Looking for the perfect gift for the cook in your family this year? I am prepared my guide to help you find gifts that will enable the receiver to more easily "Eat Like No One Else"!
Big Ticket Items
Two things were missing from my kitchen a year ago - a stand mixer and food processor. Without these two tools that were some things that I couldn't do or was very difficult to do (things like make my own marshmallows and hummus). Since last Christmas I have received both items and they are both very important items I use weekly. Both of these items, I have the classics, a KitchenAid Stand Mixerand a Cusinart Food Processor. I am happy with both of them. If you are giving to a cook that doesn't already have one of these and it's in your budget, you will be giving a gift that keeps on giving.
Click here to see some of the things you can do with a food processor.
More Items with Plugs
These aren't the only items with plugs that I have found very useful in my household.
1. Spice Grinder
These are actually coffee grinders, but they are also great for grinding up spices. Using whole spices that you grind yourself will give you a much better, stronger flavor than if you just use pre-ground spices. When shopping for a grinder, look for one that is easy to clean, meaning it has a removable compartment (like this one from Hamilton Beach) that you can take out and clean. I have also heard a lot of good things by the ones made by Krups.
2. Cusinart Ice Cream Maker
One of my philosophies about food is that if you are going to eat something that is not necessarily good for you, make it yourself. Ice cream is one of those foods that I make myself and enjoy doing it. The possibilites are endless. I find it fun to use locally grown fruit when I can in my ice cream. I own an outdated Cusinart ice cream maker. It's simple to use, just freeze the core, and your ready to churn. They have a newer model out now, that I haven't used myself, but everything Cusinart I have use as worked well.
A great thing to include with an ice cream maker is a book about how to make ice cream. I recommend The Perfect Scoop. You could also print out some recipes that I have posted on my site (Sweet Corn Ice Cream, Orange Sherbet, Peaches and (Ice) Cream Pie, Concord Grape Sorbet)
3. Immersion (or Stick) Blender
If you don't feel like busting out the big old blender, then an immersion blender is a nice alternative. The blender can be used to puree soup directly in the pot or puree some fruit. Two things I look for in an stick blender is for the end to come off for easy cleaning and to have multiple speed controls. The one I own is made by Oster. It's cheap, but it has worked well for me. But I have read a lot of negative reviews, which makes me think I might be one of the lucky ones. Instead I might opt for a Cuisinart model, even thought it doesn't have speed settings, but it's prices reasonable and as I said before I trust Cusinart products. I also might check out the KitchenAid
version. I have seen Alton Brown using this one.
4. Electric Griddle
My electric griddle has done wonders for breakfast in my home. I can cook french toast or pancakes, so much quicker than in a frying pan. They are an inexpensive gadget that can save you a ton of time in the kitchen. The one I own is made by Presto 07030 Cool Touch 20-Inch Electric Griddle, Black. This is definitely one item you don't need to shell out money to have the top of the line.
Click here to see some ways to use an electric griddle.
Small Kitchen Tools
1. Zyliss Products
Some of the best items to fill up your kitchen with is tools that save you time and have multiple functions. I am a big fan of the products made by Zyliss. I first saw them being used by Alton Brown on Good Eats. The stuff is stylish looking and works better than similar items from other companies. Their Ice-Cream Scoop and Pizza Wheel work better than any others I have owned.
I also own their Serrated Paring Knife, which is very comfortable to hold, cuts well, and comes with a protective cover, which is a great safety feature and a good way to keep the knife from being damaged in a drawer.
2. Microplane Products
Microplane makes zesters and graters that make it easy for you to add a punch of flavor to a dish. Their Classic Zester/Grater is great at grating cheeses and nutmeg right into a dish. It has a comfortable handle that makes the job easy. But I don't like it as much for citrus zesting. For that I think their Stainless Steel Zester work exceptionally well.
Give the Gift of Spice or Salt
One of the best tools as a cook's deposal are spices. They can be used to take food from ordinary to extraordinary. A good way to start is buying quality whole black peppercorns along with a Peppermill. Freshly cracker pepper is so much better than the sawdust like stuff you find most places. Grains Of Paradise (also called alligator pepper) is a similar spice but with a different flavor. Search around, see what is out there, also including some recipes to uses some spices is a great way to add a personal touch to the gift.
Without salt, food wouldn't taste as good. Salt turns up the volume of your taste buds. A good salt can make a great gift. One of my favorites is Real Salt Sea Salt. Or what about one of the most sought after salts in the world - Fleur de Sel. There is also sea salt collections.
There are so many great books out there it's hard to know where to begin. Below are 10 of my favorites.