Recipes for Gift Guide

Gift Guide 2017: Make Mine Mozzarella

December 16, 2017

You probably don’t need to make your own butter, and you certainly don’t require a ricotta kit; all you need for that is a lot of milk and a little bit of lemon.

Mozzarella, on the other hand, is a different matter.

Here’s the thing: although real mozzarella, the kind you buy in Italy, is made from water buffalo milk, it loses something as it travels. As the Italian cheesemaker who taught me to make mozzarella told me, “You must never, never, refrigerate this cheese.  It ruins it.”

It’s true: nothing tastes like freshly made mozzarella that has never seen the inside of a refrigerator. And if you can’t get water buffalo milk (and you can’t), your next best option is to use good cow’s milk and make your own.

That’s why I love the mozzarella kits from Roaring Brook Dairy.   Everything you need to make your own mozzarella – minus, of course, the milk. For that I’d suggest throwing in a few bottles of the best local milk you can find. Your friends will thank you.



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Gift Guide 2017: Light Up Your Life

December 15, 2017

These are corny.  I know that.  But I love them – and so does just about everyone else.  Put these little strings of lights on your holiday table and it will instantly acquire a glow.  Even the food looks better.

Your friends may laugh when they open the package.  But they’ll use them.  That’s a promise.


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Gift Guide 2017: The Watched Pot

December 14, 2017

You don’t need this beautiful glass pot.  But don’t you want it? I certainly do. And I can think of at least a dozen friends who would like it as much as I do.

Made of industrial glass and designed by architect Massimo Castagna, the pots are made by hand; only ten are made each day. (Ergo, they aren’t cheap.)

The only place in the States that seems to sell it is the Museum of Modern Art, and at the moment it’s on back order.  But if you want it fast, you can order it from Mohd, in Italy, here.

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Gift Guide 2017: The Very Best Bird

December 13, 2017

I will never forget my first taste of grouse.  It was in London, and the bird had been hung for a long time (in Merry Olde Englande they believed in hanging birds until they literally fell from their necks), and then roasted in a wood oven. The flavor was unlike any bird I’d ever eaten: funky and filled with flavor, it was the blue cheese of birds.  I tore it apart with my fingers – and the scent lingered for hours.

Red Grouse, which make the best eating, live only in Scotland and don’t thrive in captivity.  I’ve never seen grouse served in an American restaurant, but if you have someone on your list with a taste for game, you can order a few wild grouse from D’Artagnan.   (If you’re so inclined, you can also order a suckling pig from the estimable purveyor of exotic meat.)  Hunting season ended a few days ago, so right now the birds arrive frozen.  And you have to be careful of shot: these birds are wild, not farmed, so it’s best to beware.

Want to know a bit more?   This article is well worth reading.

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Gift Guide 2017: A Different Way to Store Knives

December 12, 2017

Almost everyone who comes into my kitchen remarks on my knife block: it’s so superior to those ones with slots that won’t accommodate your favorite knives (and carving forks).  Instead of slots, this one has plastic rods, so everything fits.

Why everyone doesn’t own one is beyond me, so this year, the universal knife block is my universal gift.

Should you care to give a slightly cooler version, there’s this sexy slim black knife block. 


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