Tag Archives: Vegetable tools

Tuesday’s Tool: Benriner Slicers

BenrinerInUse

You don’t need to be a restaurant chef to appreciate a good mandolin slicer. But, to be truly useful in the kitchen, the mandolin has to be easy to set up, use and clean. That’s why the Benriner continues to be the popular choice for restaurant chefs – and, home chefs alike.

HIC ‘s 3 exclusive Benriner Slicers are now in stock. The slicers are upgraded to provide added easy of use and functionality for anyone who uses them, creating sliced and julienned fruits and vegetables faster than a skilled chef with a sharp knife.

The Benriner Mandoline Slicer (BN64), Benriner Super Mandoline Slicer (BN95), and the Benriner Jumbo Mandoline Slicer (BN120) feature high-quality Japanese steel blade for perfection every time. The straight edge produces clean, even slices; the fine-toothed blade helps produce elegant vegetable garnishes; the medium toothed blade is ideal for creating match stick for stir fry; and the coarse blade makes chunky cuts.

BenrinerEggplantThe Jumbo Mandoline Slicer, is unique in that it is large enough to ensure that you have a unobstructed wide platform for creating eggplant planks, full length fries, or cabbage shreds.

(Note: The Jumbo Slicer does not include the interchangeable blades).

The slicer’s non-skid silicone base secures it in place when in use, and to add to its stability, the side slopes allow for the slicer to sit securely on the bowl. Equipped with a larger, easier-to-grasp safety handle ensures fingers are kept safely away from the blade

To adjust, the larger easy-turn dial adjusts thickness of slices, and with 3 interchangeable blades, the slicer creates multiple cuts quickly and conveniently, transforming fruits and vegetables into consistent sizes for even cooking.

Benriner is truly the slicer to be used every day. The new Benriner slicers are available in white; 3 sizes.

Benriner Mandoline Slicer (BN64) Includes 4 blades; 12 ¾” X 3 ¾”

Benriner Super Mandoline Slicer (BN95) Includes 4-blades; 14 ½” X 5 ¼”

Benriner Jumbo Mandoline Slicer (BN120) Include straight edge blade; 13” X 6 ½”

 

 

 

Essential Kitchen Gadgets for the Soup Season

The Season of Soup

The Season of Soup

The weather is turning chilly, and that means it is time to grab a stockpot and start cooking soup. Get equipped to prepare delicious seasonal soups ranging from just-like-Mom’s Chicken Noodle to a hearty Leek and Potato soup using these five essential soup-making kitchen gadgets from HIC, Harold Import Co.

HICFoodMill

From potatoes and squash to onions and beef, the HIC Food Mill (4603) lets you prepare ingredients for soup with just a quick turn of the large crank handle. Its large, 2-qt. capacity and sturdy 18/8 stainless steel construction helps force food through the blades directly into the pot or bowl. Comes with four blades.

HICSpatzleMaker

We love soup with dumplings, and the HIC Spätzle Maker (1618) is the perfect tool for making these tasty little German noodles and depositing them directly into the broth for cooking.

TWGGarlicpress

The World’s Greatest Garlic Press (93218) pulls double duty when effortlessly slicing and crushing garlic. And, the easy to clean design (a cleaning tool is included) makes it nearly fuss-free when removing excess garlic after use.

FoodScoop

The HIC Food Scoop (43751) transports chopped and diced ingredients during food prep. Designed to lay flat against work surfaces, and to scoop up foods and place directly into the soup stock.

NylonSlottedSpoon

HIC’s Oversized Slotted Spoon (70001) is made from FDA-approved virgin nylon that is heat resistant to 390°F. Use to stir soup or to scoop out extra vegetable chunks into the bowl. The ergonomic handle has a soft grip and a small hook on the back of the handle allows the spoon to hang on the side of the bowl, or serve as a spoon rest.

Check out these and hundreds of more Soup Season essential kitchen utensils from HIC, Harold Import Co.

