Valentine's Day Gifts

Find the perfect gift for the food lover in your life.

Something we see a lot in home kitchens is salt that's way too inaccessible, whether it's tucked into a cabinet or sealed into a difficult-to-use dispenser. Considering how frequently salt is used in recipes, it should be within reach at all times. Along with our salt pig, we recommend this olivewood salt cellar with a swing-top lid. We like to keep one salt container at each side of the kitchen, so we never have to reach too far for good seasoning. Depending on how your kitchen is set up, you might want to consider having salt in more than one place, too; generally it's most useful right by the stove and wherever you do most of your prep work.

If you like to give a nice bottle of whiskey for special occasions, try switching things up with some nice glassware. This whiskey set from Snowe is durable and elegant, sure to get serious use in the homes of your spirit-loving friends for years to come.

Most professional cooks own a knife bag so they can tote their knives around from one job to another. But knife bags can be really useful storage options, as well. They're compact, they can hold many knives, and they can be moved around as needed, which means you don't necessarily need to have a dedicated knife drawer as long as you can find somewhere safe to stash your knives.

A New York Times best-seller! The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, by J. Kenji López-Alt, is his column by the same name on this very website, blown up to 900-plus pages (and seven-plus pounds) of concentrated culinary science. Gorgeous color photos, detailed how-tos, and elaborate explainers cover ingredients, technique, gear, and the secrets of the universe underneath it all. May include puns.

This mat will solve the quandary of many a renter who loves to cook—best summed up as "I hate the way my kitchen looks, but there's not much to be done about it." Get this mat. It's stylish, colorful, and incredibly durable, and it really looks like fancy European tile installed over your questionable laminate flooring.

A deft and nimble blade, Misono's UX10 is one of the lightest-weight knives we tested. It's razor-sharp right out of the box and handled every task we threw at it with ease, dicing an onion as if it were as soft as a blob of Jell-O and making paper-thin slices of smoked salmon as if the knife were a true slicer.

Tackling all the food in China is no easy task, which is why we tend to gravitate more readily to works that keep a more limited focus on specific regions and cooking styles. Still, a single book that provides a good overview is extremely helpful when trying to get one's bearings. This book by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo does a laudable job at that, starting you out in the market with an introduction to shopping and ingredients, then proceeding into the kitchen to cover basic techniques and classic recipes.

A staple of American kitchens for close to a century, Joy of Cooking continues to be a valued resource for all the basics, from pancakes and waffles to casseroles, stews, and roasts.

This customizable (and monogrammable!) tote, plus a bottle of Sancerre, will make any wine drinker's day.

A stand mixer is obviously great for mixing batters and doughs, but we also love the range of KitchenAid attachments available for purchase—once you have the base, there's suddenly a whole world of homemade sausages, pastas, and fresh juices at your fingertips.

Can't install a proper dishwasher, but hate doing dishes? This baby takes up about the same amount of space as a large dish rack and hooks up to your sink when you're ready to run a load. It fits roughly six place settings at a time and does an excellent job of blasting them clean. Say good-bye to that pile of dirty dishes in the sink—this one's a game-changer.

This 400-page guide to meat may be focused on sustainability and local eating, but that doesn't make it any less comprehensive. Krasner goes deep on all the basics of meat, including beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and more, offering anatomy charts, buying tips, basics on animal husbandry, and, of course, plenty of recipes.

The curvy shape of a balloon whisk conforms nicely to bowls and sauciers, making it possible to scrape every surface and reach every corner. Because there aren't too many tines, it won't get gunked up when you're mixing up thick batters, like for crusty dinner rolls, and its hollow shape makes it easy to knock out whatever's trapped inside.

This definitely lives in the "splurge" category. But if you want to recycle—and recycle in style—this is a great bin from Simplehuman. It'll keep your papers and your plastics separate and look really good in your kitchen.

Unlike crackable baking stones, the Baking Steel is a solid sheet of steel. Not only will it last forever, but, with superior thermal properties, it produces the best pizza crusts we've ever seen in a home oven.

