Kate presents Part One of her Holiday Gift Guide 2010, including kitchen accessories like the Kulu Herb and Vegetable Knife Colori and the CDN Dual Sensing Thermometer and Timer, and tasty treats like Little Oven Macarons and Yumnuts Naturals, plus picks a few favorite Thanksgiving recipes in What To Eat This Month.
by Kate Heyhoe
Relax! We've got you covered: Stuff these goodies in your stocking for this year's food lovers. Per your instructions, we tested and tasted a slew of cooks' tools and gourmet gifts. Only the best made it to our list, and here's the first batch. In December, we'll send up another list of more holiday gifts, so keep some space available in your big red bag. Happy Holidays!
Heads up, Thanksgiving cooks: Check out the cool cooking tools in this list, and give yourself a handy helper you can use now.
—and all the elves at Global Gourmet
You'll say oo-la-la with every bite of these Parisian-style macaroons. Little Oven Macarons consist of two ultra-airy and delicate almond puffs, sandwiched together by a creamy layer of swooningly-rich flavor. Made in New York by Little Oven, an online-only boutique bakery, these are not your every day sweets. They deliver a message that says "you're soooo special" and worth every bite of these intense indulgences. Savor them slowly. In ritualistic fashion, my husband and I sampled one daily with coffee or tea in the morning, or as an after-dinner finish, until sadly, the box was all eaten. But we'll remember these flavors for a long time and order more for special occasions. (They ship nationwide.) A Holiday Sampler contains 10 pieces, two each of Sugar Plum, Caramel Apple, Caramel Fleur de Sel, Dark Chocolate and Raspberry for $20. The Classic Sampler has six pairs of Passion Fruit, Pistachio, Cassis, Caramel Fleur de Sel, Dark Chocolate, and Raspberry for $20. (All their flavors are wonderful, but a box of the Caramel Fleur de Sel Macarons will surprise and delight any lover of conventional sea salt caramels.) Or, create your own assortment at the Little Oven Macarons website.
Holiday cooks need this now. The thermometer/probe part of the CDN Dual Sensing Thermometer and Timer measures both the interior meat temperature and the oven's temperature. If you plan on roasting a turkey and, say, baking a casserole or pie in the same oven, this device will let you know if you need to adjust the oven temperature setting. Same goes for smoking and grilling. I slow-smoked a turkey in a standard covered grill and the results were perfect, because I could monitor the heat surrounding the bird as well as inside the meat. And unlike other models, this one works with temperatures as high as 572 degrees F. Also, the timer beeps independently for both oven and meat settings, so it's like having two timers in one.
As a cook with weak wrists, I love this tool. It helps me grasp hot, heavy pans with controlled leverage. The pliers-like tool is also great for sliding hot oven racks in and out of the oven, especially in my toaster oven, where I occasionally burn my hand on the small opening. The Kuhn Rikon Cool Gripper's no-slip grip pad holds pans securely and the tool fits comfortably in my hand. The Gripper beats potholders, too, because it's not bulky and is quicker to grab than sliding an oven mitt over your hand. Use it to move anything hot, like grasping steamer inserts, lifting little dishes from a bain marie, or carrying casseroles to the table (it's worth getting two for large pans). It comes in red, black and a very attractive purple. MSRP $12.
Buy the Kuhn Rikon Cool Gripper.
If your cooking involves finely chopped herbs, garlic and vegetables (and whose doesn't?), this specialty knife will rock your world. The Kulu Herb and Vegetable Knife Colori is inspired by the Eskimo Ulu knife: the single handle and rounded blade make this a one-handed tool, so you simply rock it back and forth to mince, chop or slice. Or for more control of harder to cut pieces, use two hands. And it's very sharp! It features a nonstick coating so food slides off easily, a slip-on sheath to protect the blade, and comes in vivid colors of green or red, by Kuhn Rikon. MSRP: 4-1/2 inch blade $12; 6-inch blade $20.
Buy the Kulu Herb and Vegetable Knife Colori.
