Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 Pinch Holiday Gift Guide

Back by popular demand is the Pinch Holiday Gift Guide. Some items are repeated from last year, some are new. Where to shop? Unless you're an Amazon Prime member, you're probably doing last minute shopping the old fashioned way. TJ Maxx will often have a surprisingly good stash of kitchen tools. Keep an eye out there for All Clad, KitchenAid and Kuhn Rikon. Alternately, Sur la Table and Crate and Barrel are both very well-stocked. Cost Plus and World Market both have good kitchen sections, too.

Gifts under $30
Glass refrigerator pitchers - I have these in three different sizes (pint, quart and half-gallon) and use them regularly for sun tea, fresh squeezed juices, or for kids to serve themselves. The Container Store and Sur la Table sell them.

Muddler - I use mine mostly for making guacamole but in the summertime it's our mojito maker. I have a wooden one with a wide base. The stainless varieties are a good option, too.

Asian soup spoons - I picked up a melamine set at World Market (our ceramic ones kept breaking) that my children love using. Pretty chopsticks are fun gifts, too.

Fun cookie cutters - I just stuck some initial cookie cutters in my daughters' new advent calendar as a little gift. Sur la Table is a great place to pick up creative cutters.

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 or cleaver with 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.

Wine bottle foil cutter - I got one recently and surprised myself by using it all the time

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.

Gifts over $30
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 - Shown above. NM makes gorgeous Irish pottery 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. A new favorite of mine is David Lebovit's The Perfect Scoop. And I totally want Jaffrey's latest tome - At Home with Madhur Jaffrey: Simple, Delectable Dishes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka

Gifts over $50
Professional Power Juicer - If my next kitchen has more counter space I'm gonna get one of these for making fresh squeezed orange juice.

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.

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 13 years ago and it's gorgeous.

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