It happens every year, but it never ceases to surprise me: it’s almost Christmas time again. For me this means stuffing my suitcase full of porcini mushrooms, parmigiano, wine, farro, amaretti, cantucci and olive oil to disperse amongst my loved ones in the states. On the return trip, my luggage overflows instead with American goods that I have a hard time finding over here: Filé powder, marshmallows, nutritional yeast, chipotle peppers, Texan BBQ sauce, beef jerky, random kitchen toys, cookbooks, and a lot of english books in general. It snuck up on me so quickly this year- since the book came out in November the weeks have just flown. I’ve had a few gift ideas on my mind, however, that I’d like to share with you before I take off for Texas this week. The list started out as items I thought would be useful for creating an American-friendly kitchen in Italy, but then I mixed in a few handy kitchen toys and random things I love, so it’s really a mix of fun stuff for food enthusiasts on any side of the ocean. Speaking of the ocean, I’ll be on the other side of it for a few weeks- I hope to share some of my trip with you, so I’ll try to post some of my adventures while I’m over there!
Now, on to the list….
|Microplane graters: People sometimes think I work for Microplane by the way I go on about these graters. I love them so much I have 4 of them! I grate everything: chocolate, cheese, garlic, ginger… everything! There are different models for different needs: from fine spice graters to large shavers.|
|Emile Henry pie dish: My favorite dish for the classic apple pie, that charming wavy border makes even the most disastrous pie crust look fancy.|
|Good Knives: The one gift that really forever changed my entire cooking experience was the beautiful set of Classic Wüsthof knives we received as a wedding present. Before that, I made do with a mix-matched collection of dull hand-me-downs and and cheap knock-offs. I had no idea at the time what daily satisfaction a serious set of knives would bring me! Obviously an entire set of knives is a huge gift, so I suggest giving one really good chef’s knife, It will replace 5 mediocre ones. Or for the cook that has (almost) everything, give a ceramic blade!|
|Measuring cups: I am all to familiar now with the challenges of converting recipes back and forth between weight and volume when working with international recipes… which is why I think that every kitchen should have both measuring cups and spoons, and a digital cooking scale (see below). The brand doesn’t really matter, but if you’re cooking American recipes you’ll want to use American measuring cups, because the English cups are slightly different. You can find them at Carrefour, Ikea, and of course Ebay!|
|Digital cooking scale: Again, the brand doesn’t really matter, but a nice, compact, digital cooking scale has become one of my favorite and most utilized kitchen tools, and always a great gift.|
|My cookbook: Eh, hehe.. How could I not put it on the list? It makes a great present, really!
Jamie Oliver’s America: Ok, so I have to put some competition in here too. I flipped through it in the bookstore and I have to admit that Jamie Oliver’s America is a beautiful book, and completely different than mine. First of all, it’s in English, not Italian, and it’s written by an Englishman, not an American. So it’s a totally different perspective (and budget!!). And Jamie Oliver IS Jamie Oliver, I’m still only Laurel Evans, but maybe one day…
Magazine subscriptions: Living on the other side of the ocean can leave me feeling a bit out of touch with contemporary (and culinary) America, which is why some of my favorite gifts have been magazine subscriptions. It’s like a little piece of home showing up in the post every month. On the culinary side, I love to receive Saveur and Bon Appetit in my mailbox, otherwise the New Yorker and Funny Times are both fun, alternative ways to keep up with current events.
|The Flavor Bible: I once said it was the last cookbook I’d ever buy, but that was a total lie, I’ll never stop buying cookbooks. The enthusiasm was genuine though, I absolutely love this book. It’s actually not a cookbook at all but more of a flavor-pairing encyclopedia which allows readers to search for complimentary combinations for a particular ingredient. Genius. Great for creating new dishes and menu inspiration, I sometimes just read it before bed! From Amazon: “Drawing on dozens of leading chefs’ combined experience in top restaurants across the country… Thousands of ingredient entries, organized alphabetically and cross-referenced, provide a treasure trove of spectacular flavor combinations. Readers will learn to work more intuitively and effectively with ingredients; experiment with temperature and texture; excite the nose and palate with herbs, spices, and other seasonings; and balance the sensual, emotional, and spiritual elements of an extraordinary meal. Seasoned with tips, anecdotes, and signature dishes from America’s most imaginative chefs, THE FLAVOR BIBLE is an essential reference for every kitchen.”|