By Deirdre Bourdet
My family insists that I am difficult to buy gifts for, due to my extremely personal and subjective taste (aka “pickiness”) when it comes to clothing and the like. I remind them annually that it’s actually very simple to get me something I will love – as long as it relates to food or wine (or is in fact food or wine), doesn’t clutter up my cabinets and counters, and doesn’t dominate my kitchen aesthetic, I’m a happy camper. In this vein, I offer you some suggestions for the picky foodie in your family, virtually guaranteed to please those who love to cook and eat:(1) Laguiole 3-Piece Cheese Knife Set
Laguiole is still the gold standard for cheese service knives, and for good reason. The traditional design is classic, elegant, but also sleekly modern. And the knives are fantastic: a razor-sharp cleaver for the hardy mountain cheeses, a short rounded spreader for the soft stuff, and versatile long blade with pointed tip to spear that hunk of camembert you’ve just sheared off. Gorgeous and functional, these knives are welcomed everywhere they go.
(2) Microplane Zester Grater
This tool will change your attitude
about grating cheese and chopping zest. Its rasp-like blade makes
short work of even the hardest parmesan or pecorino, and can denude a
citrus fruit of its zest in a matter of moments–without taking the
white pith with it. Plus, the enormous volume grated cheese it
produces is paper-thin, delicate, and easily dispersed into a dish,
allowing you to use less cheese to achieve the same flavor result (for
those that care about health or kitchen economy).
(3) Silpat Baking Mats
Even non-bakers appreciate these non-stick
silicone liners. They go in the oven (up to 480 degrees), as well as
into the freezer, making them perfect for cheese tuiles or vegetable
chips, as well as chocolate or sugar decorations. And, you’ll never
have to scrub your baking trays again.
(4) Cooling Racks
Once again, not just for the cookie-bakers.
These racks are perfect for letting meats rest without ruining the
lovely sear on one side, and also indispensable for finishing canapés
or tartines without mucking up the serving dish (any extra tobiko or
grated cheese just falls right through). Get one that folds up so that
it doesn’t take up too much storage space, and make sure it’s got
enough height to allow easy air circulation underneath.
(5) Offset Palette Knife
Perhaps my favorite cooking tool of all…
the long, slim, and flexible palette knife has no equal for versatility
and convenience. Release a full tray of cookies (or a barbecue full of
burgers, or an entire pizza crust, or..) in a single swipe, pick up and
move multiple objects at the same time, or frost a genoise in a few
easy strokes. The ones with the offset blade are easier to work with
on barbecues and countertops alike.