cook who has everything
Plus stocking stuffers
Lightweight and virtually unbreakable, melamine can be super convenient for outdoor entertaining or big parties. Unfortunately, it's not always super attractive. That's why I'm so in love with these plates, which look like hand-painted ceramic, with the weight and heft of, well, plastic. Plus, I get complimented on them all the time.
Pretty Melamine Plates$47.96
I can't fathom decorating a birthday cake without this sturdy, heavy-bottomed stand. It speeds the process of crumb coating and decoration, while allowing for a whole new array of finishing techniques. It can also double as a lazy susan, so it's often on my dinner table, piled with condiments and toppings, even when there's no cake in sight.
Cast Iron Revolving Cake Stand$43.99 7% lower than usual
Coffee and tea just feel more luxurious in this pretty handmade mug from Portland, Oregon's Mazama Wares. We love the satiny, soft-colored glazes and find the handle particularly comfortable. These mugs also stack nicely, thanks to an unfinished tapered section at the base of each mug.
The Perfect Mug$42
Whether you're baking cakes from scratch or from a mix, giving the batter more room to grow will minimize doming, for thicker, more level layers. Light, reflective metal also minimizes browning to keep the cake crust delicate and pale. Because the pans are nonreactive, they can also be used with poke cakes that involve acidic liquids, like lemon juice.
Ultra-Deep Cake Pans$11.99
They may not come in the most festive or glamorous packaging, but you can't go wrong with Effie's Oatcakes. Buttery, crumbly, nutty, and salty-sweet, they're insanely addictive. Case in point: I've eaten three in the last 10 minutes. My advice? Purchase them in bulk so you can stuff a stocking or two and hoard the rest for yourself.
Cooks who do a lot of preserving, or keep several types of flour, rice, or other dangerously similar-looking ingredients around the kitchen in plastic or glass jars, need a practical way to identify the contents of all those vessels. The Brother P-Touch label maker—which prints and slices off labels quickly, in your choice of 14 fonts, and even on multiple lines—does the job admirably. But that's not the only reason, or even the most important reason, this device should be on your gift list. The real reason is that, for a certain type of organization freak whom you probably know (or are), labeling everything, from bottles of homemade syrups and dressings to recipe files to kitchen cabinets, is a particularly habit-forming kind of fun. Of course, a label maker is handy for all sorts of non-kitchen-related tasks, too, so there's no need to be prescriptive—just let the fastidious recipient's imagination run wild.
I've never been to Zahav, the Philadelphia restaurant where Michael Solomonov serves his Israeli cuisine, but its namesake book has nevertheless changed the way I cook. His recipe for tahini sauce, which includes a novel technique for incorporating garlic and lemon, is alone worth the price of admission. I've loved the Yemenite beef soup (and the accompanying hot sauce), his wide focus on vegetarian-friendly dishes, and a host of homemade condiments that will elevate almost any meal, even if you don't follow full recipes from the book.
Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking$20.22
I tested dozens of stovetop pressure cookers before settling on Kuhn Rikon's Duromatic. It has a heavy sandwiched-aluminum-and-steel base that gives you even heat, and a pressure gauge that makes telling exactly how much pressure has built up inside visual and intuitive.
Stovetop Pressure Cooker$175.96 12% lower than usual
If you do get a towel bar for your kitchen, it helps to have some S-hooks to hang from it. From them, you can suspend bottle openers, scissors, and any utensil or tool that has a hanging loop on it.
S-Hooks for Stainless Steel Rail$6.98
I've cracked my way through quite a few baking stones. With the Baking Steel—a solid sheet of steel designed to replace a baking stone—that's a thing of the past. Not only will it last forever, but, with superior thermal properties, it produces the best pizza crusts I've ever seen in a home oven.
Baking Steel$79 7% lower than usual
For those who find Scotch too smoky, bourbon too sweet, and rye too spicy, Irish whiskey is the ideal gift. Redbreast emerges from the barrels complex and substantial; some of the whiskey is aged in sherry casks, lending it a weight and dark hue, while some is aged in bourbon casks, imparting characteristic vanilla flavors. There's a hint of fruit up front and spice on the finish.
Redbreast 15-Year Irish Whiskey$69.99
I can't tell you how many times I burn bread crumbs or forget about the nuts I'm toasting in the oven. At least, I used to. That was all before I got myself a couple of these easy-to-use, loud kitchen timers that I can hang around my neck, so I never forget about something in the kitchen, even if I leave the room.
Portable Kitchen Timer$26.26
A bean is a bean is a bean. Or is it? Once you go down the rabbit hole of eating quality dried beans (after they're cooked, of course—raw dried beans aren't so great), you'll fall in love with their variety of flavors, textures, and colors. Some are starchy, some are nutty, some are earthy, and some are slightly sweet. Rancho Gordo is one company that sells some really cool ones to try. You won't look at dried beans the same way again.
Rancho Gordo Beans$5.95
This cookbook has been my guide to learning how to use my donabe cooker, and thus far it hasn't let me down. It offers a wide range of recipes to help give you an idea of just how many one-pot dishes can be made using a donabe, plus background on the history and variety of donabe cookers.
The ChefSteps Joule is the smallest circulator on the market. It's sleek, compact design fits in a drawer and it heats quickly and accurately. It has the advantage of the ChefSteps community and legacy content built into its app, though its one downside is that it requires a smartphone or tablet along with a registered account to operate.