Cooking with fresh herbs makes every recipe better. Cooking with fresh herbs that you grew all by yourself makes life better. The AeroGarden takes the guesswork out of growing herbs inside, with an automated light to keep your parsley and thyme thriving and weekly reminders for water and nutrients. Just prepare yourself for epic amounts of basil.

A high-speed hand blender is great for whipping up silky soups and purées, making emulsions like mayonnaise and Hollandaise, or smoothing out sauces, all right in the pot. No need to dirty up an extra blender jar!

While I love a good cocktail, I have generally steered clear of deep dives into the world of mixology, mostly because it feels intimidating and overwhelming. Where am I even supposed to begin?? Then a copy of Cocktail Codex, from the super-talented and knowledgeable people behind Death & Co., came across my desk. This book breaks down the world of mixed drinks into six “root recipes,” kind of like the mother sauces of French cuisine, which makes the subject matter a lot more comprehensible for non-experts like me. It‘s full of classic and modern recipes, as well as a ton of interesting boozy history Valentine‘s Day is the perfect time to bust out your bartending skills, and Cocktail Codex will definitely up your game.

I don't mind baking with supermarket chocolate bars, but for snacking, I'd rather spring for the good stuff. If you're a "bite of dark chocolate after dinner" kinda person (which means every bite needs to count), that's where this stack of single-origin chocolates comes in. It's a fun way to explore the world of chocolate, and learn how different beans and countries of origin can impact its taste.

This 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.

We love the clean, classic design of these stainless steel serving utensils from Snowe. They bring functionality and beauty to pretty much any table setting.

After years of putting up with a cheap toaster that she picked up at the supermarket, Stella recently upgraded to this super-fancy Italian job in cool mint. Its sleek design and soothing pastel color transform the kitchen's most boring appliance into a statement piece, and it does a great job with the toast itself. Plus, it's really dang pretty. If nothing else, you owe it to yourself to read this toaster's priceless reviews.

From the slide-out rack to the intuitive controls, the Breville is an easy-to-use toaster oven with excellent performance. It quickly and evenly toasts bread and bakes frozen pizza and pot pies. The preset for cookies makes it simple to bake off nine treats in less than 15 minutes.

If your partner already (smartly) owns a Thermapen, treat him or her to this useful add-on. The silicone cover will keep your Mk4 nice and clean, and the magnet is handy for storage—stick it on the fridge or even on your knife strip. The fact that the whole thing is glow-in-the-dark just makes it even more fun. We adults need more glow-in-the-dark stuff in our lives, anyway.

Peterson has long been the master of writing comprehensive works on major subjects. In Sauces, he breaks down sauce-making in all its intricacies, starting with stocks and leading you through the classics of French and Italian cuisines and beyond.

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This electric kettle 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.

Niki received this classic Waterford pitcher as a wedding gift, and it's become a workhorse in her home. When she's not using it to decant wine, it's hard at work serving cocktails, ice water, and juices. And in between any special occasions, you can drop in some fresh flowers and use it as a vase.

If you don't yet own a cast iron pan, now's the time to get on the wagon. A capacious cast iron skillet is an incredibly versatile tool, perfectly suited for searing, baking, roasting, stewing, and braising; if it's well seasoned, its surface will also be relatively nonstick. And, despite the rumors, cast iron cookware is surprisingly easy to maintain, requiring just a small amount of effort to keep it in good enough shape to last a lifetime. This 12-inch version is ideal for baking a big batch of cornbread or whipping up a one-pan, stovetop-to-oven dinner on a weeknight.

Kristina's mom's signature dish is her homemade lefse, a Norwegian potato flatbread rolled gauze-thin and cooked on a round griddle, just like this one, at a blazing-hot heat. If you're not into the Scandi thing, you can use this griddle to make crepes, injera, or regular old pancakes.

Woks are the best tools for stir-frying if you want to get that distinctly smoky wok hei flavor, but they're also versatile vessels that you can use for braising, deep-frying, or even indoor smoking.

Most professional cooks own a knife bag so they can tote their knives around from one job to another. But knife bags can be really useful storage options, as well. They're compact, they can hold many knives, and they can be moved around as needed, which means you don't necessarily need to have a dedicated knife drawer as long as you can find somewhere safe to stash your knives.

