Holiday Gift Guide | 10 Gifts for Hardcore Cook
Photo: Joule Sous Vide by ChefSteps, Inc.
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On every gift-giver’s list, there’s bound to be a serious cook. You’re probably puzzled about what to buy this culinary-minded person, especially if you don’t spend much time in the kitchen yourself. Trust us: every amateur chef already has enough measuring cups, sauce pans, spatulas, and food processors. The following gifts will not only impress the foodie in your family, circle of friends, or office cohort, they’ll actually be useful – and fun – for the recipient.
Thank goodness you only have to give gifts, not announce them, because this fancy French-named one might throw non-foodies for a loop. Sous vide is a cooking technique that uses a water bath to heat meat, fish, and poultry to just the right doneness. Unlike an oven or a fry pan, once the food reaches its peak, with sous vide there’s no need to remove the food from the heat source. The Joule is an app-controlled tool that you place in a pan of water. Using the app, you select the desired doneness of your food, place the food inside a Ziploc bag, submerge it in the water, and clip it to the pan. That’s it. Joule does the rest. Once the food is cooked through – and you’re ready to eat – you finish it on the stove. It’s the gourmet alternative to the slow cooker.($199 from ChefSteps.)
Never stand between a cook and their truffles. Truffle enthusiasts are fanatical about foraging and take great care in the preparation of what the rest of us consider to be just another fungus found in the woods. You don’t have to share your truffle-lover’s affinity for this delicacy, but you can support their excitement about it by gifting them a truffle slicer. Made in Italy, this truffle slicer is available in wood or stainless steel with a stainless steel blade for precise slicing. What happens with the truffle is afterwards is at the whim of the chef, but hopefully you’ll be on the receiving end of something delicious. ($32 - $35 from Gourmet Attitude via Goldbely.)
People who love to smoke really love to smoke. It’s a foodie hobby, one that infuses meat, fish, and vegetables with flavor without increasing fat or salt content. Smoking is typically done outdoors, but with a stovetop smoker like this one from Camerons, cooks can smoke in their own kitchen even during the coldest months. Made from stainless steel and designed to keep moisture in, this smoker evenly distributes heat without drying out food. The best part of all? It’s dishwasher safe. ($49.99 from Camerons.)
So you’ve got a big piece of meat but your knife just isn’t doing its job efficiently. Enter the Meat Handler and Shredder, a manly tool that will tear down your carnivorous feast in seconds. Armed with six sharp prongs on each paw, you’ll be able to dig into that pulled pork so much faster. These paws also work for picking up big birds, like turkey, or massive roasts as they come out of the oven. At under $10, this makes for an affordable stocking stuffer.($9.95 by Bear Paw Products from The Grommet.)
Fruits and vegetables often need a little help in the presentation department. Spiralizing them is a fun and visually stunning way to give them more appetite appeal at the dinner table. With this OXO Spiralizer, you can create spaghetti-sized, fettuccine-like, or ribbony spirals from your favorite produce. The artsy edibles can then be used as faux pastas (for those pesky gluten-free eaters), for garnishes, or made into fries. Everything from a zucchini to a pear can be put through the spiralizer. With this gift, experimentation is half the fun. ($39.95 from Williams Sonoma.)
Juicers are a tool rarely used, so while they’re just sitting on the counter collecting dust, they may as well be beautiful. This juicer, created by London-based designer Elinor Portnoy, is a piece of modern art as well as a functional kitchen tool. Made from glass and available in multiple colors, this juicer is bound to impress whomever prepares your morning-after breakfasts, or any of your female gift recipients who would appreciate its lipstick-esque aesthetic. (Starts at $450 from Future Perfect.)
This gift might look like just another ceramic tchotchke, but it’s a must-have tool for the avid pie-baker. When you press the hollow stoneware bird into the center of a pie, it vents moisture (which keeps crust flaky) and prevents juicy ingredients from spilling over the sides of the pan. The pie bird is available in 13 colors and is safe for freezer, microwave, oven, broiler, and dishwasher (though why you’d want to do anything but wash it is beyond us). Bonus: it’s the least expensive gift on our list. ($12 from Le Creuset.)
Cast iron is the must-have material for hardcore cooks because cast iron conducts, distributes, and retains heat like few other materials. A five-quart cast iron casserole dish is the ideal size for frou frou recipes like Boeuf Bourguignon, Butternut Squash Soup, and other foods that need to stay moist and flavorful through extended cooking times.($199.95 from Swiss Diamond.)
Everyone loves fried food, but nobody enjoys the cleanup. This BPA-free silicone frywall tucks inside pans and pots to keep hot grease from splattering all over the countertop, the walls, or (worse) on you. Engineered to allow steam to escape but un-invasive enough to allow the cook access to the grub. It also comes in handy when working with sloppy red sauces or fresh greens that take up too much space before they cook down. The frywall is available in black or grey and comes in a set that will fit a 12-inch and a 10-inch pan. ($50 from Food52.)
Not all fry pans are created equal. This 12.5-inch fry pan from Swiss Diamond is the company’s largest, and it has plenty of space for big hunks of meat or pork chops. Thanks to its nonstick surface, the health-conscious cook can skip or use minuscule amounts of oil. It also comes with a 32-centimeter glass lid for those spatter-prone dishes. ($119.95 from Swiss Diamond.)