Photo from Modernist Cuisine at Home
Welcome to Follow Me Foodie’s Holiday Gift Guide!
Top 10 Gift Ideas & “Must Haves” for the Foodies who are rolling in the dough… literally. Gifts for the Bakers, Cooks & “Wannabe” Chefs!
Whether you’re rolling the dough, butchering the meat, slicing the onions or trying to find space for your newest kitchen gadget, you love being in the kitchen and perhaps even more than being in a restaurant. If you’re a seasoned cook who likes to play “chef at home” then this list is ideal for you… or that person you’re supposed to be shopping for. And who was that again?
If you’re a real chef then chances are you would rather not cook extravagant meals at home and prefer simplicity. Or you already have the commercial grade kitchen stuff and in which case you might find my other gift guides more appealing. I guess it depends on what kind of chef you are at work though. Anyway this top 10 list features gift ideas and “must-haves” for the cook or chef who prefers making everything from scratch.
1. Digital Scale – I mentioned it in my Top 10 Gift Ideas & “Must Haves” for Foodies & Gourmets, but it’s important enough to include it in this list as well. If you’re experienced, chances are you already have one, and if you don’t then you need one. It’s not a “maybe I should, maybe I shouldn’t”, but it is a must in any kitchen if you plan to do more than make jello. If you are attempting a more advanced recipe or cooking for many then the result will be more promising on a scale. It is much more accurate and precise than measuring by volume. The Good Grips Digital Scale allows you to pull the display away from the base and it features an optional backlight. This is the one I use. Kitchen Scale – Baker’s Math Kitchen Scale is also excellent.
Where to buy: Call the Kettle Black
2. The Science Of Good Cooking – I have been eagerly waiting for the release of this book! The book features 50 core concepts and over 400 recipes from simple to advanced. There is no need to get the molecular gastronomy kit though, the recipes are intended for the home. The book not only teaches you simple techniques, but it tells you why, where and how to use them. It explains the science of cooking in a non-boring way and anyone with an interest in cooking will find it fascinating. Concepts include: Gentle Heat Retains Moisture. Salty Marinades Work Best. Starch Helps Cheese Melt Nicely. Sugar Changes Sweetness and Texture etc. It’s a bible of kitchen fundamentals which will make you a better cook or chef.
3. Benriner Japanese Mandoline Slicer – Watch your fingers! This is crazy sharp. It’s made in Japan and I feel like every chef owns one. I can’t confirm it, but I’d pretty much call it the “chef’s choice for a mandoline”. It’s really affordable too and if you’re looking for a mandoline then this is it. It’s very sharp and intimidating to use, but it’s arguably the best on the market.
4. Baking Steel – This is ideal for any pizza fanatic. I know. It looks like a lap top, but it is indeed a “pizza pan”… in a lap top case. Fancy! By now I’m sure you’ve seen several pizza pans, but this is hot off the market and not like the others! I know it sounds cliché but listen up! It is invented by Andris Lagsdin who owns a family steel manufacturing business and has also worked for Todd English at his pizzerias. His dream started on Kickstarter and now he is just trying to keep up with orders since the reviews for it have been amazing. His inspiration to create the Baking Steel was from Modernist Cuisine. The book claimed that steel was a more conductive cooking surface than a brick oven’s stone, so he made the Baking Steel from there. The Baking Steel cooks faster, more evenly, and at a lower temperature, and the result is a crispy thin pizza crust that many have claimed is “perfect”. The Baking Steel is 16 inches X 14 inches, 15lbs, ¼ inch thick, and made from recycled steel. This thing is heavy duty and indestructible! It’s also great for baking rustic breads. Order by Dec. 16 to arrive by Christmas.
Price: $72 (Door-To-Door No Tariffs – Shipping to Canada UPS Ground – $49USD)
Where to buy: Stoughton Steel
5. Modernist Cuisine At Home by Nathan Myhrvold – It is the famous Modernist Cuisine. This is another item I mentioned in my Top 10 Gift Ideas & “Must Haves” for Foodies & Gourmets. The first series Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking was unbelievable and I couldn’t put it down. It has a cult like following of chefs and intense foodies and for good reason too. Almost every question I had was answered in the first series and its offspring Modernist Cuisine at Home will not disappoint. The first series was more catered towards the chef, and this one is for the home so it is more practical and realistic for most home cooks.
