photo from rawpixels.com via pexels.com
Perhaps you have a similar family rule, or a foodie in your life and the need for a gift inspiration. Since I maintain my own wish list all year long via Pinterest, Food52, and Evernote, I figured, why not share? Confession, it is not all consumable, because while I enjoy minimalism, I am also a kitchen goods and housewares junkie. I hope you find something for everyone on your list, and perhaps even a little something for your own list as well. Happy holidays!
[note: all links below are included for your shopping convenience, but all opinions are my own and I am not affiliated with these brands in any way. If the link is to Amazon, I will receive a small commission if you purchase the product as I am member of the Amazon Associates program, which you can read more about here.]
Holiday gifts for the gadget lover
Home sous vide machine. For the culinary aficionado in your life, it is all about sous vide. For the rest of you, you are secretly eating the delicious results of this “fancy” french cooking method all the time. Michelin-starred restaurants highlight it on the menu, and restaurants like Chipotle and Panera use the technique to prepare meat with less fuss and human oversight. An oversimplified and quick version of how it works: food is sealed in a plastic container and immersed in a precise temperature water bath to bring it to its “cooked” state. Because the temperature is precise, there is virtually no risk of overcooking. Tougher cuts of meat and poultry can benefit from long, slow cooking without a lot of intervention from you.
photo by jenn kosar
For holiday cooking, sous vide whips up an extra protein or side dish without hogging an oven or range burner, as it works as an immersion attachment to a large water vessel of your own. I love my Sansaire and Cooks Illustrated recommends the Joule or the half-the-price Anova, less favored due to its bulky size when storing in your kitchen. You could opt for a stand-alone device, sort of like a crock pot, such as this model, but that just takes up more space.
I was skeptical at first, but I assure you, these little guys are simple to use and produce amazing results. My friend Matt schooled me and created the most delicious Roast Pork loin I had ever tasted, self-marinated in herbs and butter, perfectly cooked edge to edge with a bath in the sous vide and finished with a quick pan sear on the stove. From weeknight dinners, like these Ancho Chili Chicken Tacos from Karen’s Kitchen Stories, to fancy party food, like these Bacon and Gruyère Egg Cups from The Pudge Factor, there is so much you can do with this age-old technique. I highly recommend it for that hard-to-shop for foodie on your list.
photo used with permission from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
The Instapot is notably absent from my recommendation list. I just don’t get it. Perhaps I am biased by my natural [healthy] fear of the pressure cooker, which sounds like a kitchen disaster waiting to happen. Really, it seems too single-purpose to me. Melissa Clark’s article in the Times summed it up, in my view.
Holiday gifts for the coffee lover
Yes, this is a separate category in my house. And yes, I am writing this section because this is what I want for Christmas. My very own home single-serve cold-brew machine. [Remember when home-brew meant something entirely different?] Cold brewing coffee is exactly what it sounds like: producing brewed coffee from grounds by steeping it cold water for several hours, in this case, overnight, ready to go in the morning. I like the smoother, less acidic quality and the stronger brew that stands up to the slow dilution from ice as I nurse it all morning. I have my eye on this model because I want the single serving. Cooks Illustrated highly recommends this model for batch preparation.
Holiday gifts for the classic home cook
The home cook in your life always appreciates an upgrade or a restock of their most-used items. As an avid amateur chef myself, I know it makes me smile when everyday cooking is made a little more special through the use really high quality items. My favorites:
- High-quality olive wood spatulas, spoons, or salad servers. I like the Staub brand.
- Beautiful linen napkins and towels for hands. I love these botanically dyed ones from a_db, made right here in Maplewood, available on the new General Store by Work and Play. Food52 always has gorgeous options too, like this one in Japanese linen.
photo used with permission from Work and Play
- If your chef is more the workhorse practical towel type, spoil them with the expensive, but never-fails-to-dry towels Classic Striped Towels from Williams-Sonoma.
- Treat her to a lovely apron to elevate her hostess game, like these from Minted, or for him, this dutch canvas apron with leather ties just meant for the grill.
- A dish tote, for the friend who always brings something to the party, help them do it in style with this one, both beautiful and practical.
Consumable food gifts for the minimalist
For the minimalist, it is all about the consumables. That way your gift is eventually gone (in the nicest way possible). Food is the ultimate consumable, but here are a few ideas to take you beyond the fruitcake.
Gourmet Oils. You can never go wrong with a good Truffle-infused oil, like this one from Food52. Take it one step further at TreOlive.com and adopt-an-olive-tree in Southern Italy on behalf of your foodie friend, earning them oil from their very own tree. I love creating a selection from zingermans.com, who make it easy to shop by flavor profile, region, or however you like to organize your oil needs. Finally, while not explicitly “food”, this year it is all about Coconut Oil, so I am stocking up on tubes from Consciouscoconut.com, who are donating a meal through Feeding America Food Banks for every tube purchased.
Unique salts. I love salts from The Filling Station in Chelsea Market for local Food with a View fans (available online as well). For salt presented beautifully, as well as other lovely foodie gifts, check out the Coastal Farmed Sea Salt at Farm House Pottery.
“Salt on Spoon” by Michal Grosicki via foodiefactor.com
Cured meats. Maybe this sounds weird to you, but this is Gary’s favorite holiday treat. This article from Food Republic will inspire some creativity this holiday season, or go with my favorite, Prosciutto. Debragga.com even lets you send an entire bone-in leg to your special someone.
Tinned seafood selection. This is for the advanced foodie in your life, as I know anchovies and sardines are not for everyone, but foodies tend to love them. When assembling a box of fishy goodies, aim for spanish and portuguese brands and make sure the fish is packed in oil. I like The Maiden Lane or Tienda for online shopping.
Local or unusual spirits. For the cocktail lover, introduce them to a new distillery or small batch producer they’ve never tried. I am loving all the gift box ideas at mouth.com, especially this beautiful Koval Gin box set or the elegant in its simplicity Kings’ County Distillery Moonshine Box.
For the food book or cookbook lover
I know I always have a long list of food-related books I am eyeing, especially cookbooks. Here are a few on my list this year, to give and receive (note: all links are to Amazon for your convenience, but please consider supporting your local bookseller). Plus, in my family, books count as consumables!
- The Food & Wine Guide to Perfect Pairings I love that this one is organized by type of wine, which makes working through our embarrassingly large collection (see posts on California wine country for root causes) easier.
- Simple Fare – A Guide to Everyday Cooking and Eating by Karen Mordechai. This is actually a two-part series, Fall and Winter and Spring and Summer, focusing on using the best of what is available in each season.
- The Farm Cooking School by Ian Knauer, in case you can’t get enough farm-to-table seasonal cooking, but this one focuses on techniques, and in particular those that our great-grandmothers would have used to make seasonally available food sing.
- Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark, for simple, globally influenced weeknight dinners by the NY Times columnist. The game changer? A single recipe is dinner, nothing more than a simple salad or bread necessary to complete the meal.
- The Haven’s Cooking School by Alison Cayne, because I love cooking “textbooks”, and this one looks perfect for at your-own-pace home cooking lessons.
Hope that helps make a dent in that holiday shopping list this year! It is time for me to get moving on mine. I know quite a few foodies who will be happy on Christmas morning this year! What’s on your list to give and receive this season?
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