Joule Sous Vide Circulator$196.01
When it comes to portioning pizza, a knife simply won't cut it. At least, not if you don't want to drag cheese and toppings all over the place. For my money, nothing beats a traditional pizza wheel.
Louie Mueller's beef ribs are so good, I feel comfortable comparing them to Aaron Franklin's brisket. These gargantuan specimens of flesh and bone give new meaning to fall-off-the-bone-tender, and they have such a concentrated beefy flavor, you'll think you're eating beef confit (which, in a way, you are). How big are they? One rib feeds two people, easily.
Incredible Beef Ribs$18.99
Dave Arnold (you might know of his bar, Booker and Dax in NYC) won't just accept the common assumptions about cocktail technique—his mission in this excellent book is to dig into the science of how the very best drinks are made. This is a must-read for inquisitive types who like to host cocktail hour at home.
A premixed 2:1 rye-vermouth Manhattan with a few dashes of bitters, this stuff spends three months aging in used rye barrels, which integrates the flavors and adds a touch of woody character to the drink. Give it a quick stir over ice for chill and dilution, spray an orange twist on top, and you've got a drink worthy of any cocktail bar—no barrel required.
High West's Barrel-Aged Manhattan$46.99
These days, I keep this solid slab of steel permanently atop one of the burners of my stove. One side has a pebbled surface—ideal for getting extra-crisp, better-than-a-baking-stone crust on homemade pizzas. And, unlike a baking stone, this thing is going to last forever. The griddle arrives as shiny steel, but with just a few uses, it seasons up into a dark, slick nonstick surface that can be used for everything from pancakes to eggs to hamburgers to grilled cheese.
Mini Baking Steel Griddle$139
Warning: Reading this book might lead to the purchase of some very expensive plane tickets. The Roads & Kingdoms crew will get you hungry for a journey to Japan, for onigiri basted with chicken fat, juicy one-bite gyoza, milky-white tonkotsu ramen broth, and briny sea urchin. Is Japan the best place on earth to eat? This book will convince you that it is.
Rice, Noodle, Fish$23.79
Thanks to a few simple innovations in the filter and beaker design, this French press fixes some of the brewing device's biggest drawbacks. The result is a cleaner batch of coffee that won't accidentally over-steep.
Espro Press P5$48.91
Sorghum syrup is made from the pressed juice of sorghum grass, which grows prominently throughout the American South. This amber-colored syrup has a unique, nutty flavor that's both sweet and savory. And since the 1960s, the Guenther family of Muddy Pond, Tennessee, has been making some of the best.
How much praise can I throw at a Le Creuset Dutch oven? This is one of those things couples put on their wedding registries and desperately hope someone buys for them. This is a pot you hand down to your kids. This is a piece of cookware that you will use for everything, including serving at the table, and then you won't want to put it away because you just like looking at it. This is a workhorse of the kitchen. Yes, it costs a lot. But things that are built to last a lifetime despite daily use usually do.
Le Creuset Dutch Oven$369.95
If her first two books are any indication, Nancy Singleton Hachisu is poised to become the Julia Child of traditional Japanese home cooking. In this, her second book, she tackles the deeply fascinating—and even more delicious—world of Japanese preserving. From easy pickles made by packing foods in miso (kabocha squash! eggs! apple pears!) to homemade miso, salt-rubbed vegetables, and air-dried fish, this should be the next frontier in all your home preservation undertakings. I'm getting excited just thinking about it.
Preserving the Japanese Way$26.75
In the inexpensive-thermometer department, the ThermoPop comes in an impressive package. An easy-to-read display rotates at the touch of a button, so you don't have to twist your head to read it. It takes a few seconds longer to read temperatures than its big brother, the Thermapen, but it's every bit as accurate.
Coffee geeks will have a lot of fun with this coffee scale. It pairs with a smartphone through Bluetooth, and an accompanying app helps walk you through the brewing processes, like pourover and French press, calculating bean-to-water ratios and brew times. It can handle customization, so with each successive batch, you can really dial in on the variables to make the cup that tastes best to you. It can also be used as a basic kitchen scale with a maximum weight of two kilograms (about four and a half pounds), so it's versatile beyond its primary purpose.
Acaia Pearl Coffee Scale$160
There's form, and then there's function. The aprons from Tilit are great on both fronts. Made from waxed cotton, they offer breathability along with water resistance, but they're also damned handsome. Several NYC restaurants have commissioned custom apron designs from the company for their chefs and cooks, and I'm pretty psyched to wear one of these bad boys at home, too.
Breville's newest entry in the food processor department is powerful, large, and packed with features that make it best-in-class, like a blade drive that runs like the base of a blender (no more leaking sauces) and a slicing blade with adjustable width, giving you more power and versatility in the kitchen.
Breville Sous Chef Food Processor$378.35
On more than one occasion, I've been tempted to try out the cool new pepper mill on the block, but none of the ones I've used have held up over time. That's why I've settled on a good old classic, a wooden Peugeot pepper mill. The steel burrs last and deliver whatever grind I want, from fine-as-silt to chunky and coarse.
Peugeot Pepper Mill$41.95
This epic set of stainless steel pastry tips is perfect for the home baker with professional-grade aspirations...or the food-enthused, arts-and-craftsy kid in your life (or, you know, your heart). With this kit in hand, nothing but practice stands between you and gorgeous piped flowers, leaves, stars, and beyond.
Pastry Tips for Decorating$32.90
A hefty weight and a narrow head design make this an extremely efficient fish scaler. I've used it on smallish porgies, bigger black sea bass and fluke, and just about everything in between. It's a significant improvement over the clamshell I used to use, and something about its design reduces the spray of scales.
