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5 Essential Single Use Tools for the Latin Kitchen

Most people pride themselves on their ability to multi-task, and we expect nothing less from the tools taking up precious space in the kitchen. Unappreciated and undervalued, single use gadgets can’t catch a break.  Whether it’s an impulse buy from a late night offer or last minute item tossed in the shopping bin, they often end up forgotten in a drawer. Still, context is everything, and some single use tools and gadgets solve high volume problems.  Whether you are turning out tortillas or mashing plantains, they’re always at hand, becoming favorite tools in the Latin Kitchen.



Churros are readily available at street fairs and seasonal kiosks, but the longer they sit, the heavier these deep fried fritters become.  Churreras do the trick when you decide to make them at home - no waiting required.  Available in plastic or aluminum, these barrel shaped canisters, topped with a hand-operated press or plunger, efficiently extrude the heavy dough through star shaped tips. Pulled from the searing oil and rolled in sugar, it doesn’t get much better than churros fresh from the fryer.

(Churro Maker, $17.50, tienda.com)



Now that you’ve made all those churros, you’ll need something delicious to serve with them. Molinillos, traditional round, wooden whisks, are made up of ridged rings delicately carved in intricate patterns that are both functional and uniquely beautiful. Dip into a pot of spiced hot chocolate, atole, or champurrado then rotate the tapered handle back and forth between your palms for the perfect amount for froth per cup.

(Mexican Molinillo, $15.50, deananddeluca.com)



Trying to coax a wobbly, custard filled pan into hot water bath, makes you appreciate the importance of a stainless-steel flanera with a tight fitting lid.  Sold in a variety of sizes, it’s the best way to make flan inside a pressure cooker because it will prevent the the liquid from spilling out.  Once out of the oven, it stacks easily inside the refrigerator.  The only difficulty will be resisting temptation to dip in a spoon on two before it has time to set.

(Flan Mold 1.5 Qt., $9.99, cubanfoodmarket.com)


Tortilla Press

Tortillas used to be formed by hand, now a lost art. Tortilla presses accomplish the same task with a quick press and a few jiggles of a handle. Also called tortilladoras, they’re made up of two circular plates hinged together and used to flattens balls of fresh masa into well shaped discs.  Preferably wood or cast iron, the press should be sturdy and evenly weighted.  Avoid the less expensive cast aluminum presses that are lighter but difficult to use and easy to break. 

(Imusa Victoria Tortilla Press 6.5-inch, $24.95, melissaguerra.com)



If you come across a recipe for tostones and decide to give it a try, it might not be necessary to run out and buy a tostonera. If you have have 20+ relatives coming over for a large family meal where tostones are always on the menu, then you’ll be eternally gratefully to those two planks of wood that help you turn out heaping trays of the perfectly mashed plantains.  Sold in wood or plastic, look for one with a round imprint to make stuffed tostones.

(Imusa Small Wood Tostonera, $5.99, amazon.com)



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