When premium, jumbo cashews taste so naturally delicious, it's a shame to mask their goodness with heavy coatings. Which is why cashew lovers will smile at the restraint used in Yumnuts. Flavored Yumnuts Naturals are addictive, without overpowering the cashew's delicate flavor. They start with plump jumbo cashews, then slow-roast them in small batches for light, crisp, crunch, without added oils or preservatives. Choose from simple Sea Salt or Honey, or go for the more adventurous Cajun, Chocolate, Toasted Coconut or Chili Lime. Flavorings are real, not artificial. Stuff a 5-ounce bag or two into each holiday stocking. For busy Santa's helpers, they're handy snacks to enjoy on the road or in place of lunch, or on a plane. (The bags may seem small, but 5-ounces of nuts go a long way.)
Special Discount: GlobalGourmet.com readers get a 25% discount through January 15, 2011, at YumnutsNaturals.com. Use this code at checkout: sayyum25
A knife dedicated to watermelon? Sounded a bit limiting to me at first, but after trying the Kuhn Rikon Melon Knife I realized it does so much more. The 11-inch long, serrated rectangular blade halves hard winter squash swiftly. The flat top of the blade is perfect for leaning on, to get that extra leverage to push the blade straight down through butternut squash or other challenging food. It cuts through watermelons like a hot knife through butter, and easily dispatches the flesh from the rind. The Japanese carbon steel blade with nonstick coating features seed-shaped cut-outs, which are more than decorative: they prevent sticking so food slides off the blade. With its year-round functionality, the pretty pink and green knife (with matching pink sheath), will brighten up your kitchen all year long. At retail and online retailers, or at KuhnRikon.com. MSRP $24.95
Caramel is my weakness, and Indulge Caramel's new sauces are killers. The company is known for their soft caramel confections, and now they've got spoon-able versions. Indulge Caramel Sauce is gooey, buttery-rich caramel with cinnamon undertones, and Hot Sauce is the same sauce punched up with cayenne pepper. Spoon thick dollops straight from the jar, or remove the lid and microwave for a few seconds for a warm, drizzled topping. They're good over ice cream, pies or baked sweets, as a dip for fruit, or stirred into hot beverages. My favorite way to eat them: warmed with a touch of French grey sea salt over premium vanilla ice cream: it's like a sea-salt caramel in a bowl. Each is $6.75 per 10-ounce jar, at IndulgeCaramels.com.
My husband enjoys specialty green teas that come compressed, in little balls or other fancy shapes, and are intended to be re-brewed several times (like Pu-erh teas). Which is why the Sili Gourmet&trade Tea Ball is especially handy: it holds the tea in a flat-bottom, perforated container and comes with a small, low-lipped silicone saucer for resting the tea ball on when not in use, or between dunkings. (Silicone does not absorb odors or colors.) The long handle with heat-proof grasper makes lifting and moving the tea ball easy. Small perforated holes in the stainless steel container prevent fine bits of loose leaves from escaping into the cup. It's a good tool for any type of tea-drinker, and cooks will want to use it as an herbal infuser. When done, simply pop off the silicone bottom and empty the contents into your composter, garden or trash. Dishwasher proof. MSRP $9.99
Buy the Sili Gourmet&trade Tea Ball.
Keeping your luggage within airline weight limits isn't so tough on the outbound journey—it's making sure those added gifts, souvenirs, and bargains don't bust the scales on your trip home. The lightweight ADE Germany Digital Luggage Scale doubles as a handle, so you simply strap it to your luggage handle, lift, and instantly check the instant digital read-out. A good stocking stuffer for travelers. MSRP $19.95, from www.frielingusa.com, or
Buy the ADE Germany Digital Luggage Scale.
For artistic tastes, here's a truly unique gift: "Dreams of the Dead" panoramic sugar skulls, filled with tiny "skullscape" scenes inside, and lit by LED lights. They're not meant for eating, but they are handmade using sugar and sugarpaste. No two are exactly alike. Prices range from $18 to $300, and custom skulls may be commissioned. See them all at InsideMySkull.com, or buy them at several galleries in Austin, Texas (see the website for locations).
Copyright © 2010, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page modified November 2010
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