Yoshihiro Fish Scaler$18.99
Few things get me as excited as a good raw bar, but most of the time, I eat far less than I want because, after the first couple dozen oysters or so, it just gets to be too expensive. That's even truer when the oysters are top-notch, like the briny little suckers from Island Creek up in Massachusetts. But here's the good news: You can order Island Creek's oysters online by the 50- or 100-count for much less than they cost at most restaurants, and have them in your hands the next day for an at-home shucking extravaganza. (Obviously, it helps to learn how to shuck first.)
Island Creek Oysters by Mail$100
For years, I thought citrus presses were overhyped, absurdly specific, rarely useful, space-consuming, money-wasting gadgets. But it took only one use to see just how wrong I'd been—not only does a citrus press guarantee that you'll get way more juice out of every lemon and lime you squeeze, but you can say good-bye to stinging papercuts and all those infuriating attempts at pinching slippery stray seeds from your salad dressings and cocktails.
Citrus Press$14.97 30% lower than usual
Having The Cocktail Chronicles at your side is like having a friend who always knows a good drink recipe for whatever you've got on hand. It doesn't talk your ear off or suggest something with a dozen ingredients. Instead, it shares classics, recent spins on classics, and drinks you've never heard of but can easily mix up and enjoy, and the introductions are never preachy or boring. This book will appeal to full-on cocktail fanatics and newbies alike; there's something delicious on every page.
The Cocktail Chronicles$21.20
Ruhlman and Polcyn do a great job of demystifying one of the more abstruse cooking arts, and, while charcuterie may seem daunting, it can be gratifyingly easy. Start simple, with the pancetta, confit, rillettes, and duck prosciutto, and you'll find yourself with a mold-inoculated curing chamber in no time.
A good cookbook stand makes cooking at home much more pleasant. And this collapsible beechwood stand from West Elm has its own built-in conversion chart to boot.
Wooden Cookbook Stand$30
If you want to start making legit espresso at home, this machine from Breville is a great investment. We like that it has a built-in burr grinder that will stay set at whatever dosage you've decided is best for your shot, as well as an adjustable pre-infusion time. Getting the hang of it—and dialing in—takes a while, but ultimately, the results are impressive.
How do you make perfect caramels, ice cream, gravies, and reductions? A nifty pot called a saucier. The durable stainless steel is cladded with aluminum for even heating, essential for temperamental ingredients like caramel and egg custards. A curved bottom makes whisking a snap (no more lumpy gravy!), and the wide top encourages evaporation for fast sauce reductions. You can buy cheaper versions than this All-Clad saucier, but this is one piece of equipment in which quality really makes a difference.
Durable 3-Quart Saucier$152 16% lower than usual
These wine glasses feel fancy enough for an elegant dinner party—and you can throw them in the dishwasher after, which is a pretty rare attribute. Their sturdy construction means you (or your giftee) can expect to hang on to these for several years.
Elegant (But Dishwasher-Safe) Wine Glasses$61.99
With their smooth surface and cool temperature, marble pastry slabs are a baker's best friend. They're great for rolling out pie crusts, laminating doughs, and tempering chocolate—plus, this one's pretty enough (albeit heavy) to use as a serving platter.
Marble Pastry Slab$49.95
Everyone talks about New York bagels and their Montreal counterparts in quasi-religious tones, but my prayers get answered every time I eat a Hot Bread Kitchen bialy. Bialys are an endangered species (think of them as a toasted Jewish English muffin with caramelized onions in the center), but Hot Bread Kitchen is doing its best to make them fashionable again. Now, if only Taylor Swift would put an HBK bialy on her Instagram feed.
The Best Bialys$26
This isn't just a chili cookbook. Robb Walsh digs deep into the beloved dish's ancestry, tracing threads through Mexico City, San Antonio, and Santa Fe—as you might expect—but also Hungary, Greece, and the Canary Islands (off the coast of North Africa). Walsh is one of food writing's best storytellers, so the book is satisfying even if you never whip out your Dutch oven and get cooking. You should, though: The fascinating tale is best enjoyed with a big bowl of chile con carne. (Walsh's recipe from El Real in Houston is killer.)
The Chili Cookbook$12.91
I got one of these traditional Japanese clay pots for my birthday this year, and it's quickly become an obsession. Not only can you cook perfect plain rice in it every time, it doubles as a vessel for flavorful one-pot stews and hot pots, and an infinite variety of noodle and rice dishes. Anyone interested in Japanese home cooking should have one.
For the baker who has it all, embossed rolling pins can make even the most traditional shortbread seem exciting again. I love this large, open paisley pattern so much, I used it for the cookies on the cover of my book! Its design works well with many styles of dough, so it's a great starting point before you experiment with pins that have a more intricate pattern.
Embossed Rolling Pin$28.80
If you know someone who has a taste for a well-made cocktail, but lives far from the heart of the Brooklyn drinking scene, this book is the perfect gift. It features 300 innovative and classic drink recipes from the best bars of the borough; every cocktail we've tried from it so far has been killer. The drinks Carey Jones has selected aren't dumbed down at all, but, for the most part, you're not looking at mile-long ingredient lists, either.
I'll admit it: I'm a pepper mill snob. I need my mill to produce a shower of evenly crushed peppercorns. I want to be able to control the size of those grains, from a rough crush to a fine powder. Not only that, I want my pepper mill to last. With a solid metal burr and a unique easy-to-load design, this is my favorite pepper mill of all time.
