You’ve been naughty, you’ve been nice… and your kitchen’s been along for the ride. Now, it needs a little holiday love. Here are the essential gadgets, do-dads and culinary machinary that should be on your Kitchen Wish List this year. Print this out for everyone from well-wishing relatives (who never give you quite the right gift) to free-lance friends who want to celebrate you and your new Facebook status (“Married!”) but don’t have a ton of cash. Who wouldn’t love a Le Creuset tucked under the tree? Couples Cooking Classes stuffed into their stocking? A wine aerator to make the big bottle of Cab taste like a refined Rhone?
Whether you’re engaged, you’re a newlywed or you’ve finally decidedt to recycle the take-out menus and have a little fun at the stove, make this your ultimate Kitchen Wish List (no more using the butter knife to slice an onion and, no, your daiquiri blender does not double as a Cuisinart).
Kitchen shears are a must. They can clip the fat from the chicken, snip the scallions and slice the pizza (just make sure to wash well between each of the aforementioned cooking tasks). They disassemble easily and slip right into the dishwasher. Jamie’s the first one to introduce me to the beauty of culinary scissors and I’m hooked! Sometimes you just want the ease of scissors instead of a knife.
When I worked for ABC News NOW and the James Beard House, I interviewed amazing chefs from all over the country. My #1 question: What’s the one kitchen tool you can’t live without? The immersion blender! You can puree in your sauce pot (without having to dump everything into the Cuisinart or big blender), whip eggs in a tiny bowl and, well, do just about anything. The one tool that all chef swear by. Where’s yours?
On the stove-top, in the oven, on the kitchen counter, resting on the soft, downy pillow next to you… An enamel-covered cast-iron pot–preferably one that holds 3 quarts or more–is an absolute must for any home cook. (Le Creuset is a popular brand that never disappoints.) It distributes and retains heat like no other cooking vessel. Invest in one now and keep it for the rest of your marriage (which will also hopefully last for the rest of your life…)
Jamie’s magic wand. (Insert joke here.) No, seriously, Jamie swears by his Microplane graters for everything from zesting a grapefruit to grating garlic (the Microplane kinda makes the garlic melt into any of your favorite garlic-heavy dishes. Spend $9.95 and put away that bulky box grater forever.
A blender is not a Cuisinart. A Cuisinart is a Cuisinart. There’s no getting around this one. So dig into your piggy bank and go out and buy the most indispensable piece of kitchen machinery that’ll ever sit on your faux marble counter. Absolutely worth the splurge (and around the holidays, these puppies are always on sale!)
You’ll think your California Cab and your Piemontese Nebbiolo have been “breathing” for hours. Love the Vinturi Wine Aerator
When rich Uncle Oscar and Aunt Maybelle are footing the bill (and trying to apologize for not making the wedding) go for the ne plus ultra, All-Clad Copper Core 10-Piece Set of pots and pans. You get the efficiency of copper but the durability and ease of stainless steel. Jamie’s as in love with his All-Clad pan as he is with me (or so I think… the All-Clad might be a front-runner…)
Shun makes the real chef’s knife. I used to think it was all about the heavy blades with big handles. Then, Jamie enlightened me and told me that restaurant chefs always go for thin, lighter, more efficient blades that they can use all day. Shun is maneuverable and the master of Japanese-style knives.
Okay, at this point, I don’t care if you store your high heels in the oven. Buy John Besh’s cookbook for nothing more than eye candy! You’ll still be satisfied. He’s the hottest, most talented Southern chef around (besides my husband, of course).
Newlywed cooking classes with me and Jamie! Our 2011 Winter/Early Spring class roster is up and each 4-hour session is jam-packed with helpful hints, tricks and tips for both the newbie and the more experienced cook. Enrollment is very limited (just 16 per class), so sign up now. Make a little gift certificate of the upcoming class and slip it into your honey’s stocking…
(Breakfast photo by Colleen Duffley)