Gift Guide: Cook Their Goose

December 11, 2015


I love goose. And I hate cooking it; you get 7 cups of fat off a single goose – which means an afternoon spent cleaning the stove (and everything around it).  So I would be eternally grateful to the kind friend who sent me one of these lovely smoked geese.

All the flavor; none of the work. What a lovely thought!

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Gift Guide 2015: The Most Spectacular Bowl

December 10, 2015

burl bowl cherry

I bought a burl cherry bowl years ago at The Gardner in Berkeley, stunned by its sheer beauty.  I shipped it all the way home, only to discover that it was made in Western Massachussets, close to where I live.

But I’ve never been sorry. I love this bowl; every single person who steps into my kitchen stops to stroke it, and just looking at it sitting on my counter makes me happy.

Give one of these hand-turned burl bowls to a friend and he or she will think of you every time they look at it.  And I promise you, that will be often; this is not a bowl you put away and take out on special occasions.  It’s a bowl you want to live with.


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Gift Guide 2015: Fish Egg Express

December 9, 2015


One of the things I miss most about my years at Conde Nast is the annual explosion of high-end holiday gifts.  Over the years these included everything from rare wines to cashmere blankets, monogrammed sheets and even (I am not making this up), a sterling silver yoyo from Tiffany.

But one of my bosses always gave me caviar, and that’s the gift I miss the most.

Should you be in an extravagant mood, here’s one suggestion.

Roe is a new company intent on simplifying the purchase of caviar. They offer only one kind of caviar, and only during the months of November and December. Their caviar is sustainably raised in California and packed with a minimum of salt.  Each tin contains the eggs of a single sturgeon, and if you order the 500 gram tin it comes with a wooden serving box. The caviar is very clean-tasting, with a faint pop. And overnight shipping is free.


If you’re in a more extravagant mood, this osetra from Russ and Daughters is truly spectacular. The color is amber to dark golden, the flavor slightly fruity.


And for those of us who love roe, but can’t quite see treating ourselves (or our friends) to such a major extravagance, Zabar’s salmon roe is a great, affordable substitute.  I really love this stuff.  And if you’re looking for a way to use it, consider blini. My recipe, from My Kitchen Year:


Shopping List

1⁄4 cup buckwheat flour

1 teaspoon yeast salmon or trout roe


1⁄2 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons

(1⁄2 stick) butter 1 cup milk
2 eggs
sour cream

Mix the flour and the buckwheat flour. Add the sugar, salt, and yeast. Put the butter and milk into a small pot and cook until

the butter has melted. Cool it to the point that when you stick your finger in it is warm, but not hot, then whisk the milk mixture into the flour mixture. Cover with a plate or plas-
tic wrap, and set it in a warm place to rise.When it is about doubled (about an hour and a half ), whisk in the eggs.

You can use it now, or store it in the refrigerator for a day or so; it’s better on the second day, but be sure to give it a good stir before you heat your griddle.

Russians like their blini large; they say you should slather them so abundantly with butter that it runs down your arms as you eat. But I also like them small. Cook them on a butter-brushed pan about a minute on each side, and keep them cozy in a 200-degree oven until the batter is entirely used up.

Serve them warm, topped with lots of sour cream and generous dollops of salmon or trout roe.


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Gift Guide 2015: Nice for Rice

December 8, 2015


This is a handai, the traditional vessel used in Japan in the final step of making sushi rice.  Cooked short grain rice is turned into a wide cedar bow, the vinegar/sugar mixture is poured over the rice which is fanned as it cools.  The cedar absorbs excess moisture from the rice.

I don’t make a lot of sushi at home, but this vessel is not only beautiful, but also fabulously fragrant . It’s a perfect way to make the most ordinary dish of rice look very lovely on the table.


Gift Guide 2015: Could This be a Perfect Pan?

December 7, 2015



Full disclosure: I haven’t tried these beautiful hand-forged carbon steel pans.  While I rarely put anything I haven’t tried into my gift guide, the moment Joanne (see Consider The Oyster) suggested these pans, I began to covet them.  If I covet it, your friends probably will too.

Here’s what the site says about these pans made by Martin Reinhard, just outside of Calgary in Alberta:

“After researching the best practices for skillets, frying pans and paella pans, Martin decided to create the most superior pan possible: fast heat uptake, even & consistent transference, smooth finish with high non-stick properties, high food safety standard, diverse usage capabilities, unmatched durability…”

The floor is hand hammered to facilitate a reservoir of oil and steam. The handle is woven, reducing the heat transference and the risk of burns. Every pan is stamped with a maple leaf and ‘M.J. Reinhard’.

The pans are crafted from Carbon Steel which is stronger, lighter and more ductile than cast iron, facilitating lower heats and faster cooking times. It readily acquires a truly nonstick surface – a patina of polymerized oil to produce a high caliber cooking surface.”

Again, no promises here. But if you’re looking for a unique (and expensive) gift for the cook who already has everything, I think this is a good bet. The 12 inch pan costs 185 Canadian dollars – but it should last at least one lifetime.