Unicorn Magnum Pepper Mill$36.90
This hand-blown and -etched mixing glass from Japan looks stunning on a bar cart and even better in action, whether you're stirring a Negroni, a Martini, or a Manhattan. Mixing glasses made from two parts joined together sometimes split at the seam, but this version, made in one piece with a beaker-like spout, can stand up to heavy use.
Calling all lovers of bittersweet drinks! In flavor, Barolo Chinato is somewhere between vermouth and amaro, but the best chinati are more delicious than either of those. Even the fanciest vermouths are usually made with a basic, cheap white wine, but the base for Barolo Chinato is certified DOCG Barolo wine—that is, 100% Nebbiolo from the Barolo region in Piedmont, which is then mixed with an infusion of herbs, spices, and bittering agents. We love this one from Cappellano.
The Ultimate Italian After-Dinner Drink$49.96
It's hard to find a better-curated food catalog than Zingerman's. They are righteous folks, they know seriously delicious food when they come across it, and they sell it at a fair price. Nothing in the catalog is cheap, but then again, good food rarely is. So whether you order cheese or olive oil or bread from Zingerman's, you can be confident you're going to be very happy when it arrives at your house.
Zingerman's Gift Certificate$10
I never realized how incomplete my kitchen was until I added a stand mixer to my appliance lineup. It's obviously great for mixing batters and doughs, but I especially love the range of KitchenAid attachments available for purchase—once you have the base, there's suddenly a whole world of homemade sausages, ice cream, pastas, and fresh juices at your fingertips.
KitchenAid Stand Mixer$279
A large mortar and pestle is one of the most underutilized kitchen tools. Not only is it faster than a spice grinder for small amounts of dry spices (particularly when it comes to cleaning), it draws out more flavor by crushing rather than shearing. It's also the perfect tool for making pastes out of moist ingredients, like herbs, garlic, and shallots.
Mortar and Pestle$49.65
I'm finally at the stage of my life where I have Nice Things—pieces of furniture I actually want to have around, and keep looking good, for years to come. That means I've finally become a coaster devotee, and I'm a big fan of these cork-bottomed ceramic ones by Xenia Taler. They're vibrant and shiny, so it feels like they add to your decor, rather than detracting from it. If you're not into this particular color scheme, she has a range of other cute designs to choose from.
There are some kitchen tools that make the difference between amateur-looking food and pro-level stuff. A small mandoline is one of them. This one, from OXO, is compact, easy to use, and very sharp. It has only three thickness settings, but in my experience, that more than covers most home slicing needs.
Anyone who appreciates Scotch (or good spirits in general) will embrace Nikka's exquisite whiskies. The Taketsuru Pure Malt is named for the company's founder, who studied in Scotland before bringing whisky distilling back to Japan. This bottling has a slight fruity character, with lingering sherry on the finish.
Taketsuru Pure Malt Japanese Whisky$59.99
This Serious Eats-curated gift bag features a one-stop shop for your (or your giftee's) next holiday party. The theme here is just hot enough to handle—think a fresh and punchy aji pepper salsa, some crunchy white corn tortilla, and a dill and horseradish-packed Bloody Mary Mix. Plus, of course, some vodka to top it off, along with a package of sweet, crunchy toffee to cut the heat. Bonus: your giftee will also get a handy tote bag from our friends at Mouth to commemorate their feast.
Spicy-Hot Party Basket$122.50
We don't know if there's a book about cooking that we've thought about more than this one by Tamar Adler, a former Chez Panisse cook who was once an editor at Harper's Magazine. It's about cooking simply, and enjoying the simple meals that naturally follow from thinking about your ingredients in cycles. We forget, sometimes, that the leftover stems from blanched broccoli are wonderful cooked with olive oil and piled on toast; that their cooking liquid could be the base of a soup; that the stems of greens like Swiss chard and kale make a lovely pesto. She reminds us that stale bread can make something delicious and that yesterday's bean broth could be the start of a pasta dish today. This book sends the valuable message that dinner doesn't always need to be a big deal.
An Everlasting Meal$9.98 8% lower than usual
Not all containers are built the same. OXO's Pop Containers stack neatly in the cabinet, make it easy to see exactly what's inside, and have a neat push-button top that forms a perfectly airtight seal, keeping your dry pantry goods fresher for longer.
OXO Pop Containers$74.96 19% lower than usual
Wooden peels absorb excess moisture and have a rougher surface than metal, which means that your stretched and topped pizza dough will remain loose and easy to launch far longer, saving you from potential pizza-spilled-all-over-the-oven accidents. Though there are cheaper options around, I love my Perfect Peel Baker's Board, handcrafted to last a lifetime from gorgeous solid cherrywood. They'll even put initials or a logo on it if you'd like!
Wooden Pizza Peel for Launching Pizzas$41
This is hands down the KitchenAid attachment I use most often. It takes all of the frustration and fussiness out of making fresh pasta, and, unlike the manual alternatives out there, it's incredibly easy and efficient to operate on your own. Hello, homemade ravioli!
Pasta Attachment for KitchenAid Stand Mixer$169.99
No pasta machine? No problem. This book is devoted to the art of handcrafted Italian dumplings, from yeasty, spindle-shaped cecamariti to classic gnocchi to golden-brown parallelograms of deep-fried crescentine. If the adage "practice makes perfect" fills you with excitement rather than dread, this is the kind of book that will make you utterly determined to prevail.