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. We're pretty sure they also raise your "real adult" status by at least 10 points. Especially when they're these beautifully crafted Dubost Laguiole knives. We like the simplicity of the olivewood handles, but they do come in other colors and styles, with the same high-quality blades.

A pressure cooker is the cooking vessel that just keeps on giving: Once you discover the time-saving feats it's capable of, you'll never look back. If you have the space for it, a countertop electric model, in particular, gives you set-it-and-forget-it convenience. Breville’s Fast Slow Pro Cooker gives you complete control over your pressure-cooking, but also works as a slow cooker and a rice cooker.

Kristina spent most of 2018 getting into wine, and one of her biggest takeaways was that most wines could benefit from a decant. Does a wine feel closed—like it has only one note on the nose or the tongue? Then it definitely needs to aerate in a decanter. This one is an inexpensive glass model with a chic wooden topper, from the Scandinavian brand Sagaform. It looks just as good on your bar cart or shelf as it does on the dinner table, and will give your Bordeaux a little room to breathe.

Plenty More highlights the versatility of vegetables with 120 inventive plant-based recipes. It takes a degree of commitment to cook through this book—many, though not all, of Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes require extra time spent sourcing unusual ingredients or toiling in the kitchen—but the reward is food that is enigmatic and downright dazzling. The ideal gift for anyone who thinks vegetables are boring, and for those who know they’re not.

Full disclosure: we were introduced to Légal's hot sauce when the company sent some free samples to the office. The molho de pimenta has quickly become a staple, thanks to its vinegary brightness and zesty heat. Perfect for adding a little spice to eggs, sandwiches, and more.

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.

Eight hundred recipes. Yes, you read that right. Really, it shouldn't be surprising, given that this definitive work by Claudia Roden encapsulates so much of the Middle East, a region with such diverse cooking styles that each one could inspire a thousand books. Persian food? Check. North African food? Check. Turkish cooking? Check. Everything else? Check, check, check.

There are enough coffee-brewing devices on the market to drive a person crazy, but it's hard to beat a quality pourover brewer like this Japanese one. It's compact and solid, making it ideal for home or the office, and it brews a mean cup of coffee. It claims to make two to four servings, but we find it's perfect for a full 12-ounce single cup, too (note that you need these filters for it).

The value-to-cost ratio on this lightweight model can’t be beat. It uses a pre-frozen, coolant-lined canister to chill down the ice cream base, eliminating the need for salt and ice or an expensive compressor. When properly frozen, the canister churns up in less time than any other model we tested, for creamy and smooth ice creams and other frozen desserts. This undemanding model has one button, a lid that easily snaps into place, and a small footprint for tight spaces.

It can be hard to find skin-on, bone-in pork shoulders for roasting, but luckily D'Artagnan has got us all covered with their fantastic porcelet shoulder. We think everyone should ditch the tired holiday spiral ham this year, and slow-roast a milk-fed piglet shoulder instead. We promise it won't disappoint.

Small, clever, and very useful, this carry-on cocktail kit has everything you or your boo needs to whip up a perfect old fashioned in the air (minus the booze). Whether you're a nervous flyer or just enjoy a mid-flight drink, this little package will do the trick.

Our budget pick outperformed immersion blenders four times the price. It’s great for whipping up silky soups and purées; making emulsions, like mayonnaise and Hollandaise; or smoothing out sauces, all right there in the pot. No need to dirty up a blender jar!

There's no such thing as too many serving bowls, and this simple two-tone piece goes with virtually everything. At 11.5 inches across, it's the perfect size for side dishes, so it'll quickly become your go-to for salads, roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, and pasta.

This hefty volume ranges from regional Mexican cooking down through the complex cuisine of Peru, over to Argentina's famed grilling tradition, and much, much more. If you want to understand how an empanada or arepa differs from one country to the next, this is the book to grab.

Fabbri Amerena's syrup-soaked wild cherries boast a unmatched intensity, in no small part due to the fact that the cherries are steeped in their own juices for a concentrated burst of stone fruit flavor. The cherries and their syrup in cocktails or spooned over literally any dessert.

