Q: I recently watched Martha Stewart use a kitchen torch to brown a meringue and creme brulee. Can you give information on where to buy one and how complicated (and dangerous) it is to use?
A: A kitchen torch is just a miniature version of a blow torch, but it isn't dangerous as long as you can point and click.
The trick is to keep the flame pulled back a little from what you're browning and keep it moving continuously so you don't overbrown a spot. Use a gentle brushing motion, almost like combing someone's hair.
Kitchen torches are sold in most cookware stores and range in price from $30 up to $60 or more. However, I can share a trick we use in food styling: Go to a hardware store and look for a "pipe sweater," usually stocked with the plumbing supplies.
It's a basic blow torch with a replaceable blue tank that is used to tighten the seals on pipes. They're not as small as kitchen torches, but they're lightweight, easy to use, and usually cost about $15.