Four kitchen accessories serious foodies shouldn't live without

What is it?

Why do I need it?

It's super fast. And while tea might not be the number one beverage around here, it's gaining in popularity.

"In the US, both coffee and tea consumption is less than in Europe. Coffee boomed for many years thanks to Keurig's entrance in the market. This has now matured somewhat. We have seen a strong growth of tea consumption in the US in the last few years. As an example, just look at how many tea drinks are available at a Starbucks compared to just five years ago," says Per Kvarby, global product manager for Electrolux Small Appliances.

If you're a fan of teas, you know that different varieties require different water temperatures for optimum flavor. No doubt, you'll appreciate that this sleek and handsome kettle is tea specific, meaning it's cleverly designed with preset programs allowing users to reach the ideal temperature for a perfect cup of green tea, white tea or oolong tea. But it's ideal for coffee, too. The Expressionist kettle comes in handy when you're in a rush as the OneCup Turbo function boils one serving of water within 60 seconds. The kettle features a 24-hour timer, a programmable, high-contrast LCD display and a "safety first" system with three-way auto shut off and a hidden heating element.

Price, please.

$129.99

Where can I buy it?

Amazon and www.electroluxappliances.com.

Bottom line:

Turn on the fully automatic Expressionist kettle and forget about it. It quickly heats water, then shuts itself off.

What is it?

Cuisinart Fruit Scoop frozen dessert maker.

It creates sorbets and other frozen desserts from fresh seasonal fruit in under 20 minutes.

Why do I need it?

It's hot as blazes. Couldn't you use a frozen concoction that's not loaded with sugar and cream? Unlike a traditional ice cream maker, Cuisinart Fruit Scoop features a special paddle that crushes and freezes bits of fresh, ripe fruit, transforming it into a frozen dessert that you can choose to have chunky or smooth. The Fruit Scoop does double duty. There's a second paddle that allows you to go ahead and make traditional ice cream and frozen yogurt. The machine gets even more versatile. It turns out smoothies and fruity slushes, too.

Simply stash the removable 1-1/2-quart bowl in the freezer overnight, then pull it out whenever you want to make dessert. There's very little work involved; turn it on, slide your fruit into the generous opening and let it churn for about 20 minutes. Dessert's ready.

Price, please.

$99.95

Where can I buy it?

Bottom line:

If you don't yet have an ice cream maker, consider the Cuisinart Fruit Scoop, which offers two machines in one.

What is it?

Sansaire Sous Vide Immersion Circulator. What's sous vide, you ask? In French, the term literally translates to "under vacuum." It's a brilliant cooking method long used by many chefs, especially when cooking various meats, fowl and seafood. The food is vacuum sealed, then slow cooked in a precisely controlled, low-temperature water bath before it's seared or quickly finished prior to serving. Nowadays, with affordable equipment tailored to the home cook, sous vide is available for the serious foodie.

Why do I need it?

You know how when you pan fry, broil or grill a steak, then you slice it only to find that the top half doesn't match the bottom half? With a steak cooked using the sous vide method, the meat comes out perfectly cooked from edge to edge each time.

Without investing a fortune, Sansaire immersion circulator allows you to experiment with sous vide at home, using only the circulator and a large pot, essentially what chefs rely on for exact and predictable results.

It couldn't be simpler. Fill a large container with water, clip the Sansaire Circulator to the edge, set the target temperature, add your food that's been vacuum sealed -- in a FoodSaver, for instance -- and walk away. Sansaire will circulate and hold the water at the precise temperature. Once your steak, ribs, fish or chicken reach the target temperature, you can then finish the meat with seasonings and a quick sear, either in a blazing hot cast iron pan or using a culinary blow torch. You also can cook eggs and vegetables using the sous vide method. Since the vegetables are cooked in a sealed bag, they won't lose precious nutrients.

Price, please.

$199.

Where can I buy it?

Bottom line:

A lot of people who love sous vide swear that you won't get a better steak prepared by using any other method. If you think you want to give it a go, check out this detailed sous vide primer.

What is it?

WellnessMats anti-fatigue mats.

Think of these mats as Tempur-pedic mattresses for your feet.

Why do I need it?

If you find that you stand for long periods of time in the kitchen, then you want this mat. Made in the USA, WellnessMats come with a 20-year warranty. These are made to always lie flat, without ever curling up at the edges, and because of the one-piece construction, WellnessMats won't ever separate, bubble, tear or ripple. And you won't have to worry about WellnessMats losing their bounce and going flat.

According to the company, WellnessMats are ergonomically engineered and medically proven to promote and increase proper circulation.

But if that's not enough to get your attention, the mats come in a wide variety of sizes, attractive colors and designs, including the gorgeous shades of silver Estates collection that mimics metallic leaf.

Price, please.

$129.95, depending on size.

Where can I buy it?

Available through WellnessMats and The Cook's Warehouse.

Bottom line:

WellnessMats may not be inexpensive but you won't have to shop for another comfortable mat for years.

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