Pasta by Hand: A Collection of Italy's Regional Hand-Shaped Pasta$18.89
My good friend and former Food & Wine coworker, Kristin Donnelly, runs this awesome lip balm company called Stewart & Claire with her husband, Phil. Every lip balm she makes uses great ingredients that you wouldn't hesitate to smear all over your mouth, but even cooler are the scents she comes up with, many of them inspired by foods and cocktails. Recently she teamed up with the talented folks at Death & Co, a great NYC cocktail bar, to develop three limited-edition scents. I've been walking around with "Smoky" in my back pocket for the past couple of months: It's inspired by the smoky scent of Scotch and mezcal cocktails, using smoked olive oil, along with citrus and spice notes, to achieve that effect. It's like a mezcal Negroni or Rob Roy for your lips, but subtle enough to sit under your nose all day.
Food- and Cocktail-Themed Lip Balms$6
In this book, Meathead Goldwyn, the founder of AmazingRibs.com, distills decades of research on the art and science of barbecue and grilling into a single volume that shows not just the best ways to take food to live fire, but why the techniques work. Far more than a recipe book alone (though there are tons of bulletproof recipes), this text will teach your favorite barbecue lover the hard-tested fundamentals of outdoor cooking, giving them the confidence to cook anything, even without a recipe. The myth-busting and equipment tips alone were enough to get me hooked.
Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling$20.19
My good friend Jordana Rothman cowrote this thoughtful ode to tacos with Chef Alex Stupak, and it's a must-have for anyone ready to take a deep dive into corn, masa, tortillas, and everything—modern and traditional—you can stuff into them.
Tacos: Recipes and Provocations$22.49
Sure, you can serve crushed-ice cocktails in a regular old glass, but these shiny pineapple-shaped tumblers really up the ante and make a tiki party feel special.
Pineapple Tumbler$23.99 21% lower than usual
What's a quarter sheet pan? Well, it's half the size of a half sheet pan. What's a half sheet? It's the rimmed baking sheet we all use at home for cookies and such. (If you're wondering what a whole sheet pan is, you'll find them in restaurant kitchens.) So why would anyone want a quarter sheet pan? Oh, man, because they're amazing. I love them for all kinds of recipe tasks, like holding small amounts of ingredients I'm prepping or roasting. I reach for them just as often as I do the half-sheet size, because sometimes you need the SUV, and sometimes you need the compact. Simple as that.
Rimmed Quarter Sheet Tray$7.99
If you're following my advice to buy someone julep cups, you might as well go all the way and grab a canvas Lewis bag as well: It's used to smash ice into a fine powder with a mallet. Unless, of course, the person you're buying for already has an ice crusher.
High-quality Swedish steel and Japanese design, along with great features like a perfectly balanced handle and blade and an ergonomic bolster, make the Misono UX10 Santoku the most-used knife in my arsenal.
Awesome Chef's Knife$161.82
There are a lot of custom-designed pizza ovens out there in various price ranges. I haven't tested all of them, but my favorite so far is the Uuni 2S. It consists of a small stainless steel box with a pizza stone set inside it. You load up a hopper on the rear of the unit with wood pellets, light it up with a torch or lighter fluid, and let it preheat. About 15 minutes later, you're ready to cook. This little powerhouse hits temperatures in excess of 900°F and bakes up Neapolitan-sized pizzas in just 60 to 90 seconds.
Uuni 2S Pizza Oven$645.59
This is the electric kettle of my coffee-delayed dreams. It has an elegant gooseneck spout that makes pouring a thin, controlled stream easy (very helpful for Chemex and other pourover coffee methods), and a base with controls that allow you to set a specific temperature and hold it there.
Bonavita Electric Temp-Set Kettle$65.99 11% lower than usual
I renovated my kitchen at home this year, and of all the features I installed, the towel bar is one of my favorites. Set it on the wall over a stove and you can hang small pots and pans, ladles, and other frequently used tools on it for rapid access; install it elsewhere and you can hang not only kitchen towels from it, but also bottle openers, scissors, honing steels, and anything else you use often and would rather not rummage around in drawers for.
Stainless Steel Rail$10.38 10% lower than usual
A good steak knife should cut steak well, and it should look good while doing it. French-made Laguiole knives are the gold standard in performance, with extra-sharp edges for easy cutting, a long life, and gorgeous handles with distinctive bee-shaped bolsters. (Beware inexpensive knockoffs!)
Laguiole Steak Knives$59 66% lower than usual
The Cadillac of kitchen thermometers is indispensable when you're roasting meat, cooking steaks, making candy, deep-frying, or carrying out any other task where precise temperature control is needed. It's got a big display and a blazing-fast measuring time of under two seconds—you won't find a better, easier-to-use thermometer out there.
When I tested bread knives earlier this year, I was absolutely blown away by the cutting quality of Tojiro's bread knife. It surpassed every other serrated knife I tested, cutting beautifully clean slices of even the most tender bread, and making quick, neat work of ripe tomatoes. It's a must-have as far as I'm concerned.
Know someone who's interested in sous vide cooking? They're gonna want this. And it's handy for way more than just sous vide cooking. A vacuum sealer makes it really easy to save meats or other foods in the freezer, and it keeps air (read: freezer burn) off it all. The Oliso sealer uses a unique resealable-bag system, which means far less wasted plastic than a conventional cut-and-seal vacuum sealer.