6. MAC Mighty Chef 8 1/2-in Standard French Knife – Everyone should own a good knife. Start with the right tools before you even continue. A chef’s knife is essential in the household of a good cook. The MBK-85 is the standard classic French knife (8.5 inches) with a high carbon Chrome Molybdenum blade with Vanadium (super thin and hard blade). It is a professional knife and it’s said to be the sharpest in the world and most durable. It is designed and made in Japan (often said better than Germany for knives) and every knife is shaped, assembled, polished and sharpened by a professional Japanese craftsmen. It is made and inspected in a series of up to 64 steps to guarantee a flawless product. It is used by chefs like Thomas Keller and Charlie Trotter. The wear is about 30 years before you have to replace it so it’s worth the investment. The MAC MTH-80 (Chef’s Knife 8″ with dimples) is good too.
7. Mastering Knife Skills: The Essential Guide to the Most Important Tools in Your Kitchen – So what? You have a fancy knife. “That don’t impress me much. So you got the moves but have you got the touch?!” Anyone can save up and buy one, but do you know how to use it? This is part 2 of the gift for the MAC Mighty Chef Knife or any knife for that matter. It is an older book, but it doesn’t age. The book is intended for novice cooks who want to ‘sharpen’ their skills, but I think any cook or chef could benefit from this. You learn things differently from different teachers and brushing up on knife skills is like doing scales in music. It is never a bad thing to refresh the memory and practice the importance of knife skills. It also comes with a 30 minute instructional DVD with the most important techniques. So if you’re not a reader, than just watch it.
8. Pressure Cooker – It’s the new “sous-vide” for 2013. Convenient, fast, easy to use and easy to clean up without sacrificing the quality of food. I promise it won’t blow up or explode if you use it correctly. Don’t be afraid of the pressure cooker. They are not the ones your grandma used. It cooks food 2 to 10 times faster than other traditional methods. The food does not lose flavour either and you can make chili, beans, pot roasts and rice in a fraction of the time compared to other cooking methods. This will save you time and we can always use a little more time. I am currently waiting for the WMF Perfect Plus Pressure Cooker to arrive.
Price: $319.95 (or varies with model, invest in quality)
Where to buy: Call the Kettle Black
9. Ma Gastronomie by Fernand Point – This book is intense and it is not for the typical home cook. It is heavy reading material with no precise recipes and it is more for chefs and experienced cooks. It’s considered a classic for the book shelf. There are over 200 inventive French “recipes”, but it is not a “cookbook” and it’s more of a translated autobiography of his life in food. Fernand Point is considered one of the world’s greatest chefs and he opened the 3 Michelin Star Restaurant de la Pyramide in Lyon, France at the age of 24. He trained many of today’s top French chefs and this book includes French food history, creative ideas, cooking notes, theory and techniques.
Where to buy: Chapters, Amazon
10. Cuisinart Gelato and Ice Cream Maker – I have a love affair with ice cream, gelato or any frozen dessert so I have gotten a lot of use from this. I got this in the summer and I’m surprised my dresses still fit. Unlike the old ice cream makers this one has a commercial quality compressor-freezer so it’s always ready to go. There is no need to freeze the ice cream bucket and it has a “keep cool” function that starts as soon as the machine automatically turns off.
Where to buy: Call the Kettle Black
11. MacGourmet Deluxe (Cookbook & Recipe Software) – I added an extra gift, but who’s counting? This is for the ultimate “food geek”. It is pretty much the “itunes for recipes”. It’s for the “type A” and you can manage recipes and access information to all ingredients including directions, preparations, notes and nutritional value. You can even build your own cookbook! This thing is boss. It is only for Mac computers. If you have a PC I recommend the DVO Enterprises Cook’n Recipe Organizer Version 10 which is a best seller. I mentioned it in my Top 10 Gift Ideas for Foodies & Gourmets.
12. SousVide Supreme – I’m at 12 gifts, but who cares? There are 12 days of Christmas. This is another one of my favourite kitchen helpers. This is the epitome of “modern chef at home”. Sous vide is a cooking method used by world renowned chefs and now you can do it in the comfort of your own home. Think of it as “poaching 2.0”. It’s cooking food in vacuum sealed pouches at a controlled temperature over a duration of time. The result is the most tender and perfectly cooked meats, seafood and vegetables. This would go well with Under Pressure by Thomas Keller if it’s a gift for an experienced cook or chef.
Price: SousVide Supreme Demi $369 and SousVide Supreme $469
Promo Code: Use “Mijune” and SAVE $20!
Where to buy: Cedarlane Culinary