I finally got a copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking
this year, and it's an invaluable resource, not just as a collection of recipes, but as an accessible guide to basic French cooking techniques. This is a great cookbook for someone who already has a little experience in the kitchen but wants to learn more advanced skills. Both volumes are widely available after this summer's release of Julie and Julia
How to Cook Everything
by Mark Bittman lives up to its name, and it's another example of a cookbook that pairs good recipes with instructional techniques. For the vegetarian foodie on your list, Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
is a nod to the meat-free, full of just as much heft as the original. I just gave this as a gift to one of my favorite vegetarians last week, and she loved it.
If you want something recent, there are several, new drool-worthy cookbooks. Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home
, full of family-style recipes for the home cook, has to be at the top of the list. This is easily Keller's most accessible cookbook, and since I've never been fortunate enough to eat at one of his restaurants, I'm really looking forwards to recreating his dishes without spending two days doing so.
Some indispensable (and cheap!) tools in my kitchen are these Kuhn paring knives
. They are affordable, come in bright colors, hold an edge and have almost unlimited function in the kitchen. In fact, you can buy a few to stash around your kitchen; I often find myself digging for mine for various small tasks. And now they have a serrated version
, which I'm hoping to find in my stocking this year.
Once you start using a microplane
, you'll wonder how you did without it. It's perfect for grating just about anything with little effort. Mine is constantly in use, zesting citrus or sprinkling Parmigiano-Reggiano over pasta, soup or salad. Just, uh, make sure to not use it on your knuckles, which I have done on more than one occasion. Shut up.
What to get the novice foodie(s) in your life this holiday season? Here are some gifts that I heartily recommend. These are invaluable tools, well worth the space they take up in my own kitchen because I use them so frequently. If you're shopping for someone who is looking to spend more time in the kitchen in the new year, they are great places to start.