Kitchen Workhorse – Microplane Grater


My microplane grater might be one of the best purchases I ever made. I use it almost every day. Well, that might be exaggerating a bit, but I do use it almost every day, and sometimes more than once.


I bought it to grate Parmigiano-Reggiano. Yes, the real stuff in a block. I won’t sing the praises of the cheese too much, but we do go through it at an alarming rate. The texture you get from grating it on the microplane is fabulous. It is finely grated, and falls onto pasta in a beautiful fluffy cloud. It melts in an instant, covering everything in salty decadence.


I realized pretty quickly after I bought it that I could also grate my nutmeg with the grater, and it worked better than the side of my box grater or my coffee/spice grinder. A few seconds and I had the fragrant, freshly ground nutmeg I hate to do without.


In a close three-way tie with the cheese and nutmeg is citrus zest. The microplane makes soft, finely grated, almost dissolvable zest in no time. No chopping curls of zest with a knife to make it small enough to disappear into a sauce. No unpleasantly bitter bits hiding in muffins or cakes –just moist zest with none of the bitter white pith, and in no time.

When I zest, I like to hold the fruit in my hand with the microplane upside down on the top side of the fruit, sharp part toward the peel. This seems backwards, but the zest collects inside the blade, held together by the oils from the rind, making it easy to measure. And the angle works better for me, especially after my hands get oily and wet and the fruit gets slippery. I tend to send fewer lemons and limes shooting across the counter and bouncing onto the floor.

I bought my microplane (which is actually a brand name) more than five years ago, and probably closer to ten. It was about $12 then, and they are about that price now. Mine has a blade that’s about an inch wide and about eight inches long, with a fat black handle. There are multiple shapes and sizes, but I prefer mine. For me, the size gives me the most flexibility. I do wish it had a cover, which some of the newer ones do – it would provide appreciated protection for my knuckles when it is in its drawer. I must say that $12 was worth every penny.

What kitchen gadget do you turn to for task after task?

Date Night Flatbread Pizzas


Rich and I had planned to go out to dinner last night and then maybe to a movie. Calvin has the day off from school today and had an overnight last night with my parents, so we were footloose and fancy free. Of course, when it came time to pick a restaurant, Rich and I were clueless. Even after running through a litany of old favorites and new possibilities, we ended up with a big, fat zero. The process of choosing was stressing us out, so we decided to stop trying to force it and make something at home instead.

Flatbread pizzas had caught my eye on several of the menus we perused. I do find that name kind of funny, and even redundant – what is a pizza, if not a flatbread, after all? But it is a recognizable thing on restaurant menus, so I’ll stick with the name, even if it offends my literal tendencies just a little bit.


I mixed up our standby whole wheat pizza dough and let it rise while we concocted and gathered the rest of the ingredients. We had one shallot, which I decided to caramelize. It was as easy as pie to let it slowly transform to a lovely golden brown in the pan while we worked on the rest of dinner. I’m not sure why I have never caramelized shallots before, though if I had, we would have realized that a trip to the store for a few more would have been worth it. We both agreed we wanted at least twice as many shallots on our flatbreads.

In addition to the shallots, we used Jarlsberg, mozzarella, ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano, a little diced chicken breast from the freezer, fresh rosemary from my plant in the flowerbed, thinly sliced apple, garlic and olive oil.


We made one flatbread with garlic, rosemary, chicken and mozzarella, one with rosemary, garlic and all the cheeses and two with apple, Jarlsberg and shallots. They were as good as some restaurant flatbread pizzas we have had. And we got to make them with exactly the toppings we wanted.


Our evening was a little more low key than our original plans, but we weren’t complaining. We got a cozy evening together, cooking, eating and spending time doing exactly what we wanted – sounds like a perfect date night to me.