Trying to get your mom to finally write down all those family recipes? This sleek Moleskine journal will get her organized and become a precious family heirloom in the process.

Give the beer lover in your life the gift of a personalized (if admittedly pricey) bottle opener. These attractive brass designs can be monogrammed for a custom tool they'll have for years to come.

When fall and winter roll around, we start thinking about rich, comforting casseroles, which means that stoneware baking dishes like this one get pulled out, filled, and popped into the oven at least once a week. It's great-looking on the table and provides gentle, even cooking all around, for really nice, crisp edges on your lasagna.

One of the best cookbook gateways into Middle Eastern cuisine, and 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.

We 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.

If you're dead set on a traditional German knife profile—characterized by a more curved blade that's bigger and heavier than the Japanese options—the Wüsthof Classic continues to be a stalwart. It weighs more than most of the other knives tested, giving it a solid and sturdy feel, but it still handles well and has a sharp edge.

This book is, and possibly always will be, the go-to English-language source on regional Italian cooking, and for good reason: Hazan was deeply knowledgeable, exacting, and opinionated, as all good Italian cooks should be.

This All-Clad model features extra-deep divots for maximum syrup capacity, makes two small waffles at a time, and contains a drip tray for minimizing spills and messes. The heavy stainless steel body and plates heat up quickly and evenly for consistent browning. The machine is compact in size and features cord storage and locking handles, making it easy to tuck away into any cabinet or on any shelf.

These fluted cookie cutters add flair to any basic cookie.

Ah, martini glasses: so angular and sexy, so prone to making you look like a drunk as you 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. So we 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 we're being honest, will make us all the more inclined to actually use that stem instead of clutching the bowl for dear life). Got no space for unitasking glassware? These double nicely as pretty dessert dishes.

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 we're so in love with these plates, which look like hand-painted ceramic, with the weight and heft of, well, plastic.

The Cadillac of kitchen thermometers, the Thermapen is indispensable when you're roasting meat, cooking steaks, making candy, deep-frying, or carrying out any other task that requires precise temperature control. It's got a big display and a blazing-fast measuring time of under two seconds.

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 one of the best home water-bath controllers on the market, with an easy-to-use interface, Bluetooth support, rock-solid construction, a sleek look, and an affordable price tag to boot.

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.

Make your own seltzer water at home with this easy-to-use unit. It comes equipped with LED indicators displaying three levels of carbonation and a BPA-free bottle that locks into the unit with no twisting, and it requires no batteries or electricity to operate. This model fits 14.5-ounce and three-ounce CO2 cylinders, which can be traded in for just the cost of the gas at your local hardware or home-goods store.

The Staub’s classic flat lid hides spikes underneath that are designed to evenly shower your food with moisture. The pot heats evenly and is a pleasure to cook in. It's also handsome enough to serve from at the table.

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.

A slope-sided skillet, like this one from All-Clad, is a chef's best friend and one of the most versatile pans in the kitchen, whether you're sautéing vegetables, searing meat, or cooking one of our dozens of one-pan meals. The best have solid stainless steel construction, with an aluminum core for even heat distribution.

There are countless great books on American regional cooking, and dozens of them on the South alone. But Lewis's tribute to Southern cooking is particularly important, because it goes beyond just great recipes to tell her story of growing up in Virginia in a farming community founded by freed slaves. The Taste of Country Cooking is less an overarching reference work on Southern cooking and far more of a personal tale, and, given the history, that's what an essential book on the topic demands.

Larousse is the serious food encyclopedia for the serious cook. Its focus is mostly on French preparations, though more recent editions have attempted to remedy that with some more international entries. Arranged alphabetically, Larousse offers up historical context, recipes and cooking instruction, and definitions galore.

Unlike so many chef cookbooks, this one features simple, honest recipes for classic regional French dishes. No crazy flourishes or flights of fancy; just solid French country cooking from a master.

A good carbon steel pan has many of the qualities that make cast iron great—it's durable, it forms a completely nonstick surface if cared for properly, and it's inexpensive. But it's lighter and easier to maneuver, making it great for sautéing and searing everyday foods.