 

Alligator Onion Peeler Makes Prepping French Onion Soup a Tearless Job

onion

Contributed by Laura Everage

The Egyptians buried them with the Pharaohs, The Greek used them to fortify athletes for the Olympic Games, and the world has been eating them raw, broiled, caramelized and deep-fried for more than 5,000.

The onion, is probably one of the most versatile vegetable. They come in yellow, red, and white varieties, small or large.

Generally, onions are peeled by hand and knife. It is a simple task, but a task that can cause a bit of frustration — and tears. There are many anecdotes to crying, and ways to make it easier.

How to articles and videos abound, espousing the best method to cut through those outside layers, suggesting to first place the onion in the fridge, in ice water, or even boiling water before peeling with a very sharp knife to minimize the damage to the skin, (and cut down on the release of all those tear-inducing enzymes).

For those who just struggle with the task, or who are peeling a lot of onions at a time, can enjoy the ease of using the Alligator Onion Peeler. A Swedish invention designed to peel the skin off of onions in a quick and efficient manner. (See the Alligator Onion Peeler video.)

Onion, Before Peeling, Perched on the Alligator Onion Peeler

Onion, Before Peeling, Perched on the Alligator Onion Peeler’s Spike

Alligator Onion Peeler

Onion, After First Layer of Skin is Removed From Passing Through The Alligator Onion Peeler’s First Set of Blades

Its razor sharp edges, skim away the layers of skin, leaving a perfectly skinned onion that is ready to be chopped, diced and prepared for use in everything from French onion soup, to a sweet onion potato salad or raw onions for a burger.

Alligator Onion Peeler

Peeled Onion, After Passing Through The Alligator Onion Peeler

Perfect for use with a variety of sized onions, the handy onion peeler is easy to use. Place the onion on the holder, with the root side down. Press down the central part of the tool until it comes in contact with the onion and check to see the knives are centrally located. Press down over the onion. Then, press the upper part slowly onto the oven for the final removal of the skin.

Be careful, as the blades are very sharp!

For a little inspiration, here is a Classic Onion Soup Recipe that will make you want to book your flight to France. In fact, I think I originally found it in an old Jacques Pepin cookbook.

Classic French Onion Soup 

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

Makes 6 servings

  • ½ lb. Emmenthaler cheese, grated
  • ½ lb Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons corn oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ lbs. pounds yellow (brown-skin) onions, peeled and sliced thin
  • 10 cups homemade or good-quality chicken stock*
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 loaf French Baguette bread, cut into 36 to 48 slices

In a large bowl, mix together the grated Emmenthaler and Gruyere cheeses; set aside.

In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, heat the butter and corn oil until hot but not smoking. Add the sliced onions and sauté, stirring frequently, for 10 to 12 minutes until they are nicely browned. When the onions are browned, add the chicken stock and garlic. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, at a gentle boil for 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Using a food mill, push the soup mixture through it into a large bowl or pan. Add salt and pepper to taste.

NOTE: At this point, the soup can be cooled to room temperature and refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 days. To use, return to simmer before finishing soup with bread and cheese.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Arrange the baguette bread slices in one layer on a cookie sheet. Place in oven and bake, without turning, for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until they are well-browned on both sides. Remove from oven.

Place 6 to 8 prepared bread slices in each onion soup bowl. Arrange the bowls on a large cookie sheet.

Turn the oven temperature up to 425 degrees F.

Sprinkle approximately 2 tablespoons of the combined grated cheeses on top of the bread slices in each bowl. Add the prepared onion soup by filling the bowls to the rim (if you need a little more liquid, add a little water to the soup in each of the bowls).

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of grated cheeses on top of the onion soup in each bowl, making sure that it not only covers the soup, but also touches the entire inside edge of each bowl, so that it will adhere to the edge as it melts during cooking.

Tip: For an onion soup not to collapse, the soup bowl has to be filled to the rim with the onion soup and the bread. The cheese layer should cover the whole surface, so it will stick to the sides and form a crust that holds its shape and doesn’t sink.

Set the cookie sheet containing the bowls of soup in the oven and cook for 30 minutes until the cheese is melted and browned. Remove from oven and serve immediately. If the top is not well browned after 30 minutes, place the bowls under the hot broiler of your oven for a few seconds before serving.

