Gift Guides!

A Gift Guide For The Home Cook

November 30, 2015  —  Written by Chris 

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Onto our third gift guide of the day! Check out the gift guide for kids and the DIYer if you missed them.

There are a lot of serious food people out there. People who think if they aren’t eating the best thing they’ve ever tasted in their life for every meal, then they’re being mistreated by the world. I don’t happen to be one of those people. My goal isn’t to make the “best” food in the world, because that’s completely subjective and, quite frankly, exhausting. I want to make good food for me and my family, and I want to enjoy doing it. So here is a list of gifts for people like me.

1. ChefWorks Half Apron

chefworks-half-apron

Several of you have asked about the apron I wore in our Frigidaire promo video. This is it. Simple, and I love it.

2. Wüsthof 7in Santoku Knife

wusthof-santoku

No surprise here, right? I’m always talking about Wüsthof, and their knives are unrivaled in my mind. While I have both a cooks knife and a Santoku, I find that most home cooks are more comfortable with a Santoku, because they better facilitate straight up and down chopping. Any home cook would be giddy upon receiving this knife on Christmas morning.

3. Anolon Nouvelle Copper Stainless Cookware

anolon-cookware

I’ll be honest. My cookware has always been kinda hodge podge. Mismatched pieces I found in Ross or TJ Maxx, but it was all I could afford and it worked great. That’s where I was in my life, and it was a great option. But I’ve recently switched out my old equipment for all Anolon, and I can’t say enough about how much I love this cookware. The thick, copper base heats quickly and evenly, the stainless sears to perfection, and they’re absolutely gorgeous.

4. The Flavor Bible

flavor-bible

Another standard in my gift guides, but I can’t get over it. Whenever I’m trying to come up with a new dish using only the ingredients I have on hand, the Flavor Bible is invaluable. It gives you thousands of flavor combinations, showing you which ingredients work well with which, and allowing you to cross reference until you come up with the perfect flavor pairing. It’s just a really great reference for the home cook who doesn’t like being chained to recipes.

5. Char-Broil Electric Digital Smoker With SmartChef® Technology

charbroil-smoker

Ok, I have to be honest, I am most excited about this one. A few months back, I posted a review of Char-Broil’s new electric, digital smokers. They really are great and a complete pleasure to use. BUT, this one has got me more excited about a cooking apparatus than I’ve been in years. Char-Broil just released the SmartChef version, which connects to Wi-Fi and is controllable via a downloadable app. How friggen cool is that?! That means I can set a rack of ribs in the smoker in the morning, open my app around lunch time and turn the smoker on (from wherever I am), and have slow-smoked ribs ready by dinner. I can even monitor the temperature of my ribs, and it gives me timing and instructions, all on my phone. If your special someone is looking to try their hand at smoking, can you even imagine how jazzed they would be to open this Christmas morning? (bonus, use code B15CLJ to save 15% through the end of the year!)

6. ThermoPro Remote Meat Thermometer

thermopro-thermometer

The smoker has a built-in thermometer, but you still need one for everything else. Too many times people ask me how long to cook a piece of chicken, or steak, or a whole turkey. While you can usually get your cooking time to fall within a certain window, the best meats are monitored by temperature, not time. This thermometer allows you to monitor the temperature of your food, as well as the air around it. And with the remote, you can keep an eye on it from anywhere in your home.

7. West Bend Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper

westbend-popcorn-popper

This one may seem odd, but I’m a total popcorn fiend. It’s just a great snack and, culinarily speaking, you can do so much with it. But I hate unpopped or burned kernels. No worries about either of those with this popcorn popper. And it’s crazy fast – fresh popped popcorn in about the same amount of time it takes to microwave a bag.

 8. All-Clad Immersion Blender

allclad-blender

This is one of those things that may not seem super cool, but only because most people buy crappy ones that aren’t impressive. By investing in a good-quality immersion blender, the foods you use it to create will be better. Silkier soups, smoother sauces, awesomer alliterations. Plus, the removable base makes it way easier to clean – just put the bottom half in the dishwasher.

9. Charcoal Companion Himalayan Salt Block

charcoal-comp-salt-block

This is one of those things that’s just fun to cook with. Jules bought this salt block for me earlier this year and I honestly love it. And it’s actually impressive how much salt the food absorbs. Also, you don’t have to only use it on the grill – works great in the oven, too.

10. CucinaPro Pasta Machine

cucinapro-pasta-roller

Making your own pasta seems intimidating, and with dry versions so available and affordable, why deal with it? Well, a few reasons. First, it’s not that hard. The longest part is the 20 minute resting time after you make the dough, but you can work on other things with the meal during that time, like the sauce. Second, fresh pasta does genuinely taste better than store bought. Third, and probably the most important, it’s fun! Greta and I love making pasta together – she likes to crank the roller and hang it out to dry. Cooking together facilitates strong relationships, and making your own pasta is definitely that way.

I love practical kitchen stuff, but it’s also good to have a mix of genuinely enjoyable gifts on Christmas. Something that ignites a spark of excitement in the receiver. I’m sure your casually serious food lover would be so excited to receive anything on this list, and you’ll be just as excited to watch their reaction when they open it.

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What do you think?

  1. Karmen says:

    Hi Chris,

    I follow your blog because I love the honesty. I’m in need of new pots and pans like 5 years ago!! Could you tell me more about your cookware set. What do you clean it with, does the copper need to be cleaned a certain way…….etc…Karmen

  2. hy chris, the knife so good. this is so expensive knife

  3. Victoria says:

    I want it all! The pasta maker was definitely at the top of my list this year, but a chef friend told me there’s a pretty great attachment for the KitchenAid mixer. True?

  4. Judi says:

    Thanks, Chris, for the wise words about “good” vs. “the best” food. Whether cooking professionally (which I don’t do anymore) or not, I’ve always tried to make my kitchen about good food for people I love–because that IS the best. I don’t know why we’ve turned everything into a culinary competition! It’s about being together and sharing the experience. And I hope more people read this and heed the message.

  5. I bought a 7″ Santoku knife for my Husband’s birthday and he honestly loves it and uses it all the time (not Wüsthof, sorry!). Now I’m thinking that popcorn maker is the next gift for him!

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