Spending $50 on cheese knives feels a little silly, especially when a regular knife does the trick just fine. But that's why they're the perfect gift—arguably unnecessary, but nonetheless useful, they feel like a real luxury. I'm pretty sure they also raise your "real adult" status by at least 10 points. Especially when they're these beautifully crafted Dubost Laguiole knives. I like the simplicity of the olivewood handles, but they do come in other colors and styles, with the same high-quality blades.
Fancy Cheese Knives$49.95
I've used many, many oyster knives in my life, and the R. Murphy Duxbury knife is my hands-down favorite. It has a fat, grippy handle that's easy to wield, and a short blade that tapers to a point and always manages to find the sweet spot on an oyster's hinge. Pop! The slightly sharpened blade edges make slicing through the muscle and removing the top shell as smooth as butter.
R. Murphy Duxbury Oyster Knife$19.95
There are a lot of artisanal jams out there, some good and some grossly overpriced. Though I've tasted hundreds of them, I still haven't had any as good as those made by Oakland's June Taylor, who has been making what she calls "conserves" out of superb Northern California produce for more than 25 years now. The Dapple Dandy pluot conserve tastes like you're taking a bite out of the juiciest pluot in the world, with just enough acidity to offset the sweetness.
Flavor King Pluot Jam$10
Old cast iron has a perfectly smooth nonstick surface that's surprisingly easy to maintain. You can sear, bake, roast, braise, stew, and deep-fry in it, and there's nothing more thoughtful than a gift that you have to expend a bit of effort to find (check out eBay, yard sales, and flea markets). Of course, these modern Lodge pans will do in a pinch if vintage isn't in the cards.
Cast Iron Skillet$42.22
Punt e Mes is both bitter and sweet, like a rich bottled vermouth cocktail that'll please lovers of Italian amari. It's delicious stuff, wonderful chilled on its own and fantastic with Cynar, lemon, salt, and orange bitters in this cocktail. If your favorite drinker hasn't tried it, make the introduction.
Punt e Mes$19.99
What's the point of perfectly roasting that turkey or prime rib if you don't have a pretty surface to carve it on? I love this teak cutting board because it's large enough for major projects, but lighter than thicker boards, making it easy to move from the kitchen to the dining room. It's made from scraps of larger teak products, making this cutting board a good environmental choice as well.
Pretty Carving Board$39.99
It's almost impossible to find good-quality Dutch cocoa in supermarkets, so make it easy for your favorite baker to whip up the best possible chocolate treats. This cocoa powder is unusually dark, with an earthy chocolate flavor for out-of-control brownies, devil's food cake, and ice cream.
Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder$19.65
When fall and winter roll around, I start thinking about rich, comforting casseroles, which means that these stoneware baking dishes get pulled out, filled, and popped into the oven at least once a week. They're great-looking on the table and provide gentle, even cooking all around for really nice, crisp edges on your lasagna.
Le Creuset Stoneware Casserole$69.92 15% lower than usual
Brisket is Texas's best-known contribution to barbecue culture, and, though you can now get slow-smoked brisket in just about every major American city, you still need to go to the source to get brisket so good it will make you cry. But if you can't make it to Texas, ordering Louie Mueller's brisket is the next best thing. The Muellers have been smoking brisket since 1949. The key here? They ship the whole brisket, which means you get plenty of the critically important fatty half. Why is it critically important? Because we all know that fat is flavor. Phone orders only: 512-352-6206.
Louie Mueller's Brisket$125
A pressure cooker is a cooking vessel that just keeps on giving: Once you discover the time-saving feats it's capable of, you'll never look back. The good ones aren't cheap, but man, is it ever worth having one. A countertop electric model gives you set-it-and-forget-it convenience. With the Breville Fast Slow Pro Cooker, not only do you have complete control over your pressure cooking (including any pressure level from 1.5 to 12 psi), you also have a slow cooker and a rice cooker built right in. It'll even sear meat for stews.
Electric Countertop Pressure Cooker$229.35
These thin chocolate disks have a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture and a complex, pleasantly fruity bitterness. But it's the scattered cacao nibs on top that take them from memorable to exceptional. The crunchy bits of bean are toasty and flavorful in their own right, but Recchiuti goes the extra mile, tossing them in caramel and fleur de sel for a brightly salty-sweet finish that electrifies each bite.
Recchiuti's Chocolate Mendiants$15
Race relations, religion, the New South versus the Old: These are just a smattering of the heavy issues Rien Fertel writes about through the lens of—well—smoked meat, in this new book. And, while you might be thinking, "Oh, man, another book about barbecue?", this one stands out from the crowd thanks to Fertel's superb writing and storytelling skills. In a book that's part culinary history, part personal narrative, and part tale of an American road trip, Fertel travels throughout the South, documenting the men who have long stood behind the fires practicing the time-consuming pursuit of whole hog barbecue—the ones who have been keeping alive the embers of what once seemed like a dying art, and the ones who are inspiring a new generation of pitmasters today.
The One True Barbecue$12.85
Heavy-duty kitchen towels have a tendency to accrue big, ugly stains. That's why it's nice to keep a separate set of more attractive towels for gentle drying, transporting too-hot-to-handle serving dishes, and lining bread baskets. These colorful, summery tea towels instantly brighten any kitchen or tabletop, while still doing a stand-up job at the tasks they were made for.
Colorful Tea Towels$25
If you like your whiskey with a giant ice cube, then you'll really be into Mammoth Cubes—unlike ice cube trays from current competitor brands, these make eight cubes (not six) and are actually stackable, so they don't require a section unto themselves in your freezer.