For a variation on this traditional recipe, Christina of Sweet Pea’s Kitchen shares her favorite French Onion Soup Recipe.

Laura Everage is a writer, editor, swimmer, yoga-lover, wife, and mother of four. Her days start very early in the morning, but thanks to her favorite beverage, coffee, she is able to start each day on a good note. Laura began her journey in all things food and beverage related nearly 20 years ago, as Managing Editor of The Gourmet Retailer. She continues to write about food, coffee, tea and kitchenware and is currently working on a book entitled Courage in a Cup: Women, Coffee and the Global Economy. Laura is also founder and editor of her own website, Family Eats, and is editorial director/partner of Coffee Universe.Her work has appeared in a variety of trade magazines as well as consumer publications Saveur and Consumers’ Digest. Laura’s knowledge of the industry has landed her appearances on both the Food Network and Fine Living Network. To contact Laura, email Laura@familyeats.net.

Raw Vegetable Pasta

Veggie Pasta Made With The World's Greatest 3-in-1 Rotational Tri-Blade Peeler

Veggie Pasta Made With The World’s Greatest 3-in-1 Rotational Tri-Blade Peeler

Creating “pasta” made purely from raw vegetables started gaining momentum along with interest in raw food diets, and has grown in popularity as some seek out gluten-free, low-gluten, or low calorie alternatives to traditional pasta.

If you’re not familiar with raw veggie pasta, it is simply fresh, raw veggies like carrots, summer squash, (shown above) zucchini, as well as other vegetables, turned into strips or curls that resemble spaghetti shaped pasta noodles. There are some helpful tools available that turn these veggies into long spiral shaped pieces, and tools that leave the strips straight.

A great tool for making raw veggie pasta is a spiral slicer, such as the Benriner Cook Helper, if you are going for a curly veggie “noodle.” The Benriner is also a superb kitchen companion when creating a larger volume of veggie pasta, as it turns out a nice big pile of curled strips quickly.

A kitchen gadget that makes quick work of turning raw vegetables into veggie pasta strips, which might surprise you – the julienne peeler.  We put our very own World’s Greatest 3-in-1 Rotational Tri-Blade Peeler to the veggie pasta making test…

First using the regular blade to remove the rough outer skin of a carrot…

The World's Greatest 3-in-1 Rotational Tri-Blade Peeler Removing Carrot Skin

The World’s Greatest 3-in-1 Rotational Tri-Blade Peeler Removing Carrot Skin

The World's Greatest 3-in-1 Rotational Tri-Blade Peeler Removing Carrot Skin

The World’s Greatest 3-in-1 Rotational Tri-Blade Peeler Removing Carrot Skin

Then turning the knob and flipping to the julienne blade to turn the inside of the carrot as well as a yellow crook neck summer squash  into a mound of vegetable pasta goodness.

The World's Greatest 3-in-1 Rotational Tri-Blade Peeler Julienne Blade Making Veggie Pasta

The World’s Greatest 3-in-1 Rotational Tri-Blade Peeler Julienne Blade Making Veggie Pasta

The World's Greatest 3-in-1 Rotational Tri-Blade Peeler Julienne Blade Making Summer Squash into Veggie Pasta

The World’s Greatest 3-in-1 Rotational Tri-Blade Peeler Julienne Blade Making Summer Squash into Veggie Pasta

Looking for the World’s Greatest 3-in-1 Rotational Tri-Blade Peeler? Find yours here and at fine gourmet kitchen shops nationwide.

Settings for regular peeling, soft veggies, and julienne peeling

Settings for regular peeling, soft veggies, and julienne peeling

Strips of Yellow Crook Neck Squash Turned into Veggie Pasta

Strips of Yellow Crook Neck Squash Turned into Veggie Pasta

What next? You can toss the strips into a skillet and warm them, plus top with the creamy sauce of your choice, like Alfredo, pesto, or marinara, for a warm “pasta’ dish. We kept ours simple, tossing the brightly colored carrot and yellow crook neck squash strips in 2 tbs. olive oil, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, a twist of fresh ground pepper, and a few pinches of sea salt, for a chilled salad. Combine, and eat! Delicious.

