Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pinch Holiday Gift Guide

The holiday guide! Last year, readers admonished me for failing to produce a good list of ideas. Here they are. Many of these items are in the Pinch kitchen. If they're not, they're on my list of things that should be.

Thanks to AP for allowing me to photograph her hilarious kitchen plaque. I've been dying to feature it here.

Stocking stuffers or things to tie onto wrapped gifts
Fun cookie cutters - I just stuck some initial cookie cutters in my daughters' new advent calendar as a little gift.

Silicone spatulas and basters- The Rubbermaid spatulas are commercial kitchen compatible, and my personal faves. After shedding too many basting hairs into food, I've switched completely to silicone.

Kuhn rikon paring knife/sheath - These come in a variety of colors. I use mine for picnics and camping. The bright color will stand out in your carry on and serve as a reminder to transfer it to your checked baggage. And you'll be able to find it when you drop it in the grass.

Microplane zester - No one should be without one of these. I use mine for Parmesan and citrus zesting.

Lemon squeezer - I have the lime and orange versions. I only recommend the lemon, as it accommodates lemons and limes. You just don't need the orange one.

Zyliss Susi garlic press - Incredibly efficient, this thing will amaze you if you've been stuck with the kind of garlic press that requires you to exert tons of pressure yet yields no pressed garlic.

Cheese slicer - You can pick between the wire version and the plane

Foil cutter - I got one recently and surprised myself by using it all the time

Fluted Pastry Wheel & Ravioli Cutter - This is for the pie- or ravioli maker in your life.

Smaller ice cream scoops - Different sizes are so fun.

Good kitchen shears - So many kitchens lack shears. How else are you gonna trim your artichokes, people? You can spend a lot on shears. This is a pretty low-end model.

Nutmeg Grinder - This particular one is kinda spendy. I have a $10 model purchased at my spice shop. The upscale version I bought as a gift has a better design.

Food Mill - These are incredibly useful and require elbow grease rather than electric power.

Salter Electronic Scale - Every cook worth their salt should have an electronic scale tucked in their cupboard.

5-inch utlity knife - I usually don't advocate purchasing knives for people because they're so personal. But this is a knife that every tomato-lover should have.

Good cake pans - Every home baker should have two 8- and 9-inch round cake pans, a 10-cup heavy-weight nonstick bundt pan and an 8-inch heavy-weight cheesecake pan.

Nicholas Mosse Pottery - gorgeous Irish pitchers, creamers, sugar bowls and butter dishes.

Cookbooks - Cooks always enjoy new material. Faves that are not oft found in cookbook libraries are Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday and Madhur Jaffrey’s Ultimate Curry Bible.


Pepper Grinder - I have the Atlas but also like the wooden Peugeut models. Salt and pepper sets area also a great idea. Find some good ones with glass (no acrylic!) and metals - copper, stainless or pewter all are lovely.

All Clad butter warmer - Butter should be melted in a heavy bottomed pot - and this one is perfect.

Pizza Stone and Peel - You'll be a pro with this set. My stone resides in my oven almost permanently. It lends some humidity to the dry electric heat.

Really good gifts
Laguiole waiter’s corkscrew - The wine lover in your life will love you for this one. Some sites will engrave it for you, too.

Bob Kramer knife - Bob was my knife sharpener when I was a working chef in Seattle. Now he's expanded his operation and is selling knives through Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table. I normally don't advocate knives as gifts since they're so personal, but I'd make an exception for Bob's knives. I have a parer he made me 12 years ago and it's gorgeous.

Le Creuset - I love the 3 1/2 and 2-quart models and like everything else they make, save the fruit shapes. Who cooks in a blueberry?

Bad ideas
Cheap espresso machines - a Starbucks gift card would be a better gift.

Slap chop, egg separators, anything that screams, "I really have no idea what I'm doing in the kitchen." (For the person who really has no idea what they're doing in the kitchen - a plaque like AP's)

Cookware sets - usually contain unnecessary pieces

Knife sharpeners - have your knives professionally sharpened by someone who knows what they're doing.

Cool gifts you can present in a cute basket:

Gifts that don’t exist but should

Cast iron double-burner griddle. Not reversible. No reservoir. Short walls so you can cook breakfast potatoes, but not so high as to steam pancakes. I've been searching for one for like 15 years.

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