Kitchen essentials | the whisk

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You can mix most foods with a fork. Eggs, batter, salad dressing - these items don't usually need special treatment or equipment. But anything can be mixed faster with a whisk - and some things can't be mixed with anything else, unless it's an electric mixer.

You can mix most foods with a fork. Eggs, batter, salad dressing - these items don't usually need special treatment or equipment. But anything can be mixed faster with a whisk - and some things can't be mixed with anything else, unless it's an electric mixer.

I'm all in favour of the electrical option when there's a soufflé to make, or any other dish requiring prolonged beating of egg whites to get air in. For lesser physical beatings, a whisk represents the happy medium between electricity and a fork. Fork = low performance and ease of access. Electric = high performance, more fuss. Whisk = something in between.

I've tried a few fancy whisks; they're OK. But it's hard to improve on the basic balloon whisk, of stout construction and all stainless steel (which costs more and is far better than whisks made of cheap steel with a stainless coating).

The only essential improvements are the whisks made from thermoplastics by ICTC and other companies. These guys can be used with non-stick pans without harming the surface. (If you hate non-stick pans, use a metal whisk on them and they'll soon get the message.)

Non-stick whisks come in standard balloon design or - a truly clever innovation - in designs with angled, flat-edged heads, which allow them to reach every square inch of a pot whose base and wall meet at right angles. And they can be used, needless to say, in uncoated as well as non-stick cooking vessels. The basic balloon design didn't need any other improvement.

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