Veggie Pasta Made with a Julienne Peeler

Veggie Pasta Made with a Julienne Peeler

Interested in HIC kitchenware for your restaurant or home? Contact Us.

Contributed by Nicole Herman, of HIC, Harold Import Co.

Benriner – The History, and an Interview with Michiko, Granddaughter of the Founder of Benriner

Benriner Signboard from 1969

Benriner Signboard from 1969. This Signboard shows the Benriner made of tin from before the time of the plastic benriner. With the shift to plastic, mass production became possible, and the customer base expanded from restaurants to the home chef.

Raw, plant based, and vegan dishes are turning up in food blogs and on creative menus throughout the culinary world.  The conversation about this type of cuisine is evolving; preparing the dishes and eating this way is becoming less intimidating due to access to information and education about how to prepare this type of food easily, as well as culinary thought leaders and chefs influencing menus and making these food choices both delicious and available. Eating a more plant-rich diet is thought of as something that doesn’t have to be all or nothing, it doesn’t have to be approached in an extreme way.

An exceptional line of tools to aid in preparing this type of cuisine are the Benriner Japanese Mandolin slicers, from Japan. If you are not familiar with the Benriner name, you may recognize one of the Benriner products by it’s vibrant green color – often seen in the hands of chefs on TV, behind restaurant counters, and on store shelves in its authentic Japanese packaging.

Benriner Japanese Mandolin Slicer

Benriner Japanese Mandolin Slicer

We have had the great honor to interview Michiko, responsible for Benriner’s international marketing, and sister to owner Hajime and grandson of Benriner’s founder, Uyuki Yamamoto, who shared with us the history of Benriner and the company’s evolution.

Michiko and Hajime visited the Harold Import Co. booth at the International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago, in March of 2013; Hajime even demonstrated the Benriner products in person. (Though the Benriner is so simple to operate, we have never seen it used with the grace and finesse Hajime possesses.) We look forward to welcoming them back in 2014.

Benriner Product Evolution

Benriner Product Evolution

Benriner Product Evolution

Benriner Product Evolution

 The Interview

Nicole Herman, of HIC:   Michiko, Please tell us a bit about your role in the Benriner Company.

Michiko: My role is to assist the company’s overall international marketing today- I have not been so aware of Benriner and its exposure to the world market until I become an adult and see how other people and restaurants use it – until then I was using the cheap slicer for cooking for myself – but after using Benriner (I got the sample from my brother) I haven’t gone back to the cheap stuff- The blade in the cheap kind does not last but Benriner lasts.

N: What was the inspiration for your grandfather to start Benriner?

M: Around 5 years after World War II ended, our grandfather started a company in the 1950’s in Japan, that dealt with lumber and wooden products such as interior doors.  He gathered some skilled craftsmen in the city who were lumber cutting and crafting professionals as well as blacksmiths to start the company. Later he used the idea of Kanna (a small wood shaving device traditionally used in Japanese construction) and with the leftover lumber pieces,  he made a slicer that would cut the food (vegetable)- and  the Benriner Slicer was invented. After he officially built the company to make the slicer, He named the company “Benriner” and started production.

Benriner, 1960 -The year the company was founded.

Benriner, 1960 -The year the company was founded.

N:  What has your brother Hajime changed about Benriner, since he has joined the company?

M: Benriner was once created by our grandfather but after taking over the company, my brother has been making the effort for improving the product quality and also package designs, it has transformed from the “old” outdated design to the country-specific, different designs.  Also Hajime started our official website, www.benriner.co.jp

Iwakuni Castle

Iwakuni city, where Benriner headquarters is located, means “the country of the rocky mountain” in Japanese. This Iwakuni Castle was built by Governor Samurai Kikkawa in 1600.

Nishi River

The Nishi River, meaning “the patterns of sewing the decorated kimono which carries out beauty and goes” flowing through Iwakuni city. The Benriner factory is nearby.

