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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Another Kitchen Gadget

My last kitchen "gadget of the day" from my stop at Cactus Flower, was a Spiral Slicer for garnishing vegetables - $2.95.  I'm not much on fancy garnishing of vegetables...it is not all that easy in my limited experience...I can do a few things - green onion curls, radishes that look like flowers...but nothing fancy.  I had seen an interesting sort-of accordion sliced potato on an Ina Garten special, Barefoot in London, and I thought this tool might help make the potatoes.  Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the recipe yet...so you may have to stay tuned for an update on that recipe.  But, I did use the spiral slicer on a potato, just to see if it worked "as advertised".  In retrospect - I'm thinking the Barefoot Contessa recipe is likely fan slicing the potato...but I'll wait for the recipe to come out.

Onward to kitchen play time.  The weather is nasty outside (unusual for the coast - but happens a bit in the Winter months) so a perfect day for experimenting in the kitchen.

So, I opened the little gadget and read the instructions on the back.  They say:
1.  Use a knife or a corrugated garnishing tool to cut the vegetable into a cylinder shape.
2.  Insert the screw of the spiral slicer into the center of the top of the vegetable.
3.  Place your finger into the hole and turn the tool clockwise.
4.  Attach the ends of the spiral together with a toothpick.

The Potato spiral can be fried.

Potato Chips:
Potato chips, home fries, or cottage fries can be made from the spiral potato by cutting with a paring knife down the screw hole and making a single cut outward. 

I saw Google search results, while searching for Ina's recipe, that somewhere in the northeast part of the US, spiral potatoes on a skewer are a boardwalk favorite.  I didn't linger long enough to find out how that was done, but it kept cropping up when searching, so it must be true. Ha ha!


Anyway, I cut a rather large russet potato in half, leaving the skin on and cut the small end so it would be flat.  I pushed the screw in and then wound it in pushing with my thumb (being careful not to cut myself on the gadget - one edge is quite sharp).  Then I started turning the tool clockwise as directed.  Easy.  Ha!  I like easy :-)

Knocked out that half potato in nothing flat!  Don't know what I'd do with that twirly piece of potato, but the gadget does work as advertised! 

Next, I peeled the other half of potato to see if it made any difference.  Got the screw in, potato starting to get slippery as the starchy liquid starts releasing.  I start twirling, easy to do until I got about half way down then it was so slippery I had to stop, I couldn't hold the potato and the screw was to the end, and would gouge my cutting board if I continued. 

OK - plan to waste about 1 1/2 inches of veg at the end if it is a slippery one....like a peeled cucumber or something.  I think you would have trouble using this on a carrot or other hard veggies too.  If I had a carrot, I'd try...but none available today.



Onwards...what do you do with these???  I don't want to throw them away, and I don't want to fry anything - soooo.... I cut the peeled potato spiral down the center as instructed for potato chips above...and I baked them on a sheet pan after spraying with butter-flavored cooking spray and sprinkling with a combo of season salt, garlic powder and onion powder....at 400 degrees...until "they looked like" they needed to be flipped.  Then finished them off until cooked through. 
Cooled on paper towel...not crispy...but very tasty!  The ring was treated the same way and cooked longer, flipping it was not as easy. 
I think, after seeing it, maybe an interesting alternative to baked potato or steak fries if you were in the mood to serve something unusual as a side potato.  You can see that they sort of collapsed though. The flavor was actually better on these - the skin had a bit of a crunch - but you'd need to cut them with a knife and fork ... I don't know...could be worth the effort if you have the need for your food to look fancy :-)  I really don't. 

I also tried this on a Gala apple - thinking this might be a great alternative to slicing apples for a tart or pie.  No go...the screw doesn't hold.  Maybe a firmer apple might work, but the ripe Gala did not.
I guess the final words on the spiral slicer are...it did what it was advertised to do.  It was fairly easy.  The firmness of the flesh, and having something for the screw to grip are prime in the effectiveness of the tool.  Give it a try if you like to play in the kitchen.  It's just $2.95!

See ya later gators - I've spent 3 hours messing with this, eating baked potato chips and apple remnants...I gotta go get a life :-)
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