Every year around this time, my family starts asking me what I want for the holidays. The first thing I always do is to look around my kitchen and contemplate what cool cooking gadget, kitchen tool, or hot new cookbook I can’t live without. Frankly, between not wanting to offend my family with my greediness and being overwhelmed by the vast array of great products to make cooking faster, better, more fun and, of course, lazier, more often than not, I end up paralyzed by indecision. I usually end up telling these well-meaning askers something to the tune of “Oh, I don’t need anything!” But this year I’m taking a new approach and creating a shopping guide for anyone who needs to buy gifts for cooks like me. You know, the slightly greedy and obsessive kind. If my family happens to see it, well, they can rest assured that I’d be thrilled to see any of these items under my tree. And—bonus!—now I’ll finally find out whether or not my mom actually reads my blog.
Slice and Dice with Ease with These Great Gifts for Cooks
My time-tested method for carving a roast chicken is to say, “Honey, the chicken’s done!” But since I just finally learned how to make an incredibly delicious roast chicken (I’ll be sharing the ingeniously simple method here soon!), it’s time I resolve, once and for all, to learn to carve a chicken myself. Of course, that means I need a new toy and this Zwilling J.A. Henckels 8-Inch Carving Knife looks to be just the thing every would-be chicken carver needs.
This Bamboo Over-the-Sink Cutting Board with Built-In Silicone Colander is the perfect gift for a slightly obsessive, space challenged home cook. Bamboo has natural anti-microbial properties, the colander is made of food-safe silicone, the board is reversible so you can avoid cross-contamination, and the whole thing sits neatly over your sink, avoiding widespread messes and increasing your work space at the same time.
Since I’ve used the word obsessive twice already in this post (okay, now that’s three times), I simply can’t leave out the OCD Cutting Board. Illustrative grids, lines, and measures ensure adherence to a range of cutting instructions. No more wondering what the difference is between a small dice and a fine brunoise or churning out allumette when the recipe clearly calls for julienne. The sturdy beechwood board also provides measurements in inches and centimeters, and illustrates various angles.
Tech-y Gifts for Cooks
With so many great cooking apps, e-cookbooks, and recipe sites, who doesn’t want to bring their tablet into the kitchen? Cooks who don’t want screens full of greasy fingerprints, that’s who. This sleek Belkin Chef’s Stand holds your screen at an easy-to-read angle and comes with a magic wand stylus that lets you navigate electronic cookbooks, cooking apps, and the Internet without ever having to touch grimey finger to screen (and all parts are washable!)
The iGrill Digital Grilling Thermometer syncs up (via Bluetooth) with your iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone to alert you when your meat is cooked to perfection.
Cook Like a Top Chef
Home cooks like me secretly lust after tools usually reserved professional kitchens, especially during Top Chef season. The Sous Vide Supreme, which comes with a vacuum sealer, allows home cooks to channel the likes of Richard Blais, locking in flavor like the pros.
This handy and affordable hand-held Smoking Gun is sure to provide hours of entertainment for the curious home cook who will no doubt use it to smoke everything but the kitchen sink. Did someone say “smoked butter”?
The Taylor Digital Measuring Cup and Scale lets cooks easily convert from volume- to weight-based quantities. It’s even preprogrammed to automatically convert weight to volume for certain common ingredients like water, milk, oil, sugar, and flour.
Whether your recipient is a harried parent or an avid entertainer—or both!—he or she will appreciate this Chef’s Quad Timer. It can keep track of an entire meal—up to four separate dishes—at once.
From Kuhn Rikon, this adorable 4-Quart Cook and Serve Casserole is made of stainless steel, includes a tempered glass lid, and comes with it’s own brightly colored cozy so you can serve straight from the pot without risking either burn marks on your table or cold food.
The Good Stuff
Even the cook who has everything needs to restock their high-end staples now and then. A really nice bottle of aged balsamic vinegar or olive oil is always welcome. And, of course, you can’t go wrong with canister of fancy salt and a gorgeous Olive Wood Salt Keeper to store it in.
Cookbooks, too, fall into the category of things an avid home cook can never have too many of. Here are a few I’m yearning for this year: Around My French Table, Home Cooking with Jean-George, Jamie Oliver’s Meals In Minutes, Plenty, and Momofuku Milk Bar.
Oh, and of course, The Lazy Gourmet makes a fantastic gift (but Mom, please note, I already have a copy!)