N:  The original Benriner looked different than what we use today. What was the first Benriner like, and what influenced the design of the new Benriner?

M: The transformation from a wooden slicer to a plastic version was inevitable due to the increasing cost of materials- also plastic is easier to maintain, and is durable, it is lighter weight, plus you can add product color variations. Also, advice on what changes could be beneficial are sought out from the users (customers) in order to implement the best possible design that would meet our various customers with different needs.

Benriner 1972

Benriner, 1972. The company started moving the production from wood-based material to plastic. This change increased the production level, though the company was located in the residential area, being unable to expand its plant site.

N:  Did your family use the Benriner in the home kitchen, when you were growing up? Do they still?

M: My mother used it all the time.   She made vegetable salad or dishes with vegetable using Benriner and Turning slicers and thanks to my mother; all family members are not picky veggie eaters.

N: Can you share with us any special meals, or traditional vegetable dishes most often prepared with the Benriner in Japan?

M: Any vegetable that can be used for salad, such as carrot, cabbage, or sweet pepper – Japan has many kinds of dishes with a variety of vegetables, so almost all kinds of vegetables are used – however, Japanese restaurants would make the thinly shredded cabbage using Benriner, or radish strands using the Benriner Turning slicer, which often comes served with the Sashimi dish. A combination of white radish and carrot slices is common too, especially for special occasions such as New Year cuisine, as red and white represents good luck.

Benriner Demonstrated in the HIC Booth at the Fancy Food Show, Circa 1998

Benriner Demonstrated in the HIC Booth at the Fancy Food Show, Circa 1998

N:  The Benriner has had a devoted fan base for a long time. Why do you think it’s maintained such popularity?

M: Cooking is fun and a “happy thing” to do no matter where customers live in the world. I think Benriner products help bring the happiness to their kitchen. Benriner products add variety, and the beauty to the dish – so not only are they versatile to use, but also they help bring the cooking quality to the next level – to some users, cooking is more than just cooking, it can be a creative work – almost an “art.”    The second-to-none quality of blades make it all possible and that is why Benriner continues focusing on the product quality and it is also the strength of the company and its pride.

Benriner Handmade Blade

Benriner Handmade Blade

The spirit is – in a way, like how Samurai takes care of their swards- our mother’s side of the family came from the Fujiwara Clan of Kyoto.  ( I keep the copies of family tree scrolls that go back as far as the 7th century- the original is kept in our grandmother’s house)   It is not overstatement to say that we have a Bushido spirit and takes the pride of the quality and take commitment to bring the goodness to people by doing the right thing.

Benriner Blade Inspection

Benriner Blade Inspection. Though automation has now come into play in making parts of the benriner, this last process of the blade making and inspection is conducted by the hand of a skilled person, even now.

N: Could you tell me what “Bushido” means?

M: It is like “Samurai spirit” that values justice, loyalty and sincerity. In my understanding, Bushido spirit itself is the shared value among Japanese people and their business, and it is instilled in our culture, which may have influenced in our high expectation for quality.

Japan has been famous for its great customer service- however we must not forget that it is supported by each individual’s loyalty and quality standard as I think quality of each individual makes difference in the organization and the society as a whole.

Benriner Craftsman

Benriner craftsman training the young employees making the interchangeable blades in 1970’s. Work site pictures of the years (1970s) back then are very rare so these are very precious pictures – according to Hajime.
The 1970’s in Japan were the years when mass production was enhanced by automation- however the blade making process still required the skilled craftsmanship by hand, and is still passed on today to maintain the supreme quality of blades of Benriner products.

Unless each individual employee commits to the value and high standard of quality, good products and service would not be achievable, so It all comes down to the individuals and their quality and the collective effort, that make the good final outcome-products.

N:  Has it surprised you or your family, that the Benriner is so popular in the US?

M: Yes, in a way- I think it is so especially for the employees in the company.   Those products that they produce day to day get imported to the countries all over the world, to the kitchen where they would not even imagine.   Also health awareness is increasing in the US and more people are eating vegetable and Benriner definitely supports their healthy lifestyle.