Big Ice Cube Tray$12.49
I don't really consider myself a lunch-bag person, but when I have something cold to transport, there's only one carrying case I reach for. These PackIt cooler bags come in a variety of sizes and styles, and all of them can be collapsed and chilled in the freezer overnight to provide refrigerator-level temperatures for a 12-hour period. I use mine most for bringing beers to the park or beach, or transporting raw meat to barbecues and campsites.
Collapsible Freezer Lunch Bags$24.99
I'm a sucker for bentos, tiffins, and other tidy ways to carry lunch to the office, and the fact that I don't technically have an office to carry lunch to anymore has only slightly dampened my enthusiasm. This two-layer tiffin is neat and attractive without being too cutesy, and it's small enough that it won't occupy too much space in a shared fridge. In the warmer months, it'll do just as well for packing sandwiches and individual portions of salad or fresh fruit for a picnic.
One of the best cookbook gateways into Middle Eastern cuisine—an obsessive and personalized exploration of the many cultures and traditions that make up Jerusalem's culinary world. What will you find here? A recipe for the best hummus of your life, for starters; messy-beautiful dips and salads; and the delicately spiced soups, grains, and vegetables Yotam Ottolenghi has become famous for.
Ah, martini glasses: so angular and sexy, so prone to making me look like a drunk as I struggle to keep a generously poured beverage within their confines. The traditional wide bowl, delicate stem, and sharply sloping sides are meant to enhance the botanical aromas of the gin, keep the drink frosty-cold, and provide a comfortable wall for a cocktail pick to lean against, respectively—but in practice, all those features feel like bugs for clumsy-fingered folk like me. So I sought out a design that wrapped up those attributes in a more user-friendly package, and discovered this lovely set of glasses. The broad mouth remains, but the conical shape has been softened and the stem fattened (which, if I'm being honest, will make me all the more inclined to actually use that stem instead of clutching the bowl for dear life). Got no space for uni-tasking glassware? These double nicely as pretty dessert dishes.
Modified Martini Glasses$52.39
Do you know someone who's getting into tea? Like, really into tea? This is the tea set to get for that person. It comes with a traditional Chinese brewing vessel (a gaiwan), a decanter, four tasting cups, and a beautiful wood tea tray with a rack to store all the pieces. At $120, it's not cheap, but it's a bargain compared to other well-made tea sets, especially when you consider the high-quality, paper-thin porcelain. For tea lovers looking to dig into tea ceremonies, this set has everything you need.
Chinese Tea Set With Gaiwan$120
I don't often recommend single-function items, but for the cocktail enthusiast, a couple of julep cups really are fun to have. There's nothing like holding that metal cup frosted with ice on a blisteringly hot summer day—glass just doesn't pull the effect off in the same way. If the recipient doesn't have an ice crusher, check out my Lewis bag suggestion as well.
Native to Cincinnati, Ohio, goetta (pronounced "get-a") is a sublime beef and pork sausage made with steel-cut oats (as opposed to the cornmeal used in its close cousin, scrapple). Glier's is one of the biggest and best producers of the German-style pork product. Just slice it, fry it, and serve it with eggs and toast.
Manhattan chef Jody Williams's Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food is as charming and inviting as the restaurant that inspired it. This is a book to get greasy and damp as you cook through its pages, and it's a nightstand read, dreamy and warm, to flip through as you wind down. Channeling a traditional French bistro, with a bit of Italy and a touch of New York thrown in, the recipes are classics, both inspirational and totally doable. Some are so simple that they hardly count as recipes at all—they're more like suggestions for how to better your day with a plate of food, from breakfast through dessert after a lingering, late-night supper. Perfect for your impossibly, effortlessly stylish friend.
Buvette$22.36 11% lower than usual
Leave it to Murray's Cheese Shop owner Rob Kaufelt to come up with a cheese that is both global and local at the same time. Kaufelt's crew discovered cheesemaker Walter Rass's extraordinary Annelies cheese in a small village in Switzerland. Kaufelt has wheels of the stuff shipped to his New York shop, where he ages them for nine months in the Murray's cheese cave before selling them to the public. The result is a nutty, caramelly, toasty cheese that needs no cracker for completion.
This isn't your standard hot cocoa. It's a rich drinking-chocolate mix, made from organic, 74% cacao single-plantation chocolate from the Dominican Republic and 68% cacao wild-harvested chocolate from Bolivia. Whisk the ground chocolate with warm milk for an intense cocoa experience: It's silky and deep, with hints of orange zest, cinnamon, and juicy berries, tempered by a subtly bitter edge.
Intense Drinking Chocolate$25
Wooden pizza peels are too thick to easily slide under a pie once it's hit the oven. For that, you'll want a thin-bladed metal peel. Basic models made of thin-gauge aluminum, like this Kitchen Supply peel, are just fine for the occasional baker, but they'll bend and warp eventually. If you're going to be making pizza multiple times a year for many years to come, you might want to spring for something a little more heavy-duty. I use the KettlePizza Pro Peel, which has a thick-gauge aluminum body that extends fully past the solid teakwood handle.
Metal Pizza Peel for Retrieving Pizzas$54.95
I have a problem with wooden spoons. I collect them like nobody's business. But there are a few I always turn back to, and this one, from Le Creuset, is one of them. It's gorgeous to look at; it has a flat front, which makes it great for scraping up fond or stirring vegetables; and it's got a smooth, ergonomic grip that makes using it a joy.
