How many of you are already done with your holiday shopping? *crickets* Yeah, me either. I’ve got some talented home cooks both young and old to shop for this year, but finding Christmas gifts for this group can be difficult, specifically if the person in question already has a well-appointed kitchen. If you’re in the same boat, don’t stress- I’ve got a list for you with items that most home cooks, whether weekend culinary warriors or the type to cook every meal from scratch, would love to have waiting for them under the tree.
For the On-the-Go Cook:
We all know the type: they carry a paring knife on their person at all times and wouldn’t dream of going on vacation without a checked bag full of their beloved cooking utensils. Here are a few things to help them look forward to their next trip and open up their vacation cooking options.
I know I don’t like to travel unless I’m staying somewhere that has a full kitchen, but this 1800 watt portable induction cooktop would make me feel comfortable staying pretty much anywhere with functioning electricity. I’ve catered events that wouldn’t have happened without the help of a few of these babies lent to me by friends, and I can tell you that they are well worth their cost.
Hands down, the most frustrating part about cooking outside of your own kitchen is not having good knives available to you. That dish you planned to make that involved finely minced shallots and diced sweet potatoes? It’s not going to happen, my friend, unless you have good knives, and the only way you’re sure to have them is if you bring them yourself. This KnifePack by Mercer Culinary would be a welcome addition to any traveling cook’s arsenal.
This hybrid scale and measuring cup from Kalorik can help save luggage space for the traveler who likes to dabble in far-from-home baking.
For the Culinary Entertainer
Whether this person has a knack for Pinterest-worthy candlelit dinners with friends or prefers the relaxed, informal air of a backyard barbecue for the whole neighborhood, the hospitable home cook could always use something to make their next culinary affair shine.
In my book, there are two classes of aprons: utilitarian aprons, meant for tomato sauce splatters and random starbursts of flour, and hostess aprons, meant for tying on after the bulk of cooking is done and you’ve had time wipe the sweat off your brow and tame your unkempt hair. Most home cooks have an in-the-trenches apron (or an old t-shirt) they favor for heavy cooking, but it’s nice to have a couple of pretty aprons so that when guests arrive and you are putting finishing touches on the meal, you don’t look like you’ve been working as hard as you probably have been. My favorite aprons are from Jessie Steele, and some designs even have a matching oven mitt; however, if Miss Steele’s style isn’t what you’re looking for and you want something a bit more masculine, you have many options left at your disposal.
These little cast iron cocottes by Staub add a special touch to a dinner party, whether they contain a small pot pie or a bourbon peach cobbler. And since they’re cast iron, pretty much anything cooked in them will be awesome.
Classic with a modern edge, these crystal Cabernet glasses would be a welcome addition to anyone’s glassware collection.
For the Griller
You want to buy a gift for every griller you know. Grillers like to show off, so chances are at the first sign of warm weather, they will be itching to light up the grill and feed their friends (that would include you, you awesome gift giver).
If you’ve spent any time at all preparing food on a grill, you know how useful a good pair of protective gloves can be. I’ve slow-roasted my fingers more than once while tediously flipping smaller cuts of meat over blazing charcoal and would love to have a pair of gloves like this made for smaller hands. This suede glove set from Steven Raichlen is a thoughtful gift for grill fiends everywhere.
This 14-piece stainless steel grill set from Cuisinart makes a great gift for the newbie griller, but it’s also a great travel kit for grilling on the go. While the contents aren’t the highest-end options out there, this is still a solid starter set that will get the recipient through several grilling seasons with ease.
Another offering from Steven Raichlen’s Best of Barbecue line, this 14′”x 11.8″ Cast Iron Plancha is fantastic for grilling smaller items like shrimp and vegetables, delicate fish, or for having fun with experiments like grilled bacon or REAL grilled cheese.
For the Baker
Any serious baker has their benchmark tools that they use more often than most of us use a toothbrush, but there are some tools that, while not always necessities, can make a baker’s life easier when the occasion calls for it.
Lest you think that culinary torches are a one-hit wonder used only for creme brulee, think again. Not only can you use one of these to freely brulee pretty much everything (stone fruit over ice cream, french toast, pound cake, bread pudding…), but now you can make awesome drinks like hot cocoa with torched marshmallows, cocktails with a burnt sugar rim around the glass, or “grilled” lemonade.
This marble pastry board is a bit pricey, but it can be an invaluable tool to a baker, specifically bakers who work with pastry in warm climates. When I worked with pastry during hot Virginia summers, I kept my marble slab in the deep freeze and pulled it out to make croissants and puff pastry. The marble stays chilled and keeps all of the butter in your pastry from melting, meaning it’s also a great gift for novice bakers who need a little extra time and insurance while they perfect their craft.
Measuring spoons might seem like an odd thing to give as a Christmas gift, but these are no ordinary measuring spoons. First, these double-ended babies from Progressive International have one elongated side that easily fits into most spice canisters and a rounded side for liquids (which also means that you don’t have to worry about dipping a wet measuring spoon into dry ingredients). Second, they are flat on the bottom so that they rest easily on the counter top, and third, they are magnetic, meaning they stack and store easily and securely and you don’t have to contend with that obnoxious ring that usually holds them together.
For the Wee Little Sous Chef
They peel onions and garlic, husk corn, sneak tastes of things when you aren’t looking, and are delightful to have alongside you in the kitchen. Even if it means dinner prep takes a little extra time, it’s worth it to get the kids in the kitchen, and giving them their own tools to help makes it that much more fun for them.
I love, love, LOVE when people get children involved in the kitchen, and this 27-piece baking set from Curious Chef is enough to entice even the most reluctant children into an apron and get them baking. It’s rated for children ages 5 and older, but many younger children could use it with appropriate adult guidance. Everything is sized appropriately for children and is bright, colorful, and visually attractive, plus you get cookies at the end of everything. What’s not to love?
A great stocking stuffer and a potentially great way to keep water-loving tots busy while you work in the kitchen, Curious Chef’s vegetable scrubber is a toddler/preschooler favorite in my home. I set the kids up with several carrots and potatoes, a sink half full of water, and lots of towels on the floor and let them scrub away while I work right beside them. They love that they’re actually allowed to be splashing around in water, and I know that there will only be one mess to clean up this way instead of the half dozen I’d be contending with if they were in the living room, away from my watching eyes. Sanity for under 7 bucks, right there.
If your kids can handle more than just scrubbing vegetables, you can gift them the 6 piece fruit and veggie prep kit, which includes the scrubber mentioned above. The nylon knife works well for things like lettuce, berries, and bananas, allowing children to help with dinner prep without fear of hurting their little fingers. I’d stick to the recommended age range of 5+ on this one unless your little helper is already well-versed in helping in the kitchen.
I hope this helps you with your gift lists this year. I’ll be back soon with a list of edible gifts for the food lover in your life. Until then, tell me: what kitchen items would you like to give or receive this year?
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