Any seasoned chef knows that an exceptional faucet is just as important in your kitchen as a sharp knife or cast iron pan. It’s a major tool of the trade and should be given full “MVP” status. At Sur La Table, we’ve been focusing on our fixtures this fall, installing new faucets in dozens of our stores across the country and we’ve learned a thing or two in the process, so we wanted to share our top tips for picking the perfect tap with you.
We’ve outlined four key ingredients to keep in mind when considering your options:
1. FLOW: When it comes to selecting a kitchen faucet, it’s helpful to ask yourself, “does this faucet go with the flow?'” A kitchen faucet should not only be functional and stylish, it should also provide greater freedom of movement in and around the sink. The faucet in the main sink area is always the workhorse of any kitchen, and we recommend choosing one with multiple features like a long pullout hand sprayer that increases the sink operating range. A pivoting spout and individually positioned handle also offers easy control of the water flow and directs the water exactly where it is needed.
2. FORM: Silhouette, shape and size of a faucet are critical things to consider when selecting the ideal faucet. Consider the size of your sink and match accordingly. A smaller sink requires a shorter, lower profile faucet. Choosing a really tall faucet for a small sink, for example, will only result in splash city. Double sinks pair well with larger scale faucets that have large, pivoting ranges, delivering even distribution of water where you want it.
3. FUNCTION: Whether it’s tackling heavy pots and pans, filling vases, or rinsing vegetables, the kitchen faucet is a cook’s best friend and when it’s a truly phenomenal faucet, it can even reach sous chef status. Pick one with more than just good looks and make sure your faucet also integrates superlative engineering and technology. Remember that a higher quality, well-built faucet will be built to last. Look to pioneering brands that have longstanding expertise in the kitchen faucet market. Right now, some of the top tap experts are rolling out fixtures that integrate a streamlined water flow mechanism. This allows water to be controlled via the wrist or elbow when fingers are dripping with your favorite marinade, covered in flour, or you just have your hands full.
4. FINISH: Selecting the right kitchen fixtures are critical decisions in any kitchen renovation that will add just the right finishing touch. Because they can be installed fairly easily at the end of what can often be an endless renovation process, the faucet seems to be an afterthought for many people. Often this decision doesn’t get the careful consideration it deserves. A great faucet in a fresh looking finish, for example, can quickly provide an instant upgrade to an existing kitchen. Non-traditional finishes like rose gold and black are statement-making, while gleaming chrome or brushed nickel remain classic, time-tested choices.
That’s a lot to expect in a faucet, but we know the right one is out there. We found our kitchen fixture sweet spot with Hansgrohe. This pioneering faucet company is outfitting countless Sur La Table locations, and we’re also cooking up some other exciting things together.
From now through October 31st, as part of their #KitchenIsSocial Instagram campaign, share your kitchen-themed photo for the chance to be one of four lucky winners to score a Hansgrohe faucet plus a Sur La Table gift card and cookbook! Head here for more details.
And while we were at it, we also whipped up some fun fall recipes for you in the Hansgrohe kitchen. Celebrating festive fall moments, these dishes are sure to win you points with family and friends this season.
Chicken Wings with Homemade Ranch Dip
Baked, not fried, these wings are layered with flavor from the spicy dry rub as well as the sauce spiked with dark ale. And forget the bottled ranch dressing when making your own at home is so easy and tasty. Make a couple of batches of these wings for your next game day party and watch them disappear.
Yield: 8 to 12 servings
For the dry rub:
2 tablespoons smoked Spanish pimento
4 teaspoons onion powder
4 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 pounds chicken wings, each cut into two pieces at the joint, wing tips removed
To prepare dry rub, combine dried spices and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl, whisking to combine. Toss wings in the spice mixture and arrange on wire racks set over rimmed baking sheets. Let wings sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Place the wings in a cold oven and set temperature for 275 degrees. Bake wings until fat begins to render and drip onto baking sheets, about 30 minutes.
Increase oven temperature to 475 degrees. Continue baking wings until golden brown and crispy, rotating the baking sheets and flipping the wings halfway through the cooking, about 20 to 25 minutes. If the wings are not crispy after 25 minutes, run them under the broiler until crispiness is achieved. Remove wings from oven and let cool slightly.
Homemade Ranch Dip
To take some of the bite out of the minced raw garlic, soak it in the lemon juice before adding the mixture to the dressing. To vary this recipe, you can replace the ground pepper with crushed peppercorns or stir in a few tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan. This dip works great for crudités, chicken wings, or as a salad dressing. Mix and refrigerate up to 2 hours before serving.