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.

Forget flowers—they'll be dead by the end of the week. These flower waters, on the other hand, will last (most of) a lifetime. Both rose and orange flower water will stay good just about forever on the shelf, and a drop or two is all that's needed to give any recipe an aromatic boost. Try a splash of rose water with a strawberry or rhubarb dessert, or orange flower water in a classic New York cheesecake, where its gentle perfume can work wonders.

If you like to give a nice bottle of whiskey for special occasions, try switching things up with some nice glassware. This whiskey set from Snowe is durable and elegant, sure to get serious use in the homes of your spirit-loving friends for years to come.

Unlike tongs, tweezers are easy to keep at your side at all times, since they fit right in an apron pocket, which means they're always at the ready to pluck out rogue eggshells or the last olive from a jar. No pocket? Their compact size makes them a much better fit in a crock next to the rubber spatulas, or sharing a cubby with spoons in the cutlery drawer.

Bamboo steamers are particularly useful when you're steaming largish things—say, a small whole fish, like a porgy or small sea bass. They're also super easy to clean.

In the south of France, Italy, and other Mediterranean regions, marble mortars with wooden pestles (often made of olivewood) are quite common. It's next to impossible to find this variety in US stores, unless you get lucky and find one at an antiques shop or estate sale. They can, however, be ordered online. We got ours through an Italian vendor on Etsy, and it's an object of pure beauty. More importantly, it excels at making pesto and similar sauces, as well as emulsified sauces like mayonnaise and aioli.

A large platter is a must-have for any household, especially during the holiday season. This oval platter has high enough sides to accommodate saucier dishes, while the gray-and-white hand-glazed finish gives it a one-of-a-kind feel.

For the baker who has it all, embossed rolling pins can make even the most traditional shortbread seem exciting again. We love this large, open paisley pattern—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.

The Cuisinart is an easy-to-use, powerful blender that aced many of our tests. This model’s dashboard is intuitive, and it features a built-in timer that counts down for you or can be programmed to stop after a certain number of seconds.

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. This version is pretty enough (albeit heavy) to use as a serving platter.

If Valentine's Day isn't your favorite holiday, consider buying yourself a little gift that sparks joy. We love this cruet, which has seperate spouts for vinegar and olive oil. It's a perfect gift for any small kitchen.

The Le Creuset is the gold standard among Dutch ovens, and, while pricey, it lives up to its reputation. The pot is easy to cook in, has comfy handles, and is backed by a solid reputation for quality enamel.

Equipped with an assortment of wood chips, the Smoking Gun allows you to easily smoke anything indoors with just the flip of a switch. It's instant fun right out of the box.

This straight-sided sauté pan from All-Clad has a wide, flat base for searing off big batches of meat, and high sides so you can braise, stew, or simmer several meals' worth of food directly in it. It's the ideal vessel for stove-to-oven dishes like this Braised Chicken With White Beans, or a one-pot pasta dish like our Macaroni and Beef. Versatile and robust, it makes comfort food all the more comforting.

Grab some beautiful handmade mugs for your loved one to show you care. They'll think of you every morning they sip their coffee or tea. I personally love the teal version here, but they offer a lighter pink or black option as well.

This is arguably the book that set the United States straight: Those burritos you've been calling Mexican food? Not so much. Kennedy was one of the first English-language authors to call out Mexican cooking as distinct from the Tex-Mex and SoCal versions that many had come to assume were the real deal. In this seminal book, she covers regional variations, ingredients, techniques, and more.

By the time you're done reading BraveTart, not only will you know how to make Stella's favorite brownies (or Little Debbie's favorite Oatmeal Creme Pies), you'll have been sufficiently schooled in the underlying science and technique to be able to make your own favorite brownies, whether you like them fudgy or cakey. (And, because of Stella's infectious infatuation with history, you'll note that the cake-fudge paradigm shift occurred sometime in 1929.) Where Willy Wonka relied on magic to bring his creations to life, Stella relies on science, history, and fanatical testing and devotion to her craft. This is good news for us. You have to be born with magic, but science, history, and technique are lessons we can all learn.

