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!
- If you're a fan of slow cooking and want to keep extra dirty dishes to a minimum, Rival's 5-Quart Round VersaWare CrockPot Slow Cooker is for you. Unlike other slow cookers, this model allows you to brown items in the stoneware insert on the stovetop! In addition, you can bake, broil, microwave, refrigerate, freeze and even clean the insert in the dishwasher. And the base of the slow cooker is classy enough to sit on a buffet table ... either plugged in or with the cord removed. $39.99
- For those that love everything from Asian cuisine to Indian curries, consider the Cuisinart 8-Cup Rice Cooker. The square cooker features rounded corners, chrome-plated handles, and a glass lid with a stainless rim, chrome knob, and steam vent hole. Inside you'll find a high-quality, stainless-steel steaming basket and a nonstick cooking bowl that produces 8 to 15 cups of rice. The cooker also steams vegetables and thin cuts of meat, creating a complete, fat-free meal with little effort. Besides various types of rice, the cooker cooks couscous, polenta, oatmeal, boiled eggs, shrimp, and much more. It's a perfect kitchen helper for the busy cook. $79.95
- For a pan that can multi-task, try the Calphalon Commercial Nonstick 10-Inch Griddle/Crepe Pan. The sides of this 10-inch nonstick griddle are low and slope gently, so your crêpes slide out without falling apart and your pancakes flip easily. No matter what you're cooking, you're guaranteed quick and even heat distribution, easy food release, and simple cleaning, thanks to the pan's three layers: an aluminum core, a hard-anodized exterior, and a reinforced nonstick surface. It will quickly become a favorite pan in your home. $18.85
- Alton Brown returns to print with more whit and wisdom in his new cookbook, I'm Just Here for More Food: Food x Mixing + Heat = Baking. He takes the science of baking to new levels by organizing the book by mixing methods and breaks down what those methods do for various dishes. It's great for the curious and those that love great baked goods ... and, of course, look forward to some great recipes as well. $22.10
- The editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine bring us The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition with 1,000 Recipes just in time for the holidays. Maintaining the excellence that the magazine has become known for, this new cookbook takes the best of the magazine and offers 1,000 recipes that are bursting with the kind of insight and creativity that Cook's Illustrated has come to stand for. $22.05
- If you know someone who loves lattes (and who doesn’t?), the Latte-Whip Classic is the gift for them. This battery-operated device whips milk into thick foam in seconds for creating a latte, cappuccino, or macchiato. It's also handy for thin milk shakes, hot chocolate, foamy cocktails, and even emulsified salad dressings and sauces. The 4-inch stainless-steel whip cleans easily with just a rinse. A chrome-plated power unit houses two AA batteries (included) and has a thumb-operated on/off button. $19.99
- If you could dream up the perfect cookbook, it might look something like this: easy recipes for days when you're spent and just want something quick and filling; pull-out-all-the-stops recipes for when you want to spend an entire week working on Saturday night's meal; instructions for tasks like cleaning mussels and making pastry dough; introductions and mini-essays explaining recipes' origins and the techniques they involve; and an overall panache and intelligence. You are looking at the description of The Gourmet Cookbook, a new cookbook by Gourmet Magazine, offering everything the home chef dreams about in a cookbook -- and more than 1,000 recipes! $25.20
- This Wüsthof Classic 7-Inch Hollow Edge Santoku Knife is a Japanese cook's (or chef's) knife, featuring a low-tip style with a broad blade. The cutting edge is minimally curved, so it provides less rocking action than a European-style cook's knife. For straight-down slicing and precise chopping, however, it's superb. Alternating hollows on each side of the blade create air pockets, allowing slices to fall away cleanly. Its ability to slice and chop with great ease make it one of the most popular knives with chefs everywhere. $79.95
- The ORKA Silicone Oven Mitt is made of non-porous, food-grade silicone and is designed to withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees F without melting, staining, or getting your hands wet. This makes the ORKA ideal for cooking with boiling water or oil or using over grills or open flames. Slip-resistant "teeth" on the mitt’s grasping surface provide a sure grip when lifting greasy or wet pots. At 11 inches long, the mitt is long enough to protect the forearm and fit either right or left hands of all sizes. For easy cleaning, the ORKA goes right into the dishwasher with the rest of your pots and pans. $16.51
- 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 2004 prices. They are subject to change without notice.