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Well, the gift-giving season is upon us and people everywhere are rushing about to find the perfect gift for everyone on their list. Fortunately, those of us who are culinary inclined tend to be easy to shop for! Everything from a good skillet to an unusual spice blend can find its way to a gift box for an eager home chef.
With that reassuring thought in mind, we've put together a small guide highlighting some of our favorite holiday gifts. From ideas for the cook who seems to have everything to one just starting out, these themed gifts are just the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to holiday shopping for cooks. Feel free to mix and match ideas from this guide, alter suggestions to fit your style or try something completely different. We're just offering some favorites to get the creative juices flowing. The rest is up to you!
In a season filled with love (not to mention one that begs for stews, soups and other comfort food), why not get that special someone a Le Creuset 2-Quart Heart Casserole? Le Creuset is known for the highest quality cookware and it can't be beat when even heating is called for in a recipe. Consider it a gift that keeps on giving -- to everyone around the table!
The ultimate in being festive can be realized with West Bend's 3-Quart Electric Fondue Pot. It makes it easy to entertain without the fuss of heating a mixture on the stovetop first and then lighting a chemical burner underneath the serving pot. This pot heats cheese, broth, oil, and chocolate fondues from scratch and then maintains them at just the right temperature. It's also useful for serving warm buffet food and hot dips like bagna cauda. Eight stainless-steel forks with rugged plastic handles and color-coded butts, as well as a removable ring to hold them in place on the pot's rim, are included, and the instruction booklet includes eight fondue recipes.
Despite its name, a Calphalon Nonstick 12-Inch Omelette Pan is perfect for cooking a lot more than omelettes! Everything from a quick sauté to finishing in the oven is a breeze with this matte-finished professional piece. It's sure to be appreciated by that special someone on your list and at less than $30, it's a steal!
If you know someone who's a fan of FoodTV (or even if they're not!), you might want to consider a copy of I'm Just Here for the Food by Alton Brown. This new book explores the foundation of cooking: heat. From searing and roasting to braising, frying, and boiling, Brown covers the spectrum of cooking techniques, stopping along the way to explain the science behind it all, often adding a pun and recipe or two ... usually both!
For the gourmet in your life, may we suggest Sabatier's Copper Balance 16-Piece Knife Block Set? The set includes an 8-inch chef, 8-inch slicer, 6-inch utility, 3 1/2-inch paring knives, 8-inch steel, and kitchen shears all housed in an 8-slot black radius wood block. The knives have a durable copper finish and are beautifully balanced and a wonder to see. This is a set that's worth over $250.
Any baker on your list will love a Matfer Exopat Nonstick Baking Sheet. Made of slippery silicone, the it prevents cookies and pastries from sticking, eliminating the need for parchment paper, nonstick cooking surfaces, and the greasing of baking sheets. It's been said over and over -- nothing sticks to it!
Any cook that enjoys roasting should have Taylor's Digital Oven Thermometer/Timer. It's great for guaranteeing the perfect roasted chicken, pot roast or pork loin every time. Simply pop the probe into the meat before you put it in the oven, choose your desired end temperature and roast away. The probe will alarm when your meat reaches its set temperature. Roasting was never easier ... or tastier.
For the coffee lover on your list, consider the Bodum Santos Vacuum Coffeemaker. This theatrical and entertaining method of brewing six cups of coffee also results in a great cup of coffee! It's a beautiful machine made of heat resistant glass and gleaming nylong that is bound to become a favorite with any coffee hound.
Semi-Homemade Cooking is a new book by Sandra Lee. While the experienced home cook will likely want to take a pass on this one, it's a good cookbook for those who want to cook, but can never find the time. Lee recommends using convenience products and make-ahead tips to minimize the time spent in the kitchen without requiring one to present food at the table that looks like it came out of a box. A good gift for the beginner cook who wants to get his/her feet wet.
For the person who loves to cook, but might be hard to shop for, gift certificates are a sure bet. They let the recipient know that you appreciate their love of cooking while allowing them to choose their gift. And, because they choose the gift, you just know it will be perfect! Some of our favorite places to look for gift certificates include:
Whatever gifts find their way under the tree this year, we at Seasoned Cooking would like to wish you all a joyous and festive holiday season and many more to come. Happy Holidays ... or, as we like to say here, Seasoned Greetings!
Editor’s Note: The prices listed in this article are reflective of late fall 2002 prices. They are subject to change without notice.