We all have friends and family in our lives that love to cook! Show your appreciation for their hard work in the kitchen and bring a smile to their face this year with some of my absolute favorite kitchen products and gifts.
1) Harry Potter Kitchen Swag - Calling all Witches & Wizards. Harry Potter merch is available now through the Williams Sonoma/Pottery Barn family including these amazing aprons. Now to decide where your true loyalty lies. I'm Gryffindor all the way!
2) AeroPress - Amazing coffee for under $30 - yes please! Goodbye fancy Burr grinders and scales, because who really can or wants to exert that much brain power BEFORE they've had their morning cup of Joe? I've owned a Nespresso machine, Chemex, French Press, Italian espresso maker...and the AeroPress is by far my favorite (and most affordable) caffeine delivery device out there. Designed by Aerobie engineer Alan Adler, it's perfect if you're looking to make just one or two cups and the best part is you can take it anywhere! All you need is boiling water - so camping trips, hotels, trips back home - you'll never be without a great cup of coffee again. After a tutorial or two, it's pretty fail-proof and oh so delicious.
3) Le Creuset Cast Iron Crepe Pan - Okay, I've never actually made a crepe on this pan, but it lives on my stovetop year-round because that's how much I use it. I originally bought it to make Dosas, but soon realized this pan was destined for so much more. Grilled cheese or any grilled sandwich, quesadillas, my famous Almond Flour pancakes, heating up pizza (this is the only way to reheat pizza btw), warming tortillas - the list really goes on. I highly recommend this pan for any serious cook - or someone with kids! Oh, and the clean up is a breeze - I occasionally wash it, but mostly just wipe it down - much easier than washing my All-Clad pans. You also can't go wrong with the Le Creuset Grill Pan and classic Dutch Oven.
4) Food Gifts - Of course, you can't go wrong with the gift of delicious food. Create a basket or stocking filled with gourmet pantry items such as Extra Virgin Olive Oil like this gorgeous re-usable bottle from Williams Sonoma, below, Italian Luxardo Cherries (for the world's best Manhattans and ice cream sundaes - click here to read why), Neilsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract, (what the pro's use), French Croissants (I send these to my parents every year in Ohio where French pastries are scarce), or a bottle of Vodka with some seriously tasty Bloody Mary Mix. My go-to shop is Williams Sonoma. They seem to always offer free shipping and a 20% off coupon around the holidays. They also have daily deals all month long on food gifts.
5) Food Gifts (cont...) - If you live in the Bay Area and have a chance to go to St. Helena in Napa, pick up a sleeve (6) of Model Bakery's English Muffins. Featured on Oprah's Favorite Things 2016 & 2017, countless blogs and the Food Network, these puppies are worth their weight in gold. They freeze wonderfully, so we'll buy 4 or 5 sleeves each time we go up. Get one for a friend and yourself! They are best on their own with a little butter (okay, a lot), but also quite tasty with my favorite jam from Chico - which you can find at your local Whole Foods or specialty grocer - Mountain Fruit Company. The Raspberry Rhubarb is divine, but you can't go wrong with any of their flavors. Simply processed, they contain very little sugar with over 77% whole fruit picked at the peak of its season. If you're not in the Bay Area, you can still order, but call well in advance to Model Bakery. It looks like they are also on Amazon, but the shipping alone will set you back $32. Order the jams here.
6) Joule - Sous Vide has long been popular among chefs and serious home cooks, and is now becoming more and more mainstream - just head into Starbucks and ask for their sous vide eggs for breakfast (they're delicious). I never got onto the sous vide train because the idea of cooking my food in plastic and then that plastic leaching chemicals into my food sounded insane. BUT, I know the final product is amazing. With some advances in technology and this really great article from Nom Paleo - I'm ready to try the silicone bags which are chemical free. The Joule claims to be the world's smallest and sexiest sous vide tool - you can even use it with your iPhone or Android.
7) Epicuren Cutting Boards - These are hands down the best cutting boards out there. My favorite feature is how thin, light, and flush they are to your counter top making them easy to handle and wash. I often keep a trimmings bowl right in the sink and can easily scrap off my waste from the board right into the bowl in one fell swoop. Check out these from Williams Sonoma - the initials give it a a fab high-end look.
8) LamsonSharp Fish (aka Off-Set) Spatula - I received this in culinary school and can't imagine cooking without it. Not just for fish, you'll use this for anything and everything that needs flipping. It's flexible, durable, and I secretly use it for cleaning up burned bits on my pan and things like dried pancake batter or wax adhered to the counter top that you just can't seem to scrub off. The magic fish spatula slides underneath and lifts it right up.
9) OXO Handheld Spiralizer - This was certainly a big year for spiralized veggies thanks to the continued popularity of Gluten-Free, Paleo, and Whole 30 programs. This handy kitchen tool is a perfect stocking stuffer and is geared for a light to moderate spiralizer user. It earns double points in my book for its tiny footprint (basically fits in the palm of your hand). If you think the chef in your life wants more, opt for the OXO Good Grips Spiralizer which ranked #1 on Wirecutter's list $38.24 on Amazon.
10) Salt & Pepper - Most serious cooks keep their Kosher salt close to the cooktop to grab a pinch quickly and efficiently. Check out this gorgeous made-to-order Salt Cellar from Food 52. Pepper is another story. Freshly ground pepper delivers the best flavor, so you've got to have a killer pepper grinder. With close to 700 reviews and 5 stars on Amazon, you can get a sense of why the Unicorn Magnum Pepper Mill has developed a cult like following with pro and home cooks alike.
11) Lagouile Steak Knives - French-made, these are the gold standard of steak knives. They come in a variety of gorgeous handles and cut beautifully. The beautiful box makes for a lovely gift.