Monday, December 6, 2010

2010 Culinary Holiday Gift Guide

As the holiday shopping season gets underway, I thought I'd suggest a few great food-related gifts.

Kitchen Equipment

An All-Clad Grill Pan
This item was given to me by my then-boyfriend, now-husband about 6 or 7 years ago. It's still in great condition (any All-Clad item should last for years, if not for life), and I use it all the time. A perfect gift for an apartment-dwelling friend or relative who has no outdoor space in which to grill. Obviously, the grill pan isn't a true substitute for a barbeque, but it does give a nice char and funnels the grease and oil away from the meat, thereby simulating grilling.

A carbon-steel Wok

A good wok is another gift that will last a lifetime. A lot of people are intimidated by using a wok or cooking Chinese food. But, I'm here to tell you that it's soooo easy, delicious, and quite healthy. A supplement to this gift could be the fabulous, straightforward cookbook Breath of a Wok. This has detailed instructions on how to season and use your wok as well as many simple, delicious recipes. Nearly every page of my copy is splattered with stains.

I've really enjoyed Gordon Ramsey's Chef for All Seasons.
Usually "seasonal" cookbooks annoy me. Recipes for "spring" will sound good in the fall and the ingredients will be hard to find, and so on. But, this cookbook is well laid-out and each season has enough delicious recipes to entice. The other great thing about this book is how Ramsey manages to include impressive gourmet dishes that are simple to make. None of the recipes have complicated instructions or crazy ingredients, but all are flavorful, beautiful, and will dazzle your family and guests.

I'd also recommend Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home. Finally, TK has put together a cookbook that mere mortals can use! There's no doubt that the Bouchon and The French Laundry cookbooks weren't for the casual cook, but Ad Hoc assembles the kind of recipes that normal people like to eat on a regular basis (pot pie! fried chicken!) and delivers kick-ass renditions of them.

Slotted Spatulas
Well, though I've long been a devotee of tongs, it appears that they are now out. TK reports that they can bruise and damage food and instead advises use of a slotted spatula (originally developed to flip fish). I'm going to give it a try (I've got one on my wish list!), and I also pass the tip along to you.

Delicious Edibles
Vosge Chocolates
Sumptuous, decadent, innovative, and a splurge...a box of Vosge chocolates would make any true lover of chocolate happy. Get one of the exotic truffle collections and the lucky recipient can work their way through an assortment of flavors like cinnamon and dulce de leche, chili, wasabi and black sesame seeds, taleggio, balsamic vinegar, and pine nuts.....sorry, just drooled on the computer.

What about something fabulous from D'Artagnan? Pick up some duck fat or duck glace, or maybe truffle butter, or a little charcuterie, or a pate of foie gras for your favorite foodie. Everything here is top quality and they ship overnight and have gift certificates.

Happy shopping...and happy holidays!

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