Top 10 Kitchen Gifts for a Foodie
Posted December 21, 2011on:
For the foodie in your life, check out this roundup of some of my own favorite kitchen gadgets and accessories.
Way more old school than an electronic spice grinder, a mortar and pestle adds a DIY feel to the kitchen. I use mine for grinding cloves, muddling mint for mojitos, and unleashing pent up aggression. They come in all shapes and sizes (mine is tiny, proportional to the size of my kitchen), and are made of everything from wood to marble. I like the heavy stone kind.
9. Cuisinart Pan
I’m not usually one to endorse a brand name, but these pans are unlike any other I’ve used. Mine are from the Chef’s Classic Stainless collections, and they’re not particularly expensive either. For every cooking technique I’m sure there exists the ideal cooking vessel, so I’m not claiming these are great for everything, but my attachment to these Cuisinart pans is that they can go from the stove to the oven. This is great for browning cheese for a moment under the broiler, searing meats on the stove the finishing them off in the oven, or even just keeping food warm.
8. Informercial Grade Vegetable Peeler
The Titan vegetable peeler (As Seen on TV) was given to me as a gift (read: I did not order it via 1-800 number on a Saturday night while sitting on the couch in my Snuggie), and ever since I first held that peeler I’ve changed my tune about infomercial products. This thing is invincible. It peels potatoes like it’s slicing through butter, and takes the skin off of a butternut squash like it ain’t no thang. Unfortunately, it doesn’t discriminate against fingers so keep yours out of the way. But seriously, with squash season upon us, your favorite foodie could use a little help from this tough guy.
My food processor, specifically the shredding blade, has literally sliced (ha) hours off of my cooking prep time. Making latkes this Hanukkah? No problem. Just pop the potato in and 5 seconds letter you have grated potatoes. (My goodness, now I sound like I belong on HSN.) My Cuisinart food processor (seriously, no endorsement) came with a dough blade too, which makes pizza prep super easy, especially with the help of #6…
6. Pizza Stone and Peel
I’ve written about the pizza stone and peel before, but this pair makes a great gift and only gently prods, “Please invite me over for dinner.” Last New Year’s Eve I embarked on the unheard of venture to host a pizza party for 20 people. We made 14 pizzas over the course of about 2 hours, and it was incomprehensibly successful. I’ve decided to stop while I’m ahead and never attempt that again, but I can vouch that pizza is a great food for entertaining guests. The gear not only helps you make a better pizza, it makes you feel super professional—in certain cases, so professional you have delusions of being able to match the production of a small pizzeria.
Salt and pepper obviously go together, so this is a double gift. I started keeping salt in a little olive wood keeper about a year ago, and I love it. It’s so much easier to grab a true pinch of salt when it’s in a shallow container like this, and the swivel lid keeps moisture out when you’re not using it. Equally important is a solid pepper mill. I spent an afternoon testing grinders at a boutique kitchen store in New Jersey, and eventually happened upon one that gives a nice, consistent coarse grind. It’s best to test before you buy, because we all look for something different in a pepper mill, but keep in mind that the most expensive are not always the best. I rejected a $50 mill for mine, which rang in at $12.99.
4. Mise en Place Bowls
It’s such a simple concept, but it makes such a difference. When you have all your ingredients in little bowls, ready to go, you don’t have to scramble to collect your minced garlic or measure out your cinnamon. It’s all neatly compartmentalized and ready to be mixed in. I have a variety of sizes and materials, but the newest addition to my collection of mise en place bowls is a set of silicone pinch bowls from Le Creuset. Aside from being fun and colorful, they are squishable, which helps create a spout to pour out the contents.
This gift is for the female foodies in your life (or the very-comfortable-with-their-masculinity men). I don’t know when, but at some point aprons went from granny to chic. Hey, they’re quite functional and in the hands of an artist can turn out nearly stunning. Mine came from Etsy, and I swear I wish it were a dress because I’d wear it every day.
2. Cooking Class
We home cooks could always use a lesson or two to add something new to our repertoire. Gift certificates for a cooking class are always a good bet for a foodie. Many Whole Foods markets have instructional kitchens, and in the NYC area, I have been to fabulous classes at Brooklyn Kitchen and The Social Table.
The Shun is the knife that puts all other knives to shame. I fell in love with this knife when I had the chance to test it out on some celery at Sur La Table, and I haven’t looked back. I actually got this for my boyfriend for his birthday and it was quite well-received. Sure, a sharp, shiny knife doesn’t scream romance, but a gourmet home-cooked meal does!