N: When did your family first become aware of how much the Benriner is embraced by chefs in the US?

 M: We have been aware of the fact that our products have been widely used outside of Japan by the amount of growing export to the various countries including the US; however as I happened to encounter celebrity-chefs using Benriner products on their TV programs and also saw some food magazines show the recipe indicating the use of Japanese/Benriner slicer, then it became more evident that our products had gained recognition throughout food business industry in the U.S.

I also know the majority of local Japanese and Asian restaurants and markets use and carry Benriner products  – just peeking inside their kitchen I can spot Benriner slicers sometimes.  Also our companies have been exposed to some media coverage either by TV programs and newspapers from time to time.

For example, Japanese TV programs last year lead us to know  some chefs from the top restaurants, such as the one in Mandarin Oriental Hotel to the hip and edgy restaurant near Union Square in New York use Benriner products – so we took a trip to New York to personally meet the chefs.   Also we visited  a couple of kitchen specialty stores in Chelsea and Greenwich Village to visit the store owner and got some good feedback about our products they carry.

Nowadays, individual bloggers and YouTubers post various Benriner related comments and videos, sharing their experience as consumers. Also Benriner products are widely used in the cooking schools as well, so we know “future-chefs” would probably continue using Benriner products, too.

Benriner is widely known as “Japanese Mandolin” but many chefs are using it for making casseroles,  desserts, and many other Western style dishes. I think Benriner as a company owes responsibility to provide more opportunities for US customers to eat variety of healthy meals using vegetables.   I see more people in the US shifting to the healthy diet and hope our products would help add variety of cooking options for their daily menu.

N: Yes, people are discussing the concept of eating more healthfully,  and making more nutritious choices, it’s a popular topic right now. The Benriner is a very useful tool for home cooks who are trying to prepare lots of vegetables. If there is one message or bit of information you would like people who use and love the Benriner to know, that they might not already be aware of, what would it be? Is there anything in particular that you’d like them to know about your family, the company, or the Benriner product?

M: I think the good quality of Benriner products are supported by the loyalty of the employees who stay in the organization for a long time and produce consistent quality products, since many procedures- such as blade making for example, are still done by employees by hand, so  craftsmanship and quality control matter most.

As a descendent of Samurai of Imperial Fujiwara Clan,  I humbly dare to believe that Bushido-spirit, which I respect, is what makes us Japanese people and our cultural/spiritual value peculiar and different from other Asian countries.

White Fox Shrine Benriner

A small shrine on site at the Benriner headquarters. The image of “the white fox” or “Oenari-San” is placed and deified on the right and left in the shrine. The photograph with the priest in white is taken when the head office transfered in 2011 and a shrine was reconstructed simultaneously. The festival of “the white fox” in performed in August every year, and the clothes for the Shinto priest are at this time orange.

Just like Samurai’s sword, it is not overstatement to say that we take our pride to the quality of our blades and no other counterfeit products (such as the one made in China) can achieve the same quality.

More about Fujiwara clan: Encyclopedia Britannica

Benriner, today

Benriner, in Japan, today.

N: As the Director of Marketing for HIC, I want you to know that I speak on behalf of HIC, Harold Import Co, when I say that this experience with you has been an honor. We keep you in the highest regard and give great thanks for the time you are spending to educate us about your history,  your contribution to the culinary world, and for sharing these beautiful photographs that illustrate the Benriner Company’s evolution.

M: Thank you! Cooking brings joy to the kitchen- whether cooking for our family and loved ones, or chefs cooking for the restaurants customers – it is all about making people feeling good & happy.   It would be great if Benriner can play a part helping bring joy and happiness to all our customers worldwide.   While being a small company in Japan, we have been maintaining the high recognition both in cutlery and food business industry for along time, we commit our responsibility to continue providing good quality product and services to our customers.

Article contributed by Nicole Herman of HIC, Harold Import Co.

Looking for a Benriner slicer of your own? Contact HIC.

Learn more about how to use the Benriner, from their original videos: 

*All images and photography in this post are the sole property of Benriner and HIC. No use of these may be made without the prior written consent from HIC.