You're definitely going to want this if you're getting serious about sous vide cooking, but it's handy for way more than that. A vacuum sealer makes it really easy to save meats or other foods in the freezer, especially as it keeps air (read: freezer burn) off everything. The Oliso sealer uses a unique resealable-bag system, which means far less wasted plastic than a conventional cut-and-seal vacuum sealer.

If you eat a lot of rice, or if you want to eat a lot of rice, you should absolutely invest in a rice cooker. There are many options on the market—and you can, of course, use a multi-cooker, like an Instant Pot, or a simple pot and lid—but the reason Japanese households invariably have rice cookers is that they produce consistently great results, with very little effort. Zojirushi is the gold standard among rice cooker manufacturers, and this five-and-a-half-cup model is perfect for almost any family. Because the heating element in the cooker surrounds the rice receptacle, the Zojirushi will produce perfectly cooked rice when used correctly, with no scorching and no mushy pockets of waterlogged grains. Finally, it also plays a very sweet and not at all annoying melody when you start cooking and when your rice is ready.

This KitchenAid attachment 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!

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.

Should you already be an AeroGarden fanatic and have exhausted your herb bounty, try this chili pepper seed kit. It will help keep things fiery in the kitchen (and perhaps elsewhere, too).

Shizuo Tsuji's masterwork on Japanese cooking is as useful today as it was when it was first published, more than two decades ago. He takes you through essential equipment, cooking techniques, ingredients, recipes, and the philosophy that underlies it all. Reading this book doesn't just help you learn to cook Japanese food; it helps you to understand and appreciate it far more, too.

Made with freeze-dried strawberries and cocoa butter, this vibrant, all-natural confection isn't quite white chocolate (no milk), but it behaves much the same way. It's a sweet, tart, and creamy snack of its own, but brilliant in recipes where it's color and flavor can shine—try it as the basis for the chocolate shell of our homemade Klondike bars or use it in place of white chocolate in these macadamia nut cookies.

The Whirley Pop is the fastest, most convenient way to make popcorn, popping out cups of the stuff in under a minute, with virtually no un-popped kernels. It also produces fluffier popcorn than any other stovetop method (air poppers might have it beat in that department), and it's excellent for distributing toppings.

We believe Green Mountain's Davy Crockett is the best portable pellet smoker currently on the market. It employs Green Mountain's advanced digital touch-pad controller, with an integrated meat thermometer that lets you check internal meat temp with the flick of a switch. Plus, its WiFi capabilities enable you to monitor and control the smoker from your smartphone or laptop.

Who should read Kitchen Confidential, the 2000 memoir by Anthony Bourdain that injected sex, drugs, and rock and roll into the tame world of celebrity chefs? Folks who are in the Venn diagram intersection of "loves cooking," "loves survival horror," and "loves rockumentaries."

Not only do magnetic knife strips save space, they also look pretty badass hanging on your wall. They'll keep your knives from rubbing up against other utensils, which can make them dull (and can be dangerous, too).

The ChefSteps Joule is the smallest circulator on the market. Its sleek, compact design fits in a drawer, and it heats quickly and accurately. Plus, it has the advantage of the ChefSteps community and legacy content built into its app. The one downside is that it requires a smartphone or tablet, along with a registered account, to operate.

A gift for the savvy gift-giver, since it guarantees you'll be served some good Vietnamese food in the future. Nguyen is an award-winning cookbook author, and this book is specifically designed to demystify Vietnamese cuisine and prove that it is every bit as accessible as it is delicious. Nguyen took great pains to ensure that the ingredients called for in each recipe would be easy to find in your local supermarket, wherever that may be in the United States, and yet nothing is dumbed down or diluted.

Not all food storage 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.

This santoku from MAC's professional line is an absolute pleasure to use, no matter the task. It's lightweight, well balanced, sharp as can be, and comfortable to hold. It made perfect carrot cuts, broke down a chicken with ease, and filleted a whole fish as if it were a fish-shaped block of butter.

