If your kitchen's knives are sharp, but the rest of your culinary tools are a little dull, Jack Bishop of America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Illustrated has some fun gadgets to update any chef's arsenal.
Kool-Tek Oven Mitt, $24.95 (per mitt) These mitts are made with Nomex, a fireproof material used to make gear for race car drivers, and Kevlar, an even stronger synthetic material used in military body armor. America's Test Kitchen tried to set them on fire, and timed how long they could hold hot pots without pain. At 40 seconds, these mitts passed the test, and were deemed the best of the 10 models they tested.
Messermeister Serrated Vegetable Peeler, $5.50Removing skin from a soft tomato or peach is impossible with a regular vegetable peeler. You end up crushing the fruit. But the sharp, serrated blade on this peeler removes skin easily from even the toughest fruits and veggies like ripe peaches, plums, and tomatoes.
RSVP Endurance Onion Goggles, $19.95No more tears when chopping onions! These goggles have foam padding to keep out noxious fumes and anti-fog lenses so they are more comfortable than makeshift solutions like swim goggles.
Reed's Rocket Nutcracker, $21.99Forget traditional V-shaped nutcrackers that require tremendous hand-strength. This high-tech nutcracker relies on a huge lever to crush nuts between two pistons. Looks more like something that belongs in the garage, but it works really well.
Oxo Mango Splitter, $11.95If you love mangoes, you know what a pain they are to prepare. Even with a sharp knife, it's hard to extract the sweet orange flesh from the pit. This mango splitter is like a two-handed cookie cutter. Just place it on the narrow end of a mango and press down. The center hole matches the narrow contours of a mango pit, so there's never extra flesh left on the pit.
Back to Basics Apple Peeler, $24.95If you make more than one pie a year, this gadget is worth every penny. It peels, cores, and slices apples with minimal waste, and can handle pounds of apples in minutes. Note that this tool works best with firm, crisp apples, like Granny Smiths.
Oxo Good Grips Silicone Brushes, $6.99Traditional bristle brushes are impossible to clean and end up smelling like old garlic or barbecue sauce. Most silicone brushes can't pick up a marinade or sauce so they are useless, even if they don't stink. But this one, with perforated flaps traps liquid nicely and because the brush is silicone it can go into the dishwasher, so it never smells.