Do you panic when it’s time to shop for your favorite cook? I don’t blame you. The treats dancing in our heads can be a tad more unusual and a lot pricier than sugarplums. We dream of truffles and saffron and shiny, red enamel pots or maybe a fancy espresso machine. Some years it might be all of the above and more!
Before you make your list and check it twice, I have a few suggestions to help you shop for the culinary types on your list. First, stay away from processed anything. Give the trio of Francis Ford Coppola sauces in the fancy gift box to your neighbor who hates to cook. Foodies make their own sauce. In addition, with few exceptions, you should probably stay away from highly specialized gizmos and gadgets. They take up too much space in already crowded cupboards and counters.
Now for a few specifics:
Gifts for the host with the most. You usually bring wine or flowers but what if your host is a kitchen wizard? Thank him with some lovely first press olive oil, a beautiful handmade wooden spoon or a gorgeous rosemary plant.
Stocking stuffers. Beginner or longtime cook, you can never have too many silicon spatulas, kitchen tongs or whisks. Start with a few key limes in the toe. Then, toss in small bottles of exotic spices and a favorite kitchen tool or two. Need more? Add a potholder and wine stopper.
Little gadgets. Next time you’re together, snoop around the kitchen. Perhaps your friend needs a new corkscrew, silicon mat for baking or a digital scale. Assuming she doesn’t have one, a mini food processor would top my list as the gift to give. Leave the avocado slicer or corn stripper in the store. He already has a knife and it works just fine.
Bigger gadgets. Depending on your definition of big, I suppose it could be a new stove with double ovens. I’m thinking more along the lines of a stand mixer or ice cream maker, even that bright and shiny expresso machine. Before you head to the store, feel free to spend an evening with your loved one, sipping wine and asking questions like, “If you could have any grill (or wine cooler or …), what would it be?” Afraid you’ll give yourself away? Camouflage your intent with a bunch of other what-ifs … dream vacation, diamonds or pearls and Mercedes or Mini.
Great ingredients. Truffles, beluga caviar or one-hundred-year-old balsamic vinegar; unless you have a few hundred dollars lying around, this one can be tricky. Whether we can afford them or not, foodies can be snobs when it comes to ingredients. Forget the beluga and buy the best you can find in a category you can afford. Instead of Tuscan truffles, go with gorgeous homemade bonbons from a New Hampshire chocolatier, a bottle of pure vanilla bean paste or a jar of French fleur de sel.
Homespun. If your giftee wears aprons, you’ve got it made. Plain and simple, funky or frilly, an apron is a great gift. Great until the tally reaches a couple dozen and your friend shouts uncle. That’s when it’s time to switch to sturdy but still good-looking potholders and kitchen towels or a unique new cookie cutter. Yard sale fanatics should keep foodie friends in mind when foraging for treasures. Vintage potato mashers, citrus juicers and rolling pins make lovely gifts.
Gifts for foodies who like to eat but not cook. This one is too easy; gift certificates to their favorite restaurants. Too pricey? How about gift certificates to a favorite coffee or gelato shop?
Have a joyous and delicious holiday! Bon appétit!
About 2 pounds beets, red or gold or a mix, peeled and cut into wedges
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 red onion, cut in half and then in thin wedges
About 2 pounds mixed greens – use the beet greens plus Swiss chard, baby kale and/or spinach
1/4 cup shelled, chopped and toasted pistachios
Grated zest of 1 orange
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Put the beets on sheet pans in a single layer, drizzle with equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar to lightly coat, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Stirring occasionally, roast the beets for about 30 minutes or until lightly caramelized and tender.
Put the onion on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil to lightly coat, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Stirring occasionally, roast the onion for about 15 minutes or until lightly caramelized and tender. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and toss to combine.
The beets and onion can be roasted in advance and reheated just before serving.
Meanwhile prepare the greens by chopping the stems and roughly chopping the leafy greens. Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet or casserole over medium high heat, add the chopped stems, season with salt and pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the greens, toss to coat with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Stirring frequently, sauté until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with grated zest of 1/2 orange and toss again.
Arrange the greens on a large platter or individual plates, top with the beets and onion, sprinkle with pistachios and remaining orange zest and serve.
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One Year Ago – Peppermint Bark Cookies
Two Years Ago – Ginger Shortbread
Three Years Ago – Baked French Toast
Four Years Ago – Braised Lamb with Artichokes and Mushrooms and Creamy Polenta
Five Years Ago – Mixed Greens with Roasted Grapes
Six Years Ago – Savory Bread Pudding
Seven Years Ago – Triple Chocolate Parfait
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!
What about you? What’s on your wish list for Christmas? Feel free to share!
Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015