The compact Uuni 3 was among the first pizza ovens on the market to pair portability and compactness with some serious heat output, reaching floor temperatures of around 750°F. Backyard-pizza enthusiasts who enjoy working with live fire, including all the joys and headaches involved, will be rewarded with truly wood-fired Neapolitan pizza in about 90 seconds. It's also an attractive unit that's large enough to accommodate other foods—we've successfully used it to sear steaks, broil fish fillets, grill oysters, and more.

This kettle offers the widest range of temperature settings of any kettle we tested, making it great for tea lovers.

Fancy olive oil always makes a good gift, but there's a difference between fancy olive oil and good fancy olive oil. The house oil from Frankies 457 Spuntino in Brooklyn is delicious (i.e., great on fresh bread and in dishes), is DOC certified, and comes in a chic tin that prevents light from spoiling the product.

If you want to give your valentine something useful, go with something they'll use every day, like really nice tupperware. This way, they'll be able to pack leftovers without stressing about spilling—and heat everything up all in the same (colorful) bowl.

This simple, affordable serving tray from Williams-Sonoma will be a boon to even the most minimalist of cooks: The generous size of the large version (14 by 18 inches) holds a dinner party's worth of side dish or pasta, the classic white goes with everything, the handles and surprisingly light weight make it easy to maneuver, and it's dishwasher-safe on top of it all.

Daniel's been lusting after one of these hand-painted ceramic tagines since seeing one in a cookware store a couple years ago. They require some special care, and possibly a heat diffuser to prevent cracking from intense direct heat, but they're worth it just to look at, even if you never cook in them. If you do, a future of flavorful North African stews, presented beautifully at the table, awaits. They also come in a variety of designs and colors, meaning you can find the perfect option for any home.

We have this 10-piece punch bowl set in our office, and it's been put to very good use. It's big and impressive while still being affordable, which are the best qualities you can hope for in holiday-party decor.

Kershaw's Taskmaster Shears set the bar for excellent heavy-duty scissors. They're strong enough to cut out a chicken back without hesitation, they're sharp enough to snip chives as cleanly as any pair of shears could ever hope to, and they come with all the accoutrements a good pair of kitchen shears should (even if you never use half these things): bottle opener/lid lifter, flathead screwdriver head, nutcracker, jar opener, bone notcher, and more.

Char-Broil's digital electric smoker is very easy to use and has WiFi connectivity, so you can monitor and control the smoking session from a paired smartphone. Electric cookers lack serious heat and combustion gases, making them better suited for imparting a light smoke flavor, especially on bigger cuts of meat.

With a neutral color and simple silhouette, this serving bowl is versatile enough to complement any table setting. It's also big enough to accommodate a big salad or crowd-sized portion of stew.

The OXO worked on every bottle and cork we tested it with. The two-step motion—push down, then pull up—yanks the cork out in about two seconds. Repeat the process, and the cork drops free of the opener. The capable foil cutter clips into the body of the tool.

An ideal gift for any lover of cherries, Manhattans, or whiskey in general, these cherries trade the cloying sweetness of maraschinos for the boozy bass notes of great whiskey. Use them in your go-to whiskey cocktail, or to top a favorite dessert.

Daniel and his wife have multiple prints and colors of these beautiful hand-dyed towels. They use them as napkins, but you could also us them as a bandana, headband, or even gift wrap.

Organized by spirit—vodka, gin, agave, rum, brandy, and whiskey—with an additional section devoted to specific seasons and occasions, The One-Bottle Cocktail makes it easy to figure out how to polish off that lingering liter of rum and is guaranteed to expand your cocktail repertoire for your go-to bottle. It does so by forging surprising, nuanced, eminently sippable flavors from commonplace liquors and fresh fruits, herbs, and other seasonal ingredients, as well as vinegars, spices, and sodas. This is the kind of book that every home cocktail-maker should keep on their shelf.

Anyone who loves soft-boiled eggs deserves the perfect cup to eat them from. These sturdy stoneware Le Creuset cups come in a range of beautiful colors. They're totally classic, which is a good thing because they'll also last for generations to come.

The Magimix impressed us with each slicing, chopping, grating, and puréeing test we tossed at it, especially with pizza dough, which it combined so well that no additional kneading was required.