Really Nice Wooden Spoon$25.95
Winter is all about slow-cooked braised dishes, and Molly Stevens's text is the bible on the subject. Stevens first devotes dozens of pages to discussing the equipment and technique behind braising in incredible detail. Then she provides unfussy but impressive-sounding recipes to make the most of your newfound braising skills. A little hint: The vegetable recipes are some of the best.
All About Braising$19.23
Functional, but with an elegant twist: The width of the forks and spoons is just slightly smaller than that of your standard set, and they feel slightly longer in the hand. This set is a good and long-lasting upgrade to those starter Ikea sets.
I never knew how much I'd appreciate having a soda-maker at home until I got one. I'm a fizz fiend, and that used to mean sugary sodas. Now it means sparkling water any time I want it. For an extra $50, you can upgrade to the Power Source, which allows you to choose your carbonation level at the touch of a button.
SodaStream Source$86.99 5% lower than usual
I've long been a fan of Jessie Kanelos Weiner's vivid and imaginative watercolors—she's done the art for several of our stories. But when Weiner released Edible Paradise: An Adult Coloring Book of Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables, I discovered a new affinity for her work. See, like many children, I grew up with coloring books. But, unlike most adults, I continue to buy them—and fill them—to this day. For that I can thank my mother, a licensed art therapist who has long promoted the pastime as a therapeutic outlet. Far from pushing a think-inside-the-box mentality, coloring provides a healthy space for self-expression and experimentation. And, for those who enjoy it, coloring can leave you with a profound sense of zen-like relaxation and accomplishment. Weiner's fanciful landscapes are organized by season; they're a riot of vegetation, edible plant life, and tantalizing market scenes. They'll encourage you to paint (or pencil) the town red—in any colors you like.
Culinary Coloring Book$11.52 13% lower than usual
Salad servers should be functional, but it doesn't hurt to have a set that actually looks good on your table. This olivewood duo is sturdy and durable, with a warm, lustrous finish and natural wood-grain pattern that's complemented by smooth, polka-dotted bone handles.
Festive Salad Servers$36
A vertical spoon rest is the kind of sensible, space-saving kitchen innovation you won't realize you need until you try it. This one is a clean-and-simple two-part affair, with a dishwasher-safe stainless steel bowl and accompanying vertical rack. Rather than taking up precious countertop with the long handle of your cooking utensil (all while its business end relaxes in a puddle of the sauce that you're ostensibly trying to drain from it), simply prop your spoon or spatula upright against the rack, allowing the liquid to drip off more thoroughly.
Mess-Free Spoon Rest$10.31
A good pair of kitchen shears is one of those things that are hard to appreciate until you have them. Sure, there are all the obvious uses, like opening food packages with a snip and cutting up poultry, but that's just the start. Take another look at those things. Yes, that's right, they're also a nutcracker. Aha, yup, and a bottle opener. Did you see the flathead screwdriver built into them? Handy, right? Oh, they can also be used to unscrew stubborn jar tops. They're way more than just a pair of scissors. Plus, the two blades come fully apart, so you can wash them really well—no icky chicken juice hiding in the recesses. Isn't avoiding salmonella poisoning a gift worth giving?
Good Kitchen Shears$15.88 9% lower than usual
Proper seasoning is one of the most important parts of cooking, and if you're still using plain table salt from (heaven forbid!) a saltshaker, you're shooting yourself in the food. Using kosher salt from a salt cellar lets you feel exactly how much salt is getting into your food, whether it's a tiny pinch or a big ol' wallop.
Enter all the bottles you have at home when you start, and the app will tell you all of the drinks you can make, with recipes straight from New York's famous PDT cocktail lounge. You can also search for drinks of a certain type or cocktails created by a specific bartender, and save favorites for making again. (To give an app as a gift, look for the arrow to the right of the "buy" icon.)
PDT Cocktails App$10
Sous vide cooking—cooking foods in vacuum-sealed pouches in precisely controlled water baths—is no longer the exclusive preserve of fancy restaurant kitchens. The Anova Precision Cooker is the best home water bath controller on the market, with an easy-to-use interface, Bluetooth support, rock-solid construction, a sleek look, and an affordable price tag to boot.
Anova Precision Cooker$111.99 39% lower than usual
It may sound nuts to mail-order cornmeal and grits, given that they're found on any supermarket shelf. But I'd argue that you haven't experienced the best cornbread, grits, or other classic Southern dishes until you've had them made with the kind of high-quality stuff Anson Mills is selling. It'll change how you understand those foods and what they can be.
Anson Mills Grits$5.95
Homemade ice cream tastes better than almost anything you can buy in a store, and it's a snap to make. This ice cream maker, from Cuisinart, is all the gear you need: an easy-to-use workhorse that makes delicious ice cream every time. The simple construction means that there are few moving parts to break, and the wide mouth at the top makes it easy to add mix-ins and scoop out your ice cream when it's at its fresh, creamy best.
Ice Cream Maker$44.99 12% lower than usual
A good bench scraper is one of those tools people don't think they need until they start using it. I use it for everything from transferring chopped vegetables or herbs from one place to another, to portioning dough, to giving my cutting board a quick clean. Next to my chef's knife, the bench scraper is the tool you'll see in my hand most often.
A good digital scale is an essential tool for bakers or home charcuterie makers. The OXO Food Scale comes with an easy-to-clean, removable stainless steel weighing surface; great accuracy and precision; and a backlit pull-out display to make measuring easy, even for large or unwieldy items.