Yield: About 1-1/2 cups
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon minced shallots
3 tablespoons minced fresh dill
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Tabasco hot sauce, to taste (optional)
Place lemon juice in a small mixing bowl or ramekin. Add minced garlic, stirring to combine. Let garlic mixture sit for 10 minutes.
Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, shallots, dill, and chives in a medium mixing bowl, whisking to thoroughly combine. Add garlic mixture, whisking again. Taste and season with salt, pepper, additional lemon juice, and hot sauce if using.
Honey Crisp Apple Salad with Gorgonzola, Hazelnuts and Sherry Vinaigrette
This simple fall salad takes minutes to prepare and captures the essence of the season on one plate. The vinaigrette can be made in advance but make sure to dress the apples as soon as possible after cutting to avoid browning. To obtain thin, even slices to cut into matchsticks, a mandolin works very well.
Yield: 4 servings
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces baby arugula leaves
1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet onion, such as Walla Walla or Vidalia
1 Honey Crisp, Gala, or Fuji apple, peeled, cored and cut into 2 inch long matchsticks
3 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
To prepare vinaigrette, whisk together mustard, honey, and sherry vinegar in a medium mixing bowl. While whisking vigorously, drizzle olive oil by drops to form an emulsion. Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Set aside.
To prepare salad, place arugula, onion, and apples in a large mixing bowl and lightly season with salt and pepper. Dress with vinaigrette by pouring 2/3 of the dressing around the outside of the bowl and tossing gently to coat. Divide salad between four chilled salad plates.
To serve, add Gorgonzola crumbles and hazelnuts to the remaining vinaigrette and lightly toss. Divide evenly between the salad plates and serve immediately.
Roasted Pumpkin and Parmesan Risotto
Risotto is a traditional Italian rice dish made from short-grain rice called Arborio or Carnaroli rice. The technique involves stirring small amounts of hot liquid into the rice, a little at a time, allowing the liquid to be absorbed. While it cooks, the rice releases its starch, giving the risotto a rich, creamy consistency.
Yield: 4 servings
1 medium (2 pounds) sugar pie pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
7 to 8 cups chicken broth, low-sodium, divided
Boiling water, as needed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 medium shallots, peeled and minced
1 medium garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups (14-ounces) Arborio or Carnaroli rice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375ºF and position rack in the upper third.
To cook pumpkin: Place the pumpkin in a large bowl and toss with olive oil until all pieces are well coated, season with salt and pepper. Spread the squash in an even layer on a silpat-lined baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and roast until squash is golden-brown and tender, about 15 minutes.
To cook the risotto: Pour the chicken broth into a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to the lowest setting, cover, and keep hot. Fill another small saucepan with water and heat over high heat. Bring to the boil, then lower heat to the lowest setting; cover and keep hot.
In a large sauté pan over medium heat melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the shallots and cook until soft, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, 3 to 4 minutes. Add rice and, stirring constantly, cook until evenly coated with butter and heated through, about 3 minutes.
Add the wine and stir until it evaporates, about 1 minute. Use a ladle to add 1 cup of hot broth to the rice. Cook, stirring continuously, until the broth is almost fully absorbed. Continue to add the remaining broth 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly and adding more broth only after the previous addition has been absorbed. The rice is done when creamy and tender, about 20 minutes. If all the broth has been used but you still need to add more liquid to the rice, use some of the boiling water.
To finish the risotto: When the risotto is creamy and the grains are plump and tender with a slight resistance to the bite, known as al dente, the risotto is done. Remove the pan from the heat and use a silicone spatula to stir in the remaining butter, sage and Parmesan cheese. Once incorporated, gently fold in the pumpkin. If risotto is thick, use any leftover broth or water to thin as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
To serve: Divide the risotto between 4 warmed serving bowls and serve immediately.
One-Eyed Monster Cookies
Yield: 3 dozen (1-1/2-inch) cookies
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Green sanding sugar
5 long strands black licorice, cut into 1-inch lengths
18 white mini-marshmallows
36 brown mini M&M’s
Preheat an oven to 350°F and position rack in the center. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, combine the flour and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar and beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat until well combined. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until the dough clumps together, about 1 minute.
Using a tablespoon, portion the dough and roll the dough between your palms into 1-1/4 inch balls. Coat the balls in green sanding sugar and place the balls 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets. Transfer to the oven to bake, rotating the pans halfway through until golden-brown, about 12 minutes.
Remove the cookies from the oven and immediately indent the centers. Push 4 licorice pieces into the top of the cookies to form eyelashes. Cut mini-marshmallows in half and push into the center of the cookie, cut side up. Stick a mini-M & M in the center of the marshmallow to form an eye. Repeat with remaining cookies and leave on the baking sheet until cool.