Ariel's dad lives in Florida and never drinks enough water. These little tumblers are the perfect compromise for getting him to drink just enough to not get totally dehydrated every day. And if he refuses to fill them with water, at least he can use them for alcoholic beverages. The final plus: They stack, so they won't take up too much space in his cabinets.

This cookbook by Julia Turshen, author of Small Victories and Feed the Resistance, is full of simple, delicious meals for everyday eating, parties, and holidays. Better yet, each one includes a bunch of suggestions for how to remake it as leftovers. It's a trove of great, creative ideas, and a must for any bookworm.

Madhur Jaffrey has become one of the foremost authorities on Indian cooking since she published An Invitation to Indian Cooking in 1973. It and her subsequent books helped introduce American cooks to a cuisine that, at the time, was hardly known here at all.

The Fletchers' Mill Federal grinds consistently and quickly, excels at fine grinding, and comes in 11 finishes to match a wide range of kitchen decor.

What is there to say that hasn't already been said? This is the original work that exposed countless Americans to classic French cooking, forever changing the course of this country's cuisine. Never mind if some of the recipes are a bit labyrinthine. You should own it. Both volumes. Period.

TK

In this book, Peterson not only explains the most important cooking methods for various kinds of fish and shellfish, but also provides an abundance of recipes in which to try them out. You'll also find very useful step-by-step color photographs of how to prep, clean, and fillet just about any seafood you can imagine, including eel.

The Breville produced crispy brown waffles the fastest and with the most consistent color of all the batches we tested, making it the best option if you prefer thinner waffles. Although it makes only one waffle at a time, it reheats and cooks rapidly, so you can crank out waffle after waffle with ease. The built-in drip tray, nonstick surface, and minimal design keep cleanup effortless.

We like to keep our kitchens very clean. This handheld vacuum (which a few of us have, use, and swear by) ensures zero crumbs left behind, whether in that small space under the dishwasher or in the crevice between the stove and the cabinets.

Take it from us: Living in hot urban apartments makes storing age-worthy wines nearly impossible, unless you don't mind risking the life of a pricey Burgundy by putting it through years of extreme temperature swings. Anyone with an interest in building even a modest collection of special-occasion bottles should get a wine fridge. It's a small investment that protects your real investment.

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.

These hand-poured soy-wax candles will look beautiful on your kitchen table—and the scents (think Champagne/saffron or rosebud/pear water) are fragrant enough to offset any accidentally burnt foods that no one needs to know about. Plus, the packaging, which comes with a customizable matchbox, makes them an impressive gift that's also affordable. $36 for 1, $89 for 3 (and free shipping).

If you love to cook and host parties, you'll know that a lot of prep time is spent on your feet. Why not make at least the cooking part a bit more comfortable with one of these gel mats? It'll provide some nice cushion under your feet, so when it's time to put on your party shoes, you'll be ready.

The Instant Pot Duo60 is a fantastic value and performed almost as well as the top pick among countertop pressure cookers we tested. It's easy to use, the company has a reputation for great customer service, and there's an avid and helpful community of users online to boot.

If you've ever been given a homemade birthday cake, return the favor by buying your favorite baker this iconic cake stand. Its heavy base keeps cakes secure and makes all types of decorating techniques a breeze.

For decades, Spain stood in the gastronomic shadows of France and Italy, not receiving nearly enough attention for its own amazing ways with food. Then the country's restaurant scene exploded with chefs like Ferran Adrià, and suddenly the rest of the food world was racing to catch up. To understand those chefs requires understanding the traditional Spanish foods that formed the basis upon which they experimented so wildly, and Penelope Casas's book is one of the best starting points to do so. Flip through its pages, and it won't take long to see that Spain has always deserved a more prominent place in the eyes of the hungry world.

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 us hooked.

Oh, man, do we love our Vitamix blender. Whether we're making super-quick smoothies or the creamiest, smoothest purées and soups imaginable, the Vitamix is unparalleled in its power.

While you certainly can make dumplings on your own, it's always better (and more fun) with company. Use this amazing compendium of dumpling recipes to throw a good old-fashioned dumpling party.