elegant sorbets in less than 20 minutes.

Features:

  • By Anna Creery
  • 100 recipes
  • 122 pages