Sunday, February 20, 2011

My market variety mandolin

I recently was looking at Amy Fothergill's post on the most essential tools needed in the kitchen. One item I would add to this list is a mandolin. The mandolin I use was purchased by my sister-in-law a decade ago when she was out doing her Saturday morning vegetable shopping at her local open air market. As you can see this is a bare bones, simple mandolin but it works like a charm.
I remember seeing this kind of mandolin advertised on television years and years ago. I think back then it was called something like a Magic Slicer. The person in the ad was slicing vegetables with such rapidity that as a child it seemed impossible. Well, it does in fact work just that well. It slices so fast, simply by passing the vegetable rapidly across the blade, that vegetables are sliced (perfectly I might add) in a matter of seconds. But be careful: once the vegetable you are slicing gets so short that your fingers are dangerously close to the blade, spear the remaining piece of vegetable onto its holder to complete the slicing process.
I love this mandolin so much that I've since purchased two fancier models with bells and whistles that allow different slicing thicknesses and shapes. I hardly ever use them though as it's more trouble to get them out and set them up than it's worth. The great thing about my market variety mandolin is that it slices vegetables super thin and perfectly uniform.
I use the mandolin when we make pizza to thinly slice up all kinds of vegetables for the toppings. As the pizzas cook in 3 to 4 minutes the vegetables need to be sliced paper thin so they cook thoroughly in a short period of time. And this mandolin is also perfect for slicing potatoes for french fries. What the mandolin does not work well for are very soft (and juicy) fruits and vegetables like tomatoes.

Frequently I roast fish fillets in the oven topped with a thin layer of potatoes and drizzled with olive oil. The potatoes come out crunchy and golden. I also slice up other vegetables, like zucchini, to roast with the fish.

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