There are many gadgets which I see in kitchen shops (ok the kitchen departments of über cool, trendy and very happening department stores, which I just happened to walk past on the way to the shoe department) which seem to me to be overpriced. The reason: they have only one use. One-use kitchen utensils are just clutter, that sit in the drawers/cupboards, taking up valuable space and getting forgotten about. Pizza wheels. Pizza stones. Potato ricers. Flour dredgers. All, I am sure, have found a happy home in someone’s heart, and kitchen, but for me they seem to be expensive one-trick ponies. My views on the matter, however, have softened recently, for two reasons. The first, an inspired Christmas present of a small silicone tube. Not much, it’s true, but the most effective tool I have yet seen for peeling garlic. Throw the garlic clove, whole and unpeeled, into the tube, roll it on the bench for a few seconds and voila, a completely peeled clove pops out. Anyone who, like me, hates those fiddly, lilac, papery bits of skin flying around the kitchen and getting garlic under their fingernails needs one.
The second event that altered my view slightly on one-trick-pony kitchen gadgets came this week when I pulled a lovely box of half-price cherries out of my fridge, and decided on an impromptu dessert with some stale, broken biscotti as a topper. Deciding to spare the inevitable trip to the dentist that would result from lazy preparation I stoned all the cherries before popping them in little ramekins and covering with the biscuits. Realising that this was the purpose behind those odd little cherry pitters one sometimes sees in stores, I improvised, with the only other pointy, metal item I could find, a foot-long barbecue skewer. Miraculously, I did not skewer my hand but I feel that it would be foolish to tempt fate twice; cherry pitters have won their right to a place in my kitchen.
The flavour combination here works really well. Almond has a natural affinity for cherries (cherry stones tasting a lot like almonds) and the hint of orange in the biscotti gives it a nice liveliness. That said, options for playing around with this are almost limitless.
20 ripe red cherries, stoned
4 tablespoons crushed almond biscotti (recipe here)
1. Preheat oven to 160 C.
2. Carefully stone the cherries. Divide between two ovenproof ramekins.
3. Sprinkle the crushed biscotti on top and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until the topping is nicely browned.
Serves 2. Beware as the cherries are extremely hot when just removed from the oven.